<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usMon, 24 Apr 2017 04:51:14 -0400Mon, 24 Apr 2017 04:51:14 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Suspect in Jogger Karina Vetrano Slaying Pleads Not Guilty]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 20:08:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/karina+vetrano+suspect+5.jpg

The 20-year-old Brooklyn man accused of killing Queens woman Karina Vetrano as she jogged through a park trail near her home last summer has pleaded not guilty to murder and sex abuse charges in the case. 

Chanel Lewis of East New York was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court Tuesday on four counts of first-degree murder, five counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual abuse and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

Prosecutors said during the hearing that Lewis told police he "lost it" and strangled Vetrano during a chance encounter. 

Lewis was remanded back to jail. He's set to return to court on July 13. 

The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Lewis, said the Queens District Attorney's office must now begin to disclose and turn over all evidence related to the prosecution of the case.

"Our defense team looks forward to closely reviewing all case documents during this process," the Legal Aid Society said in a statement. 

If convicted, Lewis faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Both Vetrano's and Lewis' families were in the courtroom but declined to speak to reporters afterward. Newsday reports the victim's mother, Catherine Vetrano, showed no visible emotion in court. 

Rev. Kevin McCall, who works with the National Action Network, says he has visited Lewis in jail. 

"He is very frightened... he wants to be able to know what evidence they could have, because he knows he's innocent," he said. 

Vetrano's Aug. 2, 2016 death shocked the city, and it stayed in the spotlight for weeks, driven by her father Phil's relentless search for her killer.

Police arrested Lewis in early February. They said evidence included genetic material found under the 30-year-old Vetrano's fingernails and on her phone and neck.

Police officials also said Lewis made detailed, incriminating statements to detectives. According to police sources, Lewis twice confessed on video -- once with the NYPD and the other time during an interview with the Queens district attorney's office.

Lewis' family has insisted he is innocent.

"He's just a good guy, a wonderful guy, don't interfere with anybody," said his father, Richard Lewis, after his son's arrest. "He's never had that problem in the 20 years I've had him in my world."

Also Tuesday, a suspect in the killing of another New York City woman who was jogging near her mother's home was arraigned in Massachusetts. Angelo Colon-Ortiz pleaded not guilty to assault and attempted rape charges in the death of Vanessa Marcotte, a Google employee who lived in New York City. Marcotte was killed Aug. 7, 2016, just days after Vetrano's body was discovered; police at the time said they would look into a possible connection between the slayings of the two women joggers but soon determined they were not related. 


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<![CDATA[Ex-Passaic Mayor Sentenced to Prison in Federal Bribery Case]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:14:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Blanco-sm.jpg

Former Passaic mayor Alex Blanco has been sentenced to 27 months in a federal bribery case that forced him to resign from office last fall.

Blanco, 44, pleaded guilty last September to federal bribery charges after admitting to taking $110,000 from two unnamed developers for an affordable housing project in 2011. 

As part of the plea deal, he'll also have to pay restitution of $110,000. 

Blanco will start his sentence in a few weeks, according to prosecutors. He'll be able to return home in the meantime. 

"This case demonstrates that public officials who exploit their office for personal gain can expect to be thoroughly investigated and aggressively prosecuted," Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said in a statement. 

The U.S. Attorney's office said Blanco, a podiatrist who was first elected in 2008, approached developers about a project for low-income housing on Paulison Avenue in 2011 and told them they would have to give him a sizeable payment for the project to go forward.

Then, after the city released $216,4000 in federal Department of Housing and Urban Development money for the project, prosecutors said that Blanco arranged another meeting with the developers and accepted $65,000 in bank checks. A few days later he took another $40,000 in cash. He received the final $5,000 several months later.

Prosecutors said that most of the money Blanco took came out of HUD money provided to the developers. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said that Blanco's behavior "demonstrates aggressive and appalling greed."

"By soliciting these payments from developers, he took for himself federal money that was intended to help provide housing for the city's poorest residents," Fishman said. "We expect our public officials to behave differently."

As part of the plea agreement, Blanco will pay $110,000 in restitution.

He won office on a platform of fighting corruption after his predecessor Samuel Rivera was convicted of taking bribes in 2008 and made history as the first Dominican-American mayor elected in the U.S. Yet Blanco now becomes the third Passaic mayor in the last 25 years to be convicted of, or plead guilty to, a federal crime. 

Former Mayor Joseph Lipari was found guilty of extortion and income tax evasion in 1992. 

The community of 70,000 people bills itself as the fastest-growing city in New Jersey. 



Photo Credit: City of Passaic]]>
<![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 17:51:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpg The four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]> <![CDATA[Paterson Mayor, DPW Workers Arraigned in Corruption Probe]]> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 17:14:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FOR+THOMPSON+LMX___PATERSON+MAYOR+TORRES+SURRENDERS_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres and three public works supervisors pleaded not guilty to corruption charges at their arraignments in a New Jersey court Monday. 

Torres pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, misconduct, tampering with public records and other offenses before a judge in New Jersey. Three public works supervisors also pleaded not guilty. 

Torres said nothing to reporters as he walked into court. 

