State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey ruled on February 28 that the East Ramapo School District does not owe 1.3 million dollars to the Orthodox Jewish congregation that has leased Colton Elementary School since 2009. The Congregation Bais Malka and the Hebrew Academy for Special Children filed a lawsuit against the district saying that they are owed credit towards the 6.6 million dollar purchase of the building that was agreed upon. Garvey stated that the tenants would only be entitled to rent credit if they had enacted first refusal, which they did not because they placed the highest bid. Paul Savad, who is providing legal representation for the congregation stated that though disappointed his clients will be continuing with additional claims. The suit continued in court yesterday.
Investigations into a robbery that occurred in August at a Suffern jewelry store has led Suffern police and the Rockland Sheriff’s Department to the arrest of a Sloatsburg man. According to Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn 32- year old Jonathan Burrell was arrested Tuesday after the investigation team tested blood that was found on a broken window that the suspect had apparently cut himself on when entering the store. Osborn stated that Burrell became a suspect after he was arrested and charged with grand larceny for stealing a woman’s purse two days after the store was broken into. Burrell iis being held at the Rockland County Jail on $15,000 bail.
A house fire in Monsey led volunteer firefighters to discover a commercial kitchen in the residence. According to Fire Chief Richard LaGarde no one was injured in the fire and a woman working in the kitchen put out most of the flames with a hose from the sink. LaGarde and officials believe that two rooms in the home were converted for commercial use as a kitchen, inspectors found wheeled carts that seemed to be used to distribute food. Ramapo Building Inspector Anthony Mallia stated that it was probable that no one had approved the kitchen to be built. According to LaGarde the flames spread quickly and residents were left temporarily without a home.
As Nyack Hospital gets closer to offering mental health programs Rockland will begin closing down the Inpatient Mental Health Care Unit and Crisis Service this year. According to the Rockland County Mental Health Commissioner Mary Ann Walsh- Tozer the transfer of facilites makes sense because patients have to be transported by ambulance to be approved for medical treatment at Good Samaritan or Nyack Hospitals before they can be treated at the mental health unit. By moving the treatment center patients will be able to gain medical care at the same location. The process will also save the county one million dollars this year and an expected two million next year. Lauren Malone, a hospital spokeswoman, stated that about 93 county workers will lose jobs, though interviews have taken place fro 50- 60 positions at the new location. Legislator John Murphy has stated that Nyack Hospital has yet to obtain a license from the state Health Department and he thinks that they should wait to lay people off until then. According to County Executive Ed Day there is a plan B to have the county continue care if something goes wrong, though the new unit is expected to be opening in mid April.
On Friday Judge Kenneth Karas decided that former Mayor of Spring Valley, Noramie Jasmin, would be prosecuted seperately from the three New York City officials who are facing charges in connection to a bribery scheme that took place last year. Jasmin was arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe, along with Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret, in exchange for allowing the building of a kosher catering hall on village property. In January Desmaret pleaded guilty to accusations that he accepted $10,500 from an FBI informant, Moses Stern. He will be sentenced to up to nine years in prison on May 22. Jasmin is accused of wire fraud and extortion charges after allegedly demanding fifty percent of the ownership of the catering hall. She will be seen in court after Senator Malcolm Smith of Queens, former Republican Chairman Vincent Tabone, and Republican Councilman Daniel Halloran sentenced during their trial beginning June 2.
