Sandy Anabi case: Judge grants Mangone pre-sentencing vacation

NEW YORK Disgraced lawyerattorney Anthony Mangone will get some time in the sun before he’s sentenced on federal corruption and bribery charges.

Just when he will be sentenced remains undetermined — but his vacation is a done deal.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon on Tuesday granted Mangone, 39, permission to travel to Palm Beach, Fla., the day after Christmas for a five-day stay.

“The purpose of the trip is to visit family living in the Palm Beach County area,” Mangone’s lawyerattorney, James DeVita, wrote in a letter to McMahon. The judge promptly approved the request.

Mangone was indicted in January 2010 with former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi and onetime city GOP boss Zehy Jereis, but later pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

His sentencing date has not been set.

Read the entire report here.

Two guilty pleas in fatal beating of Yonkers man, brother of mayoral aide

Two men today agreed to serve time in state prison for the fatal beating of Robert Lopez, the brother of Yonkers mayoral aide Lorraine Lopez, outside of a Yonkers bar in May.

James McGeechan, 29, (far left) and Benis Melendez, 22, (left) pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter at a pre-trial appearance in Westchester County Court. As part of the plea deal, McGeechan will serve 11 years in prison, while Melendez will serve five, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.

Lopez was beaten unconscious May 17 outside Sal’s bar and restaurant at 209 Nepperhan Ave. after he tried to diffuse a tense confrontation, prosecutors said. McGeechan and Melendez, accompanied by their girlfriends, returned to the bar at 4:30 a.m. after they had been asked earlier to leave. McGeechan began arguing with the bar manager and Lopez, a security guard who had just finished his shift at another establishment, stepped in and asked McGeechan to “just leave and go home.”

When Lopez walked out of the restaurant, he was beaten into a coma. He died 10 days later. Police arrested Melendez at the scene later that morning.  McGeechan was arrested three days later.

Both men will be formally sentenced on January 31. They had faced up to 25 years in prison had they been convicted at trial.

McGeechan’s former girlfriend, Nicole Ryan, who went with him to the bar that night, is facing charges of witness intimidation, a felony, and hindering prosecution, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors allege she threatened to kill a witness to the attack by pretending her hand was a gun and saying, “If you talk to police, you’re dead.” She is due in court on Dec. 15 and faces up to four years in prison if convicted of witness tampering.

8 takes pleas today in Yonkers, NYC gambling ring bust

A father and son from Yonkers agreed today to serve 30 days in jail on charges that they attempted to run a $2 million-a-year gambling ring in Westchester County and New York City.

Roberto Rodriguez Sr., 74, (left) and  his son, Roberto Jr., 47, were accused of running the illegal enterprise with help from family members and  others who accepted weekly wagers for the state Lotto, horse races and other numbers games that shadowed legitimate drawings.

Authorities said the so-called “Rodriguez Enterprise” operated out of several stores, including ones at 204 Ashburton Ave. and 28 Point St. in Yonkers, accepting bets of about $40,000 a week for at least a couple of years. The group also was accepting wagers for the state Lotto midday and evening drawings and a “three-five-seven” horse-racing scheme, authorities said.

According to the charges, bettors would place their wagers by phone or in person from clerks and other individuals. Money would be laundered at an actual laundromat on west 177th Street in Manhattan, and sent to a “bank” located in two apartments at 216th Street and Broadway in Inwood.

Rodriguez, who was said to control the day-to-day business, and his son, who officials said was the comptroller, pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption, a felony. They will be sentenced Nov. 15 to five years’ “shock” probation, with 30 days in the Westchester County jail.

The father and son were among eight family members and associates who admitted their role in the enterprise today.

Lidia Arce, Eduardo Espinal and Alcides Silva also pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption and will serve five years’ probation with no jail time. The younger Rodriguez’s wife, Betel “Jessica” Rodriguez, Carlos Portella and Diego Torres pleaded guilty to promoting gambling, a misdemeanor. They agreed to serve three years’ probation, but acting state Supreme Court Judge Richard Molea said he would consider giving Betel Rodriguez a condition discharge. All will be sentenced Nov. 15.

Four others — Esperanza Castro, Fanny Cano, Rose Lantiguadeleon Berkis Valera — previously pleaded guilty to charges of promoting gambling. Castro’s sentencing is set for Sept. 27, the others for Oct. 4.

The mass arrests in June 2010 followed a nine-month investigation by the prosecutor’s office and state police Authorities seized thousands of dollars, an array of computers and gambling receipts, and four stolen, loaded handguns, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office.

