The New York Criminal Law Blog

October 2012 Archives

Hurricane Sandy is Over; Prepare for the Looters

We were all pretty sure this was going to happen, right? After all, it happened after Hurricane Irene. It happened to an even larger extent after Hurricane Katrina. Even in times of disaster and tragedy, there will always be some idiots that choose to take advantage of the situation for profit.

Even before the storm made landfall, people were tweeting about their plans to loot.

Legal U: Making Bail in NYC or Spring Shawty From the Joint

The cops just cuffed your lady and locked her up at Rikers. Despite her arrest for attempted assault, she’s far too delicate for The Tombs. Plus, you really don’t want to feel her wrath after she spends another night in jail.

It’s time to make bail. How you will do so depends on how much cash you have on hand and whether bail is even an option. Here are some things you need to know.

'Cannibal Cop' Planned to Kidnap, Torture, Kill and Eat 100 Women

Well, he made a list, though he certainly should’ve checked out his co-conspirators twice. Gilberto Valle, a six-year veteran of the NYPD, was arrested on Wednesday after a three-month FBI investigation into his plan to check off a hundred female acquaintances’ names off of his hit list, reports DNAinfo. In addition to murder, he hoped to kidnap for profit, cook, and eat the women.

Fortunately, it seems that he was caught in time. According to court documents, Valle planned multiple conspiracies over the course of a few months. With one unnamed co-conspirator, he discussed homemade chloroform (used to sedate the victims), the size of his oven, and the procedures he’d use on “victim-1”. “I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus … cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible.”

Hudson River Park Rapist Pioneers the Four Loko Defense

Jonathan Stewart is a rapist, and perhaps, a legal pioneer. Not just an alleged rapist, mind you, but someone who has already served seven years in a Virginia prison for robbery and sexual assault of a relative. Last month, he was arrested again for allegedly raping an a 21-year-old actress in Hudson River Park, reports the New York Post.

He’s also very confused. At the time of his arrest, he asked the cops, “Did I do something wrong?” Subsequent statements by Stewart indicate that he’s probably aiming for the intoxication defense. He claims that he had four or five Four Lokos, plus Grey Goose vodka, weed and K2. That’s a hell of a combo.

Another High End Prostitution Ring Busted, We Learn New Vocab

One of the most fascinating aspects of criminal law is learning the language of underground criminal enterprises. Most criminals are smart enough to not explicitly state what their illegal activity involves. Today, in addition to learning about a high-end prostitution ring that operated throughout Manhattan and serviced "white-collar" johns, we also got a bit of a vocabulary lesson.

Why are these acronyms important? In order to prove that one "promoted" prostitution, the details on the ring's websites have to be decoded. Here are a couple of the more relevant terms used in online advertisements, courtesy of Det. William McLaughlin of the NYPD and DNAinfo:

Isaac Takes Plea After Burning Woman Alive Over $2k Debt

It's not much of a plea bargain for Jerome Isaac. If he takes the guilty plea, he'll serve 50 years to life. The earliest he could possibly be released is at age 97. Needless to say, not many prisoners last that long.

Why is he looking at such a harsh sentence? According to the Daily News, last December, Isaac ambushed 71-year-old Delores Gillespie in an elevator. Using exterminator equipment, he sprayed her with a combustible liquid and then lit her on fire with a barbeque lighter. After that, he threw a Moltov cocktail at her.

Ringleader of Kennedy Airport Drug Smuggling Gets Life

Cue the clever movie references. Oh wait, the Feds already did.

The take-down of the "Bourne Organization" finally came to a close yesterday, as the ringleader of the Kennedy Airport baggage handler drug smuggling ring was sentenced to life in prison, reports The Associated Press. Authorities say that Victor Bourne led the group that smuggled millions of dollars in cocaine on American Airlines flights in and out of Kennedy airport.

Bourne was convicted after six former American Airlines employees testified against him.

Denied Witch Doctor Witness, Man Pleads Guilty to Murder, Rape

"They put a curse on me ... They make you do anythings. Could make you die fast or go to jail. You always be mad and sad. This is a curs[e] ... There is something in my mind tell me you have to do this you have to anything bad make thing bad thing hurt people. I always think to make a suicide but I can't. I only think to get kill. I meet that girl Rita Morelli we was very friend for nine months before we have a relationship."

