Kerry Kennedy, the ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is likely to go on trial in the fall after a town judge refused to dismiss a drugged-driving case against her Tuesday.
Kennedy “cut a wide swath of danger and risk” on July 13 as she drove her Lexus on Interstate 684 near her home north of New York City, swerving into a tractor-trailer, Justice Elyse Lazansky wrote in a ruling filed in North Castle Town Court.
Police said Kennedy, daughter of Sen. Robert Kennedy and niece of President John Kennedy, failed sobriety tests and was arrested. A small amount of a sleeping drug was found in her blood, and she has maintained she accidentally took a sleeping pill that morning instead of her daily thyroid medication.
Kennedy attended a brief court session after the decision was filed, but she would not speak to reporters outside the courtroom. Her lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, said she was “not happy about it.”
“We are very disappointed and we disagree with it, but we have every confidence that Ms. Kennedy will be exonerated,” Lefcourt said.
Kennedy argued that the charge should be dismissed because she took the sleeping pill accidentally, but the judge said a jury should decide “whether her intoxication was voluntary.”
The defense also recounted Kennedy’s work for social justice and included a large file of glowing letters from friends and relatives. Her mother, Ethel Kennedy, wrote that human rights activists around the world need her daughter’s “compassion, keen insight, judgment and support.”
The judge acknowledged that Kennedy “is not a typical criminal defendant. She has achieved a great deal and is dedicated to good works.” But she said a trial need not put an end to that.
“Other gifted, powerful and wealthy politicians and celebrities too numerous to mention have faced a wide variety of criminal charges and have gone on to do their jobs or serve the public in many important ways,” Lazansky wrote.
Prosecutors fought the dismissal motion, arguing that dropping the charge would feed the perception that famous people are treated differently. The judge agreed.
She said dismissal might lead to “the intolerable false conclusion among the public that there are two justice systems: one for the rich and powerful, and one for everybody else.”
In response to the defense claim that the only harm done was to Kennedy’s own pride and famous name, the judge said, “Driving while intoxicated is not a victimless crime; it is an offense against society as a whole.
Dismissal “would convey to the public the egregious false impression that intoxicated driving is a trifling matter, subject to dismissal at the whim of the judiciary,” Lazansky wrote.
The judge set a schedule, extending into October, for each side to file motions and respond to them. No trial date was set. Plea bargaining could take place during this period, but another defense lawyer, William Aronwald, said Kennedy would not plead guilty to anything.
The Kennedy family has been prominent in the news in New York’s northern suburbs over the past year.
Kerry Kennedy’s sister-in-law and close friend, Mary Kennedy, hanged herself a year ago at her Bedford home. Her brother Douglas Kennedy was acquitted in November of child endangerment and harassment charges stemming from a scuffle in a hospital maternity ward in Mount Kisco.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Manhattan to protest the killing of a gay man who had been taunted with homophobic slurs.
Some of the marchers carried signs and rainbow flags as they marked the death of 32-year-old Mark Carson.
Many chanted: “We’re here! We’re Queer!” and “Homophobia’s got to go!”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn marched along with Edie Windsor, whose case to win the same rights as heterosexual couples is before the Supreme Court.
Carson was killed early Saturday as he walked with a companion through a Greenwich Village neighborhood.
Police say a man charged with murder as a hate crime shot Carson in the head. The killing occurred near the site of 1969 riots that helped give rise to the gay rights movement.
Police are investigating after a New York college student was killed in an off-campus house during an early morning break-in, casting a pall over the campus and commencement ceremonies.
Police say Hofstra University junior Andrea Rebello was shot and killed early Friday during the home invasion. A masked gunman was also killed. Authorities have described it as a police-involved shooting, but it is unclear who fired the fatal shots or how many rounds were fired.
Rebello was killed during an attempted robbery in the home she shared with her twin sister and several other Hofstra students, who were unharmed.
The university says its weekend commencement ceremonies will continue as scheduled.
The 21-year-old Rebello was a junior and a public relations major at the New York college.
A judge warned Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Wednesday that a lawyer he hired to represent him on charges he conspired to kill Americans could end up in prison himself.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told Sulaiman Abu Ghaith that he could cause himself problems by choosing attorney Stanley Cohen to defend him against charges that he conspired against Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s chief spokesman.
Cohen was indicted last year in Syracuse, N.Y., on federal charges that he failed to file individual and corporate tax returns between 2005 and 2010 and committed other tax-related violations. A federal prosecutor in Manhattan told Kaplan that additional charges may be filed against Cohen.
Kaplan asked Abu Ghaith a series of questions designed to make sure the 47-year-old defendant understood the hazards of rejecting three public defenders to have Cohen and another attorney represent him.
The judge said he wanted to make clear to Abu Ghaith that Cohen “has interests that are potentially in conflict with your own.”
He also told him it was “quite possibly ill advised” for a defendant to proceed with an attorney who faces criminal charges himself, and he noted that Cohen might not be able to obtain security clearance from the government to view classified materials necessary to prepare for trial.
Abu Ghaith insisted he wanted Cohen to represent him after his brother in Kuwait hired the veteran civil rights attorney.
“I understood he’s very enthusiastic about this case,” Abu Ghaith told Kaplan. “I thank you very much but I’ve made my decision.”
