Woman to spend 13 weekends in jail in home-fraud scheme

A New Rochelle woman was sentenced today to serve five years’ probation, with 13 straight weekends in jail, after pleading guilty to fraudulently taking over her late mother’s home, which she used to get a $400,000 loan to pay bills.

Tonyalisa Thomas (left) also was ordered to repay the $400,000 — in $1,500 monthly increments — while she is on probation. If she fails to do so, she will be sent to state prison for an indeteminite amount of time.

She’ll start serving her sentence at the end of this week.

Thomas, 35, pleaded guilty in June to second-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Both are felonies.

According to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, she filed a phony affidavit in August 2005 so she could be named administrator of her mother’s estate. Her mother, Iris Thomas, died in 1999.

Thomas forged the signature of Doretha Thomas, her mother’s sister-in-law, and provided false information about surviving relatives so she could take title of her mother’s home at 178 Lincoln Ave.

Thomas and her husband then got a $215,000 mortgage on the property by falsely representing that Thomas was the lawful owner. A year later, the couple got a $400,000 mortgage, paid off the first mortgage and used the rest for personal expenses.

Pace offers 1-night course on cyber-bullying

You’ve heard of cyberbullying, but how much do you really know about it?

Tomorrow night, Pace Law School in White Plains will host a two-hour class on how to detect and prevent cyber-bullying, the role of local school districts in addressing it, and the legal issues and criminal consequences surronding it.

The program, called “Back to School: Bullying and Cyber-bullying Legal Primer 101,” will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the moot courtroom of the law library. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

Among the speakers will be Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, Stephanie Perez of Westchester County Attorney’s Office, Stephanie Roebuck of the law firm Keane & Beane, and Bruce Kelly, coalition coordinator for New Rochelle FOCUS.

The program costs $55 and includes written materials, and dinner underwritten by AJ Benet Insurance and Hudson Valley Bank. The continuing legal education (CLE) course is sponsored by the Westchester Women’s Bar Association’s education, gender fairness, criminal law and domestic violence committees.

For more information, call Linda Maccarrone at Pace Law School at 914-422-4062.

‘Judge Judy’ mentoring program returns to Westchester

They may have never seen her show, but ‘Judge Judy’ (left) is helping 40 girls from Westchester County with their future careers.

The program, called “Her Honor,” matches promising young women with professional women who provide hands-on work experience, advice and guidance about how to succeed in the workplace, according to the county executive’s office.

This year, the 40 girls come from Mamaroneck High School, White Plains High School, Mount Vernon High School, Nelson Mandela High School in Mount Vernon and Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers.

The program is funded by Judge Judith “Judy” Sheindlin, and Patricia Lanza of the Lanza Family Foundation and administered by the Westchester County Office for Women and the Women’s Research and Education Fund.

The girls will meet their mentors this Thursday at an 11:30 a.m. reception hosted by Judge Judy herself at the Bonnie Briar Country Club in Larchmont.

Bronx man to serve 6-18 years for fatal DWI in Yonkers

A Bronx man who was driving drunk when he struck a Yonkers couple, killing the husband, agreed to serve six to 18 years in prison for his role in the fatal crash.

Peter Duah, 41, accepted the terms when he pleaded guilty Monday to the entire 10 count indictment against him, which included felony charges of aggravated vehicular homicide,  second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and first-degree vehicular assault.

According to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office, Duah’s blood-alcohol level was 0.28, more than three times over the legal limit, when he collided with Herbert and Marlene Goldstein on Central Park Avenue Dec. 28.

Duah was fleeing police in New York City in his red Ford E250 van after hitting two vehicles at East Gun Hill Road and White Plains Road in the Bronx — one of which was an unmarked New York City police cruiser. The badly-damaged police car pursued Duah with its lights and siren on but lost sight of him and stopped.

Duah crossed into Yonkers and slammed into the Goldstein’s 2010 Hyundai at 11:47 p.m. as they were leaving the A&P Supermarket near McLean Avenue. The car spun around and flipped over onto the driver’s side, while Duah’s van was stopped by a tree. Duah ran off but was caught on a nearby side street and arrested.

The Goldsteins had to be extricated from the car. Harvey Goldstein died the next morning. He was 65. Marlene Goldstein, then 63, spent three weeks in the hospital.

