TIMELINES 2/14/14

County seeks additional corrections officers
The Rockland County Sheriff’s Department is seeking interested applicants for positions as corrections officers at the county jail, provided they apply for and pass a civil service exam. The exam filing date is set for March 5, while the test itself will be administered on April 12. Starting salaries for a CO are set at $21.86 per hour for a 40 hour work week. The new hires are being sought in response to a state inquiry which found the jail was understaffed. The last civil service exam for COs was also given in 2013.

Heroin dealer receives massive sentence from Putnam DA
Stefano DeMicheli, a 26 year old Putnam County resident convicted of dealing in large quantities of heroin, received an unusually severe sentence two weeks ago in a case his family and legal counsel are calling unfair. According to Stefano’s mother Virginia, the 40 year sentence for Stefano’s possession of 35 bags of heroin and 19 bags of crack cocaine in 2011 was an attempt by the DA to appear tough on drugs. The family believes the sentence was meted out in response to a wave of heroin overdoses which killed three young adults in Westchester. Stefano, a repeat offender who was participating in the county’s drug court program, was not charged in connection to any of the Westchester deaths. The Putnam County District Attorney and sentencing Judge James Reitz defended the penalty, arguing Stefano had violated the trust of the court and the drug treatment program.

Family of paintball attack victim satisfied with sentencing
Following extensive talks between prosecutors and the victim’s family, a plea deal has been accepted by all parties regarding the paintball attack on a Hasidic man in Kaser last August. According to the victim’s wife Esther Margaretten, her husband Josef had spoken to prosecutors and expressed approval of a guilty plea which netted his attacker, Shashi A. Ramsaroop, 23, 60 days in jail for third-degree assault. Rockland District Attornney Thomas Zugibe agreed the sentence was agreeable for all involved, but still “sends a strong message” to others considering hate crimes. Together with accomplices Lindsey C. Peaks, 21 and Demetrius Latrell Torain, 19, Ramsaroop drove around Ramapo looking to attack Jewish residents in August 2013. Upon finding Margaretten leaning against the hood of his friend’s car Ramsaroop fired, striking the victim twice. Peaks and Torain were given adjournmeents contemplating dismissal, meaning they will avoid further penalties if they stay out of trouble for a period of time.

SAFE Act to cost state an additional $3.2 million
Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to drop $3.2 million more on personnel costs related to the implementation of the NY SAFE Act. Cuomo outlined the costs in his $137.2 billion state budgt proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The money will go toward administrative staff responsible for weapon registrations and maintenance of buyer and vendor records. In addition, $27.7 million was allocated for information technology costs, part of which includes expenses related to the creation and maintenance of a database for ammunition purchase background checks. The SAFE Act has seen a rocky start with the failure to set up the database within projected deadlines. The database remains unfinished and no timetable is available for its completion.

Experts warn of new wave of cybercrime
Experts in cybersecurity are warning the recent Target data breach might only be the first signs of serious threats to American cybersecurity which could warrant massive overhauls to the country’s digital infrastructure. According to an FBI source, almost two dozen companies wee victimized by hacks similar to the Target attack. The attacks are often sophisticated enough to bypass even industry standards and could require an expensive security overhaul in the private sector, including imroved encryption, separation of customer data into private networks and updates to credit cards to replace black magnetic swipe technology with chips. Interestingly, long-term impacts of such breaches are uncertain. It has been suggested a surge of stolen information from breaches in the past and near future could depress black market prices for the information and disincentivize further cyber-attacks. Though industry powers and credit card companies are pressing for safeguards, lawmakers seem reluctant to enact any measure which could force expensive updates on banks.

National Scam Alert: If your phone rings once, do not call back
A scam has been making waves across the country with phony calls which prompt phone users to rack up expensive international fees when they call back. The scammers send automated calls to random cells which ring once before disconnecting. However, once phone holders pick up or call back, they incur international charges which begin at $20 and go up by nine dollars every minute the phone holder remains on the line. Anybody who believes they might have been a victim of this scam are encouraged to go to their local Better Business Bureau to report the incident.