Prosecutors revealed in court Monday they have made an offer to Torres and the four Department of Public Works employees. If Torres agrees to plead guilty to consiracy, he would have to resign as mayor, pay restitution and serve five years parole. 

The DPW workers -- Joseph Mania, 51; Timothy Hanlon, 30; and Imad Elmowaswes, 52 -- would also be put on probation and have to pay restitution, and agree not to work in government services again, but would avoid jail time under the deal. They're each facing a minimum of years in prison if they're convicted in trial. 

Torres and the public works supervisors have until Sept. 1 to take the deals, prosecutors said. If not, the trial will begin sometime afterward. 

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. Torres and the three indicted workers all deny wrongdoing.

Torres issued a statement after he was indicted last month, saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law. I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation.

A concurrent federal investigation into Torres is underway, the I-Team has reported, but there have been no charges in that probe. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Docs Among 13 Nabbed in Scheme to Flood NYC With Illegal Oxy]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:02:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/operation+avalanche.jpg

Thirteen people, including three doctors and four nurse practitioners, face charges for allegedly turning several Brooklyn clinics into "pill mills" and flooding city streets with millions of illegal painkillers, authorities said. 

Investigators from the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor's office and the DEA's Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad began making arrests and executing search warrants at the clinics early Friday, officials said.

The investigation targeted three clinics in Brooklyn that allegedly operated as "pill mills." More than six million oxycodone pills, worth an estimated $60 to $100 million, were illegally prescribed and pumped onto the black market, officials said at a news briefing.

The defendants, one of whom is a former assemblyman who owns a company that deals with the clinics, are also accused of ordering unnecessary medical procedures and billing them to Medicaid and Medicare to the tune of a $24 million fraud, officials said. Patients' painkiller prescriptions were allegedly withheld unless they submitted to the procedures.

More than half of those funds went through MetroPlus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Health + Hospitals, the city's public health system. And that $13 million in publicly-funded health benefits could otherwise have paid for critical treatments -- for example, 120,000 breast cancer screenings or 264,000 prostate cancer screenings, authorities said. 

At the height of the conspiracies in 2016, the three clinics racked up more than 1,600 office visits per month from over 20 patients, officials said.

One of the defendants, Dr. Lazar Feygin, allegedly used the money to fund regular luxury goods purchases, real estate holdings and frequent overseas vacations, officials said. A series of wire-tapped phone calls revealed that in order to continue prescribing the opioids, alcohol-positive urinalysis records for his patients were systematically deleted.

The clinics allegedly continued to provide prescriptions to patients who were likely selling pills or abusing other narcotic drugs, despite blatant evidence like positive drug tests, officials said.

According to authorities, oxycodone prescriptions were often written without a legitimate medical reason, and Feygin allegedly pressured some physicians to write the bogus 'scripts. He allegedly told an accomplice one of the medical practitioners would have a "big problem" with him because she sent patients to pain management rather than the office to obtain more pills.

The suspects face charges of conspiracy, money laundering, criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, health care fraud and other crimes. 

"They manipulated some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers at a time when we are seeing increasing numbers of deaths involving opioid overdoses, more than 1,000 in calendar year 2016," New York City Special Commissioner of Investigation Mark Peters said in a statement. "Those are real dollars, for real medical tests, which can help real patients. They used pain pills instead of revolves, but they robbed the city all the same."

"My office is going to do everything we can ... to crack down on anyone who tries to profit off the misery of addiction," added Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images/NBCNewYork]]>
<![CDATA[FBI Busts Nine Russians in $10M Diamond Swindle]]> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 15:07:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+diamonds+shutterstock_107523059.jpg

A long-running investigation into international diamond fraud led to the arrest of nine Russians who allegedly cost their victims nearly $10 million, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said Wednesday.

The swindle victimized diamond dealers in New York City, Las Vegas and Mumbai, the official said. The FBY-NYPD-Customs and Border Protection Joint Eurasian Organized Crime Task force began investigating the ring in 2015, according to prosecutors.

The fraud involved bad checks, forged documents, and instances of people simply running off with diamonds in hand without paying.

They usually focused on small stones called "melee diamonds," court papers say, and built up trust with dealers by paying for smaller purchases before running off when they had larger debts. 

One victim lost $7.4 million; another lost $2.4 million, the official said. 

"The defendants allegedly took advantage of an industry wide system of credit and trust to obtain largely untraceable diamonds," said Acting US Attorney Joon Kim, "and then, using various allegedly illegal schemes, refused to pay."



Photo Credit: AVprophoto, Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Man Guilty of Murder in Attorney's Shocking Mall Carjacking]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 19:50:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dustin+friedland+inset.jpg

The first of four men accused in a young attorney's death during a carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills three years ago has been found guilty of felony murder, conspiracy and weapons-related crimes.

Jurors delivered guilty verdicts on all counts Friday after four days of deliberations in the trial of Basim Henry, the South Orange man prosecutors said was one of four involved in the December 2013 carjacking at the high-end mall in Millburn, New Jersey, and served as the getaway driver.

Henry had faced a total of six counts in the death of Dustin Friedland, a 30-year-old Hoboken lawyer killed in front of his wife in the parking lot just 10 days before Christmas. The murder charge carries a sentence of 30 years to life in prison. Henry was on probation at the time of the killing in connection with a 2006 bank robbery conviction, which may affect the penalty.

