Monsey Couple Accused of Welfare Fraud Dumps Lawyers

Days after being arrested, a Monsey couple has dumped the two lawyers hired to defend them against charges of welfare fraud and fraudulently obtaining federal rent subsidies to live in their house that’s appraised at $1.4 million.

John Edwards and David Goldstein – two of the county’s most prominent defense lawyers – got the heave-ho from Nathan and Mindy Misky prior to an appearance last night in Haverstraw Justice Court.

Edwards and Goldstein said they were not given a reason for their dismissal after appearing initially in court and helping the couple make $50,000 bail each following their arrest Tuesday morning on one count each of third-degree grand larceny and third-degree welfare fraud.

The couple was not represented by counsel last night. Justice John Grant adjourned the case until Aug. 13 after prosecutor Gary Lee Heavner told him that an investigation was continuing and a grand jury would not hear the case today, as planned.

The Rockland District Attorney’s Office has accused the couple of stealing $26,000 in federal Section 8 housing benefits between February, 2006 and April, 2007. The couple, who have 12 children, are accused of placing ownership of their mansion – six bedrooms and three baths – under a holding couple and then applying for rental vouchers as the tenants.

Prosecutors also accused them of fraudulently obtaining more than $49,000 in food stamps and Medicaid benefits through the Rockland Social Services Department between April, 2006 and February, 2008.

They also are accuses of providing false financial information to obtain benefits, including not reporting bank accounts containing hundreds of thousands of dollars and failing to report ownership in multiple properties valued at several millions dollars in Rockland and Sullivan counties., DA Thomas Zugibe has said.

The couple could face federal charges since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General is working with Rockland prosecutors fraud issues involving
HUD programs.

Rockland DA Appeal of Judge Staying on Dale-Silber Case Before Court

The Zalman SIlber- Andrew Dale case just went before a state Appellate Division panel in Brooklyn,

But the subject matter centered on Judge Catherine Bartlett, not the sexual abuse charges accusing Dale, the fired Ramapo police officer, and Silber, the Monsey businessman,  of doing medical exams on the former Mrs. Silber.

The appellate case focuses on the Rockland District Attorney’s Office’s  appeal of Bartlett’s decision to continue overseeing the trial, which remains in the pre-trial hearing stage.

The issue focuses on Bartlett revealing in February that during a luncheon a woman started telling her the ugly details of a divorce case and, as it turned out, it was Silber’s divorce case.

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, citing court transcript, argue Bartlett recused herself when she said in court, ” But … I feel at this time that it would be improper for me to continue sitting on this case. So as far as this court is concerned, to avoid the appearance of improper communications and to avoid the appearance of impropriety, I am going to be recusing myself from this case.”

Bartlett wrote in a decision staying on the case that the prosecution was mistaken in its interpretation that she recused herself.

“The people are mistaken,” Bartlett wrote. “The record is clear that at no time in the proceedings did the court state that it had disqualified itself.”

Dale’s lawyer, David Goldstein, said he had urged her to stay on the case. Silber’s lawyer, William Aronwald, later agreed. They argued she did the right thing by informing the lawyers of the conversation and they believe she can try the case without any bias.

Goldstein today called the DA’s appeal ridiculous and predicted the Appellate Division would reject the prosecution’s argument. He noted that an advisory panel for the courts recommended that Bartlett stay with the case.

The panel is likely to rule on  April 17, so the DA’s request for a stay of the evidentiary hearing scheduled for April 20 was not necessary.

“All this is a ploy to get get off the case,” Goldstein said. “This is all going in one direction and that’s to retain her on the case.”

The scheduled April 20 hearing before Bartlett will center on information obtained against Dale, and if it came from his disciplinary hearing that led to Ramapo firing him. He was fire the day after the DA’s office announced his indictment in August. The defense contention is that Dale’s testimony was given under threat of dismissal.

Prosecutors contend their detectives obtained the information  – including recorded conversations – long before the disciplinary hearing. They contend they did nothing improper.

Dale and Silber each face four felony counts of unauthorized practice of a profession and fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse.

Bartlett previously dismissed 24 misdemeanor sexual abuse charges and two counts of official misconduct against Dale. She ruled that anyone could commit sexual abuse and the fact that Dale was a public official does not make it misconduct in office. Without the misconduct count, the sexual abuse counts failed to meet the statute of limitations.

Bartlett and Rockland prosecutor Thomas Zugibe and his successor have had a contentious relationship on legal issues and her decisions. Bartlett has been critical of several prosecutors in court and before grand juries.

Bartlett Delays Decision on Silber-Dale Case

Judge Catherine Bartlett didn’t publicly disclose today whether she will remain on the Andrew Dale-Zalman Silber sexual abuse case.

But the judge asked Silber and Dale to sign letters from the defense attorneys presented to her that stating she did not have to recuse herself from overseeing the trial. Bartlett then scheduled her decision for March 16, in two weeks.

Bartlett raised the issue of recusal earlier this month. She  told prosecutors and defense lawyers that she had been speaking to a woman who all of a sudden began talking about Silber’s divorce.

Dale and Silber are accused of performing gynocological medical exams on a woman once married to Silber. Dale was fired as a Ramapo police officer over the accusations, while Silber is a Monsey businessman who faces similar charges of performing medical exams on women in Manhattan.

