Thursday, May 31, 2007
On Vines and Lines
1. Lila D’Adolf ’s letter (May 17 issue) calls for a program to remove the runaway vines which are choking the trees on the Saw Mill River Parkway. She should be notified that there is such a program. I remember reading several years ago, after a motorist had been killed by a falling branch caused by vines killing trees, that the Dept. of Highways had begun a program to clear vines from the parkway wooded areas. Since then I have occasionally seen crews removing vines. But I would imagine that lately, with the crazy storms having killed, damaged and downed many trees, that other priorities may have pushed this program to the back burner. And the sheer size of the task is in any case daunting.
2. Your paper with its investigative attitude is great. I am glad to see advertisers supporting you in increasing numbers, showing that business people, who might be expected to “go along to get along” and might not want office-holders marking them down for retribution, are not afraid to support a publication dedicated to exposing the widespread rot in public affairs in Westchester. It is a nice partial antidote to the feeling one gets now in this country, watching the Constitution slowly being destroyed while the public is busy lapping up American Idol and its ilk. Thanks, and keep it up.
Charles Zigmund, Pleasantville
Help Youth By Getting Involved
As a lifelong resident of Mount Vernon, I would like to point out some facts that were not mentioned in your article. First, the youth of Mount Vernon today have less available to them than the preceding generations. Old-time merchants used to employ young people after school in their businesses whereas today that isn’t the case. Mount Vernon has fewer businesses than it did years ago, car dealerships, factories, supermarkets and the like. Malcolm X once stated to the people of Harlem, New York, “Don’t shop where you can’t work.” This boycott
led to jobs being created for the community.
Secondly, concerning the Hip Hop Museum, if being the case that Mayor Davis failed the youth to have it built, there are alternatives. One being asking rappers such as P Diddy and Henry O, both formerly of Mount Vernon, to contribute funds to having it built. Also people in the community can raise money to create it. Look to Memphis, Tenn. To the Civil Rights Museum or to Cleveland, Ohio, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Thirdly, concerning youth violence, look to Newark, New Jersey which was shown on Channel 9 (WOR) in the broadcast Scared Straight. The City of Newark, with permission of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, took troubled youth, or young people in general, to state prisons to see what prison life is like. By them interacting with prisoners many of them will have second thoughts about gang life.
Here we have seen how this growing menace can be curtailed without so much taxpayer expense but by everyone getting involved; namely the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Education, and finally the City of Mount Vernon by extending recreation, Police Athletic League and various programs.
Please don’t give up on these young people, plenty of successful people came from Mount Vernon; Dick Clark, Lynn Brown, P Diddy, Henry O, Denzel Washington, Allan Funt (Candid Camera). These young people need to be shown that they can be one of the aforementioned people too.
Dennis Fishbein, Mount Vernon
Re: “Youthful Violence Taking Over Mount Vernon?” 10th May 2007
It is disturbing, indeed, when one hears, as I did last night, of a student and his father being assaulted at Longfellow School (apparently the student was resisting induction into a gang). Disturbing, too, are the incidents noted in your article. I am little surprised, then, when I find that, of all the parents of my acquaintance, not a single one plans to send their children to Mount Vernon High School, where they have the dubious distinction of the lowest SAT scores in the County (Westchester Magazine, April 2007, pages 82-83).
So, what is the solution? I think we first have to look to the home, where children receive their first instruction.
It is of no benefit to a child if their parent(s) are missing in action, AWOL, or somewhere “upstate.” A child requires a parent, preferably parents, who are interested in and dedicated to expanding the horizons of their children through their example of hard work, good character, and way of living.
Education, or the lack thereof, has long-reaching effects on the lives of our children, their future prospects for
gainful employment, and their contribution to the next generation. It should, therefore, be a primary concern of each and every parent to see to it that their child(ren) receive the very best education that they can access.
Unfortunately, for many parents in Mount Vernon, this will mean seeking out a private or parochial school for their child to attend, or else paying tuition for an out of-district placement; or, simply, moving.
Why should parents want to invest 500K in a home, pay enormous property taxes, and, on top of that, pay for
school fees and transportation to a private institution because they do not feel they can reliably count on the safety of their child during school hours?
As regards another matter, I have long wondered why there is no (to my knowledge) trades and technical high
school in Mount Vernon. In Yonkers, NY, where I attended high school (more years ago than I care to count) there were, at that time, four high schools, three of which were on an “academic” or college-bound track, and one which was a trades and technical high school.
I should think that, by the time a student is 12 or 13 it would be possible to discern, through standardized testing
and other measures, such as grades and teacher observations, where abilities and inclinations lie, their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
I would suggest, then, that there be some division made between those students who are college-bound and
those who have demonstrated no obvious inclination towards, or talent, in academic subjects (a few of whom who will, undoubtedly, through sheer boredom, jealousy, or perversity of spirit, deliberately disrupt the efforts of those students who do have college in their sights). Given the salaries many skilled tradesmen (and women) can command, this would seem, to me, to be an attractive option. Established businesses, already part of the community, might offer these young people apprenticeships or internships which might well lead to employment after graduation.
The business and occupation of young men and women should be to educate themselves, to be an active participant in forming their futures through their experiences both in school and in the community. How can
this be accomplished, on either an academic or technical track, if they have to be concerned for their physical safety?
Those misguided young people who do disrupt the education of others, or who threaten the safety of staff or other students, should be dealt with swiftly and firmly. There should be no tolerance of anti-social behavior in or out of the classroom, in the guise of being “sensitive” or “correct” or in order to conceal or downplay chaotic conditions.
How many children have to be assaulted or die before a hard line is taken with these hard cases who are not
working towards college or an honest trade but towards an orange jumpsuit and leg-irons, to live at our expense in another State-run institution?
Rose Wallace Hardy Celebrates 100th Birthday!
Mrs. Rose Wallace Hardy celebrated her 100th birthday last Friday afternoon, May 25th, at the Westchester Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing in Mount Vernon.
One of eight children, she was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she lived until her family relocated to Manhattan. Her family was extremely musical, which fostered her love of dancing. Three of her brothers were professional musicians, working with Duke Ellington, the Savoy Sultans (the house band for NYC’s Savoy Ballroom), and the Jimmy Lundsford Band. Her sister Dorothy, who currently lives in The Bronx is her only living sibling.
She was married to her first husband, Ernest Wallace, for 36 years, until his death in 1968. She also survived her second husband, Sylvester Hardy, to whom she was married for 23 years.
Mrs. Wallace was employed as a home health aide. A devout Baptist, she loves to knit, to read and to do puzzles. Mrs. Wallace has been a doting aunt to her many nieces and nephews, who are threw the birthday party for her.
Editor’s Note: The staff of the Westchester Guardian take this opportunity to wish Mrs. Rose Wallace Hardy a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY and many happy returns.
Reader Takes Issue with Columnist Polvere
Someone once said, “But hushed be every thought that springs from out the bitterness of things.” It seems column after column George W. Bush is everpresent on the mind of Fred Polvere. In his latest of Thursday, May 17, “America At War: Fact, Fiction, Bush”, Polvere concludes with these words, “No amount of spin will prevent George W. Bush from being seen as the most incompetent and immoral president in the history of the United States.” It appears Mr. Polvere is a prognosticator.
He knows what the future holds and can say with certainty that Mr. Bush is destined for the scrapheap of history. While the nation is at war, and men and women of the military are in harm’s way, distraught and disillusioned liberals like Polvere, still smarting from the 2000 election, have maligned, wished harm, and accused this resident of lies and deceit, high crimes and misdemeanors, and yes even having foreknowledge and possibly involvement
in the September 11 attack.
Mr. Polvere and those who think like him are capable of cruel and malicious behavior. Their unrestrained and
inflammatory rhetoric goes well beyond the bounds of decency and good taste.
Their unnatural hatred of this President is disturbing, and gives credence to the existence of what is now referred
to as Bush Derangement Syndrome. It is also, I believe, a manifestation of a deep bias toward certain ideologies and beliefs. Love him or hate him, agree or disagree, George W. Bush is the President of the United States, and deserves some measure of respect.
There Was Nothing Good About The Mission of Monica Goodling
This nation’s, democratically elected, representative form of government has worked over more than two centuries, essentially predicated on a two-party system. And, while those two parties, were not always known as the Republicans and Democrats, the philosophies separating them, for the most part, have defined the bright line between wealthy, and working class, Americans. Put quite simply, Republicans believe that if Big Business is prospering, everyone will be doing well. Democrats, on the other hand, have always held that if farmers and laborers were prospering the nation’s businesses would also prosper.
Come national election time Americans have traditionally laid aside other concerns, and, depending upon the state of the economy, whether we were at war or peace, or some other compelling issue, have gotten involved, many passionately, in the process and debate. Until very recently, both sides however could always find common ground in the Constitutional separation of Church and State. Apparently, not so, the Bush Administration.
In both houses of Congress investigations into the firings of eight United States Attorneys, and the planned firing of many more, have peeled back the cover on one of the uglier political operations instituted under the oppressive regime of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and George W. Bush. Former United States Attorney, and Deputy Attorney General, James Comey testified two weeks ago before the Senate Judiciary Committee detailing the bald-faced attempt in 2004 by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card to fraudulently get Attorney General John Ashcroft, laying seriously ill in a Washington hospital, to sign off on the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping activities.
Now, last week, Monica Goodling, only after receiving a grant of immunity from prosecution, after two months of resistance, finally came forward to testify before a House Committee also investigating the firings. Goodling, admitted, “I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account.”
Goodling, 33 was the Justice Department’s White House liaison. Ms. Goodling, generally perceived as a tough Conservative, had gone to work at the Justice Department in 2002, having previously worked for the Republican
National Committee as an “opposition researcher,” one whose job it was to gather dirt on the opponent. Although a lawyer, Goodling had absolutely no prosecutorial experience. Nevertheless she quickly moved into a position of power over who would be hired, and promoted, throughout the Justice Department.
