O FFICE O F T HE
W ESTCHESTER C OUNTY D ISTRICT A TTORNEY
A NNUAL R EPORT 2007
J ANET D I F IORE
D ISTRICT A TTORNEY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
MESSAGE FROM THE DA…………………..………………………………………….1
VIOLENT FELONY SCREENING PROTOCOL…………………..……..…………………6
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CHILD ABUSE AND ELDER ABUSE…………………..………13
CONSUMER FRAUD AND PROPERTY THEFT………………….………………………15
ORGANIZED CRIME/CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE/AUTO CRIMES…………………..……..16
PARTNERSHIP AND COLLABORATIONS…………………..……..……………………18
CRIME PREVENTION AND INITIAVES…………………...……..………………………20
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGAL PARTNERS…………………….………………………22
PREVENTING GUN VIOLENCE…………………..……..………………………………22
ROAD TO RECOVERY DRUG TREATMENT……………..……..………………………23
WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY…………………..……..……….…………………24
TRAINING AND EDUCATION…………………..……..……………………………...…26
A MESSAGE FROM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
My first two years as Westchester County District Attorney have been challenging, enlightening and very rewarding.
We continue to evolve from a traditional, reactive law enforcement agency, focusing solely on the prosecution of crimi-
nals, to a proactive, forward-thinking office addressing public safety needs by focusing on the many forces that drive
crime in our communities.
Criminal activity does not respect political geographical boundaries. Collaboration is a key component of successful
crime fighting, and we have worked hard to forge solid
strategic alliances with local, state and federal law en-
forcement agencies, the courts, and victim advocate and
This Annual Report documents the continuing success
we have achieved in fulfilling our mission of enhanced
and sustained public safety in Westchester County. By
the numbers, in 2007, our efforts have yielded impres-
sive results: prosecutorial efforts resulted in a 97% fel-
ony conviction rate, one of the highest in the state, and
our, affirmance rate on appeals was even higher - over
We aggressively prosecuted violent felonies and pur-
sued investigations targeting gangs, narcotics and fire-
arms. At the same time, we referred to Drug Treatment
Courts those individuals whose cases merited an oppor- District Attorney Janet DiFiore with reporters from
tunity for treatment rather than incarceration. The Child Kids X-press Magazine after they conducted an interview.
Fatality Review Team released three public reports with
the goal of educating parents of young children to the dangers of co-sleeping. Seeking to enhance our ability to prose-
cute important cases, we successfully proposed important legislation in the areas of human trafficking and online sex-
Recognizing that recidivism among those released from prison poses a serious public safety issue, I agreed to chair
the Westchester County Reentry Task Force, a collaboration among state, county and not-for-profit agencies that be-
gan its work in 2007. The Task Force coordinates supervision and services for reentrants and assists where gaps in
services impede a successful return to the community and family. Our 2007 reentrants’ preliminary results, in terms of
lower rates of rearrests and violations of parole, are encouraging.
We continue to focus on the importance of new information technology, both updating the way our office conducts
business and enhancing our ability to investigate increasingly sophisticated crimes. Working with local, state and fed-
eral colleagues, we put in place plans for a spring 2008 opening of the Westchester Intelligence Center. This state-of-
the-art technologically advanced facility will offer local police departments the opportunity to unify their crime-fighting
efforts through shared intelligence and analysis.
It is the hard work and cutting edge programs behind the numbers, however, that will allow us to continue to build on
I take great pride in my staff’s commitment to serving the public through these initiatives detailed in this report. We will
continue to focus on driving down crime, enhancing public safety, and promoting fairness at every level of our criminal
justice system, all with an eye to fiscal responsibility.
Thank you for taking the time to read about the important work we are doing. We are very proud of our work, but we
are even more proud to serve the people of Westchester County. For more information about our programs and ser-
vices, please visit us at www.westchesterda.net.
