Hearing set in Zherka suit vs. Manhattan ADA

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel has set a hearing date of Nov. 20 in newspaper publisher/strip club owner Sam Zherka’s lawsuit against a Manhattan assistant district attorney named Matthew Bogdanos on motions to dismiss the lawsuit. Zherka claims that Bogdanos launched a criminal probe of the owner of the Westchester Guardian at the behest of Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore because of unflattering pieces about DiFiore and her husband Dennis Glazer that were published in the paper. Bogadanos denies the claim as have DiFiore and her husband.

Bogdanos claims in court papers filed in federal court in White Plains that he has never met DiFiore or Glazer. But Dhyalma Vazquez, secretary of Westchester’s Independence Party, said in a sworn affidavit that she met Bogdanos at DiFiore’s house during a campaign event during her first campaign for district attorney in 2005. DiFiore, Glazer, and Bogdanos have all submitted sworn affidavits saying that’s a lie.

What’s not a lie is that there was a criminal probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office in 2006 connected to Zherka. Bogdanos has submitted court papers regarding wiretaps approved by a state court for three numbers connected to Zherka, his business, and a business associate named Genaro Morales in the spring of 2006.

No criminal charges have ever filed against Zherka, who lives in Katonah, in connection with that probe.

Bellantoni and Lovett

Well, well, well, the rumor was true after all.

Former Westchester County Judge Rory Bellantoni is working for, or at least with, Jonathan Lovett, the controversial civil rights lawyer from White Plains.

Bellantoni’s last day as a judge was Monday, June 8. This morning, he was spotted with Lovett at the Mount Vernon city courthouse.

The Republican ex-judge never told me where he was going after leaving the bench, but a few weeks ago I asked Lovett point-blank if Bellantoni was going to work at his firm, and he told me “No.”

That comment was included in a news story about Bellantoni’s departure.

Today, my colleague, Jonathan Bandler, confronted Lovett after seeing him and Bellantoni together. Lovett claimed that he didn’t lie. You see, he explained, the question was if Bellantoni was going to work at my firm, which at the time was Lovett and Gould. That firm no longer exists; Lovett split from his longtime legal partner, Jane Gould, and now is working with Bellantoni and two other attorneys.

Isn’t this why people don’t trust lawyers?

There are some interesting connections between Lovett and the ex-judge. In February, Bellantoni granted disability benefits in February to suspended Harrison police officer Ralph Tancredi, one of Lovett’s clients. Lovett successfully defended Tancredi against domestic violence charges after the officer’s ex-girlfriend refused to testify against him.

Both Lovett and Bellantoni have gotten public accolades from the Westchester Guardian, the local tabloid run by strip-club owner Sam Zherka, another controversial figure around these parts. Zherka lauded Bellantoni’s 2007 decision to overturn the 1997 murder conviction of Richard DiGuglielmo, based on the recanted testimony of one eyewitness.

The town of Harrison and the Westchester District Attorney’s office are appealing Bellantoni’s rulings on Tancredi and DiGuglielmo, respecitvely.