Henry, wearing a crisp long-sleeved white shirt and cream-colored sweater vest, stood silently as the jury decision was read, lowering his head at various points but otherwise showing no reaction. 

Friedland's parents and sister were in the courtroom as the verdict was read. His widow, Jamie Schare Friedland, whose emotional testimony about the ambush captivated the courtroom during the trial, was not present.

Defense lawyer Michael Rubas argued in his closing statement that Henry wasn't responsible for the shooter's actions. 

Essex County prosecutors said Henry "knew force was necessary" to get the vehicle.

Friedland's family wasn't commenting on the verdict Friday but Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray thanked them for "their support of the efforts of this office, for their dignity and for their strength to see this process through." 

Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Ralph Amarato said of Friedland's widow, "The road she's had to travel, I couldn't imagine being in that situation. She's a very strong young lady, she's handled it as well as anyone could expect. It's a tough road, from her night of being with the last moments with Dustin, to going through this long drawn-out process, I could not imagine that." 

Neither side could immediately be reached for comment on the verdict.

The other suspects, Hanif Thompson, of Irvington, and Newark residents Karif Ford and Kevin Roberts have pleaded not guilty to felony murder and other charges in connection with the carjacking. They await trial.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Paterson Council Rejects No-Confidence Vote Against Mayor]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:33:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

A city council resolution calling for Paterson Mayor Joey Torres to resign failed to pass during a noisy hearing at city hall Tuesday night.

By a vote of 6-2 with one abstention, council members voted against the symbolic measure that would have called for the mayor’s resignation.

Mayor Torres has been indicted on state corruption charges and is also under federal criminal investigation for possible misuse of federal grant money. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In voting against the “no confidence” measure, several council members said they would not support calling for Mayor Torres’ ouster unless he is convicted in court.

Some protesters wearing “Believe in Torres” t-shirts, carrying signs and chanting “Torres” were escorted out of city hall during the hearing.

Residents took turns speaking out at the crowded session. Some said the mayor has to resign for the good of the city while others said now is not the time to pass a symbolic resolution.

The resolution was proposed after the Mayor and three DPW supervisors were charged with corruption earlier this month. They allegedly improperly billed taxpayers for private work done at a business belonging to the mayor’s relatives.

City activist Ernest Rucker told the council the city is “under a dark cloud” while voicing support for the resolution. But councilwoman Maritza Davila said she would oppose the resolution because it has no practical effect and would only bring additional bad publicity to Paterson.

Council members Ken Morris Jr., Shahin Khalique, Domingo “Alex” Mendez, Luis Velez and Michael Jackson also voted against the “no confidence” resolution.

Council President William McKoy and Andre Sayegh voted in favor. Sayegh pointed out city summer programs were shut down due to budget cuts at a time money was allegedly being stolen from taxpayers.

Councilwoman Ruby Cotton abstained.

Mayor Torres has said he has no intention of stepping down as he fights the criminal charges.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Cop Who Fatally Shot Ramarley Graham Quits]]> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:51:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/richard+haste+ramarley+graham.jpg

UPDATE: Ramarley Graham's Mom Demands Answers After NYPD Cop Quits

The NYPD officer who fatally shot an unarmed Bronx teen in 2012 has quit the force to avoid being fired after he was found guilty in a disciplinary trial of botching department tactics after the shooting.

Richard Haste was brought on departmental charges for demonstrating "poor judgment" by not taking obvious steps to defuse a fatal standoff with Ramarley Graham.

After the departmental trial wrapped up in January, the NYPD says the trial commissioner on Friday found Haste guilty on all counts and recommended he be fired. Police Commissioner James O'Neill agreed with the findings and recommendations.

Haste quit Sunday, the NYPD said. His attorney Stuart London says his client should not have been forced to resign. Haste will not receive a pension or medical benefits from the police department, nor will he be allowed to carry a concealed weapon like other NYPD retirees, police said.

Haste, who had been investigating a drug case on the day Graham died, testified during the trial that he followed the young man into his Bronx apartment building on suspicion that he may have had a gun. After Haste and his partner broke down the door of Graham's home, the officer said he saw Graham sidestep into a bathroom, and he leaned inside to face him.

Haste, who is white, testified that he yelled, "Show me your hands!" but Graham instead reached deeper into his pants and yelled obscenities. 

"I thought I was about to be shot," Haste said. "I expected to be dead."

The officer's attorneys said he had good reason to think Graham was drawing a gun when he fired at the teen. No weapon was recovered.

The teen's mother, Constance Malcolm, says her 6-year-old son witnessed his brother getting shot. She has repeatedly called for Haste's and other responding officers' firings.

Haste initially faced a criminal manslaughter charge in the death, which became another flashpoint for outrage over police use of deadly force against minorities. But the criminal case was dismissed because of a procedural error, and a new grand jury declined to indict. Federal prosecutors also declined to bring charges.

Malcolm said in January she wanted to set the record straight about her son: he's not a monster, he wasn't selling drugs, he didn't have a gun and he never ran from police, she claimed.