As Chief Law Enforcement Officer of Westchester County, the District Attorney is responsible
for the fair and impartial prosecution of all crimes committed Prison / Jail Time
in this County. A core mission of every District Attorney’s Rate for Felony
Office is the vigorous prosecution of serious and violent crime. Convictions
In 2007, my Office pursued this mission, skillfully, ethically,
and forcefully – and the results have been outstanding. Ac-
cording to the statistics maintained by the NYS Division of
Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), in 2007, the Westchester 97% 91%
County District Attorney’s Office had a felony conviction rate WC NYS
of over 97%. This number includes both guilty pleas and trial 79% 72%
convictions. By way of comparison, in 2007 the statewide WC NYS
conviction rate for felony offenses was 91%. The percentage
of defendants convicted of felony offenses in 2007 who were
sentenced to prison/jail was 79% as compared to the state
rate of 72%.
Prison / Jail Time
Violent Felony Conviction
Rate for Violent Felony
Rate Our conviction rate in 2007 for violent felony offenders, individu-
als charged with crimes such as murder, manslaughter, robbery,
burglary, aggravated assaults, sex offenses, kidnapping, gun
possession, and arson was better than 95% Statewide, the
conviction rate for violent felony offenses was 89%. The per-
80% centage of defendants convicted of violent felony offenses in
NYS this County in 2007 who were sentenced to prison/jail was 91%
NYS as compared to the state rate of 80%.
We achieved these better than statewide felony conviction rates
in a timely and expeditious manner. In 2007, statewide, prose-
cutors required an average of 277 days to dispose of a felony
case. Our Office required only 226 days to reach disposition.
P OST C ONVICTIONS
This Office is equally successful in upholding the convictions it obtains. In 2007, a total of 175 felony appeals were brought to
conclusion in the intermediate appellate courts. In 174 or 99.4% of those cases, the conviction remained intact.
In 2006, I returned the prosecution of probation violators to the District Attorney’s Office. Defendants who are convicted of
lower grade felonies and who are not predicate felony offenders may be sentenced by the court to as much as 10 years proba-
tion as monitored by the Westchester County Department of Probation (WCDOP). When a probationer violates the conditions
of probation, the WCDOP will file a violation petition and this Office will prosecute the offender, seeking incarceration where
appropriate. In 2007, 264 violators were prosecuted by our Office; 181 violators were resentenced to incarceration.
STATE PRISON ON A VIOLATION OF PROBATION
In 2002, defendant Richard Nadal was convicted of grand larceny in the fourth degree for stealing a car and sentenced to pro-
bation. He first violated probation in 2004 and was resentenced to continued probation. On October 4, 2006, the defendant
again violated probation. In prosecuting this second violation, my Office affirmatively sought a state prison resentence as the
defendant had committed new crimes while he was on probation. After a hearing at which we sustained our burden of proof,
the defendant was resentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison, the maximum sentence allowed for his original conviction.
All homicide cases are vertically prosecuted by veteran trial assistants who are available 24 hours a day on a rotating sched-
ule to respond to fatality scenes throughout the County and to provide legal advice to the police from the start of the investiga-
tion. The determination of the cause of death for a suspicious fatality requires a complete death scene investigation with at-
tending forensic analysis of the evidence, an accident reconstruction for vehicular deaths, the medical examiner’s autopsy,
and a thorough police investigation, including witness interviews. As the investigation proceeds, the case is regularly re-
viewed by the Office’s top trial lawyers. Before the matter is presented to a Grand Jury, a presentation of all the legally admis-
sible evidence must first be made to the Homicide
Review Committee which includes the District Attor- Homicides Reported in 2007
In 2007, homicide assistants opened 103 fatality re- Hom icides
ports and investigations were commenced to deter- 8
mine the cause of death in each case; 5 of which
were “cold cases” as the deaths occurred several 27
years ago. There were 35 homicides; 27 (including 2
cold cases) were classified as murders or manslaugh-
ters and 8 were vehicular homicides. The Office filed
25 charges in the 35 homicide cases against 30 de-
fendants as a result of these investigations.