These were the words and planned defense of Bakary Camara, a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in her East Harlem apartment in late 2011, reports the Daily Mail. Rita Morelli, 36, was found murdered after an anonymous caller with a distinctive accent called 911 and reported her body two days after she was killed. When police called all of her contacts in her phone, they recognized Camara's Senegalese accent and tracked down his address.

Operation Dot Com Weeds Fools Out of the NYC Drug Trade

Craigslist. It’s a combination of normal people selling used furniture, others providing “sensual massages,” and surprisingly enough, an active drug trade. Right now, you’re thinking, “no one could be that stupid.” Oh but they were, reports the New York Daily News.

Operation “Dot Com” just ended with indictments for 21 people for selling drugs on craigslist. The shopping list included heroin, Xanax, Adderal, cocaine, and a few other controlled substances. The NYPD did the obvious thing and replied to the ads, catching 21 dealers in 11 months selling approximately $19,000 in pills and $10,400 in cocaine.

Online Fraud and Identity Theft: Vigilance and Common Sense

Want to stay safe online? Three words: paranoia and common sense.

Back in the days of dial-up, no one shopped on the Internet. True geeks and crazy collectors would shop on eBay, but your momma certainly wouldn't. Thanks in large part to online security measures such as encryption and secure connections, even Grandma is on Amazon. Even with these protections however, online fraud and identity theft present a surprisingly common problem.

The good news is steps that can be taken to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of cyber-crime. Many of these steps are free. If you have already been hacked, we've also got information on remedying the problem.

St. James Boys Case: Will Terrorism Laws Now Cover Street Gangs?

The St. James Boys began as a recreational soccer club. Eventually, the group devolved into a street gang that reigned terror over the Mexican-American population of the West Bronx until a shootout left a 10-year-old girl dead in 2002, reports The New York Times. Fast-forward ten years, and Edgar Morales, who was convicted of manslaughter for his part in the shootout, could make legal history.

A creative prosecutor charged him under a New York post-9/11 anti-terrorism law. The law prohibits violent acts committed “with intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population” or a broad group of the population, such as an immigrant community. Prosecutors alleged that the St. James Boys’ many acts of violence were undertaken to intimidate the Mexican-American community. Defense attorneys argued that it was typical street violence.

Drunk School Bus Driver Barely Leaves School Before Crashing

There's drunk ... and then there is drunk. Frederick Flowers, 66, of Massapequa Park is accused of being the latter when he crashed a short school bus full of kids into the side of a house immediately after leaving the school. Though no BAC results have yet been released, he has been charged with six felony and eleven misdemeanor counts, including five charges under Leandra's Law, reports Long Island Newsday.

The five students on the bus, ages 5 to 9, were not injured in the crash. Flowers was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center and will be arraigned at bedside. He is in serious but not life-threatening condition.

It Wasn't Me, it Was Me: NY Doc Blames Multiple Personalities

Dr. Diana Williamson is a controversial figure with a controversial diagnosis. Once lauded for her work in AIDS research, she is now facing up to fourteen years in prison after she participated in a Medicare fraud scheme that distributed nearly 28,000 oxycodone pills and defrauded Medicaid of more than $300,000, reports the Wall Street Journal. What makes her story different from the ordinary “fall from grace” stereotype is her justification for her actions.

She blames two of her other eleven personalities.

Teenage Pizza Boy Accused of Rape, Used Pizza to Get Past Doorman

Many Gothamites are up in arms over the emergence (and eBay sale) of master keys to the City of New York. These magical keys will get the bearer into many construction sites, city buildings, and other supposedly secure facilities. However, we’re thinking it’s a little overblown. After all, you don’t need keys to get into nearly any door in New York. Apparently, all you need is a pizza.

Sixteen-year-old Cesar Lucas already has a severe criminal record. According to the New York Daily News, Lucas was arrested back in August after he allegedly used his pizza delivery gig to get access to a W. 42nd St. apartment and stole a woman’s wallet and credit cards. Despite the arrest, he kept his job at Sal’s Pizzeria on 10th Ave.