Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin was found guilty of corruption charges including mail fraud and extortion by Justice Colleen McMahon in the U.S. District Court in White Plains today. The verdict was cemented after a five day non-jury trial, where local businessman Moses “Mark” Stern worked with the FBI to record audio and video tapes of their meetings to expose Jasmin for allegedly using her political position to profit from a catering hall and community center built in exchange for her vote. Her sentencing is scheduled for August 7, where Justice McMahon will consider federal guidelines and her lack of criminal record in determining her actual prison time.
According to Nyack officials the viewing site for the new Tappan Zee bridge could be finished by June. The village began construction on the fishing pier that will overlook construction of the new bridge last year, but needed assistance from Tappan Zee Constructors when they came across problems with the pile driving process for the structure being put up at Memorial Park. The viewing area will include telescopes and information plaques about the history of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the new one being put up. The village received $150,000 from the state and $50,000 from a community fund to build the 90 by 30 foot pier and officials stated that the remaining construction should be completed by early summer.
The result of two psychiatric evaluations showed Steven Alicea, 33, of Congers, to be incompetent to stand trial, revealed at his competency hearing Friday. Alicea was charged Monday in the beating death of his father Ismael Alicea at their family home. Clarkstown Judge Scott Ugell ruled that Alicea is incapable of understanding the charges brought against him and will continue psychiatric treatment in custody. Clarkstown Police reported that there had been multiple incidents at their family home over the years including a larceny report in 2008, an intoxicated individual from 2011, and an emotionally disturbed person from 2013.
According to Clarkstown Police a banner at an Upper Nyack synagogue honoring victims of the Holocaust was vandalized on Wednesday night. Representatives of Congregation Sons of Israel stated that on Wednesday night a candlelight ceremony was held for Holocaust Memorial Day in honor of the millions of people killed by the Nazis, and a banner was hung that listed numbers of victims from the many groups of people that were targeted during the Holocaust. On Thursday morning the synagogue reported that between 10:00 PM when the security guard for the property left and 9:00 AM the banner had been torn and ripped up. The banner has been repaired and police are investigating, and seeking witnesses or surveillance footage.
According to a statement released by the Rockland County Legislature, Chairman Alden Wolfe and Legislator Jay Hood sponsored a resolution that was recently adopted by the Budget and Finance and Planning and Public Works Committees. The resolution would provide Hi Tor Animal Care Center with $500,000 as a part of the county’s Capital Project Budget to go toward the $1 million building proposal for the new shelter. In March Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski obtained $500,000 grant from New York State, to be applied to the project’s $300,000 funds raised in private donations over the years. About his decision to sponsor the resolution Wolfe stated, “There is no doubt that this organization has operated in the best interest of the animals entrusted to its care, however, the building is no longer adequate to house the revolving and growing population of lost or abandoned animals.” While the resolution was approved at Tuesday’s Planning and Public Works meeting it still needs to be passed by the remainder of the Legislature at the upcoming meeting. As well as by the County Executive. The proposal states that the new shelter would be owned by the county and leased to Hi Tor.
Evidence of disapproval of the common core standardized testing is present in the numbers of Hudson Valley 3rd through 8th grade students who opted out of the English Language Arts tests Tuesday. In a report by The Journal News, 25 Districts responded for comment to report numbers of their students opting out with two districts reporting 50% refused testing, eight districts reported more than 30%, and fourteen other districts reported at least 15% refused to take the tests. North Rockland saw 63% middle school students refusing and 50% of Ramapo Central middle school students refused.
Jonathan Burman, spokesman for the state Education Department expressed the needs of students being ignored by opting out of testing,”Test refusal is a mistake because it eliminates important information about how our kids are doing. Those who call for opting out really want New York to opt out of information that can help parents and teachers understand how well their students are doing.” Burman also commented that sanctions for test absence would be dependent on the degree and length of time that each district failed to meet the 95% participation requirement. School administrators believe this result to be expected with such strong opposition felt throughout the community spearheaded by teacher unions and education advocacy groups.
65 Year-Old Donald DeWitt of Warwick, long time biology teacher at Bergen County Academies High School in Hackensack, New Jersey, was arrested Monday for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16 year-old student. In a Press Release by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Dewitt is “charged with attempted sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal sexual contact.” The alleged relationship was discovered by the victim’s sister who informed their mother of the emails she found on her computer. The mother then reported her discovery to the police and on Monday, the victim was interviewed by detectives where she provided details of their illicit relationship. Dewitt is held at the Bergen County Jail for $300,000 bail. Bergen County Technical Schools Superintendent Howard Lerner is quoted as saying, The district takes this matter very seriously and will be cooperating fully with the police during the course of the investigation, however not specifying if Dewitt had been suspended.
Clarkstown Police reported that 61 year-old Ismael Alicea of Congers, was pronounced dead at his home early this morning after responding to a domestic incident at 79 Ohio Avenue. The cause of death was bludgeoning, placing Alicea’s son, Steven, 33, in custody charged with murder in the 2nd degree. Alicea was arraigned this afternoon and held at Rockland County Jail, pleading not guilty to the murder charge. Justice Scott Ugell ordered a psychiatric evaluation to be conducted later today as Clarkstown Police continue their investigation.
According to a Bergen county Prosecutor a Chestnut Ridge resident was the victim of a shooting in New Jersey on Sunday night. John L. Molinelli stated that the shooting took place at the Route 46 business Clean Sweep Chimney Depot in South Hackensack and the victim is the owner, 51-year old Richard Ziarello of Chestnut Ridge, who was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment to critical injuries. Police are investigating the cause, with suspicions appearing that it may have been a robbery and are searching for a suspect. Limited information has been released, but officials stated that Ziarello is in grave condition.
According to South Nyack Police a former softball coach at Nyack College was arrested on Thursday for inappropriately touching more than ten players on the team. Police stated that 43-year old Kurt Ludwigsen was hired by the college in September and fired in March after he was accused by the girls and their parents of unwanted touching and kissing on the mouth. After further investigations into the claims, Ludwigsen was charged with 45 counts of inappropriate touching, 49 counts of harassment, and one count of sexual abuse. The Ridgewood, New Jersey resident, where he lives with his family, is being held on $15,000 bail until his next court date on April 13, while the former coach will be taking over the remainder of the season, or until a new head coach is found.