All 12 originally were charged with one felony count of enterprise corruption. That charge carries a minimum sentence of one to three years in state prison and a maximum sentence of eight and one-third to 25 years in prison.

Yonkers man sentenced for raping boy, 14

WHITE PLAINS — A Yonkers man was sentenced today to 10 years of sex offender probation for raping a 14-year-old boy in 2007.

Patrick Martens (left) apologized in court for his past behavior, which the victim’s father said has turned his son into a heroin addict.

“He’s so ashamed and scared,” the father said.

Martens, who lives on Kincaid Drive, was accused of sodomizing the boy in his home in December 2007. The boy didn’t tell his family until he was confronted about his drug use last year, his father said, and began to cry when he described the abuse.

In a victim’s impact statement, the father said he contacted Martens online, posing as his son. He said Martens wrote back, saying he wanted to have sex with the victim as well as his younger brother.

He said his son, now 18, has become a “dark, lost soul” since being abused and contracted hepatitis C as a result of his heroin use. He said his son told him he hopes to overdose because he can’t bring himself to commit suicide any other way. The father called the 45-year-old Martens “a pathetic excuse for a human being” who took advantage of his son.

Martens, an ex-instructor with the Yonkers Fife and Drum Band, pleaded guilty on April 12 to second-degree criminal sexual act, a felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison. Assistant District Attorney Mary Clark-DiRusso said it was in the victim’s best interest not to have the case go to trial, where he would have to describe the sex acts to a jury.

Westchester County Judge Susan Cacace signed an order of protection banning Martens from having any contact with the victim or his immediate family, who live near Martens. The judge said the conditions of his probation “are severe and they are lengthy” and that he would be closely monitored for the next 10 years.

As part of his sex offender probation, Martens is forbidden from going to parks, playgrounds, malls or any places children under 18 often meet.  He cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, day-care center or playground and needs permission to travel.Martens also will be required to attend and pay for group counseling, as well as submit to polygraph tests. He cannot own a computer without permission and must pay for software that monitors and limits computer use. He is forbidden to have any photos of minors, including ones cut from publications, or to have cameras and video recording equipment without permission.

Martens, a former guard at Co-Op City in the Bronx, was a former instructor with the Yonkers Fife and Drum Band, which is made up of city firefighters but not run by the department. Yonkers Fire Commissioner Tony Pagano has said Martens has not taught the Yonkers band for at least three years.

Yonkers man accused of lying to grand jury in casino-rigging case involving his sister-in-law

A Yonkers man is accused of lying last year to a Westchester County grand jury, which indicted his sister-in-law and two others in a game-rigging scheme at Empire City casino in Yonkers.

Michael Mitchell, (left) a 39-year-old Yonkers resident, was arraigned in White Plains City Court today on a felony charge of first-degree perjury for his grand jury testimony in June 2009 regarding rigged promotional contests at the racetrack and casino.

According to the District Attorney’s office, Mitchell testified that he recruited his brother, Brian Mitchell, to take part in a rigged contest as a phony prize winner in 2008.

Brian Mitchell has been dead since July 2001.

Mitchell is married to the sister of Donna Cronin, who with Alicia Murray and Terence Osborne were indicted in the scheme by that same grand jury. They later pleaded guilty to grand larceny and fraud charges.

All three were sentenced to five years’ probation, with Murray serving 12 weekends in jail. Murray, who was just sentenced on Tuesday, was the last defendant in the case.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s office, said the office did not intentionally delay charging Mitchell until the case was closed. He said Mitchell is facing federal charges in unrelated cases, and those cases took precedent.

Mitchell pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to social security fraud in connection to his deceased brother. He previously plead guilty in U.S. District Court to perjury, conspiracy and embezzlement involving corruption and kickbacks when he was a union shop steward.

Chalfen said Mitchell’s alleged perjury would not affect the convictions of the three defendants in the case, as there were more than 40 other witnesses who testified before the grand jury in the case.

Mitchell’s bail was set at $5,000.  He faces up to seven years in state prison if convicted of first-degree perjury.

Last defendant sentenced in Empire City casino rigging case

A Bronx woman will serve 12 weekends in jail for her role in a scheme to rig promotional cash giveaways at Empire City Casino when she was a manager there.

Former promotions coordinator Alicia Murray was given the jail term as part of a five-year “shock” probation sentence today.

