Deadly weekend for motorcyclists in Ramapo
Two separate motorcycle crashes-including one which was fatal-occurred in Ramapo over the past weekend.
On Saturday night, Vincent P. Russell, 49 of Pascack Road, was killed when his 1991 Kawasaki was struck by an 80-year-old Montvale man driving a Cadillac DeVille just north of Chestnut Ridge Middle School on Chestnut Ridge Road. Russell was pronounced dead at the scene and police are currently investigating the crash.
The next day, a 62-year-old New Jersey man and his 60-year-old wife were found on a grassy patch beside Route 17 in Sloatsburg, where it is believed they landed after their three-wheel bike went off-road and rolled. Both sustained critical injuries and were taken by helicopter to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey.
Man arrested for alleged luring incident transferred to psychiatric facility
A 25-year old Ramapo group home resident who allegedly attempted to lure a child with promises of candy was bailed out of jail on Wednesday. However, he must still undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Abraham Widenbaum, who resides in a home for the developmentally disabled on Hillside Terrace, stands accused of attempted sexual abuse, luring a child and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. According to police, Widenbaum attempted to use a box of candy to draw a 6-year-old boy into a vacant room in a Harriet Lane synagogue on September 17. The boy notified his father instead, leading to Widenbaum’s eventual arrest.
Since them, Widenbaum has been released. His attorney Kenneth Gribetz stated that his $75,000 bail had been posted by an unnamed Monsey man.
Widenbaum has since been released into the custody of Weill Cornell Medical College, where he will likely spend several weeks undergoing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
Former West Nyack resident, two other first-responders die of 9/11-related illnesses
Former FDNY Firefighter and 9/11 first-responder Robert Leaver, 56, died on September 22 from illnesses believed to be related to his participation in rescue and cleanup efforts in the wake of the September 11th terror attacks.
Leaver, who had been struggling with leukemia since 2003, was one of three firefighters who died the same day from 9/11-related illnesses. Lt. Howard Bischoff of Jackson, N.J. and Firefighter Daniel Heglund of Rocky Point, N.Y. died hours apart on September 22, a reminder of the continued health issues surrounding the toxic air which hung over Manhattan in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
Leaver, a Brooklyn native, was off from work and at home in Rockland on the day of the attacks. However, upon learning of the disaster, he reported to his post with Divison 3, Ladder 25 on 77th Street in Manhattan.
A memorial service was held for Leaver at St. Francis of Assissi Church in West Nyack on September 26.
Memorial Sloan Kettering to open two new satellite locations
Memorial Sloan Kettering is set to open two new satellite locations in the Lower Hudson Valley with one in West Harrison, New York and another in Monmouth, New Jersey.
The Monmouth location, which broke ground on September 18 and recently began construction, will situate MSK’s 285,000 square foot facility on a 40 acre parcel of land. The center is expected to create anywhere from 150 to 160 jobs and will serve residents of neighboring areas with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, post-operative care and diagnostics.
Meanwhile, another center has been completed in West Harrison. The $143 million outpatient center features many of the same services, administered by a staff of 140 employees, including a initial 35 physicians. It is set to open on October 6.
Four trucks removed from Rockland roads due to safety risks
An inspection checkpoint pulled four trucks off the road in the Village of Suffern on September 26, finding safety hazards in the vehicles which put drivers at risk. According to Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn, vehicles were stopped for a multitude of infractions which included faulty brakes, oversized loads and even a truck which was carrying food without refrigeration.
Aside from the four trucks, 71 tickets were issued and two arrests were made.
South Nyack PD seeks witnesses in bicycle incident
South Nyack PD is looking for witnesses to a possible road rage incident involving a cyclist and driver on South Broadway on Sunday. The incident allegedly involved a cyclist as an aggressor against a driver. In what was called an unprovoked attack, the cyclist reached into the car’s passenger side window while the vehicle was in motion to grab the passenger.