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<![CDATA[Jurors See Suspect Talk to Cops in Deadly Carjacking Trial]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:12:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/THOMPSON+MALL+CARJACKING+MURDER+TRIAL+FOR+WEB+-+00000403_WNBC_0.jpg

In the continuing trial of the accused getaway driver in a deadly New Jersey mall carjacking three years ago, jurors saw the suspect's initial statements to police after his arrest.

Basim Henry made the statement to detectives a day after his arrest in the deadly carjacking of Dustin Friedland at The Malls at Shore Hills in December 2013. He admitted hearing two gunshots in the mall parking deck.

And then, he said, after Friedland's Range Rover was driven out of the mall, he told the alleged gunman it was only supposed a strong-arm carjacking.

"I says something's f----- up," Henry says on the videotape. "He says he shot him. He shot him."

Over and over, the two detectives grill Henry after reading him his Miranda rights, video shows. The lead detective had taken some of Henry's clothing at arrest, even his thermal underwear.

Finally, detectives get a statement out of him after Henry refers to a scuffle: "What did I say to him? I say, 'Why the f--- you do that.' He says, 'What the f--- you gonna do?'"

Henry sat calmly in court Wednesday, showing no emotion as his statement was played.

Photos of the stolen Range Rover next to an abandoned house were also shown to the jury.

Dustin Friedland, a young attorney in Hoboken, was shot and killed in the parking lot at The Malls at Short Hills just 10 days before Christmas in 2013.

Friedland's widow, Jamie Schare Friedland, gave emotional testimony about the sudden ambush and the harrowing wait for help, and state Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Falzon testified that Friedland died of a gunshot wound to the head in a homicide.

Henry, along with Hanif Thompson, of Irvington, and Newark residents Karif Ford and Kevin Roberts have pleaded not guilty to felony murder and other charges in connection with the carjacking.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Authorities Smash NYC Drug Trafficking Ring, Arrest Dozens]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 19:08:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/narcotics+trafficking.jpg

Authorities broke up a major drug-dealing operation in the Bronx on Wednesday, arresting dozens of people on charges ranging from heroin trafficking to firearms possession to murder. 

Most of the 40 people arrested are gang members who were allegedly trafficking cocaine, heroin and marijuana, according to law enforcement sources and charging documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.

The defendants -- with street names like "Floss," "Chuck Dollarz," "Green Eyes," "All In," "Chunky" and "Dayday" -- conspired from 2010 through as recently as this month to traffic and distribute drugs, the government said. (The indictment bore the signature of Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney who was fired by President Trump last week.)

In addition to the broader drugs and weapons charges, four of the defendants also face murder charges over the Dec. 11, 2016 shooting death of a man in the Bronx. 

The NYPD worked alongside Homeland Security Investigations in the probe. 

The bust comes just two days after Mayor de Blasio unveiled a new plan to cut opioid-related deaths in the city by more than a third over five years, using a combination of law enforcement and treatment.

The law enforcement sources said, however, that Wednesday's takedown was not tied to the mayor's initiative. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor de Blasio Won't Face Charges in Fundraising Probes]]> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 19:58:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-bill-de-blasio-st-generica.jpg

State and federal prosecutors cleared Mayor de Blasio Thursday in two separate, long-running probes into campaign financing and favors for donors.

Addressing the matter at a news briefing Thursday afternoon, de Blasio said the conclusions reached by investigators in both probes validate the position his administration has long maintained.

"My staff and my colleagues and I have acted in a manner that was legal and appropriate and ethical throughout," the mayor said. "This is something I feel very strongly about in public service, that we have to comport ourselves in a proper manner and we have done that and that has been confirmed by the results of this investigation."

The surprise announcements, issued just minutes apart, were a major victory for the mayor, who is up for re-election this year. Recent polls give him a commanding lead, even as they also showed deep-seated voter skepticism about whether he had done anything wrong. 

The Manhattan district attorney's office said it was ending a probe into whether the mayor and associates improperly funneled campaign donations toward upstate Senate races.

A letter from District Attorney Cy Vance to the state's Board of Elections said the activities of de Blasio's associates "appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impost candidate contribution limits," but that they could not be prosecuted nonetheless. 

Minutes after Vance's statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said it was also ending a separate investigation into whether official favors were done for campaign donors.

"Although it is rare that we issue a public statement about the status of an investigation, we believe it appropriate in this case at this time, in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election," Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement. 

De Blasio shied away from linking Kim's decision to last week's firing of the prosecutor's predecessor, Preet Bharara. 

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<![CDATA[12 Indicted in $12M Scheme to Sell Stolen Products on Amazon]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:39:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/amazon+generic.jpg

Twelve people have been indicted in a multimillion-dollar scheme to steal merchandise from retail stores in 28 states, including New York, and resell the stolen products on Amazon and eBay, officials said Wednesday.

The alleged thieves resold at least $12 million in merchandise stolen from stores like Staples, Best Buy and Office Depot in New York City and across the nation since 2012, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

He called the takedown one of the "largest-ever busts of a retail theft ring."

Over the course of the 10-month probe, dubbed "Operation Sticky Fingers," investigators seized more than 5,300 stolen electronics and ink cartridges from alleged members of the criminal enterprise. Nearly $8 million was taken from the defendants' homes, banks and Amazon and PayPal accounts.