In addition to the felonies, Duah pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault, driving while intoxicated and reckless driving.

Duah has been held without bail at the Westchester County jail in Valhalla since his arrest. Westchester County Judge Barry Warhit will sentence him on November 12.

Brothers to serve 10 years for selling guns

Two brothers from Yonkers were sentenced today to 10 years in prison each for selling guns to what turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Gustavo Rivera (left), 32, and his younger brother, Anthony Rivera, 22, had pleaded guilty to several felony weapons charges after their arrest for a series of gun sales earlier this year, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.

The brothers, who lived on Valentine Lane, sold three loaded handguns to the undercover officer between January 16 and March 3, prosecutors alleged.  Anthony Rivera also sold him a shotgun and an assault rifle.

Anthony Rivera (left) was arrested on April 21 and had a semi-automatic handgun on him, prosecutors said. Gustavo Rivera was picked up June 24 on an arrest warrant.

“Dealing, selling or even possessing an illegal loaded handgun in Westchester County is an extremely serious offense, ” District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement after the sentencing. “Sentences like these send a clear message that society is intent on breaking the cycle.”

Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli sentenced Anthony Rivera as a predicate violent felony offender and Gustavo Rivera as a second violent felony offender.

The investigation involved the Yonkers Police Department, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

Jury selection underway in 2nd trial of Werner Lippe

Potential jurors poured into the Westchester County courthouse this morning to learn if they will be among the 12 jurors chosen for the retrial Werner Lippe in the death of his wife, Faith, nearly two years ago.
The jury pool is huge — about 300 people, court officers said — in part because of all of the publicity the case received in February, when Lippe’s first trial ended in a hung jury.
Eight jurors were chosen today.
Lippe, 68, has been held without bail on a second-degree murder charge since October 30, 2008, when he confessed to killing his wife during a bitter divorce fight and disposing of her remains in a burn barrel behind their home in Cortlandt. Faith Lippe vanished on Oct. 3, 2008 and has never been seen or heard from since.
He confessed twice to a friend who was wearing a police wire and then once to state police. He testified at the first trial that those statements were false and were made in a misguided attempt to get his friend to leave him alone, and then to have state police take him to a judge who would see how ridiculous the confession was.
Prosecutors say Lippe incinerated his wife in a 55-gallon drum and dissolved her bones and teeth in acid he used in his jewelry-making business. The burn barrel has never been found.
The first jury was deadlocked, with seven jurors voting for acquittal and five for conviction.
Jury selection is expected to continue through the end of the week. The second trial is expected to last about three weeks. Assistant District Attorneys John O’Rourke and Christine O’Connor, who prosecuted the case, have returned for the retrial. Defense lawyer Andrew Rubin continues to represent Lippe.

Teen offered 7 years in prison in wreck that hurt Irvington cop

UPDATE: Brian Sabia accepted the plea deal on Sept. 30. He will be sentenced Dec. 9.

The Connecticut teenager accused of nearly killing an Irvington police officer with a stolen car has two weeks to decide if he will go to trial for felony assault or plead guilty and serve seven years in state prison.

The Connecticut teenager accused of nearly killing an Irvington police officer with a stolen car has two weeks to decide if he will go to trial for felony assault or plead guilty and serve seven years in state prison.

Westchester County Judge James Hubert offered the deal to 16-year-old Brian Sabia this morning, nearly five months after the collision that critically injured Officer Luigi Osso.

“It’s a horrible, horrible tragedy,” Hubert said. “The injuries are about as bad as you can get.”

Osso, 31, suffered severe head trauma, a shattered pelvis and other injuries in the  April 21 crash. He is recovering at home in Hopewell Junction after spending several months in the hospital.

Sabia, who is from Milford, Conn., was allegedly fleeing Elmsford police in a Ford Mustang stolen from a Milford dealership when he slammed head-on into a police cruiser driven by Osso at Main Street and Broadway.

Sabia told authorities that he was running away from a Connecticut group home because other teenagers there had tried to kill him. He got lost in New York, so he pulled into a gas station to ask for directions. When he started to leave, an Elmsford police officer tried pulling him over and he fled.

If Sabia decides to take the deal, he must plead guilty to the entire indictment against him. The most serious charges include two counts of first-degree assault, one for causing physical injury while committing a felony and one for showing depraved indifference to human life.

