The New York Criminal Law Blog

January 2011 Archives

Cyrus Vance Suggests Prison Terms For White Collar Crimes

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wants stricter jail sentences under a broad 1920s state law known as the Martin Act. According to Reuters, Vance told the New York City Bar Association that he intends on asking the state legislature to modify the Martin Act so that it includes minimum prison terms for white-collar crime cases, despite the loss amount.

Vance believes the act remains significantly relevant to New York crime as he notes "the devastating toll on our economy that results when widespread mistrust infects financial markets." Although the Martin Act has become more prominently used as a law since the 1990s, it does not carry a minimum term for a jail sentence even if the loss amount totaled millions of dollars.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani Sentenced To Life In Prison

New Yorkers may have heard about Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was the first former detainee from Guantanamo Bay to be tried in civilian court. The New York Times reports Ghailani, 36, was acquitted of over 280 conspiracy and murder charges for his participation in the bombings of two United States Embassies in East Africa in 1998.

However, Ghailani was convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government property and buildings and sentenced to life behind bars. He ended up getting the same maximum life sentence, without parole, that he would have received if he was found guilty of all counts.

Ann Pettway Admits Kidnapping And Faces Federal Charges

Ann Pettway, the woman who was accused of stealing a newborn from Harlem Hospital in 1987, has surrendered herself to the FBI in Connecticut. The New York Daily News reported Pettway, 49, admitted to abducting Carlina White, now 23-years-old, and raising her as her own daughter. Pettway had been dressed as a nurse when she kidnapped Carlina.

Pettway faces federal kidnapping charges and is expected to appear in Manhattan Court. Although the statute of limitations for kidnapping in New York has expired, there is no time limit for federal charges involving kidnapping.

Muzzammil Hassan on Trial for Beheading His Wife

New York criminal defense attorneys may be talking about the trial of Muzzammil Hassan, who is charged with second-degree murder for beheading his wife Aasiya Hassan. According to Reuters, prosecutors claimed Hassan wanted to keep Aasiya from leaving him after she filed for a divorce six days before the murder.

Hassan allegedly killed his wife in the Orchard Park cable studio they founded while their three children were outside waiting in a car. Erie County District Attorney Paul Bonanno told jurors that Hassan used two hunting knives when he slew Aasiya, stabbing her 40 times before he cut her head off. An hour later, Hassan ended up surrendering himself to authorities.

Whalesca Castillo Charged For Illegal Silicone Injections

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Authorities arrested Whalesca Castillo, 36, and charged the Bronx local with giving customers illegal liquid silicone injections, according to the New York Daily News. U.S Attorney Preet Bharara said Castillo's efforts "to make a quick buck" ended up jeopardizing the health of many "unsuspecting women" in New York.

"In her thirst for profit, she put lives in peril," said Janice Fedarcyk from New York FBI.

NY Veterans Courts: U.S. Veterans Get Treatmeant Instead Of Prison

The Buffalo Veterans Court has proven to be successful in addressing the serious emotional problems that can lead returning American soldiers to criminal conduct, according to Reuters. Joseph Cassatta, a City Court Judge, said a veterans' court emphasizes on understanding the cause of a soldier's criminal behavior and encourages rehabilitation instead of directly focusing on punishment.

While specialized courts for cases involving drugs or mental health have existed for years, the veterans' court focuses on issues involving U.S. veterans who have dealt with brain trauma, chemical dependency, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Renato Seabra Charged In Carlos Castro's Death

Police recently found Portuguese celebrity journalist Carlos Castro, 65, dead on the 34th floor in an InterContinental Hotel room in Times Square, according to the New York Times. Authorities suspect Castro's 21-year-old companion, Renato Seabra, may have been responsible for the journalist's death and have charged Seabra with one count of second-degree murder.

Police sources said Castro was gravely beaten and sexually mutilated, and Reuters reported that some even stated Castro had been castrated. The medical examiner's office did not confirm whether the information was true, though it did rule Castro's death as a homicide that resulted from head trauma and strangulation.

John Caccavale Arrested After Trying To Outrun Cops

New York police officials chased after Staten Island local John Caccavale, 48, after he tried to outrun them in his city-owned vehicle, reported the New York Daily News. Law enforcement officers caught Caccavale, a water and sewer operations manager for the Department of Environmental Protection, sitting in his Toyota Prius and allegedly "beckoning" several prostitutes in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

Cops said Caccavale had been lingering around the area where a group of transvestite prostitutes, known as "The Bus Stop Boys," often waited for customers. These prostitutes often gathered at bus stops to avoid any potential loitering charges. Caccavale immediately sped away from the scene once police started approaching his car, but the police were just as quick in capturing him at West and Rector Streets.

Andrew Cuomo Withdraws Appeal on Marsh Executives' Convictions

William Gilman and Edward McNenney were charged with committing a white collar crime after allegedly fixing insurance prices between 1998 and 2004. The former Marsh & McLennan Cos. executives were accused of fraudulently acquiring millions of dollars by bringing business to insurers that paid the company hidden fees.

Manhattan judge James Yates initially found the pair guilty of restraint trade and violating New York's antitrust statutes in February 2008, according to Bloomberg. However, Yates threw out the conviction after finding that the New York Attorney General's Office had concealed certain documents NY criminal defense attorney Robert J. Cleary said the information could have been "invaluable" to the defendants "efforts to challenge the prosecution case."

Sylvester Chase Arrested For Allegedly Molesting A Patient

Sylvester Chase, a 41-year-old New Jersey local, was arraigned on Monday for sex-abuse charges after allegedly molesting a female patient at St. Luke's Hospital in Harlem. Chase, an X-ray technician at St. Luke's, was taking the 59-year-old victim's X-rays when he allegedly pulled down her pants and molested her.

The New York Daily News reported that Sylvester Chase was immediately arrested after the woman informed the hospital's security guards about what happened. Chase was then held under police custody with a $5,000 bail.