TIMELINES 7/24/14

Mother of Garnerville murder victim forgives suspect
In a show of compassion, Donna Hidgon, 55, stated recently that she forgave Nixon Bourguignon, 37, for his alleged murder of Hidgon’s daughter Shannon Coleman, 29. Hidgon explained that though she had lost her daughter, who was residing in Garnerville with Bourguignon at the time of her death. Bourguignon had been an excellent father for her two grandsons, age 8 and 10 before he had “snapped.” Bourguignon, a mail carrier in White Plains, stands accused of strangling Coleman to death during a heated argument on May 7. The children, one of whom was fathered by Bourguignon and another of whom was from one of Coleman’s prior relationships, are now living with Hidgon and her husband Rudolph. They are both undergoing grief counseling to assist them in coping with the loss of their mother.

Ad spending in New York reaches $161 million
Recently-released figures from Empire State Development, which oversees and attempts to guide economic development in New York, show a hefty $161 million has been spent on ads to draw business owners and tourists. The figures, which were revealed on July 17, are only part of a $237.5 million fund dedicated toward advertising. In addition to $50 million allocated each year for New York’s “Open for Business” campaign, about $37.5 million in money originally allocated for Sandy relief was redirected toward tourism and public information campaigns on Sandy aid services. The figures were pursued as part of a FOIL request made by Gannett’s Albany Bureau. The request became a point of controversy when Gannett was forced to wait over a year for records held by Empire State Development. Still, the fulfillment of the request is not likely to silence critics of the Cuomo Administration. Gubernatorial Candidate and current Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino accused Cuomo of borderline illegal activity for using taxpayer funds to cast his administration in a positive light and argued the $237.5 million figure was $87.5 million more than expected. “Andrew Cuomo has taken more than a quarter billion dollars of taxpayer money and put it into television advertising for his own political gain,” Astorino said. “People have been locked in jail for far less than that.”

FedEx faces federal charges for prescription drug distribution
Shipping giant FedEx might have to face stiff federal penalties for their alleged complicity in the shipping of illegal prescription drugs from online pharmacies. A federal grand jury indicted the company on July 17 for allowing the pharmacies to send illegal drugs through the mail. Specifically, prosecutors argue the company was aware of criminal activity by Chhabra-Smoley and Superior Drugs, two online drug retailers who allegedly operated with FedEx approval. Federal prosecutors argue FedEx received multiple warnings not to work with distributors over the course of almost ten years but never heeded them. According to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, the suit sends a message that corporations are not immune to enforcement of drug laws. “This indictment highlights the importance of holding corporations that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behavior.” FedEx has denied all wrongdoing and plans to plead not guilty in court.

Sound-proof windows in Nyack might be counted as taxable income
Promises to protect quality of life during the construction of the New Tappan Zee Bridge might come at a cost to the very people who were meant to receive assistance. Noise-proof windows were promised to 57 eligible homes in South Nyack, Tarrytown and Grandview-On-Hudson, courtesy of a $200 million community grant set up by Tappan Zee Constructors and the New York State Thruway Authority. However, the residents who chose to receive the grants stated the funds were received with an advisory that they might be considered taxable income. Though the State Department of Taxation and Finance and Internal Revenue Service both gave no definite answer on whether the grants were taxable, Taxation and Finance Spokesman Cary Ziter advised residents who received benefits to contact the IRS for details. If the grants are considered income, the residents might also see changes to their tax bracket. This could affect eligibility for enhanced STAR exemptions, social security, medicare and other government benefits.

Actor James Garner dies at 86
James Garner, the gruff but charming actor known best for his roles in “Maverick” and “The Rockfort Files,” died of natural causes on the night of July 19. He was 86. Garner, who was born in 1928, began working life in a series of odd jobs before making the acquaintance of Paul Gregory, an agent who landed him his first role in the The Caine Mutiny alongside fellow actor Henry Fonda. Garner acted in relatively small roles until he made a name for himself by playing the clever, poker-playing trickster Bret Maverick on the television show of the same name. After a period of success as a movie actor in such films as The Americanization of Emily, The Great Escape and Support Your Local Sheriff, he returned to the small screen. His return culminated in his second celebrated TV series, “The Rockfort Files,” where he plays a sly but noble private investigator not unlike his role in “Maverick.” Though Garner was in over fifty films, he was nominated for only one Academy Award in Murphy’s Romance.

Brooklyn man hospitalized after jumping into Congers Lake
A Brooklyn man was hospitalized on July 21 after jumping into Congers Lake in an apparent attempt to harm himself. The 31-year old man was spotted masturbating in public at around 1:50 p.m. When confronted by a walker and told that police would be called, the man threatened to harm himself. The man subsequently jumped into the water. When Clarkstown police and volunteer firefighters from Congers arrived, they found the man able to exit the water on his own. The man was subsequently taken to Nyack Hospital, though his exact physical injuries-if any-were not announced.

Thruway paving to take place for two months
The New York State Thruway Authority announced on Monday that a two-month paving, drainage, bridge repair and safety improvement project would begin Tuesday, continuing nightly along a stretch of the Thruway between Exits 14B and 16. The work will take place between Milepost 29, which is between Exits 14B and 15, and Milepost 39, which lies between Exit 15 and 16. One and two lane closures should be expected southbound beginning at 8 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays and 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. Work will be done at night and all lanes will be reopened from 6 a.m. onward. No lane closures should be expected before 7 p.m. during work on northbound lanes. Electronic signposts and notices on Highway Advisory Radio 530 AM will be available for traffic updates.

Rocklanders unite to help family of 20 month old killed in car accident
Even after a thief made off with a portion of the donation money meant for the family of a small child killed in a car accident last week, Spring Valley residents and charities could not be deterred from assisting the family in need. Following last week’s tragic death of Dominic Mero, a 20-month old child who was struck and killed by a 2007 Ford F-150 truck in the parking lot of Lottie Gardens in Spring Valley, the community began a fund raising effort to offset the Mero family’s funeral expenses. After a donation jar containing about $300 was stolen from a local deli, the community once again responded. To make up the money, County Legislator Aron Wieder contacted the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, or OJPAC, to help raise money to replace funds lost. Meanwhile, local business owner Benny Polatseck set up a website to accept donations. Ultimately, $2,250 was raised for the Mero family. In addition, the alleged thief, a 17-year old Spring Valley resident, has been arrested and charged with petty larceny.

Crime Stoppers offer $2,500 for information on cold case
A statewide anti-crime group is offering a cash reward for information which could lead to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for the 1985 slaying of John “Gus” DeFreese. New York Crime Stoppers will offer the reward to anybody who comes forward with pertinent information. The announcement came a few days after it was announced that Ramapo Police were re-opening the case and re-interviewing people who were questioned during the initial inveestigation. DeFreese, a married father of six, was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car on April 24, 1985. He had been stabbed in the neck and his pants were partially pulled down, but police did not find any signs of a struggle and believe the perpetrator knew his victim. Police also believe DeFreese had been drinking that night. Anybody with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 866-313-8477 or the Detective Bureau of the Ramapo Police at 845-357-2400.