Despite the grant of immunity, Ms. Goodling had many memory lapses regarding issues she was particularly uncomfortable about. We find one thing, however, that she did admit, particularly disturbing. Her admission that she weighed the hiring and promotional prospects of Justice Department applicants, and employees, against their political affiliations is the more significant, and alarming, given the fact that Goodling is an avowed Christian Fundamentalist whose probings were not merely into politics but into religious beliefs. She is a disciple of the Religious Right, a movement that persists in wrapping political philosophy with religion, and whose corruptive, covert activities apparently reached far deeper into the workings of government, under the Bush Administration, than mere “Faith Based Initiatives.”
We would encourage Congress to take this investigation wherever it leads. Each and every individual involved, from Alberto Gonzales on down, must be purged from the Department of Justice, if the confidence of the American People is to be restored, and the agency’s name is to be regarded as anything more
than an oxymoron.
By Richard Blassberg
Guardian Fights Back, Going After Municipalities That Violate First Amendment
Several weeks ago The Westchester Guardian, through its parent corporation, The Guardian News, Inc., began to file civil actions against numerous villages, towns, and cities throughout Westchester County, charging each with various acts, including, but not limited to, their adoption, interpretation, and enforcement of local code provisions governing “Newsracks” on public property in violation of The Guardian’s rights as guaranteed
by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. At this point ten such federal complaints have been filed, the first of which was commenced on April 7, against
the Village of Tuckahoe, and several individuals involved in the administration of that village government.
Complaints have also been filed against the Villages of Bronxville, Pelham, Croton-On-Hudson, Larchmont, Briarcliff Manor, and Dobbs Ferry, as well as the Towns of North Salem and Greenburgh, and the City
of Yonkers. Additional actions are contemplated against numerous other municipalities currently violating the law.
The Westchester Guardian, a weekly newspaper, made its debut appearance August 10, 2006. Circulated throughout Westchester County in some 300 distinctive blue distribution boxes, as well as in newsracks in more than 700 professional offices, supermarkets, stationeries, delis, convenience stores, restaurants and other establishments, its readership has more than doubled while faithful to its mission to serve “The People’s Right To Know.”
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
THE GUARDIAN NEWS, INC.,
MICHAEL J. MARTINO, individually,
LUIGI MARCOCCIA, individually,
TONY E. SAYEGH, Jr., individually, 07 Civ. ( )
STEVEN A. ECKLOND, individually,
JOHN FITZPATRICK, individually,
SUSAN CIAMARRA, individually, COMPLAINT
ROBERT MASCIANICA, individually,
JOHN D. CAVALLARO, individually,
and the VILLAGE OF TUCKAHOE, Jury Trial Demanded
Plaintiff THE GUARDIAN NEWS, INC., by its attorneys Lovett & Gould, LLP, for its complaint respectfully states:
NATURE OF THE ACTION
1. This is an action for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, proximately resulting from the Defendants’ adoption, interpretation, and enforcement of a local code provision governing “Newsracks” in violation of Plaintiff’s rights as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. §1983.
Port Chester Voting Rights Trial In Federal Court
United States Federal District Court, White Plains - Judge Stephen C. Robinson Presiding
Monday morning, May 21st, the Voting Rights suit brought by the Justice Department through its Civil Rights Division, against the Village of Port Chester for alleged violations in their “at-large election” of village trustees, began in Federal District Court, White Plains.
The Government has contended for some time that the at-large system, as employed by the Village over many years, has effectively prevented the election of any trustee preferred by the Latino population.
The trial is intended to resolve the consolidated claims against the Village of Port Chester, not only of
the Justice Department, represented by the United States Attorney’s Of-fice, but also of Cesar Ruiz, candidate
for trustee in 2001. Mr. Ruiz is represented by attorneys Randolph Mc Laughlin, and Debra Cohen.
The government’s first witness was Dr. Lisa Handley, an election consultant for more than twenty years, and a
recognized expert in racially polarized voting patterns. Dr. Handley was asked to analyze the results in the Village’s recent mayoral election to determine if her prior analysis of voting patterns would change. Handley had analyzed sixteen prior Port Chester elections, and had determined that the candidates preferred by Hispanic voters had been defeated in twelve of the contests.
The government attorney asked, “Have you reached a conclusion?” Dr. Handley responded, “Whites ‘lock-vote’ to defeat Hispanic candidates.” Asked what method she used to draw her conclusions, she indicated that she had analyzed “homogeneous precincts and Spanish-surname registrations.” She declared, “There were special circumstances in the 2007 race for mayor.” She explained there was no Hispanic candidate, and that while
Hispanics voted mostly for Democrat Dennis Pilla, White voters divided between Pilla and his Republican opponent. Additionally, she asserted that because there had been a lot of publicity for the upcoming trial, and the
fact that there was no trustee election, added to the special circumstances.
Judge Robinson broke in, “Let me ask a big picture election question. This election is bad for your thesis, wouldn’t you say?” Handley wasn’t prepared to quite concede the point. The Government offered into evidence the Supplemental Report of Dr. Ronald Gatti, indicating “This is the report commissioned by Defendant
Village of Port Chester.” Mr. Anthony Piscionere, lead attorney for the Village, asked by Judge Robinson if
he had any objection, responded, “I’m in no position to oppose a report we ordered.”
The Government then turned to Dr. Handley and asked, “Do you agree with Dr. Gatti’s conclusion that
Regression Analysis is acceptable for predictive purposes?” Dr. Handley’s response, “Virtually
everyone voted for a candidate,” was quickly ridiculed by Robinson.
The Judge loudly declared, “virtually is a weasel word.” Handley went on to discuss the village election of 2001 in which Cesar Ruiz, a Latino, had run for trustee. She described the voting pattern of Hispanics as having been “single-shot voting.” She explained, “Many Hispanics cast only one vote, when they could have cast two, voting only for Ruiz.”
Attorney McLaughlin, representing Mr. Ruiz, then cross-examined Handley, asking, “Is there any difference between elections that are head-tohead, as opposed to multiple-candidate at-large elections?” Then attempting
to narrow, and clarify his inquiry, McLaughlin asked, “Would it be easier to defeat an Hispanic candidate in a head-to-head, or multiple choice?” Handley responded, “Head-to-head.”
Statement From United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia Vindicates The Guardian’s Position On Perez Investigation
Two weeks ago The Guardian, in an editorial entitled FBI Must Step Into Perez Case, declared, “In fact, because it is strongly suspected that the injuries sustained by Perez which led to his death only hours later, might very well have been inflicted by police officers acting under Color of Law; and, given the civil rights implications of such suspicions, it is imperative that the FBI get involved and conduct the investigation as early as possible.”
Beginning around May fourteenth, and for several days thereafter, there had been a number of statements from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office indicating that office had called upon United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia, and the FBI to aid in the investigation into the death by homicide of Rene Perez, a homeless, undocumented, Latino found near death, on the side of the road in Bedford, less than one hour after contact with officers from the Mount Kisco Police Department, late in the evening of April 28. Those statements obviously created some confusion in the media given the obvious civil rights implications attached to the widely held suspicion that Mr. Perez might have been the victim of police brutality, or at the very least, criminal negligence
at the hands of police.
On May 18th, responding to numerous media inquiries, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York released the following statement:
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
MAY 18, 2007 HERBERT HADAD, YUSILL SCRIBNER,
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
(914) 993-1900, (212) 637-2600
STATEMENT BY UNITED STATES ATTORNEY MICHAEL J. GARCIA REGARDING THE FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEATH OF RENE PEREZ
"We have received media inquiries seeking to clarify the extent of the federal role in the on-going investigation
being conducted by state and local authorities into the death of Rene Perez.
"On May 8, 2007, the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into this matter. Thereafter, the Westchester
County District Attorney asked the United States Attorney's Office and the FBI to join the state investigation.
"At the present time, state and federal authorities are not conducting a joint investigation. State authorities will
continue their homicide investigation. Federal authorities will continue to actively monitor the progress of the state
investigation and to offer assistance as requested. Federal authorities will be reviewing the evidence, including evidence amassed in the state investigation, to determine whether a violation of federal civil rights laws has occurred.
"During the pendency of the state and local investigation, the FBI will remain available to receive information from the public regarding this matter. Anyone with information regarding the circumstances leading to the death of
Rene Perez may contact the FBI at (212) 384-5000. Spanish speaking agents will be available to receive such calls," stated MICHAEL J. GARCIA, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
United States Attorney - Southern District of New York
In morning press conferences, held last Monday and Tuesday in the Mayor’s conference room, the arrests of Robert Lewis 18, of 425 North Terrace Avenue, Mt. Vernon, on Saturday evening May 19th, and Enric Devers 17, of 347 Huguenot Street, New Rochelle, Monday evening, May 21st, each charged with Second Degree Murder, in the killing April 28th of Reginald Rogers 20, outside his home on East Fourth Street, Mt. Vernon, were announced.
At Monday’s press conference Mayor Ernest Davis acknowledged, “There have been four homicides since the
first of the year.” Declaring, “ This is a sad day, but a good day in many respects,” the Mayor went on to say, “I want to congratulate Police Commissioner Chong and his dedicated staff, his patrol officers, and detectives,
for their excellent work.
Stepping up to the podium, Commissioner Chong told the media and City officials assembled, “I want to thank the community for calling us with tips.”
He went on to state, “We believe it was nothing more than male bravado, gang nonsense; we’ve arrested
one person and the investigation is still ongoing.”
He then fielded questions. The Guardian inquired, “Has ballistics testing revealed that the semi-automatic .380 found on Robert Lewis at the time of his arrest was the only weapon involved, or might there have been others?”
The Commissioner turned the microphone over to Commander of Detectives Angelo Fusillo, at his side, who responded, “There was more than one weapon involved.”