Murray was arrested last year with two other employees on charges they received kickbacks by rigging games at the Yonkers racetrack and casino. She was accused of stealing $30,688.

Murray pleaded guilty in March to four counts each of third- and fourth-degree grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. All the charges are felonies. She will serve weekends in jail, starting this Friday, until Dec. 19.

At the sentencing, acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea questioned why a college-educated woman such as Murray would commit such an act and criticized her for not repaying more of what she had stolen.

She already repaid $2,400 and  was supposed to turn over another $2,500 today, but came to court with an $800 check. Molea told her that if she didn’t come up with the other $1,700 by Wednesday, she would violate her probation and be re-sentenced.

“I’m really not happy with the way this is proceeding,” he said.

Murray, a 33-year-old single mother, apologized for her actions and said she looked forward to putting the situation behind her. She will pay $489 a month for the next five years as restitution.

She is the only defendant in the case to receive any jail time.

Her boss, Donna Cronin, was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and ordered to find work so she could repay the $100,000 she stole. Molea  said he was swayed by “sincere and compelling” letters written on Cronin’s behalf urging him to keep her out of jail. Cronin had agreed to serve six months in jail as part of a five-year “shock” probation sentence.

Cronin had paid $17,000 in restitution by the time she was sentenced.

The third defendant, Terence Osborne of Yonkers , 25, is serving five years’ probation and has repaid the $16,049 he stole.

According to prosecutors, the three ran a scam to let friends and relatives win promotional contests from December 2006 through August 2008.

They told the selected “winners” to be at certain slot machines in the casino while the drawings were held. They would then rig the contests so the chosen few would win cash, electronics, hotel stays and Broadway tickets. On many of these occasions, the workers got kickbacks — mostly in cash, it was alleged.

The rigged contests never compromised the casino’s video slot machines, authorities said.

After the investigation began, the New York Lottery ordered Empire City to bring in a consultant to review internal controls and management practices.

“Racist dog” slasher sentenced to 15 months in jail

A Yonkers man who admitted to slashing a so-called “racist dog” and causing the dog to lose an eye was sentenced today to serve 15 months in jail.

The sentence for 59-year-old Andrew Owens was part of a July 15 agreement in which he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.

He declined an offer to make a statement before Westchester County Judge John Colangelo carried out the sentence.

Owens used a 9-inch knife to attack his neighbor’s companion animal, a 4-year-old German shepherd named Jenna, who was leashed outside her home at 705-707 Nepperhan Ave.

The knife left a deep gash in Jenna’s face, and her right eye had to be removed.

The SPCA of Westchester County, which investigated the case, determined the slashing was unprovoked. An SPCA detective said Owens taunted the barking dog and charged at her. Owens later claimed that Jenna bit him a year earlier and told authorities he cut the animal in retaliation.

The day after Jenna was slashed, her owner, Paul Tocco, told The Journal News that Jenna had it in for Owens — and other minorities, for that matter.

“The dog reacts to black people, Hispanics, anyone who is not white,” Tocco said. “She always barked at him (Owens). He was well aware the dog didn’t like him, and he knew to stay away from her.”

After Tocco’s comments were published, he was bombarded by interview requests and calls from friends and customers. In the face of criticism, he backed off his initial statements, saying the dog does not dislike minorities. Others who know and love Jenna came to her defense, saying she’s no racist and, in fact, has many black and Hispanic friends.

Owens, a handyman at Valley Oil on Nepperhan Avenue, will serve his sentence at the Westchester County jail in Valhalla rather than state prison because the incarceration is for a definitive amount of time and not a range of time.

Owens is under a permanent court order to have no contact with Tocco, and by proxy Jenna.

Judge to lawyers in DiSimone case: You got 9 weeks

State Supreme Court Justice Lester Adler had an order for the Westchester District Attorney’s office: give me a list of every document you have in the case against Anthony DiSimone.

“Given the history of this case, I think that would be a good start,” he said.

Boxes of court transcripts and other evidence had been been withheld by Westchester County prosecutors during DiSimone’s first trial — the reason his conviction was thrown out. DiSimone is being retried for murder in the 1994 stabbing death of Louis Balancio, the son of a former Yonkers city councilman.

Just selection is set to start Oct. 4.

Adler told Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward and defense lawyer Murray Richman that they must cooperate for the next two months. Richman will get to see the document list that the DA will turn over the judge and Richman will get to choose which papers he wants to see. The DA’s office must make copies of any statements of witnesses who will testify at trial — known as rosario material — at its own expense. Meanwhile, Richman must get any and all relevant documents from DiSimone’s past attorneys and pay any copying charges out of pocket.