New law establishes grants for vet-owned businesses
Lawmakers on Monday successfully passed and obtained a governor’s signature on legislation which will expand state aid to veteran-owned small businesses. The law establishes a Division of Service-Disabled Veterans’ Business Development within the Office of General Services. The Division will evaluate and approve state contracts for service-disabled veterans who own small businesses, pursuing a five percent goal for the awards. The effort is one among several programs seeking to give a competetive boost to veterans in the job market and business community. The state has also provided a $74 million tax credit as an incentive for businesses to hire veteranns and trains vets for the job market through its “Experience Counts” program.

Teacher pension costs to increase 7.8 percent
New figures from New York State’s Teachers’ Retirement System show pension costs will rise 7.8 percent next year, continuing an ongoing trend which has been visible for the past five years. The increase represents a significant but markedly lower increase over this year, when there was a 37 percent increase. By the 2014-2015 school year, pension costs will increase from 16.25 of payroll to 17.53 percent. In total, the fund is valued at $103 billion. The Teachers’ Retirement System, which serves 277,000 active members and 150,000 retirees, is still reeling from hits it took during the recession. However, it is making headway in recovering its former strength, posting a 13.7 percent rate of return in 2012-2013 after years of losses or miniscule gains.

New law establishes grants for vet-owned businesses
Lawmakers on Monday successfully passed and obtained a governor’s signature on legislation which will expand state aid to veteran-owned small businesses. The law establishes a Division of Service-Disabled Veterans’ Business Development within the Office of General Services. The Division will evaluate and approve state contracts for service-disabled veterans who own small businesses, pursuing a five percent goal for the awards. The effort is one among several programs seeking to give a competetive boost to veterans in the job market and business community. The state has also provided a $74 million tax credit as an incentive for businesses to hire veteranns and trains vets for the job market through its “Experience Counts” program.

DeBlasio calls in favor to keep friend out of jail
A DeBlasio ally was recently arrested, but was not charged after the mayor petitioned on his behalf and secured his release. Bishop Orlando Findlayter, who assisted DeBlasio with securing the city’s black vote during his campaign last year, was pulled over in Brooklyn on Tuesday for failing to signal. After running his name through the database, police arrested Findlayter when they learned he had several outstanding warrants for failing to appear in court for prior protest arrests. DeBlasio and the NYPD were contacted by fellow clergy. In response, DeBlasio called NYPD Deputy Chief and Sokeswoman Kim Royster to ask about the arrest and Findlayter was spared a night in jail.

Independent Dems push for broader paid family leave
Democratic lawmakers with the Independent Democratic Caucus unveiled a plan on Tuesday which will expand worker benefits and eligibility for paid leave. The Family Leave Insurance plan will guarantee six weeks of paid leave when a new child enters their home or a family member becomes seriously ill. Workers would be paid 50 percent of their wages by 2018, a significant increase over the $180 weekly payment guaranteed under the current law. Part of the insurance plan would be subsidized by the New York State General Fund, while the remainder would be funded by worker contributions deducted from weekly paychecks.

Missing restaurant owner found unharmed
A Piermont restaurant owner who had been missing since Saturday was found safe at a friend’s house on Sunday, according to police. Cornetta’s Seafood Restaurant and Marina co-owner Nancy Kilerciyan, 58 of Orangeburg, was last seen leaving the restauraunt’s larking lot following a Saturday evening mass at St. John the Baptist Church. Concerns had been raised about her well-being considering she was on medication when she disappeared. Police received several tips in response to a missing persons report posted on LoHud until they eventually located Kilerciyan. Foul play is not suspected.

New Jersey woman stuck in Bridgegate traffic calls for Christie’s resignation
A New Jersey resident who suffered from a painful medical condition as she was caught in Bridgegate traffic told her story and demanded Christie’s resignation on Tuesday. Valerie Fadul, 55 of Fort Lee, was on her way home from an eye doctor’s appointment where she had received injections for an eye condition. According to her, she became stuck in the trafffic so long that her anaesthetic had worn off before she could get her medication, leading to four hours of pain. Another resident, Robert Tessaro, 37, elaborated on his own story as a Fort Lee resident. Tessary explained he was stuck at his house for days during the traffic fiasco, unable to move his car. Christie has been on the defensive since emails were leaked detailing conversations betwween top officials in his administration which seemed to indicate a concerted plan to close traffic lanes to get back at the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee. Christie has denied any role in the scheme.