A snapshot of the homicides reveals that the manner of
death in the 35 homicides was: 15 by gunshot; 8 by
Instrumentalities of Homicides vehicles; 6 by blunt force trauma or strangulation; 5 by
knife wound; and 1 unknown (torso discovered in the
Long Island Sound). More than half of the assailants in
8 the 15 gunshot homicides were under the age of 21. In
6 contrast, all 8 defendants charged in the vehicular
1 5 homicides were over 21 years of age.
The remaining fatalities upon investigation revealed the
following: 21 were vehicular deaths which were deter-
mined not to be homicides; 7 were infant fatalities, 6 of
Guns Vehicles Blunt Force/Strangulation Kniv es Unknow n which were not homicides; 12 were ruled suicides; 6
were natural deaths; and 5 were accidental (non-
vehicular) deaths. There were 18 deaths, including
drug overdoses, where the circumstances of the death could not be fully determined.
Suspicious Deaths in 2007
Vehicular Deaths Non-Homicides
6 8 11 Suicides
Accidental or Natural Causes
Infant Fatalities Non-Homicide
People v. Shamei Brown - On Halloween night in 2005, at People v. Omar Washington and Fred Richardson - On
the Hartley Houses apartment complex in New Rochelle, May 22, 2006, Kevin Chambliss was standing outside his
Raymond Harris and Todd Carolina were shot by Brown in apartment building on Ferris Avenue, White Plains, when
a mistaken attempt at retribution for the murder earlier that he was approached by Omar Washington and Fred
month of the defendant’s brother, Dasheau Brown. Ray- Richardson, who are cousins. Washington apparently
mond Harris was shot to death and Todd Carolina was shot believed that the medallion worn by Mr. Chambliss was
in the face and survived. the same one that had been stolen from him a few days
In the earlier homicide case, Dasheau Brown, defendant’s earlier.
brother, was shot and killed outside a social club in New Washington ordered Richardson to shoot the victim, who
Rochelle on October 10, 2005. Rodney Alston was con- tried to escape only to be chased down by the two assail-
victed after a jury trial of the murder of Dasheau Brown and ants. The men beat Mr. Chambliss and upon Washing-
was sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison. The vic- ton’s order, Richardson shot Mr. Chambliss in the back,
tims of Shamei Brown were not involved in the murder of killing him.
his brother. White Plains police working with a homicide assistant thor-
New Rochelle police and a homicide assistant investigated oughly investigated the case.
both murders. Shamei Brown was convicted after a jury After separate jury trials, prosecuted by the same homi-
trial and was sentenced in 2007 to 20 years to life for his cide assistant, each man was convicted of murder in the
conviction of murder in the second degree and a consecu- second degree. Washington received a sentence of 25
tive sentence of 17 years in state prison for his conviction years to life and Richardson was sentenced to 20 years to
for attempted murder in the second degree. life in state prison.
People v. Andre Banks - On July 3, 2005, Angel Cabrera was working as usual at the Cibao Deli on Tarrytown Road in
Greenburgh. At about 10:45 p.m., Mr. Cabrera and Jose Peña were cleaning up in the back kitchen while Juan Guzman was
behind the deli counter. The owner of the deli was Jose Peña’s brother, Pedro Peña, who was upstairs with their other broth-
ers, Nelson Peña and Juan Peña, and his nephew, Cesar Peña. Into this small family deli walked Andre Banks with his
hoody pulled up on his head and his loaded .38 caliber revolver in his hand. Banks walked directly to the back of the store,
and without saying a word, opened fire. One bullet struck Jose Peña in the chest; another hit Angel Cabrera. Both wounded
men struggled out the back door. Angel Cabrera fell dead in the yard; Jose Peña hid himself between two cars.
