The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
Judge Walker Punts
DA Continues Harassment Of Harrison Police Officer
Westchester Supreme Court, White Plains
Judge Sam Walker Presiding
Last Wednesday, April 16, Harrison Police Officer Ralph Tancredi once again appeared in State Supreme Court, White Plains, before Judge
Sam Walker in a pre-trial hearing that should have ended the harassment that Officer Tancredi has been enduring from the District Attorney’s Office for many months. Tancredi, who is represented by Attorney Jonathan Lovett of Lovett & Gould, White Plains, and PBA Attorney Gustavo L. Vila, has been defending against a series of retaliatory charges levelled against him last year by Harrison Police Chief David
Hall and Captain Anthony Marraccini, who Tancredi and several PBA members had brought to the attention of Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
DA DiFiore had refused to act upon substantial information and evidence that Chief Hall had intercepted a $2500 check mailed to the PBA by a local country club following a fundraiser, forging it and depositing it to the account of a police chief’s organization of which he was a member; as well as charges that Hall and Marraccini had unlawfully installed audio and visual recording equipment in the locker room at Police Headquarters. Upon DiFiore’s refusal to investigate the charges, Tancredi and several PBA members filed a complaint against Hall and Marraccini in Federal District Court, White Plains. Whereupon, the allegedly bogus retaliatory charges were brought by Hall and Marraccini against Officer Tancredi and Officer Steven Heisler. Unwilling to investigate the charges against Chief Hall and Captain Marraccini, DA DiFiore has nonetheless put the full resources of her Office, including 27-year veteran Assistant DA Barbara Egenhauser to work prosecuting Tancredi.
Last Wednesday’s court appearance was expected to produce a decisive action from Judge Walker. At a previous appearance, several weeks
earlier, he had instructed Attorney Lovett, who was also representing So-fia Saenz, a key figure in the incident from which the retaliatory charges against Tancredi stem, and who, herself, has brought a federal suit against the DA’s Office, to be seen and advised by independent counsel from one of three Westchester women’s organizations that deal with domestic violence issues.
Ms. Saenz was, in fact, seen the day before coming to court, by Attorney Pamela Howard of My Sister’s Place.The court session opened with a statement by Judge Walker to Attorney Howard, “I assume you’ve had an opportunity to meet with Ms. Saenz.” Howard acknowledged that she had seen her the day before. ADA Egenhauser then broke in with, “We want to know if Ms. Saenz will accept a subpoena and will testify.” Howard, who began by saying, “Although she has not made up her mind,” then said, “She is inclined to
take the subpoena and take the Fifth Amendment.” She went on, “There are questions of whether this is a domestic violence case.” Judge Walker, then turning to ADA Egenhauser, asked, “Is that satisfactory to you?”
Egenhauser responded, “We would make an application to postpone for a week to look into our other witness.” At that point, Judge Walker then gave indications that he was going to set the next court appearance for a month off, prompting Attorney Lovett to remind the Judge that Egenhauser had indicated that she only needed a one-week postponement, and that it was not fair to his client, who has not been convicted
of any charges, but nevertheless has been made by the Court to attend programs.
Lovett persisted, “Your Honor, I spoke with Ms. Saenz today, and she is not equivocating, or fence-sitting.”
Attorney Vila added, “Your Honor, I oppose the postponement.” The Judge then said, “Let’s give the People an opportunity to contact their other witness.”
Lovett responded, “The only witness that they have is in Minnesota; a man whose tesimony relates only to a violation, a man who was reported by the DA’s Office as having had a bat in his hand.” Walker set the next appearance for May 20 at 9:30am.
Attorney Lovett told The Guardian that he will be making an application to Judge Walker to appoint independent counsel to represent the
DA’s only other witness because, on cross-examination, that witness may be compelled to self-incriminate with respect to having threatened to hit Ralph Tancredi on the head with his baseball bat.
Given the fact that the Westchester District Attorney’s Office has had many months to be in touch with their so-called “independent witness”, a man who reportedly threatened Of-ficer Tancredi with a baseball bat, a man whose testimony, at worst, relates only to a possible violation; and, given the fact that ADA Egenhauser has, on several occasions, declared that she was ready to go to trial, Judge Walker would’ve been well within his judicial discretion to dismiss the charges against Officer Tancredi. In light of Sofia Saenz’ indication that
she would be taking the Fifth Amendment. Instead, he chose to permit the sham and harassment to go on for another month, at least.
Jeffrey Deskovic Civil Action
In Pre-Trial Hearings
United States District Court, White Plains
Judge Kenneth M. Karas Presiding
On Thursday, April 10, Attorneys Barry Scheck, Nick Bruskin and Jennifer Loren appeared in United States District Court, White Plains, on behalf of their client, Plaintiff Jeffrey Deskovic, who is suing the Department of Corrections of the State of New York, the City of Peekskill, Police Chief Eugene Tumolo, and former Detectives McIntyre and Levine, the County of Putnam, and former Sheriff’s Deputy
Daniel Stephens, Westchester County, former Assistant District Attorney George Bolen, former Chief Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Louis Roh, and others, for their intentional wrongful prosecution and conviction of him in violation of his civil rights, specifically his Constitutionally-guaranteed Right of Due Process.
