TIMELINES 11/20/14

Nadell returns to Rockland for trial

Diana Nadell has returned to Rockland to consult with her legal counsel before she faces charges for the murder of her mother-in-law and the attempted contract murder of two witnesses.

Nadell, 50, was brought back to Rockland on November 7 from Ulster County, where she was kept after she was arrested in the murder of Peggy Nadell, 80. The transfer occurred at around the same time Andrea Benson, 25 of Washington D.C., was moved to a facility upstate.

Benson and three other women were allegedly hired by Nadell to assist in the murder of Peggy for a $4 million inheritance. According to police, Benson and Diana muscled their way into Peggy’s Valley Cottage home before they stabbed and beat her to death.

After Benson decided to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a more lenient sentence, Nadell tried to arrange for the murder of two individuals who also cut a deal with prosecutors. The plot was discovered, however, and additional charges were levied against Nadell.

Nadell’s trial could begin as soon as April 2015. It is not yet certain whether the assassination plot and Peggy Nadell murder will be consolidated into one case.

Fundraisers efforts go above and beyond for victims of Valley Cottage house fire

A Valley Cottage couple known for their generous service to the local community was repaid in turn last week after the destruction of their home prompted an outpouring of support.

Bruce and Rose Pollack faced tragedy last week when Bruce’s station wagon exploded due to a fuel leak. The resulting fire completely destroyed the couple’s Quaspeck Boulevard house and left them homeless.

However, friends and neighbors have already exceeded the Pollack’s expectations with fundraising efforts which reached above and beyond their initial requests. A GoFundMe page set up for the Pollacks raised over $18,000 as of Tuesday and continues to reap donations far above the $5,000 requested.

Much of the support has come from the Nanuet Hebrew Center, where Bruce serves as co-president and both he and his wife play in the temple’s band. In addition to the online donations, congregants were quick to offer their own homes for temporary shelter, clothing and personal items and cars so the Pollacks could get around.

Donations to the Pollacks can be made by visiting: http://www.gofundme.com/h4bnds.

Parts of Lower Hudson Valley see first snow of the season

Thursday into Friday marked the first snowy night for several Lower Hudson Valley counties, with parts of Rockland seeing some brief accumulation.

The snow was partly thanks to a cold snap which pushed temperatures below the freezing point for several days and giving the region its first taste of winter weather. Suffern saw some snowfall which did not stick while Stony Point experienced a light dusting which quickly vanished as the day grew warmer. However, neither area saw an accumulation on roads and conditions for drivers remained relatively safe.

Further north, other areas saw more significant accumulation. Areas of Putnam County and North Westchester saw up to an inch of snowfall. South of the state line, New Jersey experienced far more significant snowfall, with some areas reporting over three inches.

The snow was followed a few days later by a cold snap that brought night time temperatures to the low 20s.

Congers Elementary building project moves forward

The Clarkstown Central School District awarded $4.3 million in contracts for repairs to the damaged Congers Elementary School, a seeming confirmation of the building’s continued use even as its fate as a school remains uncertain.

The school district planned for the repairs to begin Thursday, alleviating parent fears that the school would be forced to close due to shortfalls in enrollment. The building remains out-of-use while deteriorating sections of a gymnasium wall are repaired.

However, even before repairs are completed, the school might become a victim of district-wide issues with enrollment. A recent report put together by Western Suffolk BOCES found that a 7.4 percent drop in student enrollment has led to chronic under-use of the district’s 14 buildings. The School Board has not yet announced whether or not it would close any of its schools to make up for the drop.

The fate of several schools in the district-including Congers Elementary-will likely be decided after the board solicits input from the public during a December 17 community meeting and from the Superintendent J. Thomas Morton. A decision could come as soon as early 2015, when the district begins to assemble its 2015-2016 budget.

Man who defrauded mother out of thousands arrested for failing to pay child support

A man who lived as a fugitive before he served time in jail for defrauding his mother out of over $72,000 has now been charged with failure to pay over $18,000 in child support.

Steve Dloughy, 47 of Spring Valley, was arrested on Thursday. The Rockland County Family Court issued a warrant for his arrest on May 30, but only took him into custody last week when warrant unit investigators with the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department found him at a Ewing Avenue apartment.

Dloughy, who owes $18,415 in child support payments, is no stranger to the law. He was arrested on an outstanding New York warrant in Tennessee for the theft of $72,480 from his mother from 2006 to 2009. After he was sent back to Rockland, he served six months in County Jail for second-degree grand larceny.

Dloughy is expected to return to court on December 2.

Skelos re-elected as Republican leader, hints at legislative pay raise

Shortly after his re-election as the New York State Senate’s Republican leader, State Sen. Dean Skelos suggested that he might support a pay raise for state legislators upon the condition that there are no significant concessions to Democrats.

Skelos was re-elected during a closed-door meeting on Monday, gathering unanimous support from New York Republicans even in spite of allegations that he worked against gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino to secure a deal for Republican control of contested districts in Long Island. The victory was widely expected since no Republicans had stated their intentions to support the presiding Republican leader.