“I realize this may be burdensome to both sides,” Adler said. “I’m going to see that it gets done. I’m going to make sure this case doesn’t go off track.”

Adler ordered both sides to fax him a letter by July 28 updating him on the sharing of discovery material. If there is any dispute, he said, both sides will be in his courtroom the next day to resolve the matter. He said he would shorten his vacation if he needs to settle a dispute between the lawyers.

“There’ll be no excuses from here on in,” the judge said. “We have nine weeks to get this done.”

DiSimone, now 43, can’t be retried for intentional murder because he was acquitted of that. He was convicted on a charge of depraved-indifference murder of Balancio, a college student, who was stabbed 13 times during a brawl outside a bar on Feb. 4, 1994.

He was serving 25 years to life in the killing of Balancio when a federal judge overturned his conviction in 2005, finding that the DA’s office withheld evidence, particularly police statements that pointed to another man as the killer.

DiSimone, described by authorities as a member of the mob-linked Tanglewood Boys gang, went on the lam after the killing, but walked into a Yonkers police station in 1999 and surrendered. He remains free on $500,000 bail.

Illegal immigrant acquitted in stabbing death of Yonkers teen

A Westchester County jury today acquitted a 25-year-old illegal immigrant in the stabbing death of a Yonkers teen during an early-morning street fight last year.

Arcadio Rivera of 431 Van Cortlandt Park Ave., who police said is a member of the Elliott Mexican street gang in the southwest section of Yonkers, was found not guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the Feb. 1, 2009 slaying of Gabriel Robles-Ramos, 19.

Rivera’s defense lawyer argued that his client was misidentified and was not at the scene.

Police said Robles-Ramos, of 27 Ludlow St., and his two friends were walking near Elm Street and St. Casimir Avenue when they were approached by Rivera and his two friends. After someone in the victim’s group struck a member of Rivera’s group with a bottle, weapons were drawn and the bloody fight started.

Robles-Ramos was stabbed twice in the right leg and bled to death. Police said both sides may have just left bars.

The victim’s father, Ramon Robles, called Rivera “a butcher” today. He accused witnesses of lying at trial to cover Rivera and blasted Yonkers police and the District Attorney’s office for botching the case.

“It was a mess — the detective work, everything,” he said.

Robles, who lives in Puerto Rico, said his son was to leave the U.S. to live with him three days after he was killed. The father is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who uses a wheelchair.

Rivera has been held in the Westchester County jail without bail since his arrest on Feb. 4. Federal immigration officials have placed a hold on him, meaning he faces deportation. Police said Rivera is Mexican; Robles said he is Salvadorian.

Robles-Ramos worked at the White Castle restaurant on South Broadway. He was a triplet. He has three brothers and two sisters. One triplet, his sister, has cerebral palsy.

Photo: Arcadio Rivera

Yonkers man pleads guilty to attacking ‘racist’ dog

A man accused of slashing a so-called “racist dog” and causing the dog to lose an eye pleaded guilty to animal cruelty today in Westchester County Court.

Andrew Owens, a 58-year-old Yonkers resident, used a 9-inch knife to attack his neighbor’s companion animal, a 4-year-old German shepherd named Jenna, who was leashed outside her home at 705-707 Nepperhan Ave.

The knife left a deep gash in Jenna’s face, and her right eye had to be removed.

The SPCA of Westchester County, which investigated the case, said the slashing was unprovoked. An SPCA detective said Ownes “egged on” the barking dog and charged at her.

Owens, a handyman at Valley Oil on Nepperhan Avenue, pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, in Westchester County Court.

He agreed to serve 15 months in jail as part of the plea. according to the  DA’s office. Sentencing was set for Sept. 2.

Owens claimed that Jenna bit him a year earlier and told authorities he cut the animal in retaliation. The day after Jenna was slashed, her owner, Paul Tocco, told The Journal News that Jenna had it in for Owens — and other minorities, for that matter.

“The dog reacts to black people, Hispanics, anyone who is not white,” Tocco said. “She always barked at him (Owens). He was well aware the dog didn’t like him, and he knew to stay away from her.”

After Tocco’s comments were published, he was bombarded by interview requests and calls from friends and customers. In the face of criticism, he backed off his initial statements, saying now that the dog does not dislike minorities.

Others who know and love Jenna came to her defense, saying she’s no racist and, in fact, has many black and Hispanic friends.