Railroad Safety Training in Pomona

dhsRockland County first responders attended railroad safety training led by Sheriff Louis Falco funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Falco explained that once funding came in last month, steps were put in place for the training session in Pomona describing the situation affecting Rockland County as “… you say to yourself, its not a matter of if, its when.” A fire chief from Maine who was at the Quebec derailment last July in which 47 individuals died, was the guest speaker in attendance.

Companies Fined Over Damaging Rockland Gas Lines

Palotta Landscaping of Bedford Hills and Jogi Construction of Livingston have been fined $1,000 by the New York Public Service Commission for damaging gas lines owned by Con Edison and Orange & Rockland Utilities. In New City on January 2nd, workers with Jogi Construction failed to maintain 4 inches of clearance between their equipment and the half-inch plastic high-pressure natural gas line, damaging it due to their oversight. The Palotta Landscaping incident occurred on January 8th in Bedford Hills in which a 1-inch plastic high-pressure gas line was damaged during a drainage dig. Neither company has past histories of violations and have until March 13 to pay their fines.

New York Assembly Passes DREAM Act, Next Senate

The New York State Assembly passed the DREAM Act Thursday afternoon which would allow for need-based tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants. The final tally read 87-45 almost entirely along party lines with six upstate Democratic Assembly members and one from Staten Island voting nay on the bill. This is the third year of approval from the Assembly where it is consistently opposed by Republicans in the Senate. Last year, the DREAM Act failed by one vote due to Republican opposition and Democrats not voting along party lines. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $142 billion budget plan includes the DREAM Act but strategically tied it to the Republican backed education tax credit which would call for a compromise on both issues. Assemblyman Steve Katz of R-Yorktown who was excused from the vote, summed up the central debate facing the State Legislature, “It is irresponsible and typical of this government to attach two remarkably different bills to one another…I sincerely hope that, during budget negotiations, everyone comes to their senses and removes the DREAM Act provision of the budget.”

Passage lies at the state level and all states have their own tuition equity policies. California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington have already passed the DREAM Act into law.

Continued Closing Statements; Jury Set to Decide Fate of Lacey Spears

Lawyers completed their closing arguments to the court on Thursday in the case against former Chestnut Ridge mother Lacey Spears who is accused of killing her son Garnett in January of last year. Prosecutors stated at the trial’s final hearing that the 27-year old mother had been poisoning her five-year old son with sodium through his feeding tube to make him sick, before he succumbed to fatal doses during a hospital stay. Prosecutors claim that Spears had time to poison her son during a bathroom break before his health began to decline, and an empty feeding bag tested positive for high levels of sodium. Spears’ attorneys blamed Nyack Hospital for not keeping up with the young boy’s dehydration, before he was transferred to Westchester Medical Center. Defense Attorney Stephen Reibling also argued that there is not enough clear evidence for a jury to find his client guilty, stating that the case is circumstantial. The jury began deliberating the case and will continue to do so today at 10:00 AM.

Orange County Man Indicted Again for Murder of Ramapo Rape Suspect

An Orange County man who was accused of killing a Rockland man suspected of rape in Ramapo, has been indicted by a grand jury. David Carlson of Sparrowbush was accused of shooting Norris Acosta-Sanchez in 2013, while allegedly defending himself when the two struggled for a shotgun on Carlson’s property. Carlson stated that he was attempting to turn Acosta-Sanchez into police after he had learned of the rape charges against the man. The case had been thrown out by a judge in November, who stated that the evidence presented by prosecutors was compromised. On Thursday Carlson was indicted once again on charges of second-degree murder, and first and second-degree manslaughter. He will be arraigned on March 6.

Hilltop Principal Transferred to New Position

According to recent reports by the Journal News, the former principal of the Hilltop School in Haverstraw, Kimberly Taylor, was moved to a new position as administrator within the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, with responsibilities including reviewing student assessments and organizing summer schools. Taylor and the BOSCES district are defendants in a lawsuit filed by former aid Kenneth Egan, who claims the district fired him when he came forward with accusations of abuse. Egan had recorded audio of what he states is Taylor screaming at children in June 2011 and calling them names such as retarded. Superintendent of BOSCES Mary Jean Marsico stated to the news outlet that Taylor had requested a new position after the lawsuit and the transfer was rushed during the recent news rushed during the recent news stories on the situation. Psychologist Christine Ditrano was appointed as the new principal and will start this coming Monday. Marsico stated that the decision to rush the transfer of positions was to, “get some consistency in the building.”

Closing Arguments and Jury Deliberation for Lacey Spears’ Trial

B9316388702Z.1_20150226153516_000_G15A2OICJ.1-0Closing arguments were heard this afternoon in the Lacey Spears trial, first by defense attorney Stephen Riebling who had a daunting task for his client because she did not testify. Riebling’s summation, before a court room of more than 45 people, went on for over two hours where he blamed Nyack Hospital and painted Spears as an attentive, loving mother. Riebling emphasized that the jury look only at the facts presented and to put aside any emotion tied to the case. The case is, “riddled with reasonable doubt,” as he outlined the lack of evidence put forth by the prosecution for the actual act of poisoning as well as a lack of motive and that the hospital was to blame for Garnett not receiving the IV fluids he needed. Though videos were shown of the suffering of Garnett, Riebling noted that footage of Spears comforting her son were omitted. He further defended Spears’ internet search history saying hypernatremia was not a new condition Garnett suffered from, citing that it began when he was a baby. The prosecution is set to complete their closing arguments this afternoon with the judge ordering the jury soon after.

Bus Driver Faces Charges

Police stated that a bus driver for the East Ramapo School District was arrested when he failed to properly check the bus and left a boy sleeping alone after the morning run. West Nyack resident Matthew Murphy faces charges after he completed his morning drop-off two weeks ago at Hempstead Elementary School, during which the 9-year old child fell asleep. Murphy is accused of leaving the student alone for nearly 40 minutes. Bus drivers are required to thoroughly check each vehicle after every run. Murphy will be seen in Ramapo Town Clerk next week.

Rockland County Lottery Winner

New York State Lottery officials announced that a winning ticket worth $7 million was sold at a store in New City. According to officials the ticket was a $25 Golden Ticket Game scratch off and was bought from the Just A Dollar on North Main Street. The winner has come forward, but will likely not be announced for a couple of weeks.

Pedestrian Killed by Car in Monsey

According to police a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car in Monsey on Wednesday night. The accident occurred around 7:30 PM, police stating that the Hyundai Elantra was driving north on Robert Pitt Drive before hitting the man near Route 59. The identity of the victim has not been released and police were investigating the scene for several hours Wednesday night. Police stated that they believe the man was crossing the street when he was struck, and the driver of the car did stop. It is unclear if criminal charges will be filed and police are continuing to investigate the accident.

Snow Closings Updated Regularly

Please click on the image below to view all snow closings for Rockland County.