If Sabia pleads guilty on Sept. 30, Hubert said, he would be sentenced as an adult, not as a youthful offender.

And now … a mouse in Yonkers Family Court

Back in July, we wrote about the lousy conditions in Yonkers Family Court, which state court officials called one of the worst family courts in New York because of the overcrowding, security problems and accessibility violations in the downtown building.

Well, apparently the problems reached a new level today — a mouse (not necessarily this one) ran across the waiting room floor at about 10:30 this morning.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Administrative Judge Alan Scheinkman said.

While this may be the first time a rodent was spotted during business hours, Scheinkman said, the building at 53 S. Broadway that houses Family Court has had vermin problems for a while. He said an exterminator came about six months ago to clean house, but evidence of the long-tailed critters remains.

“We’ve had their droppings. We’ve had their odors,” he said.

Still no word from Westchester County officials if they’ll move Yonkers Family Court into a newer, better facility. Scheinkman said he has exchanged ideas with county administrations, but that nothing has been decided.

Ballot is set for Westchester County, Family Court judicial races

A Mount Vernon lawyer backed by Republicans to be a Westchester County Court judge this fall secured the Conservative Party line over his Democratic challenger in yesterday’s primary race.

Douglas Martino won the minority line by a nearly 3-1 ratio over Barry Warhit, a Greenburgh lawyer who was appointed to the bench several months ago. The vote was 833 to 303, according to unofficial vote tallies.

They will face off in the Nov. 2 election. Warhit will carry the Independence and Working Families party lines as well as the Democratic line.

County Court judges preside over felony criminal cases.

In the other countywide judicial race, eight candidates are vying for four open seats on the bench in Family Court, which handles child custody, visitation and neglect cases as well as juvenile delinquency issues.

Incumbents David Klein of Mamaroneck and Nilda Morales Horowitz of White Plains are running for a second term. Both are endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties.

The other Democratic candidates for Family Court are Family Court attorney referee Michelle Schauer of Ossining and Hal Greenwald, a Yonkers lawyer who specializes in Family Court cases. They will appear on the Working Families party line as well.

Republicans endorsed Patricia O’Callahan, a former deputy county attorney and Bill Edwards, an acting Family Court judge in White Plains. Former Yonkers City Court Judge Edward P. Borrelli and candidate Mary Clark replaced Sharon Bell Adamo of Pound Ridge and Guy T. Parisi of Rye as Republican candidates.

Edwards and Clark will appear on the Independence line, while Greenwald and Borrelli will appear on the Conservative line. Horowitz and O’Callahan will carry both the Conservative and Independence lines.

Both Democrats and Republicans endorsed incumbent Surrogate Court Judge Anthony Scarpino for another term. Surrogate Court judges handle wills and estates and decide disputed claims among family members.

Judges for County, Family and Surrogate courts serve 10-year terms and receive $136,700 a year.

“The Assassin” pleads guilty to attempted murder, robbery

A 21-year-old Yonkers man nicknamed “the Assassin” admitted in court today that he tried to shoot a teenager to death after committing a robbery outside of a Dunkin’ Donuts last year.

Torrell Smith, who lived at 95 Riverdale Ave. before his arrest, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder and first-degree robbery for his role in unrelated crimes on Sept. 2.

Westchester County Court  Judge Barry Warhit sentenced Smith to seven years in state prison on each count. He is already serving a 15-year prison sentence for his role in an Aug. 27 armed robbery at 143 Livingston Ave. in Yonkers.

The sentences will run concurrently, meaning Smith won’t serve any additional prison time for his guilty pleas. However, if his previous conviction or sentence is overturned, he would remain in prison on the new sentence.

Prosecutors said Smith shot a then-17-year-old boy in the hip and lower leg at 1 a.m. Sept. 2 near 383 Warburton Ave.  The teen told police he was talking with his cousin when Smith and another robber demanded their cell phone and money.

Less than two hours later, authorities said, Smith robbed four other men in the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts at 132 Tuckahoe Road.

Smith went to trial for the shooting and Dunkin Donuts parking lot robberies as well as the Livingston Avenue robbery. The jury that convicted him for the Livingston Avenue robbery could not reach a verdict in the other incidents.

After Smith gets out of prison, he must serve five years of post-release supervision.