Bartlett told the lawyers she immediately cut the unnamed woman off, but the woman created a potential conflict in the judge’s estimation.

Prosecutors believe she recused herself and can’t recant without opening the door on appeal. The District Attorney’s Office already has asked for a successor judge, prosecutor James Mellion said.

Defense lawyers counter she just raised the issue of recusal and properly advised both sides of a potential conflict.

Having Silber and Dale sign the letters stating they want her on the case could mitigate issues on appeal, said David Goldstein, who represents Dale.

Mellion said he and co-prosecutor Kevin Gilleece are ready for trial and await Bartlett’s decision.

Staying or Leaving Silber-Dale for Bartlett…

Judge Catherine Bartlett has scheduled a decision Monday at the County Courthouse in New City on whether she’ll remain or recuse herself from a trial accusing former Ramapo Police Officer Andrew Dale and millionaire Monsey businessman Zalman Silber of sexual abuse.

Bartlett told prosecutors and defense lawyers earlier this month that she had been speaking to a woman who all of a sudden began talking about Silber’s divorce. They are accused of performing gynocological medical exams on a woman once married to Silber.

Bartlett told the lawyers she immediately cut the unnamed woman off, but the woman created a potential conflict in the judge’s estimation.

Bartlett’s decision has not been without controversy.

The District Attorney’s Office has maintained she recused herself and reversing that decision would create appellate issues. The office has asked the court administration to name a new judge.

Defense lawyers countered that Bartlett did her duty by informing both sides of the limited conversation and they want her to remain on the case.

Bartlett originally scheduled her decision for Thursday, but told the lawyers and prosecutors to come back to her courtroom on Monday morning.

Bartlett, an appointed Court of Claims judge from Orange County, has had a volatile relationship at times with prosecutors during her tenure in Rockland. She’s has questioned the quality of their tactics, ethics, and conduct during trials and before grand juries.

In the Dale-Silber case, Bartlett tossed two official misconduct charges against Dale, contending the grand jury charges were not appropriate and lacked evidence. That decision automatically dismissed 24 misdemeanor sexual abuse charges as beyond the statute of limitations.

Dale’s lawyer, David Goldstein, filed motions to dismiss eight remaining felony counts. Silber’s lawyer, William Aronwald, contends there is no case against Silber, who also faces separate criminal charges of performing medical exams on woman in Manhattan.

A day before the grand jury indictment, Ramapo Town Board members fired Dale based after a civil service hearing, though the hearing officer who heard the evidence recommended a year’s suspension without pay. Dale has filed a multiple million dollar lawsuit in federal court against the town for the firing.

Bartlett Recuses Herself from Dale-Silber Sex Case

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bartlett surprised lawyers this morning by recusing herself from a  case accusing former Ramapo police officer Andrew Dale and millionaire Monsey businessman Zalman Silber of sexual abuse and other charges.

They are accused of performing gynocological medical exams on a woman once married to Silber, who also faces separate charges in Manhattan involving other women.

Bartlett told prosecutors and defense lawyers that she had been speaking to a woman who began talking to about Silber’s divorce.

 “Recusal is something within the judge’s discretion,” First Assistant District Attorney James Mellion said. “I don’t know if it’s up to anyone to object to a judge recusing herself.”

But defense lawyers David Goldstein and William Aronwald want Bartlett to remain on the case. Goldstein, who represents Dale, said Bartlett correctly informed the attorneys about the conversation with a woman who raised the issue of Silber’s divorce.

“She did her duty and made the details public,” Goldstein said. “We don’t see any reason why she should leave the case. She’s a smart judge and can put this aside and do her job.”

Bartlett previously delivered a hard blow to the prosecution’s case by tossing out 24 misdemeanor sex abuse counts against Dale. She also tossed official misconduct counts.

Bartlett’s rationale – which the prosecution opposed – was that the official misconduct counts didn’t apply to Dale because the alleged misconduct didn’t occurred within his official duties.

She wrote in that December decision that anyone could commit sexual abuse and the fact that Dale was a public official does not make it misconduct in office. She also wrote the testimony and other evidence provided by the prosecution failed to establish all the needed elements to prove official misconduct.

The Rockland District Attorney’s Office contends Dale practiced gynecology and proctology with Silber on the woman while on duty and in uniform three times in 2005 and 2006.

Under the law, the statute of limitations is five years under the official misconduct count. But when Bartlett dismissed the official misconduct counts, the statute of limitations fell to two years and the domino effect was the dismissal of the 24 misdemeanor sexual abuse counts.

What remains are eight felony charges – four counts each of unauthorized practice of a profession and fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse. Those charges are being challenged by the defense, Dale’s lawyer, David Goldstein, has said.

The defense also is challenging the victim’s testimony on “martial privilege” grounds based on her retelling conversations with Silber. Bartlett had not yet ruled on that pretrial issue and several others.

Mellion said that now that Bartlett has recused herself, she likely can’t change her mind.

“As I pointed out to the judge, we have to be concerned if you recuse yourself and then don’t, if there is a conviction, what happens on appeal,” Mellion said.

The next court date is Feb. 26.