Also present in Court were Assistant Attorney General John Knudson, representing the State of New York and the Department of Corrections, Attorney James A. Randazzo, representing the County of Putnam and former Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Stephens, Attorney
Brian Sokolov, representing the City of Peekskill, Police Chief Eugene Tumolo and Detectives McIntyre and Levine, Attorney Stuart E. Kahan, representing the County of Westchester, former Assistant DA George Bolen, and former Chief Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Louis Roh, and others.
Mr. Deskovic, who was exonerated and released from State Prison nearly 21 months ago, was wrongfully prosecuted and convicted in the Rape and Murder of a Peekskill High schoolmate, Angela Correa, age 15, despite the fact that police and prosecutors knew, more than eight months prior to trial, that his DNA did not match the DNA of the semen found in her vagina, and that his hair did not match the hair follicles
found on her body. The actual perpetrator was a Black man, Steven Cunningham, a Peekskill resident who, having been left free in the community, went on to kill another young woman, in similar fashion, some three and a half years after Jeffrey Deskovic was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.
Deskovic would still be incarcerated were it not for The Innocence Project’s pursuit of a comparison of the DNA from the semen found within the victim with the New York State database, ultimately producing a match to inmate Steven Cunningham, already serving 25 Years To Life for the murder of Pat Morrison, the sister of his former girlfriend. The hearing before Judge Karas was the first of many to come, very preliminary in nature, with some posturing, mostly by Defense Attorneys, and several questions from the Judge, mostly for Plaintiff ’s Attorneys. Among numerous claims Plaintiff alleges, a RICO enterprise engaged in by former Medical Examiner Dr. Louis Roh in conspiracy with the Westchester District Attorney’s Office over a protracted period of time. Having apparently fully acquainted himself with Plaintiff ’s allegations, and the known facts, Karas, while not taking issue with the allegations, did, nevertheless, question Plaintiff ’s standing under the RICO Statute, and further, questioned the potential advantage, if any, to Mr. Deskovic, even if standing could be established.
Karas seemed fully mindful of the outrageousness of the conduct being alleged by Plaintiff Deskovic’s attorneys, the conspiracy to create false testimony long before the trial, allegedly engaged in by ADA George Bolen and Medical Examiner Louis Roh, pointed out by Attorney Nick Bruskin. Karas, perhaps testing the strength of Plaintiff ’s case, alluded to Bolen’s contacts with Roh as “possibly nothing more than the prepping of a witness.” To that notion, Barry Scheck quickly responded, “We can prove that there are specific instructions to Roh not
to further analyze the Negroid hairs,” (found on victim Correa’s body).
At one point, the judge noted, in the event anyone was unaware, that there was no court stenographer present, further emphasizing the informality of the hearing in that no transcript was being created. He then asked Defense counsel, “From 1981 to 2008, what does Dr.
Roh do that causes a RICO injury, and Article 3 standing?”
Attorney Loren responded, “We have created a closed-ended fact pattern.”
To which Karas came back with, “Other instances involving other defendants? How does Mr. Deskovic suffer a RICO injury?” The judge went on, “You can’t slice one instance into many different pieces.” Pausing momentarily, he then declared, “You are claiming there’s a serial perjurer here.”
At that point, Barry Scheck said, “Roh is involved in this continuing enterprise involving perjury, and constantly covering up his perjury.”
Karas came back with, “I don’t see how you have standing with regard to other defendants.”
Scheck responded, “He knew what he said in the first instance was untrue.”
Then Loren added, “We allege an aiding and abetting.”
The judge responded, “How did he aid and abet?” To which Loren responded, “Dr. Roh knew and understood that his false statements would be used.” She was implying a theory of forseeability and actual culpability. At that point, Karas backed up a bit, saying, “If you are right, what he did here was part of a pattern that he engaged in against other defendants.”
Then, making a specific reference to the RICO Statute’s requirements, he reminded Plaintiff ’s attorneys, “You have a 24-month barrier and a closed-end continuity to overcome.”
Scheck next gave out with, “The evidence against Roh is overwhelming as regards his testimony about scarring. It’s not in the autopsy.” What Scheck was indicating involved the fact that although Dr. Roh made no reference to scarring of the victim’s hymen, anywhere in his
original autopsy report, he later supplemented his findings with claims of evidence of such scarring in order to bolster what would have to be fictionalized by ADA Bolen, a claim that Angela Correa, 15, was engaging in consensual sex, in order to account for the fact that the DNA of the semen found in her vagina at the time of her murder, did not match Jeffrey Deskovic.
Judge Karas then said, “I’ve read the complaint, and if your allegations are true, they are mindboggling. If these allegations are true, a lot of people are going to be on the hot seat.” Karas then proceeded to set the next court date for Monday, June 2 at 2pm.