Tuesday morning, following the overnight arrest of Devers, Commissioner Chong told The Guardian, “With this second arrest the investigation is completed. There were no other individuals who fired shots at Reginald
Rogers.” He further informed us, like Lewis, Devers also had a Davis Industries .380 semi-automatic.
If brought to trial, and convicted of Second Degree Murder, each youth will face up to 25-Years-to-Life in prison.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
By Jeffrey Deskovic
Appellate Review Is Inadequate To Protect The Innocent.
In many of the wrongful coniction cases, including mine, the person eventually cleared often has had their appeals exhausted. Guess what happens to those who have been sentenced to death whose appeals have run out? The sentence is carried out. As an illustration of how inadequate appellate review is to stop miscarriages of justice, let us recount the following New Yorkers who were wrongfully imprisoned whose convictions the appellate process failed to remedy, starting with those convicted of murder: Roy Brown, 15 years for murder, Dennis Halstead,
16 years for murder, John Kogut, 17 years for murder, Kerry Kotler, 10.5 years for murder, Douglas Warney,
9 years for murder.
Those convicted of charges other than murder: Scott Fapiano, 21 years; Alan Newton, 21 years; Anthony
Capozzi, 20 years; Kharey Wise, 11.5 years; Victor Ortiz, 11 years; Michael Mercer, 10.5 years; Terry Chalmers, of Westchester, 7 years; Charles Dabbs, of Westchester, 7 years; Antron McCray, 6 years;
Kevin Richardson, 5.5 years; Yusef Salaam, 5.5 years; Raymond Santana, 5 years. By the way, the last
four mentioned, along with Kharey Wise, were convicted amid the hype surrounding a brutal rape, referred
to by the media as The Central Park Jogger case, akin to the type of hype which surrounds cop killings.
Doubtlessly the atmosphere played a role in their convictions, as it would in any crime which generateshysteria and outrage, again much as occurs in a cop killing case. The prospect of an innocent person being executed is no mere theoretical possibility. Consider the following excerpt from capital cases, which I borrow from a pamphlet of the magazine Justice Denied: “Hours before Freddie Lee Wright was executed in March 2000, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Johnstone vainly protested ‘…his petition recites persuasive facts that support the conclusion that he is innocent and that his conviction results from lack of a fair trial…the likelihood
[is] that we are sending an innocent man to his death.’”
Let’s look at the lessons of innocence and the death penalty in states that have the death penalty. Consider that Ray Krone was twice wrongfully convicted of murder before being cleared, and spent 4 years on death row. Consider that Earl Washington came within 9 days of being executed. Consider that Ron Williamson came within
5. Nicholas Yarris was nearly executed because at the end he gave up and actually got permission from a judge to give up what was left of his appeals, in effect volunteering to die. Consider the other exonerees who were on death row: Kirk Bloodsworth, Charles Fain, Ronald Jones, Ryan Mathews, and Robert Miller. Consider Frank Smith, who actually died on death row while still undergoing the appeals process, before being post-humously
cleared by DNA.
Consider too how frighteningly close in New York itself, in the short time that the death penalty statute was on the books, we came to senthetencing an innocent person to death, when Douglas Warney, of Rochester, was wrongfully charged and convicted of murder. Prosecutors tried to indict him for first degree murder so that they could seek the death penalty.
But the grand jury only indicted him for second degree murder. I would like to point out that often the circumstance which leads to one murder case being classified as a death penalty case, is being convicted
of another felony along with the murder. Often being convicted of a rape with a murder serves as a basis to classify a murder as a death penalty eligible. If I was eighteen years old as opposed to sixteen, I have no
doubt that I would have been sentenced to death. I was charged with a brutal crime, and there was a lot
of outrage and public pressure. My appeals ran out in 1999. I was not cleared until 2006. There would have
been no 2006 for Jeffrey Deskovic.
Then think about two things which are even more frightening: DNA evidence is only available in 10% of all serious felony cases, and there are nowhere near the legal resources needed in order to work oncases of innocence. The Innocence Project alone receives hundreds of letters each month requesting assistance, and already has a huge pile of cases waiting for representation. Similar organizations also have a tremendous backlog. For those two reasons it is impossible to tell for certain just how many innocent people there are in prison. Against this backdrop, when a person is sentenced to death, there is the added pressure of working against the clock. That is a recipe for disaster.
In any brutal or heinous crime, there is an emotional environment of anger, outrage, and public pressure on the police to solve the crime. When a police officer is killed, that is even more true, with the added feature that the police are now emotionally involved because a colleague was killed, thus setting the stage for mistakes to be made. I believe that life is bestowed by God and should not be taken, including that of law enforcement officers. I am against all murders, whether by street violence, or statesanctioned execution, carrying out the death penalty. I do not believe that the life of a person who chooses a career in the private sector is less valuable than that of a law enforcement officer. Therefore one crime should not carry the death penalty while another does not.
It has been proven through studies and statistics, that African-Americans are disproportionately sentenced to death. If someone who is white is convicted of the same type of crime as a African-American, the African-American is more likely to receive the death penalty. Similarly, an African-American convicted of killing a white man is more likely to be sentenced to death than a White killing a Black.
There is an element of classism also. You will never find a rich person or one with political connections on death row. The reason is that they can afford the best lawyers, helping them to either avoid being arrested in the first place, or to beat the rap. As if those two factors are not enough, I don’t believe that there is a judge alive who will sentence a rich man to death.
Then there are also geographic disparities, wherein what part of the state that one lives in makes it more
likely that one will receive the death penalty. Thus it is arbitrary who receives the death penalty and who
does not. There are moral problems with the existence of death rows. The prisoners are kept in their cells twenty
three hours a day, with the uncertainty of whether they will be executed hanging over their head, often for eight, or nine years, or even decades at a time. That is cruel and inhumane, and certainly enough to make anyone insane. Yet considering how flawed the system is, it is unavoidable since many are cleared after their appeals
have run out, thereby making a speeding up of the process unthinkable.
Thus the whole idea of having a death penalty becomes unworkable in practice. Additionally, there have
been botched executions, in which the condemned suffer.
There are a variety of myths surrounding the death penalty. One of them is that is gives closure to victims families. I have spoken with a woman, Marie Verzulli, whose family member was murdered, who related to me that in the course of her giving lectures against the death penalty, she had spoken to many murder victim family members who said that after the death penalty had been carried out that they had not received any closure. In fact, some
of them who had been public about wanting the murderer to be executed felt badly afterwards, that they had lowered themselves down to the murderers level. Many of them felt also that their pain was kept alive by the inevitable media attention that happens whenever the accused appeals were heard. And yet, the appeals could never be done away with because of the errors in the system. Were it not for the death penalty, the cases would not receive that type of attention.
Another myth is that it serves as a deterrent. There is no evidence which proves that it deters anybody from committing a similar crime. Those who murder in cold blood, after carefully premeditating it, do not believe that they will get caught, so it does not hinder them. Those who murder in the heat of the moment, are consumed with emotion and are not thinking about the consequences either. Thus neither type of murderer is deterred. Still another myth is that the death penalty is necessary to protect society. Prison has served thus far to protect society against two of the most notorious murderers, Charles Manson and David Berkowitz.
Yet another myth is that the death penalty is a cheaper option than imprisonment. According to a news
story out of Texas, entitled “Executions Cost Texas Millions”, reporters determined that it cost Texas two
point three million dollars more per case than a non-death penalty case. In New York, from 1995-2004, when we had the death penalty on the books, we spent $200 million dollars specifi-cally because of the statute’s existence, and executed nobody. Those resources could be better spent on social programs, such as education.
The death penalty does a disservice to us all. It drains financial resources, which could be better spent in other areas. It puts victim families through more agony. The process itself is inhumane, leaving the condemned unsure of whether he will be killed or not. But perhaps the most important one is that innocent people will be executed. The justice system, as it exists today, is much too flawed for us to have a penalty as irreversible as death. At least with
wrongful incarceration, we can free the innocent. With death, there is nothing that we can do. A wrongful conviction can happen to anyone, at anytime. If we have a death penalty, that means that not only are all of us
at risk of being wrongfully convicted, but we are also at risk at being executed as the penalty.
Thus it is for our own individual protection, along with that of our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, other family members, and friends, that we must not have a reinstatement of the death penalty. It is not about being soft on crime, and we must make our state and federal legislators understand that.
Last week Gov. Spitzer announced his intention to expand the DNA databank, by mandating that those who had been incarcerated for misdemeanors also be required to give DNA samples. I wholeheartedly endorse this latest
legislative initiative by Gov. Spitzer, as I have been actively advocating for laws that will protect the innocent, prevent and overturn wrongful convictions, and make it easier to bring justice to those cases wherein a wrongful conviction has occurred.
Expansion of the DNA Databank means that there will be more samples on file, so that when someone who is innocent receives a DNA test in which crime scene evidence is run through that databank, there will be more samples to check it against. In my case, for example, when DNA was run through the system, it matched someone else whose sample was in the system, thus simultaneously showing his guilt and my innocence.
Had Steven Cunningham only committed a misdemeanor and not a felony, his sample would not have been in the databank, I would still be in prison serving a life sentence. Expanding the databank pool increases the odds that
matches will be found when the innocent request DNA Testing of crime scene materials.
On the other side of the coin, opponents have raised objections, citing privacy issues, and worries as to whether insurance companies and employers will gain access to this information and decline medical coverage and employment opportunities.
With respect to insurance companies and employers, it has not happened yet that anyone has been denied employment or coverage based upon genetic predisposition. There is no reason to think that anyone will, because
those places do not have access to that information. However, to be on the safe side, legislation should be enacted to make it illegal for that information to be accessed either by insurance companies or employers.
With respect to privacy, it is my position and hopefully the position of most reasonable individuals, that when the competing interests of privacy and establishing innocence are weighed out, innocence, and the right to not be imprisoned for crimes one has not committed, certainly must trump any privacy concerns. To hold otherwise is to
say that it is okay for the innocent to sometimes remain in prison, because the DNA pool is not large enough to have potentially included the actual perpetrator of the crime for which they were wrongfully convicted.
