Flowing tears in Judge Zambelli’s court

It was the day of tear-filled emotional sentencings in the Westchester County courtroom of Judge Barbara Zambelli.

Ex-Eastchester police officer James Pileggi (right) blubbered as he was sentenced to serve 3 to 9 years in state prison for unintentionally killing his friend in New Rochelle two years ago. Pileggi’s tears followed the sobs of Gail Everett, the mother of victim Andre Everett, who called Pileggi “evil” and swore never to forgive him. The prosecution asked for the maximum semtence: 15 years in prison. The defense asked for the minimum: time served with probation. Zambelli, as I predicted, split it down the middle, allowing Pileggi to apply for parole in a little more than two years.

Three hours later,  Francisco Acevedo (left) was sentenced to life for the cold-case serial killings of three women in south Yonkers.  The daughter of one of the victims, who was three when her mother was killed, and the mother of the second victim sobbed as they railed against Acevedo, calling him a monster, an animal, and other insults.

Danielle Hodges of The Bronx, who is the sister of one of the victims, did not speak at the sentencing. After it was over, she said it brought closure. “My sister is finally free,” she said.

Acevedo’s sentencing was delayed because he had not been brought to the courthouse in time from Green Haven Correctional Facility in Dutchess County, where he is serving a 1 to 3-year stint on a felony drunken driving conviction out of Suffolk County.

There were two other high-profile cases today that were both brief and unemotional. Ex-Mayor Adam Bradley’s ongoing domestic violence case was adjourned to March 5 while the case of Tappan Zee Bridge dangler Michael Davitt was postponed to Feb. 24 in Greenburgh Town Court.

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.

Accused Yonkers serial killer in court today

Alleged serial killer Francisco Acevedo had a brief court appearance in Westchester County Court today for a status update on his case. Acevedo is charged with  killing three women in Yonkers in 1989;1991 and 1996: Maria Ramos, Tawanda Hodges and Kimberly Moore.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea adjourned the case to Jan. 27. Even though Acevedo was in the courtroom for only a minute or so, Moore’s parents were in the gallery to show the judge support for their slain daughter.

My colleague Will David has written a gripping profile of Acevedo that the newspaper is planning to run on Monday, Dec. 6. David, who covers Yonkers police, spoke to Acevedo’s mother in Connecticut, contacted former employers and landlords and checked police reports. Apparently Acevedo, who is 41, has a history of assaulting women going back to when he was a teen. Check back here for a link to the story when it’s published.