Meanwhile, Pedro Peña and his other brothers charged downstairs. Pedro Peña was shot as he ran into the store as Banks
was ransacking the cash register. The killer then ran out the front door and fired at close range at Nelson Peña. As the killer
turned and ran away, he fired twice more, this time at Juan Peña and Cesar Peña, who were in the stairwell that led to the
street from the upstairs apartment.
All told, Andre Banks killed one man (Angel Cabrera), grievously wounded two others (Jose Peña and Pedro Peña), at-
tempted to kill a third (Nelson Peña) and recklessly endangered the remaining two (Juan Peña and Cesar Peña).
The Greenburgh Police working with a homicide assistant commenced an exhaustive investigation. In October 2006, suffi-
cient evidence was developed to place this defendant in a lineup where he was positively identified by three Peña brothers
and a civilian who was outside the store at the time of the crime. At trial, these witnesses again identified Andre Banks as
the shooter and the jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges, the most serious being murder in the first degree. On Octo-
ber 9, 2007, Andre Banks was sentenced to life without parole.
People v. Lisa Shipp - On October 12, 2006, at approximately 5:48 p.m., Legista Beckford was driving home from work in the
center northbound lane of Sprain Brook Parkway when Lisa Shipp rear-ended his car. Beckford lost control of his car, struck
the right curb and went careening across three lanes of traffic. Beckford then crashed through the trees on the side of the
parkway, fell down a 25 foot drop and came to rest after crashing into another tree. Mr. Beckford was killed on impact.
Shipp did not stop her vehicle and continued driving northbound. A Good Samaritan who witnessed the crash followed Shipp
as she exited the parkway, turned around, reentered the parkway heading southbound, exited in Greenburgh and made a
number of u-turns and evasive actions on local streets. The Good Samaritan called the Greenburgh police to report the un-
The police stopped Shipp’s car. Shipp failed numerous field sobriety tests and an open bottle of vodka was observed inside
her vehicle. Shipp’s blood alcohol level was later revealed to be .24%, three times the legal limit for operating a vehicle in
Shipp was sentenced in 2007 to 3 to 9 years in state prison on her guilty plea to the entire twelve count indictment including
one count of manslaughter in the second degree.
People v. Waymon Darkins - On March 19, 2005, the body of Gustavo Hincapie, a salesman for a Queens door and window
company, was found wrapped in plastic and dumped behind a Mavis Tire Store on North Avenue in New Rochelle. He was shot
once in the head.
After a wide ranging and comprehensive investigation that stretched into Brooklyn, Queens, and as far south as Georgia, detec-
tives from the New Rochelle Police Department found that Darkins had set up and killed Mr. Hincapie to eliminate him as a wit-
ness and to cover up an identity theft case pending in Queens County. Darkins was on parole for a 1983 conviction for man-
slaughter in the first degree when he murdered Mr. Hincapie. Darkins was convicted after a jury trial and was sentenced in 2007
to life in state prison without parole for his conviction of murder in the first degree.
People v. Anne Trovato - On Sunday, May 14, 2006, Mother’s
Day, Village of Ossining police officers responded to a Yates People v. Ann Marie Ciarcia - On September 18,
Avenue house at the request of Michael Mery. Mr. Mery was 2006, at approximately 4:55 a.m., Ann Marie Ciar-
concerned because his family had not heard from his sister, cia drove her minivan northbound on the Saw Mill
Patricia Mery. Upon entering the house, the police made a River Parkway. In the car were Alexa Ciarcia, her
gruesome discovery – the body of Patricia Mery, lying in a pool 15-year-old daughter, and Emily Cornish, the
of blood. An autopsy revealed Ms. Mery had been severely daughter’s 16-year-old friend. Ciarcia and the girls
beaten and stabbed multiple times in the neck and body. had spent the night at a club in Manhattan. Ciar-
An investigation by the Ossining Police and an homicide assis- cia, who was drunk, exited and then re-entered the
tant led to the arrest of Anne Trovato for the murder of her parkway, driving her car the wrong way in the
mother, Patricia Mery. The case was tried before a jury in Octo- southbound lanes. Within minutes, she crashed
ber 2007. Evidence was presented linking the defendant to the head on into a car driven by Ed Cook, who was on
crime, including her own statements to several individuals, her his way to work.