The accused kingpin of the scheme, 64-year-old Richard Rimbaugh, who goes by the name "the General," has allegedly been directing theft crews and reselling stolen goods for more than two decades, Schneiderman said.

According to the indictment, Rimbaugh allegedly instructed crews of thieves to steal specific printer cartridges, computer software and other retail electronics based on their resell value. He typically paid the crews 30 to 50 percent of the retail value for the stolen merchandise, the indictment alleges. 

Rimbaugh then allegedly resold the stolen merchandise on the internet through his illegitimate business, American Media Soft, which he operated out of his Manhattan apartment. Five packages of stolen merchandise arrived at Rimbaugh's home as investigators executed the search warrant, Schneiderman says.

Over the 20 years of the ring’s operation, Rimbaugh is accused of reinvesting roughly half of the proceeds into the criminal enterprise in the form of cash payments to the theft crews.

Information on an attorney for him wasn't immediately available.

The suspects, men and women from New York to Las Vegas who range in age from 22 to 64, were arrested Tuesday in connection with the sweeping 41-count indictment. They are charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering, criminal possession of stolen property and conspiracy, and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.  

The investigation was conducted by the attorney general’s Organized Crime Task Force with support from the New York State Police. Neither Amazon nor eBay could immediately be reached for comment on the takedown.  

One of the main suspects named in the indictment is also charged in a separate case with welfare fraud conspiracy for allegedly helping a woman illegally obtain housing benefits from the Nassau County Department of Social Services.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Paterson Mayor Joey Torres Surrenders in Corruption Probe]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 15:29:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres surrendered to authorities Monday to face charges in connection with a state corruption investigation.

Torres, indicted last week on charges of theft, misconduct, tampering with public records and other offenses, had been permitted to surrender at an agreed time. He did so just before noon. Three public works supervisors also indicted in the case surrendered to authorities last week; they've also been suspended without pay, according to city councilman Andre Sayegh.

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. Torres and the three indicted workers all deny wrongdoing.

Last week, Torres issued a statement saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law. I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last few months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

A concurrent federal investigation into Torres is underway, the I-Team has reported, but there have been no charges in that probe. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Indicted Mayor Goes to City Hall, DPW Worker Turns Self In]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 22:33:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres appears to be taking his time turning himself in, one day after he and three city workers were indicted in a state corruption investigation. 

Torres stayed away from news cameras outside his home Wednesday, and was picked up around the corner before heading to City Hall. For now, that's where he appears to be staying, protected in his second-floor office by security.

He's not legally bound to turn himself in right away, but it's frustrating to residents who first voted him out of office seven years ago before he got his seat back in 2014. 

"How much more damage will the community suffer behind the moves that are made by this administration?" said Lynda Gallashaw, a citizen activist who tried to launch a recall vote of the mayor last year. "We're not satisfied at all. We're told that we're broke, that we're in debt -- and yet jobs are being handed out." 

Meanwhile, Paterson Department of Public Works employee Joseph Mania surrendered at the state police barracks in Totowa Wednesday. 

He, along with Timothy Hanlon and Imad Elmowaswes, allegedly performed private jobs at a warehouse owned in part by Torres' daughter while on the city's time. 

Mania's attorney, Ray Flood, told News 4 his client will plead not guilty and that they were looking forward to going to court. 

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. 

"This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power," Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said at a news conference announcing the charges Tuesday. "Mayor Torres allegedly treated city workers like his personal handymen, treated taxpayer dollars like his own."

Torres released a statement Tuesday saying, "I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law. I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show that at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last four months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

A concurrent federal investigation into Torres is underway, the I-Team has reported, but there have been no charges in that probe. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Paterson Mayor Torres Hit With Corruption Charges]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 02:58:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIENST+MAYOR+ARRESTED+PATERSON+NJ+PKG+6P+-+01000015_WNBC_000000.jpg

Paterson Mayor Joey Torres and three employees of the city's public works department were hit with state corruption-related charges Tuesday, hours after the I-Team first reported they would be indicted. 

The mayor of New Jersey's third-largest city was the subject of months of I-Team reporting on municipal workers being paid to do private jobs for him and his relatives. 

"This is a case of old-school public corruption and abuse of power," Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said at a news conference announcing the charges Tuesday. "Mayor Torres allegedly treated city workers like his personal handymen, treated taxpayer dollars like his own."

The six-count indictment unsealed Tuesday include charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and tampering with public records against Torres and three workers, Joseph Mania, 51; Timothy Hanlon, 30; and Imad Elmowaswes, 52.

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Shortly after the charges were announced, Torres stood next to his executive assistant on the steps of City Hall as she read from a prepared statement attributed to him. 

"I am extremely disappointed and surprised that the Attorney General has elected to pursue this case and file these charges against me today," the statement said. 

It went on to say that Torres and his attorneys had been speaking with the attorney general's office and "were in the process of addressing certain issues they raised when we were notified at the last possible moment that the state would be unsealing an indictment today." 

"I fully intend to vigorously defend myself against these allegations, and I look forward to the opportunity to present all of the facts in a court of law," Torres' statement said. "I am confident when the full story is told, I will be vindicated." 

First elected to Paterson's city council in 1990, Torres became mayor in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006. The Democrat lost a bid for a third term in 2010 but re-gained his seat in 2014.

