The New York Criminal Law Blog

August 2011 Archives

Hurricane Irene Fraud: Couple Arrested for Impersonating a Cop

It's only been a few days since residents started cleaning up after the mess of Irene, and already there are reports of Hurricane Irene fraud.

In Staten Island, 42-year-old Daniel DiGianni and his 28-year-old girlfriend Linda Fleshner are accused of criminal impersonation and impersonating a cop, after the couple attempted to take advantage of the hurricane to commit burglaries in a low-lying part of Staten Island, reports CBS.

Reliability of Police Lineups Questioned

You've seen it in movies or on TV. Police line up five or six potential suspects in a crime. An anonymous witness behind a one-way mirror reviews the suspects and identifies one as the criminal. That person is usually put behind bars.

Like in the movies, police have been conducting lineups such as this for decades, and these lineups have helped convict thousands of criminals. However, the reliability of police lineups has come under attack in recent years. Studies have shown that human memory is actually quite fragile and subject to bias by investigating officers, reports The New York Times. Additionally, DNA samples have exonerated hundreds of convicted criminals wrongly put in jail largely due to eyewitness testimony.

Naked Man Stabbings, Christian Falero Arrested

The naked man stabbings terrorized an apartment building in Washington Heights. Christian Falero apparently went psychotic and attacked several neighbors in his seven-story building. One person died before the 23-year-old Falero ran into the streets and started slashing himself.

Falero reportedly knocked on residents' doors at random, and then stabbed whoever opened the door with a 10-inch knife, reports The New York Times. In all, Mr. Falero stabbed four residents and punched another woman.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn Case Collapse

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case collapse is complete. In a 25-page motion requesting that the judge dismiss the case, Manhattan prosecutors stated that they did not believe they could prove Strauss-Kahn’s guilt in sexually assaulting hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo. For that reason, Strauss-Kahn is to walk free — regardless of his guilt or innocence.

In May, Strauss-Kahn was accused of attacking and sexually assaulting Diallo, a maid at an upscale Manhattan hotel. However, the case against Strauss-Kahn quickly began to unravel when investigators delved deeper into the alleged victim, reports The New York Times.

Nazish Noorani Killed in Boonton Shooting, Motive Unclear

Nazish Noorani and her husband Kashif Pervaiz were walking their three-year old son in the New Jersey town of Boonton when they were shot by a gunman. Noornani was killed in the Boonton shooting, Pervaiz suffered wounds to his leg and shoulder, but the baby was unharmed.

Shootings happen all the time in New York and New Jersey. However, the Boonton shooting stands out because it appears to have been an assassination -- and the facts surrounding the shooting as well as the couple's relationship are fishy.

Dharun Ravi's Role in Tyler Clementi's Suicide

Last September, Tyler Clementi jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge. Most tied his suicide to his roommate, Dharun Ravi, broadcasting Clementi having a gay encounter with another man in their dorm room.

But as details of Clementi's life emerges, the connection between the suicide and Ravi's invasion of privacy seems less clear, reports The New York Times.

Jason Quinones Offers Consensual Rape as Rape Defense

Jason Quinones allegedly broke into the ground floor apartment of a 27-year old woman in the Upper East Side and raped her. But consensual rape is not rape, and Quinones' attorney is offering consent as a rape defense.

According to the New York Post, Quinones is a 21-year old out on parole for drug dealing. Last week, prosecutors claim that the parolee broke into an apartment on East 90th Street shortly before 5 a.m. and raped a sleeping woman inside the apartment. The woman was eventually able to free herself and fled. Quinones also took off.

Robert Sandy Vietze, Team USA Skier, Pees on Girl

After training with the U.S. Ski Team in Mt. Hood, Oregon, Robert "Sandy" Vietze boarded a JetBlue flight bound for JFK International Airport. A short while after the flight took off, the skier peed on girl seated five rows behind him. Apparently, Vietze was too drunk to make it to a toilet or was too drunk to realize that the 11-year-old girl was not a urinal.

According to the New York Post, the 11-year-old was flying with her sister and cancer-stricken father. But when Vietze unzipped, the girl was alone as her family was going to the bathroom the right way -- in the restrooms. As Vietze stumbled down the aisle and began peeing on the poor girl, the girl's father returned, catching Vietze mid-stream, and rightfully tried to take the skier out.

Dogs In Court Sparks Debate

What could be more sympathy-inducing to a jury than a sweet-looking child allegedly victimized by a crime? How about a sweet-looking child allegedly victimized by a crime testifying before the court while stroking a cuddly golden retriever.

The issue of dogs in court is now sparking a debate in New York courts as defense lawyers are arguing that witnesses become that much more sympathetic and believable to a jury when they have a cute dog by their side.

What Did He Say? Judicial Error Leads to Extra Year in Jail

Jerry Herrington thought he heard the judge hand down a two-year sentence for theft. So did the stenographer. Yet court documents showed that Herrington was to serve three years, and so he served three years. Did judicial error cost Herrington an extra year of his life?

In 2007, Herrington was convicted in Manhattan for selling drugs. At the time of his conviction, Herrington was finishing a jail term in New Jersey for theft. The New York judge told Herrington that his time served in New Jersey would count towards his sentence, and so Herrington expected to be a free man after his release from the Jersey jail. But instead of being released, Herrington was transferred to a New York jail where he spent nearly another year behind bars.

The Crime of False Report of a Crime

Elizabeth Buckley of Westbury was arrested by Nassau County police and charged with false report of a crime. Buckley is accused of calling police and falsely reporting a crime on four different occasions.

According to the New York Post, the 43-year-old woman is alleged to have called police on June 8, July 12, July 18 and July 25 to falsely report crimes occurring at Nawtons Bar and Grill in Westbury. Buckley reported crimes at the bar including a homicide, assaults, kidnappings, and sexual assaults. It’s unclear what gripe Buckley had with the bar.

Father Jamie Duenas Arrested for Priest Sexual Abuse

An 87-year-old Bronx priest, Father Jamie Duenas, was arrested for priest sexual abuse of a 16-year old girl who worked at his church.

According to the New York Daily News, Duenas is accused of molesting the unidentified teenage girl at the Church of the Blessed Lady. The girl had apparently just started working at the church last week.

New York Jets News: Replace NY Misdemeanor for a NY Felony

In the latest New York Jets news, the team opted to sign Plaxico Burress, who was convicted of a NY felony, over retaining Braylon Edwards, who was convicted of a NY misdemeanor. This is an interesting move as Burress hasn’t played a game in the past two years as he was serving time in prison for a felony, while Edwards hasn’t missed a game yet, despite his misdemeanor.

So why would the Jets make such a move? One possible reason may be that Burress will be on his best behavior over the next two years, while Edwards has no such incentive.