The cyclist himself has been described as a white male with dark brown hair and a thin build. He allegedly wore no helmet, a bright green cycling shirt and shorts with a white stripe during the altercation. Witnesses have already come forward regarding the incident, but police are still searching for more clues as to the cyclist’s identity. Any individual who might have information pertinent to the case can contact South Nyack-Grand View Police at 845-358-0205.
Astorino demands investigation of Cuomo-created political party
New York Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Rob Astorino launched another attack against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this time suggesting prosecutors investigate alleged fraud in the Women’s Equality Party, which Cuomo helped to create.
Astorino cited a series of unlawful nominating petitions as evidence of possible fraud in the newly-created party. The Republican challenger has already issued a general challenge to the petitions.
Democrats have encountered difficulty with WEP petitions several times since the party’s inception as a vehicle to channel female voters into a party guaranteed to endorse Cuomo. Following court challenges, the WEP line was denied to a total of six Democratic candidates after a significant portion of their petitions had been invalidated.
Among them was Justin Wagner, who is running for Putnam County representative Sen. Greg Ball’s seat after the Republican finishes his term and retires.
Former NYPD chief allowed to “double dip” for extra pension
Thanks to a legal technicality, New York City will allow a former NYPD chief to “double dip” by receiving two separate pensions totaling about $305,000 per year.
Michael Blake, who served as counter-terrorism chief for the NYPD and an anti-corruption chief with the Department of Corrections, will be allowed to collect a $120,000 NYPD pension an a $185,000 DOC pension. He was able to secure the massive pension after he obtained a special waiver from the Department of Administrative Services.
However, amid media attention Blake announced he would forgo his pension with the DOC. According to him, he did not want the payments to become a distraction from his work with the city.
Blake had also received media attention last year when he was tried in a Brooklyn federal court for sexually harassing two female NYPD subordinates. He was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Secret recordings reveal government watchdogs ignoring Wall Street improprieties
A former employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released recordings last week which suggested regulators were deliberately ignoring suspicious banking practices on Wall Street.
Carmen Segarra made the bombshell allegations after she had recorded 46 hours of meetings between her supervisors and managers at Goldman Sachs between 2011 and 2012. The recordings contain numerous instances where her superiors appear to explicitly or implicitly state they do not want to place too much pressure on Goldman executives or follow through on suspicious activities with investigations.
Segarra filed a lawsuit against the Fed last year, claiming her refusal to change findings in an official report led to her termination. The suit was dismissed in federal court, but Segarra is appealing.
The case might also lead to larger problems for both regulators and bankers. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has already made calls for a federal investigation into the matter. The Fed and Goldmn Sachs have both dismissed claims of collusion, with the Fed arguing Segarra was fired due to poor job performance.
California to give undocumented children $3 million in legal aid
In an effort to alleviate what has been suggested to be a humanitarian crisis at and beyond the American border with Mexico, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law which will dedicate $3 million toward assistance to foreign children who illegally enter the country.
The law, which was signed by Brown over the weekend, provides funds to nonprofits which serve immigrant children, many of whom illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to escape drug-related violence and poverty in Central America. The law will also allow state courts to provide the basis for the federally-granted expedited naturalization process.
According to Brown, the new rules will provide for the needs of undocumented immigrants while also assisting their navigation through the legal system. The bill addresses a surge in undocumented migrants-particularly young children-which crossed the border earlier this year. California received about ten percent of the total migrants.
FBI sends fake defendant in sting operation against corrupt judge
The FBI recently tried an unorthodox approach to undercover work: The creation a mock criminal defendant to catch a corrupt judge in the act.
Philaelphia Municipal Judge Joseph Waters Jr. pled guilty on September 24 to federal charges of mail and wire fraud for accepting a payoff in exchange for a guarantee of leniency for a fake defendant named David Khoury, who was “charged” with possession of an illegal handgun.
FBI investigators went as far as scheduling official court appearances for Khoury and allowed the creation an official case docket. Throughout the proceedings, it appeared even prosecutors and the defense attorney representing Khoury were in the dark.
