BY JOEL GROSSBARTH
The notorious Rockland podiatrist and his girlfriend were sentenced to state prison in connection with the complex plot to murder his wife. Ira Bernstein was sentenced by Rockland County Court Judge David Zuckerman to a term of five to fifteen years in prison for his role in the plot to kill his wife Susan Bernstein, and also to have two insurance investigators investigating his podiatric practice beaten. Co-Defendant Kelly Gribeluk was sentenced to a term of four to twelve years in prison for her role in the scheme.
In a statement to the Court, Bernstein claimed that “the pressure and stress of life led me to make bad choices.” He expressed remorse for his actions, but none of his pleas were received by Judge Zuckerman. Judge Zuckerman chastised Bernstein for the plot to kill his wife in a staged car accident. Zuckerman told Bernstein that he forfeited his right to be a parent. Bernstein was also sentenced to a state prison for one to three years in connection with a separate grand larceny charged which he pled guilty to last month. The terms will run concurrently, so Bernstein will not spend more time in prison for the additional crime.
The proceedings contained an incredibly brave and touching victim impact statement by the victim, Susan Bernstein. In her statement to the Court, Susan Bernstein called her estranged husband and evil and cold-hearted narcissist, who strategically and meticulously planed her murder. Ms. Bernstein informed the court that for years “he (Bernstein) threatened to murder me, to throw me in the lake behind our house and make it look like I drown.”
Susan Bernstein further informed Judge Zuckerman that “seeing my children suffer brings me to my knees on a daily basis. All three of my children worry (Bernstein) will turn on them. Ira’s viciousness has changed everything, our attitudes, feelings, beliefs, behaviors, ways of coping, sleep, eating, and trust in relationships. The post traumatic stress, headaches, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating we have will take years to heal. The damage is permanent and has affected us at our core. Nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks will forever haunt us.”
Judge Zuckerman refused Bernstein’s lawyer’s requests for shock incarceration and other forms of relief that could potentially shorten his sentence. These types of programs are up to the Department of Corrections to issue, if at all.
Susan Bernstein was equally passionate towards Kelly Gribeluk. Susan Bernstein laid out the meticulous nature of Gribeluk’s involvement of the crime, from deciding how it would happen to shopping around for a hit man. It was divulged that Gribeluk and Bernstein have been living together for several months in Bernstein’s posh Montebello home, despite the fact that she signed a cooperation agreement with the District Attorney’s Office last year.
In sentencing Gribeluk, Judge Zuckerman called her “cold and heartless.” He refused to credit Gribeluk’s sentence for the time she spent during home confinement. Zuckerman also denied Gribeluk’s request for potentially time shortening programs.