According to the Rockland County Sheriff’s office they are taking stricter steps to help prevent issues with trains shipping crude oil and other hazardous materials. Recently Governor Cuomo ordered that companies and local government review their emergency plans, since shipments of crude oil have significantly increased in recent years. On Tuesday a train derailed in Kingston, New York, that had passed through Rockland County. The train had only been carrying sand, but in December a train car carrying oil was hit by a truck in South Nyack, which didn’t derail. According to Sheriff Louis Falco this incident is what caused him to want to regulate train traffic within the county more. Oil is transporte dby about eighty to one-hundred cars on two trains travel through Rockland daily and Sheriff Falco stated that he would like to keep track of that, informing police, fire officials, and ambulance workers incase of a spill. Since last week the Sheriff’s office has been using radar checkpoints to register the speed of locomotives as they pass through, at the request of assistant director of Rockland Office of Fire and Emergency Services, Dan Greeley, who stated that the speed limit fifty miles per hour, but should be much less. Senator Charles Schumer agrees with Greeley, stating that they are pushing to have the limit reduced to forty in populated areas. Sheriff Falco stated that a list should be shared with local officials referring to any hazardous materials that train cars are carrying daily, and CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan responded that the railroad would be open to the idea and already have a program online known as SecureNow which tracks trains and provides information on the contents of cars.
An accident on the New York State Thruway at exit 16 in Orange County led to the death of a 53- year old New jersey man who worked at Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory in Rockland. Mark Becker worked as a scientist at the Columbia University Observatory Program known as the Center for International Earth Science Information Network studying human impact on the environment by mapping environmental trends for various public health programs. According to the New York State Thruway Authority, the accident occurred in the Northbound lanes near Woodbury at 10:46 on Wednesday morning, involved a thruway plow truck, and resulted in six other individuals suffering non-life threatening injuries. Police have stated that they are further investigating.
On Tuesday Judge Barry Warhit told a disbarred New City attorney that he will be going to jail when he is sentenced on April 1. Joel Grossbarth appeared in Rockland County Court on Tuesday for charges that he received in March 2013 of felony counts of second- degree grand larceny and one count of second- degree forgery, after he was arrested for stealing money from twenty clients over five years. According to Warhit, Grossbarth had promised to pay back the debt in June, paying $297,086 leaving $849,470 unpaid. Warhit stated that Grossbarth has had plenty of time to pay and the courts are waiting for a promised $250,000 bail and three payments of $200,000 from his mother. Prosecutor for the case, Gary Lee Heavner stated that the court will not be accepting his promise of payments as reason to continue adjourning the case, and he will be sentenced on April 1.
A state Supreme Court Judge ruled on Monday that Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme did not have legal ground to remove Vilair Fonvil from his position as Trustee and Deputy Mayor. Justice Margaret Garvey issued a restraining order reinstating Fonvil and preventing Delhomme from removing him for the time being. The order also states that Miguelino Joseph, who Delhomme appointed to the Trustee position on Friday, has no right to make actions as a Trustee until the court makes an ultimate decision. Two weeks ago Fonvil, as well as Trustees Emilia White and Asher Grossman hired Dennis Lynch to represent them and their decision on the board in court if necessary. Lynch stated that Garvey’s decision was unusual, but if Fonvil was removed Delhomme would instantly gain majority control of the board. Lynch’s firm is currently investigating the Mayor’s purchase of a 2014 Ford expedition at the village’s expense, which he uses as his official vehicle. The board will be meeting tonight at 8:00 PM and the case will be heard in court by Justice Gerald Loehr on March 6 at 10:00 AM.
Residents of Rockland and Westchester counties are calling for a break on toll charges for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Legislator Cris Carey reached out to Governor Cuomo requesting that commuters receive a similar option to what Staten Island residents have when crossing the Verrazano Bridge, which cost $15 cash, $10.66 with an EZ Pass, and $6.36 with an EZ Pass for one or two trips a month. The Governor proposed a toll break for Staten Island commuters, stating that it will, “Allow Staten Islanders to keep more of their money on the island.” This plan would have residents paying $5.50 per trip with an EZ Pass. According to Executive Director of the Tri- State Transportation campaign, Veronica Vanterpool, the money put towards such plans could be spent on solving problems such as a lack of mass transit, rather than creating more traffic by bringing cars onto the roads and bridges. Rockland representatives Senator David Carlucci and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski have both expressed a need for a plan to decrease the toll for residents, stating that the 3.9 billion dollar bridge project will be useless if no one can afford to cross it. Officials have yet to share how much the tolls will be charging travelers though they are expected to be as high as $14.