Through much of 2016, Torres refused to answer questions about a series of I-Team stories that appeared to show city employees doing private jobs for him, from washing his scooter and building bookshelves to doing construction at his nephew's would-be beer business.

When the I-Team caught up with him before the first report in March 2016, Torres said in an email no employees had ever done private jobs for him while on overtime. "Please be advised that at no time has any city employee, on city time, or overtime, or paid with taxpayer dollars, ever performed work for me at my home, or anywhere else," he wrote.

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The I-Team later obtained records that seem to show that at least eight employees had indeed been earning overtime during the same periods they were seen on camera doing private work at the mayor's home and the planned beer business. But the mayor never responded to requests for further explanation. 

Torres is the second prominent New Jersey mayor to face criminal charges in the last four months. In an unrelated case, Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges on Nov. 18 and resigned from office.

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Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Killer Mouths 'You Know I Love You' to Victim's Mom]]> Sun, 05 Mar 2017 14:55:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cold+case+arraignment.jpg

The man accused of killing and dismembering a 19-year-old Brooklynite in 2005, then dumping some of his body parts in a subway tunnel, mouthed, 'You know I love you,' twice to the victim's mother as she sat in Brooklyn court for the suspect's arraignment Friday. 

Kwauhuru Govan, 38, arrested in late February in the cold-case death of Rashawn Brazell, pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. 

Desire Brazell was sitting in the second row of the courtroom when Govan was led in and out. The first time he commented, she closed her eyes, sighed and grasped something tightly in her hand. 

When she came out of court, she grabbed a table and shook her head, but said nothing to reporters. 

A defense attorney said Govan and Desiree Brazell are related by marriage, but the district attorney's office said it had no information to support that claim. 

Desiree Brazell fought for years to keep her son's name in the news as investigators hunted for his killer. She has described her son as a promising young man with a nose for fashion with a magnetic personality. 

Rashawn Brazell was last seen leaving his mother's Bushwick apartment in February 2005. Days after he disappeared, two MTA workers found a bloodied plastic bag with a foot and other body parts in a tunnel leading to the Nostrand Avenue station. More remains were located at a recycling hub for subway trash. 

The judge denied the defense request for bail Friday and Govan was remanded. At his last hearing, he caused an uproar in the court, flailing and screaming about being framed as officers had to hold him down. Friday's court appearance went far more smoothly, and Govan's attorney told NBC 4 New York he had explicitly asked his client not to act out. 

Govan is due back in court in May in the Brazell case. 

He is also accused of murder in another slaying, the 2004 death of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas. Thomas' naked body was found inside two laundry bags on the side of alleyway near 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick on Feb. 11, 2004. Govan was arrested in November based on new DNA evidence.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Yonkers Man Pleads Guilty in Deadly DWI Collision]]> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 22:55:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/liam+perry.JPG

A Yonkers man has pleaded guilty in a head-on collision that killed another driver last August, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors say Liam Perry had a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit when he collided head-on into Pedro Martinez's vehicle at Palmer Road and Sunnybrook Road the night of Aug. 11. 

Both Perry and Martinez were taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx; Martinez was later pronounced dead. 

Perry's BAC was determined to be .27 percent. 

Perry pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, along with other vehicle and traffic violations. 

He faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison when he's sentenced April 4. 



Photo Credit: Westchester County District Attorney]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested in Threats Against ADL, 7 Other Jewish Centers]]> Fri, 03 Mar 2017 21:05:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Juan+Thompson.jpg

A man allegedly waging an intense campaign of harassment against a former lover was responsible for bomb threats against the Anti-Defamation League and some Jewish centers around the country, authorities said Friday.

Thirty-year-old Juan Thompson, a former journalist fired last year for allegedly making up quotes and sources, was arrested in St. Louis in connection with multiple threats against Jewish centers, including some in the tri-state area. 

But additional sources told NBC News Thompson is not believed to be the person behind the series of threats targeting Jewish community centers across the nation in recent months. 

There have been five such waves of threats this year, forcing dozens of evacuations in more than 30 states. No injuries have been reported in any of the cases and no devices have been found. The FBI is assisting in that probe.

In total, authorities have been looking into more than 120 bomb threats called into nearly 100 JCC schools, child care and other similar facilities.  

Thompson is considered a "copycat," the sources said. A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan indicated that Thompson was trying to "harass and intimidate" an unnamed victim with whom he had a relationship. 

He allegedly made at least eight of the threats -- some in the victim's name, and some in his own name, as part of a purported campaign to smear the victim. Thompson allegedly went to extreme lengths to do so, including sending hoax faxes to the woman's employer last year alleging she had made anti-Semitic statements on social media, according to the complaint. 

He was allegedly behind a threat to the national ADL headquarters in Manhattan last week. According to the FBI complaint, the emailed threat named the woman and said she was "behind the bomb threats against the jews. She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow." The next day, the ADL received a phone call claiming a bomb was in its headquarters.

He also claimed she was responsible for placing a bomb in a Jewish center in Dallas, and emailed a JCC in San Diego saying she wanted to "kill as many Jews asap," the complaint says.