However, Skelos raised eyebrows after the meetings when he alluded to planed talks with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Assembly regarding a potential pay raise for state legislators, the first since their base pay was increased to $79,500 in 1999.

Before the election, Skelos pledged that he would still reach across the aisle if the Republicans wrested one of the houses away from the Democrats. At the same time, the Republican leader, who now presides over a Republican-dominant Senate, has now dismissed notions that there would be compromises on items such as state or local minimum wage hikes or a state DREAM Act to provide tuition assistance to children of undocumented immigrants.

Post-Senate Greg Ball breaks into private sector with consulting firm

Former Putnam County Sen. Greg Ball, who ended his career as a Republican in the State Legislature this year after announcing his retirement in May, has now taken up the title of CEO with Black Stone LLC, a consulting firm he will head with the help of several colleagues from his political career.

Ball will join former Senate aides Josef Bachmeier and Colin Schmitt and business technology entrepreneur Charlie Miles to run the company, which focuses on business advice and strategic planning in business, political and tech arenas. According to a press release issued by Black Stone, the company has already inked investments with three existing technology companies and has deals on four continents.

As both a conservative stalwart and a lightning rod for controversy-including allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of campaign funds to purchase luxury items-Ball has been a frequent public face in state politics. Ball began his political career when he ousted incumbent Republica Assemblyman Willis Stephens in 2006. In 2010, he emerged victorious in a Senate race against longtime Sen. Vincent Leibell.

Sloatsburg man arrested for knifepoint robbery

An 18-year old Sloatsburg man was arrested on Saturday after he attempted to rob a woman at knifepoint during a drug deal gone bad.

Ramapo police were called to the scene at 161 Orange Turnpike by a witness who reported an armed robbery. When they arrived, they found a witness had detained Edward Feeley, 18. According to police, Feeley and another woman were engaged in a drug deal when he robbed her of the drugs.

Both Feeley and the woman were taken into custody. Feeley was charged with felony first-degree robbery, misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The woman was charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal sale of marijuana and both were slapped with violations for unlawful possession of marijuana.

Ferguson prepares for verdict on fatal shooting

A grand jury verdict on the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri is expected any day now, ratcheting up tensions and fears of violence among protesters in reaction to a possible acquittal.

The August 9 shooting set off a round of protests and riots against Ferguson Police for what local activists characterized as racially-biased police practices and a chronic abuse of the city’s African-American community. Though no information is available on the verdict yet, a steady stream of leaks from the proceedings seem to suggest Wilson will not face charges for the killing.

To protect the city from civil unrest, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has activated the National Guard for a secondary role and re-worked the command structure of law enforcement in the St. Louis suburb. St. Louis County Police will be in charge of security and will work hand-in-hand with the state’s Highway Patrol and nearby police forces in the cities of St. Louis and Ferguson.

Residents have also prepared for the verdict by boarding up homes and businesses to protect property from looters. Reports also indicate gun sales have skyrocketed in the weeks leading up to the announcement, which St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch indicated would likely be handed down sometime in mid-to-late November.

Obama to make immigration announcement on Thursday

President Barack Obama is set to speak on immigration reform in Las Vegas on Thursday night in what might turn out to be a major policy announcement on amnesty for immigrant families.

The announcement will likely outline the broad contours of a plan to protect up to five million undocumented immigrants in the United States through work permit programs and protections from deportation. Early previews of the announcement, which will likely take the form of an executive order which will grant the workers similar rights as “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.

At the same time, it is unlikely the order will include benefits such as healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The exclusion of healthcare subsidies reflects an attempt to make the order more palatable for Republicans, who have broadly opposed unilateral action on immigration reform on Capitol Hill.

Immigration reform has been a contentious issue for Obama, prompting outrage from both the right and left. On the left, Hispanic groups and immigration reform proponents have chastised the administration for presiding over record numbers of deportations, while on the right Republicans have criticized not only the expansion of protections for those who enter the country illegally but also the unilateral executive action Obama has taken which cuts Congress out of the decision-making process.

Organic molecules found by comet landing craft

The European Space Agency’s lander Philae, which secured a successful landing on a comet this week, has now picked up signs of organic material which might provide clues on the origins of life on earth.

The compounds, which were detected by a German-built “Mupus” instrument designed to test the atmosphere of the comet, were identified as carbon-based. However, further tests are required before the exact chemical compositions of the materials are confirmed.

Scientists with the ESA have already gathered data which suggest the comet is covered by a thin layer of particles with roughly the same density as sandstone, underneath which is likely a core of ice and water. The Philae’s instruments will continue to gather and test materials and relay data to earth before its battery runs out sometime over the weekend.

“Grubergate” rocks Obama admin

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber is recognized as an architect of Obamacare. His role in the controversial bill has caused shock waves this week due to a series of videos that have recently emerged showing Gruber calling the American people “stupid.”

In the videos, he explains how ObamaCare was written and promoted in a misleading way, calling the general idea of it a lie, in order to get the bill signed. Gruber proceeds in the video to say the “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” when it comes to selling it to American voters because voters are “stupid” or have “lack of economic understanding.”

In light of Gruber’s comments Obama and others have distanced themselves from him, even after lauding his work in past months and years.