Two killers, a mayor and a dangler: an unusual day in Westchester courts

It’s going to be an interesting morning in the local judicial system on Tuesday: a county judge will hand down sentences in two high-profile homicide cases, while the ex-White Plains mayor will be in a nearby courtroom to answer probation violation charges, at the same time as the Tappan Zee bridge dangler will appear in Greenburgh Town Court.

First, the sentencings:

Francisco Acevedo (left) will be sentenced in the murders of three women in south Yonkers over a seven-year period starting in 1989. Acevedo had sex with each of them before strangling them, posing their nude bodies to face upward and fleeing the scene. Acevedo was caught after he submitted DNA in a bid to get early release from prison on a drunken driving conviction. Westchester Judge Barbara Zambelli, who has a reputation for tough sentences, may give him three consecutive prison terms of 25 to life, for a total of 75 to life.

Whatever the sentence, I expect it will be an emotional closure for the families of the women and for John T. Geiss, the dogged Yonkers detective who pursued the cold case for years.

Zambelli also will be sentencing ex-Eastchester police officer James Pileggi (right), who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter for the unintentional (but criminally reckless) shooting of his friend, Andre Everett. This is a sentencing with wide options: Pileggi could get as little as probation or as much as 15 years in state prison; it’s completely Zambelli’s call. She could rule down the middle: 4 to 7 years or perhaps 7 to 10. Pileggi’s family vowed to launch a massive letter-writing campaign begging the judge for leniency. The question is, did Everett’s family do the same, urging Zambelli to go the other way?

Down the hall from Zambelli’s court, ex-Mayor Adam Bradley (left) will appear before acting state Supreme Court Justice Susan Cacace on charges that he violated a stay-away order by calling his estranged wife, Fumiko, late last year. Bradley swears he repeatedly “pocket dialed” her by accident. Bradley had to post $10,000 bail for his smartphone snafu. We’ll see what, if anything, happens in the latest twist of this ongoing domestic violence case.

 

Finally, disgruntled Rockland County resident Michael Davitt (right) will be in Greenburgh Town Court on charges related to his November publicity stunt in which he dangled mid-span from the Tappan Zee Bridge. Davitt, an ex-county employee, is facing several misdemeanors and violations. He worked for the county for more than 27 years before being was suspended in 2008, and then became a fixture at county Legislature meetings, claiming corruption in government. No word on if or when a plea deal is coming., but I’d be surprised if this case goes to trial. My guess is that he’ll plead guilty to one or more of the charges and get a conditional discharge, with a fine, of course.

Age and the Pileggi trial

In the middle of a heated cross-examination of former Eastchester Police Officer James Pileggi this morning came this amusing moment:

Pileggi, on trial for second-degree manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of his friend, Andre Everett, was trying to explain how he and his friends greeted Everett on the night of the shooting. Assistant District Attorney Fredric Green asked Pileggi what he meant when he said they “exchanged the usual pleasantries.” Pileggi, 30, said the greetings were along the lines of ‘Hey, what’s up,’ and other words common to his “age group.”

“I’m not so old, I understand,”  replied the 50-year-old prosecutor.

County Judge Barbara Zambelli, who is in her late 50s, couldn’t let the moment pass.

“You’re ‘not so old?'” she said with a smile. The jury and the crowded courtroom had a chuckle at Green’s expense. The veteran prosecutor smiled and nodded, then continued his questioning.

Pileggi to face civil charges after criminal case

The manslaughter trial of ex-Eastchester police officer James Pileggi began yesterday, and Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli’s courtroom quickly filled with family members of both the defendant and victim, Andre Everett. The emotional trial will continue Monday with more testimony from prosecutors Fredric Green and Alexis Celestin, who are arguing that Pileggi’s decision to play with a loaded Glock on Nov. 3, 2009 was criminally reckless.

Pileggi faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

No matter the outcome of the trial, Pileggi will likely face a civil suit by the Everett family. In January 2010, the family filed a notice of claim, a precursor to filing a lawsuit, against the Eastchester Police Department of the Town of Eastchester. According to the notice, the family is claiming wrongful death, pain and suffering and negligent hiring, training and monitoring of Pileggi, among the claims.

“Respondents, through their agents, servant and employees, knew or should have known of P.O. James Pileggi Jr.’s violent and unsafe propensities and failed to act reasonably under the circumstances,” the notice states.

Typically, a lawsuit must be filed within a year of filing a notice of claim, but instead a summons was served to the town a couple of months ago. The family’s civil attorney, Jared Rice of Rice & Rice in New Rochelle, said the distraught family did not want to ensure a criminal trial and civil action at the same time and will wait until the criminal case is over to proceed with any legal action.