I salute Gov. Spitzer for his proactive decision, indicating his concern for innocents caught in the web of the criminal justice system, and the recognition that the innocent are sometimes found guilty.
Last Wednesday night, in the wake of a severe thunder and wind storm, which took down trees and power lines in the Mt. Kisco area, Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, nevertheless, made an appearance at a gathering at Mt. Kisco Village Hall before some one hundred, mostly Latino, concerned citizens, there to protest the unsolved recent death of Rene Perez and two other Latinos strangled to death in the area in 2003 and 2004.
Introduced to the crowd by Fernando Mateo, founder of Hispanics Across America, DiFiore, surrounded by Mateo, DA Investigator Glover, and several Guardian Angels, declared, “I have come for a single purpose, to let the people know my office is handling the investigation into the death of Rene Perez.”
DiFiore went on to make an appeal to those gathered, as well as to the community at large, to come forward with any information that might be helpful in determining the exact circumstances leading up to Rene Perez’
death in the early morning hours of April 29. The DA attempted to ease any concerns on the part of undocumented individuals who might fear deportation or other repercussions for coming forward
Members of the District Attorney’s Office distributed a flyer, in both English and Spanish, displaying a picture of Rene Perez and offering a confi-dential hotline number, 914.995.6247, in the effort to draw out informants.
As a result of the failure of her office to respond to my repeated requests for a meeting, I have sent the following open letter to Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore:
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore
Westchester County Courthouse
111 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
White Plains, New York 10601
May 16, 2007
An Open Letter to District Attorney Janet DiFiore
In the past four months, I have called your office 15 times in an effort to arrange a meeting with you to discuss the Oscar Nedd murder case. All these calls were met with your staff indicating they would get back to me, which they never did. Do these people think this is a game or are they instructed to do this?
Oscar Nedd was a human being who was murdered in White Plains in 1975. His family grieves every day and asks what your office is doing to bring his killer, Joe Fluellen, to justice by putting this case before a Grand Jury. This case cannot be shoved under the rug like the one his killer Joe Fluellen used to carry his body in. Your office is bound by law to see that justice is carried out and, to date, you have failed to do so.
I know that Peter Vivano, the former head of the White Plains Police Detective Division, worked for your office for a brief time. I also know that he poisoned your mind on the facts in this case.
The same Peter Vivano who told the reporter with the Star Ledger that the tiny bit of blood found in Nedd’s room was animal blood when, in fact, there was so much blood in that room the head of Westchester County Forensics said no one could survive with the loss of that amount of blood without a transfusion. He also said it
was human blood, Type AB.
I think you are a step above the former DA, Jeanine Pirro, who should be in jail for what she has done while in office. Just because Oscar Nedd is Black, and the White Plains Police have lost or destroyed evidence is no reason to turn your back on this case. The Nedd family deserves the same justice you would give to a White family who lived in Westchester who lost a loved one to a vicious killer.
Joe Fluellen, who has a 393-page criminal file with the Warner Robbins Police Dept. is due to be released in 2011 or sooner. As indicated in the Las Crucas report he is a hardened criminal and will continue with his life of crime once released.
I ask that you put this case before a Grand Jury and give the Nedd family the justice they deserve
The Westchester Guardian
The Journal News
News 12, Cablevision
More on Judges Demand For Enhanced Pay
Katherine Wilson’s intrepid May 10 letter in response, The Truth About Most Judges, sums up judicial accountability with interesting, in fact, alarming, mathematical equations. Delineated perks of one hundred thousand dollars and counting, underscore the missing items behind this ‘dire digit need’ of Judith Kaye and fellow robed members. But Ms. Wilson’s letter teaches a far greater lesson and exposes a much plainer truth than this hidden index of judicial benefits, or its unsuspected costs to taxpayers. The numbers just don’t add up.
Judges who want pay for a job they don’t do rob the public of priceless con-fidence and trust in a system of justice.
No matter how you figure it, disuse of due process and case law does not meet the bottom line. According to Webster’s Third New International Unabridged Dictionary, the obscure meaning of Bank is “the bench or seat on which the judges of a court of law sit.” Strange isn’t it? To bank on the public confidence in the judiciary, the judges would have to do an honest day’s work; listen to the litigants’ testimony, read the motion papers, know the rules and the laws, and most especially, apply them. Ms. Wilson’s intimations of the behind the-scenes work desks of Westchester’s judiciary can well explain the large number of appeals crowding the Appellate calendar.
The findings of fact, and conclusions of law, rarely comport with courtroom testimony, the expert reports, even oftentimes, the causes of action. How could they? If the writers of the decisions, orders and judgments are
not present in the courtroom, are not in full view and earshot, how can the writers discern what circumstances and facts particular to a case to consider?
Matrimonial attorneys, Marilyn S. Faust and Charna L. Fuchs, decried in their January 1999 article in Women’s
News, the war that is the matrimonial court where “the laws are not applied consistently and the results vary widely from county to county, within the same courthouse and even in different matters before the same judge.”
Should they, the law clerks, do this task anyway? And, if so, for what, then, are the many judges asking the desired enhanced pay?
One year before Judith Kaye was sworn into the office of Chief Judge, in 1993, the Milonas Commission studied
attorney practice after New York State’s Better Business Bureau received many complaints about attorneys’ abusive practices in matrimonial matters.
The result was a report filed by the Committee which established standards for attorney matrimonial practice, especially with regard to retainers. The retainers had to spell out the terms of the exchange and be agreed upon, signed by both parties, sealed, and delivered to the court clerk for filing. This was to protect the public from attorneys who bilk clients of fair representation and fees.
Judith Kaye, as Chief Judge, appointed Sondra Miller, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, 2nd Department, in July 2005, to head a thirty two-member Commission, composed of eight lawyers, thirteen judges, one doctor, and one Certified Public Accountant, to again access the Matrimonial Parts in New York State.
The Commission issued a report recommending sweeping changes: The selection and education of justices that sit on this Part; the rules and laws applicable to Matrimonial litigation; the regulation of law guardians, and the administration of the legal process.
To quote the Commission: “The issues presented in matrimonial and related matters are numerous and diverse,
requiring the Judge to be knowledgeable about statutory and case law relevant to matrimonial proceedings,
as well as areas of tax, bankruptcy law, the appraisal of commercial assets, realty, enhanced earnings and professional license valuations, among other things. Therefore, the timely, accurate, and just disposition of these
cases depends, to a large degree, on the knowledge, character, temperament, professional aptitude and experience of the judge before whom the matter is presented. The public’s confidence in and respect for the court hinges on the proper selection and retention of judges for these Parts.”
If judges do indeed surrender their stipulated obligations to law clerks, fail to meet their contract with the
public, depart from the accepted, promulgated practice of the Bench, should they be rewarded and receive a raise?
A Pro Se Litigant Who Is Still
Dealing With The System
Erosion of Civil Liberties in America
I had to respond after reading the letter of May 17th by an anonymous civil servant whose calls to the federal
corruption hot line went unanswered.
A multi-year civil service employee, I also called the hot line, left a message for a call-back, including my
name, address, phone number. No one returned the call.
In the past, I have reported government corruption to the New York State Commission of Investigation (no response), The New York State Attorney General’s White Plains office -Deborah Scalise, Deputy Attorney General for Public Advocacy returned my substantial packet of documentation stating in effect that I should file my complaint with public officials, the very ones I was accusing of corruption. Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro – Michael Hughes-Assistant District Attorney, Public Integrity Bureau suggested
I contact the Westchester County attorney’s office with my concerns-the same attorneys would be defending the
county officials being charged.
Three weeks ago I traveled to Alexandria, Virginia to meet with attorneys at The Institute for Justice, a nationwide public interest law firm that pursues cutting-edge litigation in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion on behalf of individuals whose most basic rights are denied by government.
They recently defended Brody v. Village of Port Chester to stop abuse of eminent domain. This trip was to discuss the many county projects that run afoul of a “public benefits doctrine” in the law, which raises questions about whether residents of one part of the county can legally be made to pay for a piece of equipment, service or other investment that will only serve taxpayers in a different area.
The Institute for Justice was most accommodating and helpful, but a very interesting comment by one of the attorneys was, “That the New York State Court System is the worst in which to receive justice or fair trials.”
Unfortunately we no longer have government by and for the People or a separation of powers. For an eye-opening view of how we are being deceived by our government, watch the award-winning Aaron Russo film at http://www.freedomtofascism.com/, a startling examination exposing the systemic erosion of civil liberties in America.
North White Plains
The Truth About Mt. Vernon City Gov’t
As a Mount Vernon resident and a former City employee, I want to thank you for bringing to light the truth about
the corrupt Ernie Davis Administration.
The Mayor is corrupt but he is protected from being indicted because of political connections with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Elliot Engle who are more interested in him fooling Mount Vernon residents into voting for them than in the good and welfare of Mount Vernonites. It is a shame and a disgrace! Politicians like Eliot Spitzer, when he was Attorney General and now under the new Westchester DA Janet DiFiore would not investigate Davis even though he is stealing the city blind and passing money through insiders and friends. He is crooked! I read in the papers that money is missing from the urban renewal agency and the federal government does not seem to be investigating this. Ask yourself, “Why not?”
I used to work for the City. The corruption is so thick it is unbelievable. Serapher Conn Helevi is the Democratic
Party chairwoman in Mount Vernon. She endorsed the Mayor for reelection because he made her the City Marshall – she gets a payoff. She and her family also run a moving business where she charges tenants for moving them after she evicts them from their apartments as City Marshall – she gets another payoff. The Mayor gave her a no-bid contract to boot cars when people don’t pay parking tickets – she gets another payoff. Her daughter works for the Mount Vernon Recreation Department – she gets another payoff. Her son, who is Deputy City Marshall and also has a no-show job with the county planning department in the Section 8
program – she gets two more payoffs.