elaborate cover up and false alibi, and forensic evidence that In this violent collision, Mr. Cook was seriously
connected the defendant through mitochondrial DNA analysis to injured and Emily Cornish was killed. A blood test
a hair found on a bloody knife recovered at the scene. As well, revealed Ciarcia’s blood alcohol content to
a handwriting analysis showed a consistency between a note be .15%, almost twice the legal limit.
left by the killer on Ms. Mery’s body and this defendant. The Ann Marie Ciarcia pled guilty to manslaughter in
motive for this horrendous crime was an ongoing dispute over the second degree and vehicular assault in the
Ms. Mery’s desire to have visitation rights with her grandchild, second degree, the top counts of the indictment,
the defendant’s 3-year-old daughter. The defendant was sen- and was sentenced to 11/3 to 4 years in state
tenced to 25 years to life in state prison. prison on March 30, 2007.
n 2007, the District Attorney’s Office obtained over 60 felony convictions for sex crimes, including cases involving the
newly created crime of “sexually motivated felony” (Penal Law § 130.91). This new crime encompasses specified offenses,
including, but not limited to, assault, manslaughter, kidnapping, burglary and robbery, which are committed in whole or
substantial part for the perpetrator’s own sexual gratification. Each of these cases is vigorously prosecuted in close collabora-
tion with the victims, health care professionals, forensic scientists and the police, and in cases involving sexual assault of a
child, Westchester’s Children’s Advocacy Center, to ensure that we maintain the highest integrity of evidence collection and
carefully guide and support the victims through the criminal justice system.
Central to the community’s protection from convicted sex offenders who are returned to live in our community is the District
Attorney’s enforcement of New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act, more commonly known as “Megan’s Law”. In more than
60 cases, prosecutors aggressively argued that convicted sex offenders returning to our community should be registered and
classified at the highest level possible under Megan’s Law classification system to ensure that residents have the ability to
obtain comprehensive information about sex offenders living in their neighborhoods. In August 2007, Megan’s Law was
amended to elevate the crime of failure to register as a sex offender or verify a home address to a felony offense, thereby
paving the way for enhanced prosecution of sex offenders who fail to comply with the registration requirements.
INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
The Office’s High Technology Bureau regularly pursues sexual predators by investigating individuals who use the internet to
lure child victims and to possess, buy, or distribute child pornography. In 2007, there was a significant change in the law relat-
ing to the dissemination of indecent materials to minors which directly impacted the Bureau’s on-line undercover operations.
In 2006, an appellate court reversed the Westchester County conviction of Jeffrey Kozlow, an on-line sexual predator, holding
that the crime of disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree encompassed only sexual images and not con-
versations or words alone. Kozlow had communicated by email with an undercover police officer who was posing as a 14-
year-old boy. While Kozlow did not send any pornographic images to the “young boy”, he did describe various sexual acts he
might have with him. The appellate court’s ruling negatively impacted this Office’s online undercover operation.
However, on April 26, 2007, the Office’s Appeals Bureau succeeded in overturning that ruling and, as one of only approxi-
mately 50 criminal cases decided by the New York Court of Appeals, the State's highest court, Kozlow’s conviction was rein-
stated. In a case of first impression, the Court of Appeals held that former Penal Law § 235.22 prohibiting the dissemination of
indecent material to minors encompassed not only images but also words describing sex acts.
In addition, as a result of the simultaneous efforts made by this Office in the legislative arena, the statute was amended, effec-
tive March 2007, to specifically include words as a method of conveying sexual conduct to a minor.
Based on its success with both the legislative amendment and in the Court of Appeals, this Office resumed its active pursuit of
predators who attempt to engage minors online for the purpose of sexual gratification.
