The New York Criminal Law Blog

November 2010 Archives

Athea Lewis Found Dead On Queens Beach

Authorities found 41-year-old Queens resident Athea Lewis dead Tuesday morning on Rockaway Beach, close to the shoreline at Beach 32nd Street. The New York Daily News reported the victim's boyfriend, 30-year-old David Lynch, led police to the body after he was pulled over for driving erratically. One police source said Lynch "didn't confess, but he did say there was a body there."

Officials have not yet determined why Athea Lewis was killed, but investigators are still examining the scene. A New York City medical examiner established Lewis' death was a result of homicide after discovering signs Lewis was submerged in water. Lewis was also found to have suffered from blunt-force injuries to her head, brain hemorrhage, and nasal fractures.

Michael Brea Arrested For Stabbing His Mother

Actor Michael Brea, 31, slashed his 55-year-old mother Yannick to death with a samurai sword, according to the New York post. Michael Brea, who had a small role in the hit series "Ugly Betty," was supposedly "chanting and asking his mother if she believed in God," according to their neighbor Clinton Clare, 52.

"He'd flipped out," he said.

Clare said New York police officials arrived at the apartment complex 15 minutes after he reported the incident, but they waited almost an hour until they could do anything to stop Michael Brea from stabbing his mother. Police eventually called for backup from the Emergency Services cops, who knocked down the Breas' apartment door and found Yannick in the bathroom with numerous gashes and stab wounds on her head.

Bus Driver Nelson Painchault Charged With Sexual Abuse

The New York Daily News reported bus driver Nelson Painchault, 69, was arraigned on allegations that he repeatedly molested three young girls this fall while they took the bus to school. Painchault was charged with 18 counts of sexual abuse and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Nelson Painchault, a Corona local, is being held in jail with a bail amount of $100,000 after appearing before the Queens Supreme Court. He had worked for private contractor Adrilliz Transport for 11 years. He was fired this month after the parents of one of the girls who rode his bus told family members about the inappropriate touching. The victims range between the ages of 7 and 9.

Regina Cooper Sentenced to Prison for Dropping Son in Hot Water

Queens mom Regina Cooper, 31, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for dropping her 3-year-old son into a bathtub filled with scalding water. Apparently she was angry that her son had soiled his diapers, according to the New York Daily News. Richard Buchter, the Queens Supreme Court Justice on this case, reprimanded Regina Cooper for taking out her anger on a child “who just wanted to be loved.”

Barkim Owens, Regina Cooper’s son, endured the assault by his mother in January. He spent six weeks in a coma and suffered burns that had spread to 20 percent of his body. Doctors had to cut off all ten of Owens’ toes and removed one of his ribs, inserting it in his throat to help open up his airway. The incident has left the young boy experiencing nightmares as he avoids getting into a tub.

Lawrence Elliot Charged with Sexual Assault and Robbery

New York City police arrested Harlem resident Lawrence Elliot and charged the 47-year-old with sexually assaulting and robbing a 21-year-old Hamilton Heights college student. Police sources revealed Elliot has been previously arrested for other charges of sexual assault and was also convicted of rape in Syracuse, according to The New York Daily News.

Authorities reported Lawrence Elliot approached the 21-year-old woman while she was checking her mail. He told the victim he was carrying a gun and pushed her into her apartment. Before Elliot stole the victim’s debit card and other possessions, he allegedly forced the woman to have sex with him.

After he left the apartment, Elliot tried to use the victim’s bank card at an ATM machine close to the woman’s apartment. His image was captured by a surveillance camera, and police officials said a tipster helped identify Elliot in the video.

Bronx Mailman Felix Soto Caught Delivering Cocaine

Law enforcement officials recently caught Bronx mailman Felix Soto transporting a large bundle of cocaine while on the job. Soto, 49, was supposedly picking up a drug delivery that investigators had been monitoring. The drugs passed through JFK Airport and made its way into a Bronx post office.