As the Mount Vernon Democratic Party Chairwoman she gave herself the nomination for the seat as county legislator to replace Clinton Young – she gets still another payoff. She plans on holding onto all these positions because the words ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘integrity’ don’t mean anything to her.
A Concerned resident
It’s Time Westchester Law Enforcement Enters The 21st Century
Notwithstanding Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz, who certainly will concur in the recommendation We now make, if for no other reason than to tremendously expand his sphere of influence, the Rene Perez tragedy, for all of the lessons that will surely emerge from it, from its inception, has made yet another cogent argument for a long-needed Westchester Countywide Police Department.
Clearly the ‘border-dumping’ practice employed by both the Bedford Town, and Mount Kisco Village, Police Departments on the evening of April 28th, that appears, at the very least, to have directly contributed to Rene Perez’ death, would immediately be obviated once the 42 city, town, and village police departments that currently carve up the jurisdiction, collectively known as Westchester County, would be consolidated into one countywide police force.
The patchwork of departments, not including the State Police, and the County Police, that now divide the policing of just under one million Westchester residents, is archaic and duplicative to say the least. Additionally, there are “too many Chiefs, and not enough Indians.” No reasonable individual would argue that there wouldn’t be considerable savings to taxpayers with the elimination of multiple-duplication. Nassau County, some seven miles across Long Island Sound, with 1.3 million residents as compared with Westchester’s just under one million, employs approximately 2,700 County Police Officers working from eight precincts. And, while it is true that some 19 village police departments have continued to function, for the most part, all major felonies, and all major emergencies are responded to by the Nassau County Police.
Without question, if all active personnel in all of the police departments in Westchester County were brought under the command of one countywide department, and the County was divided into eight, or possibly ten, precincts, there would immediately be more officers on the street, more on the roads, and in places of public
accommodation and transportation. Emergency equipment, as well as high technology, would be more readily accessible in all parts of the County, and together with manpower, would be more effectively and efficiently deployed than can presently be accomplished.
As importantly, under one command, one standard of training, and performance, the level of professionalism and excellence with which police officers everywhere in the County would deal with citizens would naturally rise, and
the kind of cronyism and local politics presently so pervasive in most existing local departments would be curtailed and ultimately eliminated. Additionally, the District Attorney’s Office would be held to an equal standard across the board, and the chances of bullying one police department or another, as Jeanine Pirro did for twelve years, would be virtually eliminated. There would be fewer Jeffrey Deskovic, Anthony DiSimone, Jing Kelly, and Richard DiGuglielmo cases, fewer malicious prosecutions, as prosecutors would be held to a higher, more uniform, standard as well.
Yes, for every good reason it’s time law enforcement in Westchester County steps into the Twenty-First Century. The residents and taxpayers deserve both the Constitutional, and financial benefits that will accrue. Perhaps the County Legislature will be willing to establish a committee to explore the potential feasibility,
and benefits of such a consolidation in the near future. Surely, an information campaign, and a referendum placed before County residents, might be constructive. In any event, the whole process is likely to take some time, and the likelihood that Larry Schwartz might still be controlling the reins of County government is very remote, indeed.
Here’s To You, Jim Comey
When push came to shove, unlike Alberto Gonzales and just about everyone else connected to the Bush Administration, his loyalty to the Constitution and Rule of Law, came before his loyalty to the President and before his own political ambition.
At a time when public sentiment regarding the integrity of politicians, and the judiciary, in this country is at an all-time low, and the media has been more complicit than constructive, last Tuesday’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by former Deputy United States Attorney General, James Comey was anything but a
“tiresome saga,” as characterized by The Journal News. In fact, for all but the most superficial and cynical observers, Mr. Comey’s revealing account of events little more than three years ago, at the highest levels of Executive power in Washington, was a moment of reassurance that Constitutional guarantees still matter, and that
the ends will not justify the means after all.
If The Journal News finds that message “so tiresome” perhaps it’s because they have long ago abandoned the prime mandate of a Free Press, serving the People’s Right to Know, and have themselves been complicit in their failure over the years to expose the wrongful and unlawful workings of Westchester County Government and the State Courts against the interests of their readers. Of course, what should one expect from a publication whose publisher and president for many years, Gary Sherlock, was a business partner of Al Pirro, spouse of former DA Jeanine Pirro. But, I digress.
I must admit that I was not a Jim Comey fan when he had just come up from a ten-year stint as a United States Attorney in Richmond, Virginia, to assume the same position for the Southern District of New York, perhaps the most prestigious of all jurisdictions. It was 2001, and Pirro was running for re-election as Westchester DA,
despite her husband’s conviction, just months earlier, for 38 felony counts of Federal Income Tax Fraud, in connection with ten years of their joint tax returns. When asked if he would be able to trust and work with her, I felt Comey was too quick to respond affirmatively, in effect negating an otherwise legitimate campaign issue.
Upon reflection I’ve come to realize he wasn’t the only United States Attorney who DA Pirro manipulated, a fact that has now come back to bite her where the sun doesn’t shine.
What is important to appreciate about Yonkers native Jim Comey is the fact that when push came to shove, unlike Alberto Gonzales, and just about everyone else closely connected to the Bush Administration, his loyalty to the Constitution and the Rule of Law came before his loyalty to the President, and before his own political ambition. When put to the kind of test he could never have imagined being put to, Jim Comey did the right thing, standing up against the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping, without proper oversight, and
in violation of fundamental Constitutional guarantees. Despite the prevailing “War On Terror” mentality still clearly ruling the day more than three years ago, Jim Comey had the courage, the conviction of his beliefs, and the rare integrity not to abandon his position, even at great personal risk.
Jim Comey’s courage under fire was rare, and as admirable as that of any defender of our freedom has ever been; a fact that in the months and years that lay ahead we will all, no doubt, come to realize. Here’s to you Jim Comey. May you inspire the same from others who follow your path.
Weissman V Weissman
Debra C. Weissman
Armonk, New York 10504
Justice Jonathan Lippman
Chief Administrative Judge
Justice of the Supreme Court
New York State Supreme Court
Westchester County Courthouse
111 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
White Plains, New York 10601
Re: Emergency Request for Criminal Investigation Regarding
Judge Silbermann’s Unethical Interference and Influence Over Judge Scarpino’s Judicial Authorities I am writing you an open letter requesting that you intercede in a criminal activity that is currently taking place in the Matrimonial Part of the Westchester Supreme Court. I am requesting that you place a temporary stay on all of my pending proceedings in front of the lower and appellate court until we can meet and you can hear the tapes that I have regarding Justice Silbermann’s interference by inappropriately contacting and directing the honorable Judge Scarpino as to how to proceed. I am requesting that you handle the investigation because Judge Silbermann reports directly to you and we are no longer dealing with unethical referees but one of the highest judges in our court system. I sent Judge Silbermann a letter last week before I realized that she, not Judge Scarpino, was the culprit. A- er you hear my tapes, you will agree that she must be handled immediately and must refrain from intimidating judges who are overseeing my case.
You are well aware of my case, in which you intervened more than two years ago, when my attorneys contacted you regarding the former Referee Montagnino’s unethical behavior toward me, a battered wife and ward of the Court. His rulings against me were so blatantly biased and egregious that I was forced to file a grievance against him in the latter part of 2004. When my attorneys accused him of having ex-parte relationships with Mr. Joel Bender, the defendant’s attorney, during my entire matrimonial proceedings, he had the audacity to sanction us approximately $70,000 for even broaching the subject in open court. For getting too close to the truth, I was punished while my ex-husband was granted an illegal Conversion Divorce without a grounds trial, and was allowed to retain 99% of the marital assets worth over $30 million dollars.
Fast forward to March 28, 2006, when Mr. Bender finally admitted under oath that he did have many meetings with James Montagnino and his wife because of his desire to become a Supreme Court Judge. Now, more than 3 years later, I have spent over $100,000 in legal fees trying to rectify the nancial damage done by these two co-conspirators, the former Referee Montagnino, and Mr. Bender, that transpired throughout the divorce proceedings.
I am experiencing déjà vu. However, this time it is with the head of the matrimonial division of the New York State Supreme Court, Jacqueline Silbermann, Judge Scarpino, it had never been presented to a lower court to rule on. Judge Scarpino knew it was not possible in terms of the sequence of events, for the issue of ex-parte communications, meetings, etc. between the former Referee Montagnino and the law firm that represented the defendant to be included in my appeal. Mr. Bender and Montagnino conspired and intentionally concealed their relationship until Mr. Bender, who was taken by surprise at a sanction hearing and placed under oath, was finally forced to reveal the truth after concealing it for months.
The issue of these meetings between Mr. Bender and former Referee Montagnino are significant for several reasons. These ex-parte meetings took place during a period that Mr. Bender was appearing in front of former Referee Montagnino involving contested matrimonial cases. These meetings took place in Mr. Bender’s offices after hours. It is mandatory that these types of meetings be brought to the attention of those who appear in front of a Judge or hearing officer to insure that if a party feels they may be prejudiced by the relationship they can have the official recused. Not only was the relationship not presented by those individuals, but they intentionally concealed and lied about there being any ex-parte communication when directly questioned. Further, the purpose of these ex-parte communications was intended to support the former Referee Montagnino in his well-known attempt to obtain a nomination to become a Supreme Court Judge. Additionally, it was only after October 9, 2006 in his own affirmation that Mr. Bender finally confessed to having these clandestine meetings, but added details incriminating several other prominent Westchester attorneys also having meetings by naming names.