An anonymous threat emailed to a JCC in Manhattan early in February included Thompson's own name. It said he "put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow," the complaint said. "Newtown" apparently refers to the December 2012 massacre at a Connecticut school that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.

The FBI complaint quotes Thompson’s Twitter post on Feb. 24 that says, “Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.” 

The exact same tweet on the same date appears on the Twitter account @JuanMThompson. That same account sent a number of other tweets in late February that match the FBI complaint word for word. 

Juan Thompson wrote for online publication The Intercept from late 2014 until early 2016, when he was fired for fabricating sources and quotes in his articles, according to Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief. 

In a statement Friday, Reed said everyone at The Intercept was "horrified" to learn of Thompson's arrest in the bomb threats case.

"These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted," Reed said. "We have no information about the charges against Thompson other than what is included in the criminal complaint."  

Thompson is charged with one count of cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, in connection with the case. He is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Missouri later Friday. 

His mother, Yolanda Thompson, said from her home in St. Louis Friday that she hadn't seen her son in weeks. She tearfully described him as a "good man" and declined to comment further on his arrest.

ADL officials said the diligence of law enforcement in such a troubling time was "reassuring," at a news briefing on Friday. The group said it met with top FBI officials and others to discuss the ongoing investigation into the threats.

"There are many more JCC bomb threats that have not been solved, and communities are hurting," one official said. "Just because there's been an arrest today around our bomb threat does not mean the threats have disappeared or will stop. Hate toward the Jewish community and other minority groups is very real and deeply disturbing." 

University City, Missouri, police Lt. Fredrick Lemons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that detectives will question Thompson about the 154 headstones toppled last month at a Jewish cemetery in the St. Louis suburb. He declined to say whether Thompson was considered a suspect.

Information on an attorney for him wasn't immediately available. 

"Today, we have charged Juan Thompson with allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to Jewish Community Centers and to the Anti-Defamation League," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said. "Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race – whatever the motivation – are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal."

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill thanked local and federal law enforcement for a collaborative effort. 

"The defendant allegedly caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats," O'Neill said. "We will continue to pursue those who peddle fear, making false claims about serious crimes."

The arrest comes amid an alarming increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City and across the nation. NYPD officials said earlier this week such bias reports are up 94 percent year over year in the city. Other states have reported an increase as well.

In a statement Friday, Mayor de Blasio called on all Americans to protect the foundational values of this country.

“We must not be indifferent to the rising tide of hate crimes we’re seeing in New York City and nationwide," the mayor said. "When you attack someone because of who they are, how they worship or who they love, you are attacking our democracy."

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie ordered increased patrols at houses of worship, faith-based institutions, community centers and cemeteries throughout the state in response to the uptick in threats.  


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<![CDATA[Suspect's DNA Profile in NYC Google Worker Slaying Revealed]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:41:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mass-runner-killed-0808.jpg

Authorities in Massachusetts say they now have a DNA profile of the person believed to have killed a 27-year-old New York City woman out running near her mother's Massachusetts home last summer.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the DNA profile shows the suspect is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30 years old. He would have had scratches on his body following Vanessa Marcotte's Aug. 7 slaying.

The suspect is also Latino and had a shaved head based on witness descriptions, according to Early.

Marcotte, a New York City resident who worked as an account manager for Google, was in Princeton, Massachusetts, visiting her family that fateful weekend when she went on a jog, but never returned. Her body, which investigators say was naked and partially burned, was found in a remote and wooded area about a half mile away later that evening. Authorities say there were also signs she had struggled with her attacker.

State police announced in November they were searching for a dark SUV that had been parked on the side of the road where she was last seen in connection with her slaying.

Investigators have also received more than 1,300 tips to a dedicated tip line.

Meanwhile, her family spoke out days before Christmas, thanking the public for supporting them and announcing they had started a foundation in Marcotte's name that encourages her values of "giving back and volunteerism."

"Not a day goes by that we don't reflect on the enormity of her loss," Marcotte's uncle, Steven Therrien, said while reading a statement.

Marcotte's slaying came five days after a woman in Queens was murdered while on a run. Police have arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis after matching his DNA to samples found on 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, whom authorities said "ferociously" fought her attacker. However, police in New York and Massachusetts have added there is nothing connecting the Queens case to the case in Princeton.



Photo Credit: NECN / Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Cop in Deadly Crash Declines Plea Deal, Will Go to Trial]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:28:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Pedro-Abad-Wreck-Inset.jpg

A former New Jersey police officer charged in a fatal wrong-way crash on Staten Island in 2015 will face a jury in a few weeks after declining a plea deal. 

"We are going to trial," Pedro Abad's lawyer said in a brief hearing Wednesday. Jury selection is now expected to begin April 10.

Abad faces eight to 25 years in prison if convicted, but was offered a plea deal for a sentence of five to 21 years. The deadline for that offer was Wednesday. 

Prosecutors say Abad was drunk when he collided with a tractor trailer on the West Shore Expressway in the morning hours of March 20, 2015. Two passengers in Abad's car were killed, including a fellow Linden, New Jersey officer.

Abad has pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. Last December, a federal judge denied a defense request to suppress Abad's blood-alcohol test results.

