Dale’s Lawyer Opts For Non-Jury Trial In Sex Case

Ramapo defense attorney David Goldstein decided today to have Justice Catherine Bartlett decide whether  fired Ramapo Police Officer Andrew Dale is guilty of sexual abuse.

Dale is accused of performing medical examinations of the gynecological type on the former wife of a Monsey businessman, Zalman Silber, who will be tried separately.

Dale and Silber are accused of performing exams on Silber’s former wife, Sarah,  under the pretense of insurance coverage. Silber faces similar accusations in Manhattan of giving gynecological exams to women in an office he rented.

Goldstein’s strategy in seeking a non-jury trial could be betting he’s gaining an advantage because of Bartlett’s contentuous relationship with the Rockland District Attorney’s Office.

She already has tossed 26 charges against Dale – two official misconduct counts and 24 misdemeanor sexual abuse counts. She found four felony counts each of fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse counts and  unauthorized practice of a profession.

However, Bartlett last week denied Goldstein’s motions accusing prosecutors and Ramapo police of collusion. They claimed prosecutors used Dale’s confidential statement to police and video-tapped statement to build a criminal case. Those statements were only admissible in the disciplinary case. The hearing officer recommended a year suspension for Dale, but the Town Board voted to fire him.

Bartlett ruled Goldstein and Dale didn’t provide any evidence to support their contentions.

Sarah Silber will be the prosecution’s chief witness, along with taped recording conversations with Dale. Dale and Zalman Silber have claimed she has lied to get more money from her ex-husband during their divorce.

Opening statements by prosecutors James Meilion or Kevin Gilleece starts today, with Goldstein to follow.

Belton Lee Brims Back in Rockland Court

Written atop the judge’s calendar of cases today was a blast from Rockland’s homicidal past – Belton Lee Brims. Next to the notorious criminal’s name were the words “vacate judgment.”

Brims currently is finishing out a New Jersey prison sentence of 35 years for robbing a supermarket with a shotgun. He could be released  by New Jersey  anytime between December 2009 and April 2018.

He then would serve a  New York sentence of 50 years to life for murdering a Spring Valley couple in 1980 and a separate 25 years for first-degree escape.

Brims is seeking to cut down his sentence in New York.

His motion to vacate claims he spent prison time in New York before starting his New Jersey sentence, so his New York sentence started nearly 28 years ago and continues today. He essential is claiming his New York prison time should run concurrent with his New Jersey sentence.

The Rockland District Attorney’s Office is opposing his motion. Itamar Yeger, who handles appeals for the Rockland District Attorney’s Office, noted that the sentencing judge, Howard Miller,  sentenced Brims to separate time in New York for murder and escape.

Yeger said the laws allows for Brims to serve separate time in New Jersey and then in New York. And he says the clock stopped in New York when Brims began serving his prison time in New Jersey.

Regardless of the outcome, Brims can’t become eligible for parole until 2055 for the murder and escape convictions.

Brims’ motion to vacate is before Judge Catherine Bartlett. Miller is now on the appellate division.

For whose who don’t remember Brims, the Spring Valley man was convicted of murdering Arnold and Elaine Sohn on Dec. 29, 1980.

Brims and his co-killer, James Sheffield, were directed to the couple’s Jill Lane home by their daughter, Sheryl,  who was drug-addicted and indebted to Brims, known on the streets as Panama.

Brims and Sheffield were going to steal jewelry – especially Sheryl Sohn’s grandmother’s ring  that she wanted. No one was suppose to be home, but the Sohns came home early from a holiday party. Brims and Sheffield beat them and drowned Elaine Sohn in the bath tub.

Sheryl Sohn served 26 years of a sentence of 25 years to life, being paroled in December 2006.

Sheffield is working off a 52-year sentence for the double murder. He fled the night of the Sohn killings, and later talked his way out of police custody in New Jersey and Toronto. He was eventually captured in California and returned to Rockland.

After being arrested, Brims escaped  from the old Rockland County jail and was later caught in Selma, Ala.

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.