In addition, in 2007, the Office partnered with the NYS Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the Depart-
ment of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood to arrest and prosecute defendants who buy or possess child pornography.
People v. William Davis - In the early afternoon of De- People v. Andre Pippens and Joseph Jordan - On No-
cember 28, 2006, William Davis’ 12-year-old victim was vember 1, 2006, Joseph Jordan met his friend Andre Pip-
walking home in Brooklyn when she lost her new cell pens in Getty Square in Yonkers. Pippens had just been
phone. Telling the child he was a police officer, and driv- released from the Westchester County Jail. When Jordan
ing a car with NYPD stickers, Davis, a convicted level 3 advised Pippens that his former girlfriend had begun a
sex offender, was able to lure the child into his car. He relationship with a new man while Pippens was incarcer-
then drove her to an Ardsley motel where he brutally ated, both men immediately went to her apartment, en-
sexually assaulted her before returning her to Brooklyn. tered illegally, and assaulted her new boyfriend, forcing
The District Attorney’s Child Abuse Bureau, the Ardsley him out of the apartment and trapping the woman inside.
Police Department and the NYPD Brooklyn Child Abuse In the apartment, both men raped her and one of the men
Squad worked together in the investigation and prosecu- wrapped a belt around her neck and pulled her around her
tion of Davis. Davis was tried and convicted of kidnap- apartment. The Yonkers Police Department and the Dis-
ping in the second degree, sexual abuse in the first de- trict Attorney’s Sex Crimes Bureau worked together in the
gree, criminal impersonation in the first degree and other investigation and prosecution of both men. In November
related crimes. Notably, Davis was the first defendant in 2007, Pippens and Jordan were tried by two juries, sitting
the County to be convicted of the class A-II felonies of together. After a three week trial, each jury convicted a
predatory sexual assault and predatory sexual assault defendant of numerous counts of rape in the first degree
against a child, laws enacted in 2006. Because he was a and other sexual assault crimes. The defendants, reputed
second child sexual assault felony offender Davis was members of the “Bloods”, received state prison sentences
sentenced to 40 years to life in state prison. of 18 and 20 years, respectively.
VIOLENT FE LONY SCREENING PROTOCOL
n order to enhance the prosecution of violent crimes, the District Attorney established a Violent Felony Screening Protocol in
2007. Under the new protocol, the Deputy Division Chief in the Superior Court Trial Division is responsible to review all vio-
lent felony cases as soon as a defendant is charged in the local criminal court. This review by a veteran trial assistant al-
lows for an immediate assessment of legal and factual issues warranting further action by the police or an assistant district at-
torney to enhance the case. Persistent felony offenders, who face life imprisonment because of three prior felony convictions,
are immediately assigned to trial assistants in the Career Criminal Bureau for prosecution. Violent felony cases that require
special attention, for example, the multiple jurisdiction burglaries involving multiple arresting police agencies or the robbery of
an elderly victim, are assigned to trial assistants in the Major Case Bureau for vertical prosecution. Vertical prosecution, where
one assistant prosecutes a case from beginning to end, ensures that the most experienced prosecutors handle the most seri-
ous cases from police arrest to final disposition. Vertical prosecution also provides victims with a continuity specifically de-
signed to guide them through the formidable criminal justice system.
An example of the value of vertical prosecution is the Michael Castagnozzi case. On May 9, 2007, this defendant forcibly
robbed an elderly couple in their Yonkers home. At the time, the husband was 91 years of age and the wife was 89. In the
struggle with the assailant, the husband was knocked to the floor and sustained a compound fracture to his right shoulder blade.
His health remained compromised for months by this injury. Excellent work by the Yonkers Police resulted in an arrest of
Castagnozzi on May 10, 2007. By May 18, 2007, the case had been screened and a Trial assistant assigned to prosecute the
matter vertically. To accommodate the victims, this assistant met with the victims at their home several times and was continu-
ously available to answer any of their questions. The assistant presented the case to the Westchester Grand Jury, prepared
the indictment, which was filed on June 19, 2007, handled all discovery issues, and on October 4, 2007, voir dired the defen-
dant who pled guilty to the top count of robbery in the first degree. The defendant was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.