It was only after the damage was done and the defendant had obtained an illegal conversion divorce, was able to obtain all the marital assets and all the other assets he had hidden from me, tricked me, and manipulated the legal proceedings forcing me into an unconscionable stipulation (a stipulation which was clearly intended to have been formalized by a written agreement) that the former Referee Montagnino made me a ward of the Court. Another unbelievable act which was meant to further control and destroy me was to instruct his hand-picked court-appointed guardian to take the limited funds that I received from the defendant and put them in trust to be dispersed with the assistance of the defendant. How corrupt is that?
Facts About My Case
I initiated my matrimonial action against my ex-husband, Ronald H. Weissman, MD following 25 years of abuse including many brutal physical beatings. The most serious of these beatings occurred in August 1998 when the defendant, punched me repeatedly in the face with such force that my brain was thrust against the inside of my skull many times, with such severity that he ruptured -literally ripped apart- the bridging veins between my cortex and my venous sinuses. The defendant, in an attempt to coverup this beating, began treating me as a patient, put me to bed, prescribed and administered medications which were contraindicated and failed to summon emergency medical attention or to notify my own personal physician. As a direct result of the trauma, I suffered several strokes, which further weakened me physically and added to the damage caused during the beating. The strokes prevented part of my brain from getting the blood and oxygen needed thereby causing part of it to die.
Only belatedly did I receive medical treatment, and that was only when a friend came by the house several weeks later and demanded that I be taken to the hospital immediately.
I have provided to the Court certified medical records of over 1,000 pages from three nationally recognized medical centers which have certified that my medical diagnosis is that of Traumatic Brain Injury. These certified records also contain admissions by the defendant, Dr. Ronald H. Weissman, that the cause of my Traumatic Brain Injury was the beating which he alone had administered. Despite the voluminous documentation and undisputable written proof by physicians and by independent medical providers, the defendant, the defendant’s attorneys and the former Referee continue to deny that there was ever any spousal abuse, and that I suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury.
The certified proof I have submitted establishes that the defendant and his attorneys are liars. They must be held accountable for their intentional misrepresentation of the facts and the abuse I have been subjected to by the Court for the past six years, and they must be disciplined for years of malicious conduct which is unbecoming Officers of the Court. Every statement, every allegation I have made can be supported by written, certified, evidence. Every piece of evidence has been in both the Matrimonial Division of the Westchester Supreme Court, and the Second Department of the Appellate Division since 2001. The only ‘evidence’ the defendant and the defendant’s attorneys have to present is his “denial” that there was ever any spousal abuse.
Yet, despite all the evidence and all the motions and court proceedings, the former Referee Montagnino and many of the former matrimonial judges have found ways to have ruled in the defendant’s favor at every opportunity they could. The have allowed him to control, from day one, over $30 million of marital assets. They have allowed him to submit almost blank Net Worth Statements from 2001 to the present.
They have refused to prevent him from moving or selling assets which he continues to do in an obvious attempt to prevent their tracing. The defendant continues to buy major Westchester real estate properties and distributes our marital wealth unilaterally to others (See attached). All of these “Officers of the Court” continue to ignore the 800- lb. gorilla in the room, of a victim of spousal abuse who has been left with permanent physical and brain injuries as well as the testimonies from legal and medical experts/institutions on domestic violence. The former Referee Montagnino has gone so far as to ignore his own hand-picked law guardian’s findings and recommendations and has actually accused me of making up this diagnosis in anticipation of my matrimonial
action (Please see attached two decisions and orders dated 11/2005.)
Defendant’s brutality against me robbed me of a life and career that I worked my entire life to obtain. Despite the years of abuse, I was a dutiful wife and mother and worked hard to improve my husband’s career and our family’s life. In a cruel brutal and clearly criminal instant, my life was taken away from me. I will never be able to accomplish the goals I had aimed for in my life. While the defendant reaps the benefits of our marriage, I am left to face an uncertain future with serious physical disabilities and brain injury. I will never fully recover from the injuries I suffered. The defendant and his attorneys continue to mischaracterize and misrepresent, in a demeaning and disrespectful manner, the disability I suffer and the cruel and unconscionable treatment they have subjected me to during this litigation. Instead of obtaining the assistance of the courts to allow me to end an abusive marriage and leave with sufficient assets to be able to take care of myself and obtain the medical care I still desperately need, I have had to endure six years of fighting through the fraud and corruption with seemingly no end in sight.
My sources have informed me that Judge Scarpino will allow me to sell the house but put the proceeds in escrow and yet not direct that the defendant place $30 million in escrow as well. How fair is that? According to the fraudulent outline of settlement placed on record, I already have the right to sell the house but for the fact that the
defendant sued my former realtor and by doing so, terrorized every other realtor in Westchester. It is not bad enough that I can’t get on with my life but that the courts support my ex-husband in his actions that clearly violate the law.
While this is going on, I am still responsible for paying my own legal fees although there is a clear disparity between the income levels of the defendant and myself. Instead of taking the judicial action this case calls for, in fairness and equity, and considering the years of abuse, and the fraud and misconduct which the defendant and counsel have carried on for over six years, Judge Scarpino suggested that I file a Plenary Action to obtain
relief. This is quite upsetting given the fact that I can’t afford to pay for my own medical coverage, and this action would be another legal expense, another waste of judicial resources and would give the defendant more time to continue his lavish lifestyle while manipulating the marital assets and blocking me from getting the proper medical attention I still need. I want to be able to plan for my future which now includes planning on how to manage with a severe disability. You should be outraged that as a battered wife and a ward of the Court, Judge Scarpino did not afford me the legal protections mandated by state and federal laws and constitutions. Additionally, Judge Scarpino has failed to replace the Guardian Ad Litem who personally told me she was withdrawing because she could not deal with Mr. Bender’s unethical shenanigans, thus denying me the ability to have equal access to the courts and be able to protect myself and my property.
Although this case is in Judge Scarpino’s hands, he is apparently being coerced by Judge Silbermann to not rule, but to defer a decision until the Appellate Court rules on the separate issues before it. As a Judge in the Supreme Court of New York State, he has a responsibility to follow the rules, laws and Constitutions of both New York State and the United States. It is his responsibility to protect those individuals who need protection. In this case, I not only need the protection of the Court, but sought it out. It is now time for Judge Scarpino to do the right thing and rule on the evidence he has before him.
A review of the papers the defendant and defendant’s counsel have submitted do not address the issues of fraud and misconduct that the plaintiff motion papers go into detail describing. Why is it that Mr. Bender does not submit an affirmation denying the allegations? The reason the defendant’s papers do not address the issues in the motion is because they already know the outcome. Reading the Order to Show Cause that Judge Scarpino signed May 1, 2007, it is clear what the outcome of the proceedings will be.
I am asking you to immediately investigate the actions of the judicial personnel in my case who have denied my rights, continue to deny my rights, and continue to victimize me for what appears to be both a fear of doing the right thing, and an expectation that the unethical thing will be advantageous for them personally. I now turn to you and request that on behalf of all victims, that you do the right thing by addressing this blatant and unconscionable treatment of an abused spouse and send a message in no uncertain terms to the judges and the attorneys and court personnel in Westchester that fraud, corruption, and brutality will not be tolerated
Debra C. Weissman
cc: The Westchester Guardian
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Calls to Federal Corruption Hotline Go Unanswered
I am writing you in regards to a story you wrote in an April issue about the FBI’s Public Corruption Hotline, 1-877- END-GRAFT, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J. Garcia’s establishment of this hotline. I would like to share with you my experience in calling the “hotline”.
After several months of building up the courage, I decided to call the hotline in the fall of 2006 to report public corruption that I am aware of. To my dismay all my calls were met by an answering machine only. Hoping that maybe I caught the office at a bad time I called several more times, but the result was always the same. I then decided that although I was trying to remain anonymous, I would have to leave my name and number.
In January of 2007 I left a message advising them that I was aware of public corruption and to please contact me. I never received a call back so two weeks later I left a second message with my name and number again.
The second message also went unanswered. I left a third message sometime in February and even stated that I would be willing to meet with them, and again my message was never answered.
Maybe Michael Garcia awoke a sleeping giant by soliciting this information in Westchester County, or maybe no one cares. I tried to make a difference, but now I’ll have to go and watch as another civil servant enriches his personal life by taking advantage of the public through his civil service appointment.
Anonymous Civil Servant
Mt. Vernon Board of Ed Needs More Than Redirection
The Mt. Vernon Board of Education completely supports Mr. Wallace Dunn of Human Resources. This Board is the worst that this city has ever had and everyone is aware, but are afraid to report them. Mr. Dunn is a dictator and the Board will do anything he thinks, says or does. Mr. Dunn was in the system during Superintendent Ross’ tenure, but left for unexplained reasons, and now he is back. What really happened before? Superintendent Brenda Smith does not have a backbone, and supports this bastard. Dunn has realized that this system is weak and has taken full advantage of it. He is simply out of control and he has to be stopped.
It was Mr. Dunn, with former Superintendent Ross a few years back, that called the people of Mt. Vernon “pigs at the croft ”. It is still difficult to believe that Superintendent Brenda Smith brought him back. He especially exploits the Custodian Staff , because the union is so weak. The Custodians and Head Custodians have been
suspended on numerous occasions without a hearing. The teachers and Principals do whatever they please and nothing happens to them, simply because their union will not allow it. The Principals have complete control of the Custodian staff and can do what they want, and Mr. Dunn believes anything they report about the Custodian staff . The good people are leaving the system because it is so bad. When are you going to wake up and fight this parasite?
Mr. Dunn does not post jobs with the civil service, but instead gives them to his family and friends. He even gave his wife a job in the system.
Nepotism is running rampant in this system. Personnel have been transferred to a tested position without taking a test. They do not pick from the list for a Head Custodian, but choose whom they like. They have a circle and if you don’t live within it, you get the shaft.
The Board of Education’s focus should be on education and vocational programs for our children, but I guess they have forgotten who they represent. Our young people are not getting a good education in this system. There is far too much violence at the schools, and not enough of the things kids need. It seems that we are stuck with Mr. Dunn and Aramark.