The judge set a hearing for next week to further explore the legal issue. He told the government to submit legal papers explaining its position on whether Abu Ghaith can be represented by Cohen and whether his understanding of his rights was sufficient to switch lawyers.
Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty to charges that he urged the death of Americans after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Prosecutors say evidence against Abu Ghaith includes a widely circulated video of him in early October 2001 sitting with bin Laden and current al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and another in which he calls on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that “jihad is a duty.”
Cohen said outside court that he believes he was chosen because of his extensive contacts throughout the Middle East and his ability to travel and speak with witnesses where other lawyers cannot.
“I’ve probably done more terrorism cases — real and fake — than any other lawyer in the United States,” he said.
A defense lawyer says a Tunisian man arrested in New York and accused of trying to stay in the United States illegally to build a terrorism cell denies the accusations.
Authorities say Ahmed Abassi came to the United States from Canada in mid-March and met regularly with an undercover FBI agent. They say he also met with another Tunisian citizen who later was arrested in Canada in a plot to derail a train.
The federal indictment against Abassi was unsealed Thursday. Law enforcement authorities say he was arrested April 22. He was arraigned a week ago on immigration fraud charges and pleaded not guilty.
Authorities say Abassi was seeking to develop a network of terrorists.
Attorney Sabrina Shroff says Abassi “flatly denies the accusations in the indictment.”
Federal authorities announced a crackdown Tuesday on predatory businesses that cheat “desperate and vulnerable” people harmed by the 2008 financial crisis with phony promises to consolidate their debt.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told a news conference that charges were brought against the owner and three employees of a New York company that cheated over 1,200 customers nationwide after opening its doors in 2009. They were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, along with separate mail and wire fraud charges.
He said Mission Settlement Agency promised to help people harmed by the economic collapse for a $49 monthly fee but instead often made them worse as it made $2.2 million in fees from customers it did not help while taking in more than $6.6 million in fees in all.
“The true mission of Mission turned out to be fraud and deceit,” he said. “And for more than a thousand consumers, the dream of debt relief turned into a nightmare of deeper debt trouble.”
Bharara said the prosecution was the first to result from a case referred by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency was created under the 2010 financial law known as the Dodd-Frank Act. The agency is charged with reducing the risk of a credit bubble by helping to ensure that borrowers are better informed and loans are more likely to be repaid.
Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, said similar prosecutions would be brought in the future to protect the 30 million Americans who are chased by debt collectors.
Bharara promised the prosecution would not be the last against those taking advantage of people struggling financially.
“Our concern is that predatory practices pervade the industry,” he said.
U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Phil Bartlett said the men arrested in the case lived lavishly, buying homes, fancy cars and operating a Brooklyn nightclub with money received from victims he described as “both desperate and vulnerable.”
Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for the company’s owner, Michael Levitis, said his client had cooperated with federal authorities since being approached in February.
He said Levitis, who was freed on $1 million bail, was victimized by “rogue employees who were acting like cowboys in a sense.”
“He’d gotten wind there were rogue employees making ridiculous promises. Some even started their own debt settlement companies,” Lichtman said.
The chilly relationship between rival upstate New York ice cream truck operators got out of hand this season, with Sno Cone Joe trying to chase Mr. Ding-A-Ling out of the market, authorities said Wednesday.
Gloversville police told local media outlets two Sno Cone Joe operators face harassment and stalking charges after heated confrontations last month that included one of them yelling “This is my town!” at a Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver.
The driver told police that Sno Cone Joe owners Joshua Malatino and Amanda Scott followed his truck, playing their music at high volume and trying to lure away customers with promises of free ice cream.
Police said Malatino also called the suburban Albany headquarters of Mr. Ding-A-Ling and said “I own this town!” while claiming Sno Cone Joe controls the frozen treats market in Gloversville, a former manufacturing city about 35 miles northwest of Albany.
Capt. John Sira said Malatino was warned this spring about similar behavior last year and police stepped in after an officer saw some of the activity while on patrol.
Malatino, 34, and Scott, 21, both of Gloversville, were charged Tuesday with second-degree harassment, a violation, and fourth-degree stalking, a misdemeanor. A message left for their lawyer wasn’t initially returned Wednesday afternoon.
A former hedge fund manager convicted of insider trading charges for making as much as $50 million on a tip about Dell earnings is seeking leniency at a New York sentencing.
Lawyers for Manhattan resident Anthony Chiasson (chee-AY’-suhn) say he made less than a half-million dollars from illegal trades. The government has said he earned more than $50 million on a tip received about Dell Inc. stock in 2008.
The defense arguments were submitted to the sentencing judge Tuesday. The government will file a response. Sentencing is set for May 13.
Chiasson is the founder of Greenwich, Conn.-based Level Global Investors. He was convicted last year.
When the charges were first announced, prosecutors said the Dell trades represented the largest insider trading transaction ever prosecuted in Manhattan.
|Former students of elite New York City preparatory school Horace Mann School, (from left to right) Mr Ron Klepper, Mr Edward Bowen, and Mr Jon Seiger, attend a news conference, with attorney Gloria Allred (right) in New York, on April 22, 2013 …
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Dre Cortes shakes catnip over the kitty halftime show set prior to the taping of Animal Planet's “PuppyBowl IX” program in New York City, NY on November 11, 2012. Kittens from a NYC shelter are then placed on the set and their playful antics are caught …
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