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<![CDATA[Man Arrested in 2005 Beheading Screams, Kicks in Court]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:01:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cold+case+arraignment.jpg

A 38-year-old man arrested late last year in the 2004 slaying of a teenage girl left naked in a Brooklyn alley now faces charges in the cold-case death of a 19-year-old man whose dismembered, beheaded body was found in a subway tunnel in 2005, authorities say. 

Kwauhuru Govan was brought into Brooklyn court kicking and screaming Wednesday to face charges in the death of Rashawn Brazell, who left his mother's Bushwick apartment in February 2005 and was never seen again. Govan yelled about being framed in the case; officers had to hold onto him throughout the hearing. He is due back in court Thursday for arraignment.

"I didn't do anything, judge," Govan said. "I can't dissect a frog." 

The unsolved killing of Brazell has mystified the city for years. Days after he disappeared, two MTA workers found a bloodied plastic bag with a foot and other body parts in a tunnel leading to the Nostrand Avenue station. More remains were located at a recycling hub for subway trash. 

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said it has been a long 12 years, but his office was gratified to have an arrest in the case.

Brazell's mother, who kept his name in the news for years in a desperate effort to find his killer, said a brief "thank you" to police at a news conference Wednesday. Over the years, she has described her son as a promising young man with a nose for fashion with a magnetic personality. 

Govan was arrested in November in connection with another slaying, and after his arrest, investigators realized he had lived across the street from Brazell. At that point, a law enforcement source says they started looking at him as a possible suspect in Brazell's death. The source said investigators now believe the bloody bag they found at the crime scene in 2005 belonged to Govan. 

In November Govan was charged with murder and kidnapping charges in the 2004 killing of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas after new DNA evidence linked him to the case, prosecutors said. Thomas' naked body was found inside two laundry bags on the side of alleyway near 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick on Feb. 11, 2004, prosecutors said. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, face and torso, and had marks around her wrists and ankles indicating she had been tied up. 

DNA testing at the time turned up no results. Then, in June 2016, the NYPD cold case squad and the district attorney's forensic science unit requested another DNA testing from Thomas' fingernail clippings. This time, a full profile was developed and uploaded to the national DNA database maintained by the FBI, and turned up a match to a man arrested in 2014 for an armed robbery in Polk County, Florida, officials said. 

After Govan, formerly of Gates Avenue in Bushwick, was released from Florida prison on the robbery conviction, he was extradited to Brooklyn on the murder indictment, prosecutors said. 

Govan, who lived two blocks from Thomas' home in 2004, has denied knowing the teenager. His attorney, Fred Spiegel, suggested at the time of his arrest that the DNA could be false. Spiegel couldn't immediately be reached for comment on his arrest in the Brazell case.

Police in New York say they are working with law enforcement in other states where Govan lived over the years to determine if he may be connected to any other unsolved crimes. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Karina Vetrano Murder Suspect's Attorneys Attend Hearing]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:00:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chanel+lewis.jpg

The 20-year-old Brooklyn man charged in the death of Karina Vetrano, the New York City runner whose beaten, strangled body was found in a Queens marsh over the summer, will face a judge again in April. 

Attorneys for Chanel Lewis attended a hearing Tuesday, though Lewis did not appear.

Jamel Reed, a former high school classmate and friend, told NBC 4 New York outside court that Lewis was "very quiet, very chill, laidback. He didn't bother anybody, he graduated, he didn't have a criminal history." 

The Legal Aid Society, which is defending Lewis, reiterated its statement that he is "entitled to fairness and due process."

Police have said DNA evidence linked Lewis to Vetrano's killing, and that he made detailed, incriminating statements to detectives. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison. 

Lewis' family maintains he's innocent. 

"He's just a good guy, a wonderful guy, don't interfere with anybody," his father Richard Lewis previously said. "He's never had that problem in the 20 years I've had him in my world." 

"I raised my son to be a God-fearing man, and to respect life," mother Vita Lewis said. "My son is friendly, God-fearing, and would not hurt anybody." 


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<![CDATA[NY Mom Pleads Guilty in Case of Dead Baby in Fridge]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:03:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/218*120/5816deadbaby.jpg

The mother of a baby found decomposed after apparently being kept inside a refrigerator last August has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the child's death, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Deasia Bartee, 27, admitted pummeling 15-month-old Samia Rose on the back after she was arrested last summer, prosecutors say. She faces up to 25 years in prison when she's sentenced March 21. 

Samia Rose's body was found at their Mount Vernon apartment on Aug. 5, 2016, when police responded to a 911 call for a report of a child who died in her sleep, authorities said.

The toddler was found laying on her back in a playpen, her arms rigid and pointing toward the ceiling, prosecutors said. Her left eye appeared to be swollen shut, and she had no pulse and was lifeless. She was "extremely cold" to the touch. 

When she was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the doctor told police he thought the child was unusually cold and that she may have been refrigerated since she was in an advanced state of decomposition, prosecutors said. 

The mother ultimately admitted beating her child, and an autopsy found Samia Rose died of blunt force trauma, with a broken spine and internal bleeding. She was malnourished at the time, weighing just 14 pounds as a 15-month-old. 

Prosecutors previously said that Bartee has an extensive history with child protective services. Her other two children, ages 6 and 9 have been placed with the agency.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>