There are job openings at the Education Center located at 165 No. Columbus Ave.; security, groundsmen and cleaners positions, but these jobs are not posted anywhere. Mayor Davis, where are you?
Save the Trees on the Saw Mill River Parkway
Year after year, as I drive up the Saw Mill River Parkway, I can’t help noticing that all its beautiful trees are slowly being choked to death.
Some vine has taken over. It creates viny carpets, covering and muffling the trees. By summer they will look like strange dinosaurs.
Your newspaper’s name says you are a guardian of Westchester. You do a good job in that. Does it include our trees? Can you call it to the attention of people can do something about it before we lose massive amounts of trees?
Hauling them away will probably cost more than saving them!
Jeffrey Deskovic Speaks Out Against The Death Penalty
Jeffrey Deskovic, 34, who spent sixteen years behind bars for a rape and murder Peeksill Police and Westchester Prosecutors knew very well he didn’t commit, spent last Monday and Tuesday in Albany, in the company of other Anti-Death Penalty advocates, in an effort to educate and persuade state legislators not to bring back the Death Penalty in New York. The group, that included a Catholic bishop, and the mother of a female murder victim, held a press conference at the State House, and also appeared before the Albany County legislature, which nevertheless, voted 14 to 5 to send a Pro-Death Penalty resolution to the State Senate.
Deskovic had told the county legislators, “As a state we have had twenty-six, count them, twenty-six wrongful convictions that were overturned. We have had, as a nation, one hundred twenty-three exonerations for persons who were on death row.
One of them was days from execution when he was released, and the conditions that led to these wrongfully accused person’s imprisonment persist today.”
Those opposed to the death penalty have argued for years that it has not been a deterrent to serious crime, and that it serves no useful purpose for the families of victims. While agreeing with the traditional arguments in opposition, Deskovic has strongly emphasized that his own exoneration, and the exoneration of more than 200 other individuals by DNA evidence over the last thirteen years, many who had been convicted of death penalty-eligible crimes, is reason enough to recognize that many innocent individuals have been executed over the years, and many more will be if the death penalty were to be reinstated.
Mr. Deskovic is quick to point out that had he been just two years older, eighteen instead of sixteen, at the time of his coerced, false confession, he might very well have been executed under New York State’s old law, once having exhausted his appeals, and prior to the establishment of the State DNA Databank. The former Peekskill native was wrongfully, and maliciously prosecuted for the brutal rape and murder of 15-year-old Angela Correa, whose actual murderer was discovered doing time in prison for a second very similar killing.
Deskovic would have been freed almost ten years earlier except for former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s stubborn refusal, seven separate times, to permit a DNA comparison of semen found in the girl’s body, which did not match Deskovic’s DNA profile, with DNA profiles in the State Prison Databank.
Since emerging from prison last September Deskovic, who hopes to attend law school in the fall, has been finishing up several undergraduate courses towards his bachelor’s degree, at Mercy College. Yet he has found
the time to speak at more than 20 colleges, organizations, and gatherings, regarding the urgent need for legislation that will prohibit and punish the kind of prosecutorial misconduct he, and perhaps one third of all those in prison, incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, have been the victims of.
The Death Penalty, revived by George Pataki upon taking office in 1995, was declared “unconstitutional as enacted” in 2004. However, Eliot Spitzer has indicated his willingness to sign a bill that would execute convicted terrorists and cop killers. The State Assembly has consistently resisted ALL death penalty proposals advanced in the State Senate for the past three years.
FBI Must Step Into Perez Case
It doesn’t require the wisdom of Solomon to recognize that neither the Mount Kisco Village Police, nor the Bedford Town Police Department, should be actively engaged in the investigation of the “death by homicide,” as determined by the Westchester Medical Examiner’s Office, of Rene Perez, in the early morning hours of April 29th. Given that officers from each department are acknowledged to have had contact with Mr. Perez, a well-known, homeless, alcoholic individual, between approximately 8:30 and 11:00pm on the evening of April 28th,
reasonableness, and professional investigative ethics, demand that a third-party agency investigation be conducted.
We believe the agency most appropriate, and best equipped to conduct the investigation into the circumstances of Rene Perez’ death is the Federal Bureau Of Investigation. Clearly, the information that has been forthcoming, from both the Mount Kisco and Bedford Departments, regarding a man with a long record of arrests, mostly for “quality of life offenses,” a man essentially viewed as a homeless vagrant, strongly suggests that a fresh, and unbiased perspective must be employed if every stone is to be turned, and the development of evidence is to go forward seriously. In fact, because it is strongly suspected that the injuries sustained by Perez which led to his death only hours later, might very well have been inflicted by police officers acting under Color of Law; and given the civil rights implications of such suspicions, it is imperative that the FBI get involved and conduct the investigation as early as possible.
Described by social workers and others who knew him, and who attempted to assist him, as a “reasonable and intelligent individual, when sober,” Rene Perez, was, nevertheless, arrested fifty-nine times over some twelve years in the Mount Kisco community, hardly a reputation that might compel a vigorous investigation, by local authorities, or the Westchester District Attorney’s Office.
We have recently, within the last two weeks, brought to the awareness of our readers the death of another man of color, like Perez, without roots in the Westchester Community. Oscar Nedd, the victim of a homicide more than thirty-two years ago, whose demise has been virtually treated by White Plains Police and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office as though it were a misdemeanor, hopefully, will finally receive the attention he has too long been denied.
Save for the dedicated work, over three decades, in retirement, by former White Plains Detective Austin Avery, the brutal killing of Mr. Nedd, a hardworking, young Black man of modest means from rural Georgia, living in White Plains, would never be brought before the Bar of Justice.
In light of all of the above, and given the unsolved deaths by strangulation of two other Guatemalan immigrants in Mount Kisco in 2003 and 2004, the death of Rene Perez demands immediate and deliberate intervention, and investigation, by the FBI.
“I Feel Like A Judge Who’s I Don’t See Any Warm - Judge Anthony A. Scarpino’s Comment Westchester Surrogate’s Court, White Plains Judge Anthony A. Scarpino, Presiding
Wednesday afternoon of last week, Pamela Carvel, niece of the late Tom and
Agnes Carvel, and executrix of Agnes’ estate, who presently resides in England,
appeared in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court, White
Plains, for the latest installment in a long struggle with the
directors of the Carvel Charitable Trust and the Hudson Valley
Bank. She had brought an Order To Show Cause, a motion
calling for the disquali cation of Judge Scarpino for reasons
which she details below:
Crimes Pay Big in Surrogates Court
“Tom and Agnes Carvel wished only to bring happiness
and enjoyment into the lives of others. ‘Carvel’ ice cream did
just that when it became a part of the fondest memories of kids
and grownups alike – cakes, Flying Saucers, Brown Bonnets
and the ever simple, but always exquisite, cone. Why were the
Carvels targeted for death and destruction of their dreams?
The answer is GREED!
Greed for political power in Westchester County. Greed for the millions intended
for charity. Greed for the Carvels’ good name to hide behind while carrying
out destruction of the Carvels’ good intentions. The estates of omas and Agnes
Carvel are a microcosm of the political corruption that festers in Westchester
Surrogate’s Court. Don’t think that just because you don’t have
millions you are safe. It is a pay-to-play game between politicians,
lawyers, and banks that always leaves widows the losers.
Most outrageous among the sins are those of the alleged
foundation managers who usurped control of the Carvels’ restricted
charitable donations as soon as Tom was dead. The
usurpers abused the Carvels’ charities by using Agnes’ donation
to harm Agnes personally and to obstruct any income she
needed to live or defend her rights. The foundation fraudsters
spent over $1 million a year to prevent Agnes from receiving
any benefit at all from Tom’s estate or trusts. If the fraudsters
could not silence Agnes by kicking Agnes off her own foundation,
they would starve and harass Agnes to death. After all,
how long could an 82-year-old survive such oppression? The
answer is it took eight years to drive Agnes to her death from stress imposed directly
by Westchester Surrogate Albert Emanuelli.
Agnes Carvel was kicked off the board of the foundation she founded and
funded when she uncovered that alleged grants to charity, made by the so-called
foundation managers after Tom’s death, were full of kickbacks, self-dealing, missing
funds, publicity for politicians, and just plain fraud traced back to the so called
Agnes Carvel is not alone in being treated by Westchester Surrogate’s Court
like “Indians” in the Old West, or “Coloreds” in the Old South. In the Surrogate’s
eyes, Agnes (like other widows) became chattel; property of Tom’s estate without
independent rights, without an audible voice, and without control of her rights to
life, liberty and happiness.
Tom and Agnes always planned that EVERYTHING was jointly owned with
rights of survivorship and NOTHING would pass through the sticky hands of
probate judges. Lawyers who never met or spoke to Agnes or Tom foisted a socalled
“estate plan” on them that stole everything away from Agnes. The Wills
were signed in less than 15 minutes in the midst of a cocktail party. Agnes trusted
Tom. Tom mistakenly believed that the lawyer-concocted scheme would save on
taxes without harming Agnes’ rights as survivor. The Carvels were duped.
Attorney Eve Markewich, who recently ran for Manhattan Surrogate, itemized
in a New York Law Journal article how many different violations of professional
ethics and disciplinary rules the attorneys in the Westchester Carvel proceedings
inflicted on Agnes Carvel.
Markewich, who now seeks over
$3 million in legal fees from Agnes’
estate, never once asserted Agnes’
right to damages from these violations
by attorneys because payment
of Markewich’s fees depends on “approval”
from Agnes’ adversaries, and
not on approval from Agnes’ executor
(Pamela Carvel) or any named
beneficiaries of Agnes’ estate, none
of whom receive notice of the Westchester
At every opportunity, Tom
Carvel always publicly acknowledged
his debt to Agnes as his partner for
over 50 years in life and business,
and for her loan of money that got
the whole business started. Although
Tom and Agnes declared in their
1988 Wills that they were residents
of Palm Beach County, Florida, hidden in the back pages, and small print of the
17-page documents, the New York lawyers placed a clause that the Wills must
be probated in New York, thereby guaranteeing the lawyers endless future profit
from the Carvels’ estates. Under Florida probate law only Agnes, Pamela and one
lawyer who was licensed in Florida, would have qualified to be “personal representatives”
of under Tom’s Will. The fraudsters, who planned the scheme, would
have been cut out of their complete control of everything, so they manipulated the
estate into the hands of their political cronies in Westchester.