During the proceedings, Waters was contacted by an unnamed campaign donor who described the defendant as a cousin of a business associate and made the offer. Waters spoke to another judge who was handling the case and ultimately succeeded in having the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
The case against Khoury was ultimately dropped when the defendant failed to appear in court and the sting came to light.
Newly-released Common Core guidelines suggest lengthy testing times
A multi-state team tasked with developing the new, controversial Common Core national education standards released their recommended time schools should set aside for tests last week, figures significantly above original estimates.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) suggested schools allot about nine and three quarters hours for third grade exams, 10 hours for fourth and fifth grades, 10 ¾ hours for sixth through eighth grades and between 11 and 11 ¼ hours for ninth grade and up.
The number is higher than the PARCC’s March estimates, which suggested test times would run anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. The other consortium responsible for designing the tests, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, had a lower estimate of seven to eights and a half hours.
The new standards are meant to reflect the time required for all students to complete the exams. Field tests suggested 75 percent of students finished in six and a half to seven and a half hours.
Oklahoma man charged with beheading coworker
An Oklahoma man seemingly inspired by recent Islamic State violence was charged on Tuesday for the brutal beheading murder of a coworker, an act which triggered an FBI investigation but revealed no links to larger terror activities.
Alton Nolen, 30, was arrested and charged after he beheaded co-worker Colleen Hufford, 54, with a knife and wounded Traci Johnson, 43, another employee at Vaughan Foods, the food production company where he worked on the production line.
According to police, Nolen-who is black-was suspended from his job on Friday after Johnson reported to a supervisor that he had made inflammatory remarks about white people. Nolen returned later that day with what was described as a large kitchen knife, killing Hufford and chasing and attacking other employees before being shot with a rifle by Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer.
After his arrest, the FBI scoured Nolen’s electronic devices and social media postings, turning up a mixed bag of religious literature, information on al-Qaeda and at least one photo of a beheading. However, they stated they had not found any evidence Nolen, who is a recent convert to Islam, was involved with larger terror networks.
Prosecutors stated they intend to pursue the death penalty if Nolen is convicted.
Hong Kong protesters continue demonstrations in spite of official dismissal
Hong Kong’s political leadership appears steadfast in its refusal to concede to pro-democracy protesters’ demands, even as activists threaten to expand their demonstrations and perhaps even occupy government buildings.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the major groups associated with what has now been dubbed the “umbrella revolution” for the rainy weather over the city, demanded Hong Kong’s chief executive C.Y. Leung step down. If he did not, they threatened to expand protests.
The warning seems to be valid. Since protests began, tens of thousands of people have joined and in spite of some clashes with police and inclement weather, their momentum does not appear to be dissipating. On Tuesday, the activists made a highly-visible but peaceful appearance to speak out against Leung while the chief executive attended a National Day reception to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Leung has been at the forefront of controversy in the semi-autonomous city, which was once administered by the British and has retained some political and economic freedoms unavailable to mainland China. Protesters demaning his ouster have cited his willingness to accept a deal in which chief executive candidates must be pre-approved by Chinese leadership and his refusal to seek further reform.
Secret Service director steps down after White House intruder scandal
The director of the U.S. secret service stepped down Wednesday when questions were raised about the effectiveness of existing procedures and leadership.
Director Julia Peterson resigned following revelations that the White House’s security plan had major flaws which could have potentially put the president at risk. She admitted during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday that there had been lapses, with major Congressional figures such as Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Lindsey Graham indicating Peterson should resign.
Secret Service security errors were placed in the spotlight last week when it was revealed that an intruder was able to jump the White House’s perimeter fence and make it all the way to the East Room. It was also revealed Wednesday that a private armed guard with a criminal history of assault and batter had rode in an elevator with Obama, a serious breach of security.
Peterson will be replaced by former Presidential Protection Division agent Joseph Clancy.