A third Rockland man has been brought up on federal charges of conspiring to defraud the New York Power Authority and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. 54 Year-old Stephen Sheridan of Valley Cottage plead guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in White Plains and faces an additional 3 years on filing false 2010 tax returns. Sheridan is alleged to have conspired with Thomas Delaney of Over Rock Construction LLC to bilk money between 2009 and 2012 from the NYPA in over $400,000 over fake claimed employees. State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott initiated the claim saying this is, “part of an ongoing joint federal and state investigation of bid rigging, fraud and tax-related offenses in the award of contracts at NYPA’s facility in White Plains.” 42 Year-old Peter Shine of Orangeburg is also tied to allegations and plead guilty to filing a false 2013 tax return. All three men are awaiting sentencing.
Superior Court Judge Margaret Foti is expected to issue decisions on Tuesday on motions filed by Defense attorney Miles Feinstein representing Michael A. Sampson, asking the court to separate charges in a 2012 fatal shooting in Cliffside Park. Prosecutors have charged Sampson with murder, illegally owning a firearm, drug possession, and child endangerment with a combined minimum penalty of 30 years in prison. Sampson was charged with murder in the death of Hector Zabala during an altercation which took place outside of Boom Bar. He was arrested in an apartment in Lodi where large quantities of marijuana were found, also discovered in his home in Garfield. Sampson’s 4 month old daughter was in the vicinity of the weapon and drug paraphernalia at the time of discovery. Feinstein seeks to separate the charges to prevent a jury from swaying toward a guilty verdict. Acting Senior Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer claims precedence for trying defendants on separate crimes.
Earlier this year, developer Fareri Associates announced a proposal to invest over $1 billion to build a bioscience and medical office complex in Westchester and is now aiming to negotiate tax exemptions before breaking ground. John Farari, President and CEO, explained that the 80 acre project includes 20 acres he currently owns along with 60 county owned acres near the Grasslands Reservation, known as “The North 60.” Fareri hopes to meet with Mount Pleasant development agencies, one of the towns the property will be built on, to negotiate tax deals on the annual taxes generated totaling an estimated $9 million once the three-phase project is fully completed. Originally, the county refused to offer tax incentives for the project. Fareri has a long standing relationship with nearby Westchester Medical Center when he raised enough funds to erect the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, named after his daughter who died in 1995. About 8,000 permanent jobs and an additional 4,000 construction jobs would result from the project which County Executive Rob Astorino hopes will attract young and educated professionals to the community.
In a statement by the FBI, a reward is being offered for information of a suspect, called the “Count Down Bandit,” who they believe is responsible for bank robberies in the North New Jersey area. Once police departments in affected towns noticed matching descriptions of the robber, they began working together joined by the FBI to catch the assailant. The robberies have occurred mostly at Hudson Valley Savings Banks at branches in Glen Rock, Lyndhurst, Maywood, New Milford, Oradell, River Edge, and Wayne. During the robbery, the suspect would typically approach tellers and demand money, sometimes announcing the threat of a weapon, and counting down before escaping with cash. The suspect is about 6 feet tall, in his mid-30s and with an athletic build. Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI at 973-792-3000.
Former Bronx schools superintendent Betty Rosa was elected new chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents today by a vote of 15 yays and 2 abstentions, succeeding long time member and common core introducer, Merryl Tisch. Tisch came under scrutiny after New York became one of the first states to adopt Common core education standards with subsequent standardized tests score plummeting. 2015 saw the height of parent and educator frustration with over 20% of third through eighth grade students opting out of taking examinations. According to reports, Rosa was the only nominee with state teacher unions cheering the decision and pro-common core groups seeing the board’s decision as, “…Taking New York State back to a failed system where millions of children fell through the cracks.” The Board also approved Regent Andrew Brown, an attorney from Rochester, to serve as vice chancellor.
Orange & Rockland Utilities released a statement today regarding the a new cleanup project for removal of coal tar impacted soil along Pat Malone Drive in Suffern. The 20,000 cubic yards of affected soil has been left alone for about 80 years since its days as a manufactured gas plant. The plant produced gas from coal before World War II until natural gas became available across the nation. The byproducts generated from heating coal to high temperature, notable coal tar, will be excavated from the contaminated soil to approximate depths of 10-15 feet and disposed of off-site. Deeper contamination of up to 35 feet, will be treated by mixing the soil with cement, safely solidifying and entombing the approximately 17,000 cubic yards of soil. According to the release, the project is expected to last seven to nine months and cost between $11 million and $13 million. The project will follow New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) guidelines for air quality throughout the project with real-time air monitoring conducted 24-hours a day, seven-days per week. In the event that a site-related impacts are detected in the groundwater, a Groundwater Monitoring Plan is in place and would be initiated to ensure the health and safety of the public water supply involving the Suffern Water District, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the Rockland County Department of Health. For additional information about O&R and its programs, visit O&R’s Web site at www.oru.com.
Westchester County Bomb Squad and Yonkers Police responded to a car at an apartment parking lot this morning after a woman reported a suspicious device in the trunk of her car. Officials secured the area around High Street and Broadway, using a robot to approach the vehicle and later bomb technicians pulled out a propane tank and wiring from inside the trunk. Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner explained that, “It looked like an explosive device. There were wires and other components that made it appear to be a rudimentary type, explosive device.” Federal ATF and FBI agents were reportedly on the scene and at this time, it has been determined that the device does not pose any risk. The investigation remains ongoing to determine the purpose and intended use of the device.
According to United Water spokesman Steven Goudsmith, the North New Jersey drought watch is now lifted with rivers and reservoirs at higher than normal levels, a good sign for the upcoming in demand Spring and Summer seasons. The six month drought watch was exacerbated by abnormally dry May, July, and August months last year prompting town and utility officials to impose water consumption restrictions on residents. To blame for unpredictable precipitation levels is the El Nino weather pattern, causing a drier than average 2015 hurricane season but has brought up warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing with it about 27 percent more precipitation than usual over that last 60 days. Bergen, Passaic, and Morris Counties have all received over 2 inches in snow and rain surplus above average. Officials predict the El Nino pattern to dissipate with New Jersey Climatologist and Rutgers University professor David Robinson expecting normal levels for the remainder of the year.