Westchester Surrogate’s Court under Albert Emanuelli denied Agnes all income
for as long as she lived despite Tom’s Will requiring income be paid to Agnes
at least quarter annually. This was no surprise since Agnes’ prime adversaries
had Malcolm Wilson and his firm as their lawyers. Wilson was “campaign chairman”
and fund raiser for the unopposed “election” of Emanuelli as Surrogate in
1990. When Agnes’ lawyer brought up the obvious appearance of impropriety and
conflict for Emanuelli and Wilson, Emanuelli threatened from the bench that he
would never hear another case from Agnes’ lawyer as long as Emanuelli was Surrogate
if Agnes’ lawyer demanded that Emanuelli step away from the Carvel case.
Agnes’ lawyer quit that same day stating he couldn’t withstand the threats and
intimidation tactics that would put him out of business.
Westchester Surrogate’s Court under Anthony Scarpino continued to deny
Agnes the Carvels’ personal property including Tom’s famous videotapes, family
business and legal documents, and other Carvel memorabilia that Agnes and
Pamela wanted to preserve. Scarpino denied Agnes jointly-owned real estate and
corporations by turning Agnes’ property over to her adversaries without first paying
as little as Agnes’ funeral expenses.
Although Scarpino determined that Agnes’ adversaries withheld income from
Tom’s estate by “improper accounting practices,” nonetheless, Scarpino continues
to withhold all Agnes’ income from Agnes’ estate so that Pamela, as Agnes’ executor,
cannot pay lawyers or investigators to defend the estate’s rights and Agnes’
intentions. While Agnes’ adversaries use Agnes’ money to pay their legal expenses
without limit, without court approval, without scrutiny by anyone, Pamela Carvel
as executor (like Agnes before her) is denied equal treatment to that shown Agnes’
adversaries, and denied equal access to estate assets to pay professional attorneys
to defend Agnes’ rights.
This routine abuse of widows and named beneficiaries is not news to “officers
of the court”, that is, the judges and lawyers who feed like vultures on the material
remains of the dead. Only recently, the Brooklyn Surrogate was indicted for his
crimes against the beneficiaries, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, freezing
beneficiaries out of their entitlement in estates and trusts.
Westchester Surrogates Emanuelli and Scarpino turned a blind eye to criminal
activities by Agnes’ adversaries. Agnes and Pamela Carvel blew the whistle
on financial frauds harming Tom’s estate and Agnes’ money. Not only were the
Carvels’ complaints ignored, Surrogate’s Court’s harassment and intimidation of
Agnes, Pamela and their lawyers increased daily while the fraudsters continued to
operate without restriction to divert millions of Agnes’ money.
Agnes and Pamela Carvel were
ignored by the Westchester Surrogates
and ignored by Westchester
District Attorney Pirro. The FBI and
New York Attorney General Spitzer’s
Securities Division took the Carvels’
information seriously. The Attorney
General’s prosecutions resulted in
three felony convictions of financial
fraudsters, and the forced ouster of
two fraudsters who usurped control
of Carvel charities, but not before the duo had installed their cronies in control
against Agnes. To prevent further investigations into charity frauds, Agnes Carvel
was kicked off the board of the charity she founded and funded.
New York law prohibits felons from acting as executors or trustees. Surrogate’s
Court ignores this laws. Bankers Trust Company (now owned by Deutsche Bank
AG) was convicted of three felony counts and fined in federal court. Surrogate
Scarpino had worked for Bankers Trust Company, but failed to voluntarily make
this known to beneficiaries appearing before him. Bankers Trust is the bank for
Thomas Carvel’s estate. In another Westchester Surrogate’s Court estate older than
Carvel’s, that of Edmund McCormick (November 1988), although “Bankers Trust
Company” was nominated in the Will to serve as executor with Edmund’s wife
Suzanne, it was “Bankers Trust Company of New York” to whom “Letters Testamentary”
were issued as executor in January 1989. “Bankers Trust Company
of New York” did not exist until ten years later according to the New York State
Banking Department Records.
Despite the significant difference in the facts, Bankers Trust Company of New
York seized dominion and control and continues to fraudulently act as executor.
As with Agnes Carvel, the testamentary trust for Suzanne’s benefit was never
funded. Mandatory income was not paid to either widow, and they are not alone.
The usual ploy is to take the marital and QTIP tax deductions, but then to never
create the testamentary trust called for in the Will so
as to withhold all taxable income from the widow.
The income soon disappears by numerous, devious
Bankers Trust draws on estate and trust money
without application to the court and without approval
of the beneficiaries. Executor-widow Suzanne McCormick
(like Agnes Carvel) is denied income from her
husband’s estate and also denied equal payment of her
legal fees as executor to oppose Bankers Trust Company’s
oppressive actions, although Bankers Trust as
a convicted felon is disqualified by law from acting as
an executor or trustee. Surrogate Scarpino refused to
recuse himself despite this appearance of potential conflict until Suzanne picketed
the Bank and newspapers exposed Scarpino’s conflicted relationship.
A similar story is repeated for Bank of New York that was recently put on
probation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for admitted money laundering and fi-
nancial frauds. Nonetheless, Bank of New York continues to act in Westchester
Surrogate’s Court as executor and trustee, drawing fees without limit or scrutiny
for years, before payment is ever made to the named beneficiaries. In the Carvel
estate, millions disappeared from accounts in the name of Thomas and Agnes
Carvel allegedly opened at Bank of New York although the Bank could not produce
any documents signed by Tom or Agnes opening such accounts. Even more
millions disappeared from Agnes’ estate accounts despite a Sheriff ’s levy restraining
the money by Pamela Carvel as Agnes’ executor in London, England.
Despite New York law, bank felons on probation continue to operate estates
and trusts to the exclusion of the named beneficiaries, yet in the Margaret McKeown
Estate, her son Kevin could get his mother’s Will probated for almost two
years although it was not contested.
Kevin also could not get
confirmed as the named executor
although he has no criminal
record. In another ploy routinely
used by Surrogate’s Courts,
Margaret McKeown’s property
(like Agnes Carvel’s) was turned
over to the Westchester Public
Administrator, not to the family.
Was it a coincidence that at-torney Frank Streng, who opposed Kevin McKeown, worked for Scarpino on
his “transition” committee from Supreme Court to Surrogate’s Court? Was it too
much to ask that the Surrogate voluntarily disclose such potential personal con-
flict? Scarpino and Streng kept this same conflict secret in the Carvel estates.
When Pamela Carvel asked Streng to oppose Agnes’ adversaries and the fees demanded
by Markewich, Streng refused. Scarpino allowed Streng to withdraw, as
Agnes’ executor’s attorney, without accountability for over $1.5 million of Streng’s
fees and payments duplicated from several sources, and leaving Pamela without
professional legal representation and without reimbursement of the funds need
to pay new professionals.
Surrogate Scarpino received “loans” from Hudson Valley Bank for $200,000
in 2001 just when the Carvel estate trials were beginning, and an additional
$100,000 in 2004 when the Surrogate denied Pamela Carvel’s demands for access
to Agnes’ funds needed to pay estate administrative expenses to defend the Estate’s
rights in Delaware, Florida, New York and England. Hudson Valley Bank’s
major stockholders are Agnes’ prime adversaries for 17 years. These are the same
adversaries who used Agnes’ charitable donations (restricted only to charitable
purposes) to pay for litigation to abuse, harass and intimidate Agnes for as long
as she lived. The same charity usurpers abuse the charity’s funds to
obstruct all defenses against these bullies by Agnes’ estate. Surrogate
Scarpino again failed to disclose this potential conflict with and appearance
of impropriety and even bribery. How can any individual
citizen know if such “loans” are ever repaid, or if the loans are just
“written off” by the Bank as a “cost of doing business”?
There appears to exist in Surrogate’s Court an organized intent
to deny named beneficiaries and
beneficiary-executors their Constitutional
rights. These violations of
U.S. law are no longer an acceptable
“standard operating procedure.” The
Old West and the Old South mentalities
must disappear forever. The
end to this abuse of Constitutional
rights by court corruption will only
happen if each and every citizen who has been victimized by the courts steps out
of the shadows of despair with stories, facts and complaints to the media, the
Governor and the U.S. Attorneys.”
Pamela Carvel’s struggle for more than 17 years in Westchester Surrogate’s
Court goes to the very heart of the often incestuous relationships between the Judiciary,
powerful financial institutions, influential law firms and politically connected
operatives, most often motivated by greed and self-interest, who, acting in
concert, defeat the intentions of those whose estates they parasitically feed off of.
Prior to attending last Wednesday’s court session, presided over by Judge
Scarpino, The Guardian drove up to inspect the hilltop Carvel property of some
15 or more acres, high above the Thruway in Ardsley. We were told by a local
contractor near the site that a subdivision of 12 to 15 multi-million dollar miniestate-
type houses, similar to many in the area, was planned and would be under
construction soon on the Carvel property.
A local realtor estimated that each of the 12 or more parcels in the subdivision
will be worth more than $500,000. William Griffin, who is chairman of the board
of the holding company that owns the Hudson Valley Bank, is also President of the
Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation, and authorized the sale of the property for
a mere $2 million to Chauncey Partners, LLC, a recently formed corporation under
the control of Daniel Amicucci; an obvious “sweetheart deal”.
Something is definitely not ‘kosher’ here. The Guardian intends to follow developments