The package of drugs carried two kilograms of cocaine, which estimates to nearly $250,000. Felix Soto, an Olinville resident, put the package in his truck as he headed to deliver the bundle to another man. Police caught him as he drove into the intersection at Soundview.

17 People Charged for Holocaust Survivor Scam

The New York Daily News reported seventeen individuals were accused of using fake Nazi victims to embezzle $42.5 million from Holocaust survivor funds. Manhattan prosecutors charged six alleged con artists, who worked at the Conference on Jewish Materials Claims Against Germany, for coordinating 5,500 phony applications for the survivor funds during the last sixteen years.

The Conference offers monetary resources to individuals who survived Nazi concentration camps or escaped Nazi persecution. Authorities said the scam functioned by making bogus applications that had false histories of persecution and fake birth dates. The phony Nazi victims would file the claim for compensation, creating cases where a supposed recipient was not even Jewish or was born after World War II. Scammers were offered a cut if their phony application brought in a check for money.

Victor Mejia de los Santos Viciously Attacked in Queens

Pizza delivery man Victor Mejia de los Santos, 28, was brutally attacked in Queens after he was set up for a robbery. The 28-year-old was kicked, punched, and hit incredibly hard in the skull by a baseball bat and remains in critical condition. According to the New York Daily News, police arrested 28-year-old Jorge Paret and 23-year-old Anardo Battista after they were found with the pizza that the attackers ordered before de los Santos was beaten.

Jorge Paret repeatedly hit Victor de los Santos' with a bat while Anardo Battista held the victim down. The beating resulted in a serious skull fracture for De los Santos. The two attackers also took the scooter the victim used to make deliveries after fleeing the scene. When NY law enforcement officials found Paret and Anardo Battista with the scooter and three mountain bikes they had also stolen, each man blamed the other for the incident.

Lil' Wayne Released From Jail

Rapper Lil' Wayne, or Dwayne Carter Jr., has been released from jail this week after serving eight months at New York's Rikers Island for a weapons charge, according to the Ministry of Gossip. His managers have said the rapper will be returning home to Miami and celebrate his release with a party this Sunday.

Last year Lil' Wayne pleaded guilty to charges of attempted weapon possession. He admitted to possessing a loaded, semiautomatic .40-caliber gun on his tour bus in 2007. A judge sentenced the young rapper to one year behind bars at Rikers Island beginning in March. While incarcerated, Lil Wayne was charged with possession of "music contraband" in October after officials found the headphones of an MP3 player hidden in his trash can.

Morena Costello Charged With Hiring A Hit Man

Individuals will typically file a tort lawsuit against those they hold liable for their injuries, but Staten Island local Morena Costello decided that the doctors she blamed for her father's death deserved a similar fate. After a failed attempt to pay for an assassin, authorities arrested Costello and charged her with hiring a hit man to kill the two doctors.

The New York Daily News reported Morena Costello's father, 65-year-old retired musician Bella Costello, died of heart failure in January. He had been staying at the Staten Island University Hospital for a month prior to his death. Bella's son, Jessie, contends the two doctors provided insufficient care for their father. The family thought about suing the doctors, but it is unclear in news sources whether they followed through with a lawsuit.

Miladin Kovacevic Sentenced To Prison For Beating Student Into Coma

Serbian basketball player Miladin Kovacevic was sentenced to 27 months in prison for beating Brooklyn student Bryan Steinhauer into a coma. According to the New York Daily News, a document issued by a Belgrade court made known that Kovacevic's jail sentence was part of a plea bargain. Steinhauer's lawyer thought Kovacevic's sentence was not severe enough.

Former Binghamton University student Bryan Steinhauer, 24, continues to recover from the injuries he suffered from 23-year-old Kovacevic in an upstate barroom fight in May 2008. Miladin Kovacevic, who is 6 feet 9 inches, and two of his friends pounded the victim.

Bryan Steinhauer who slipped into a coma after the fight, said he was just trying to salvage and "reclaim" his life after getting out of the coma. An NY criminal defense attorney would tell you that this case would most likely fall under assault and battery charges.