Violent crime is certainly traumatic for any elderly victim, and a vertical prosecution provides specialized support and assistance
at every stage of the criminal proceedings to our most vulnerable victims.
People v. Lance Stephens - On October 25, 2006, Stephens People v. Julio Velez - Velez, a persistent violent
waited in the stairwell of an apartment building on North Tenth felony offender, was sentenced in 2007 to 21
Avenue in Mount Vernon as one of his victims entered her resi- years to life in state prison for his conviction of
dence. As she was opening her apartment door Stephens, a vio- burglary in the second degree relating to a 2003
lent predicate felony offender, placed a knife to her throat and home invasion.
demanded money. Stephens then pushed the victim into her On October 27, 2003 at approximately 9:30 a.m.,
apartment, grabbed her roommate and dragged them both into a the defendant, a career burglar, broke into a Cliff
bedroom at knifepoint, threw them on the floor, ordered them not Avenue home in Yonkers and stole several pieces
to look at him and threatened to “kill them.” Stephens then stole of jewelry. An eyewitness, who had observed
several bracelets from one of the victim’s arms, stole additional Velez on the porch of the house, came forward to
jewelry from a jewelry box, took a wallet and then ran out of the police when the victims returned home only to
apartment. discover that they had been burglarized. Yonkers
Responding to a 911 call from the victims, the Mount Vernon po- police lifted a fingerprint from the crime scene and
lice arrested Stephens a few blocks away, after an extended foot ran it through SAFIS (Statewide Automated Fin-
pursuit, during which two officers were injured. Police also found gerprint Identification System). It was matched to
jewelry and wallet in the path of the foot pursuit. Velez when he began serving a 20 year to life
sentence for recent trial conviction of another bur-
Stephens pled guilty to the top count of burglary in the first degree glary of a Yonkers home. The same trial assistant
and sentenced to 10 years in state prison. The case was vertically of the Career Criminal Bureau vertically handled
prosecuted by the Career Criminal Bureau. both cases.
he most significant advancement in law enforcement is the refinement and application of DNA analysis. DNA is one of the
most powerful and reliable evidentiary resources for the just conviction of the guilty and the exoneration of the innocent.
The federal COmbined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national DNA database which maintains DNA profiles from con-
victed defendants, greatly enhances law enforcement’s ability to solve crimes which otherwise would have never been solved.
DCJS maintains the New York DNA databank, which is comprised of data generated from DNA testing conducted pursuant to
national standards by accredited state laboratories. Evidence collected from crime scenes throughout the County is brought to
the Westchester County Laboratory for testing and in the event a DNA profile is developed, the Lab uploads the DNA profile to
CODIS. When a match or “hit” is made, the Lab notifies the Office’s CODIS administrator, an assistant in the Trial Division. The
case is then assigned to a trial assistant to coordinate for prosecution. In 2007, our Office received Laboratory notification of 46
CODIS hits, 25 attributed to burglaries committed in Westchester. One hit in 2007 was for a 1983 cold case homicide (an indict-
ment was filed in 2008). This is more than a 100% increase over the 22 CODIS hits received in 2006.
The increase in the number of CODIS hits experienced by our Office in 2007 is directly attributable to legislation which requires
all defendants convicted of Penal Law felonies and certain enumerated misdemeanors to provide a DNA sample after convic-
tion. In response to the absence of statutory guidelines for the collection of DNA samples, our Office took the initiative to de-
velop a preemptive strategy to ensure that every defendant who is convicted of a designated crime is at some point during the
prosecution of his or her case captured for collection. Working in close collaboration with the WCDOP and the County Depart-
ment of Correction (WCDOC), we have designed a model plan for local collection of DNA, which includes guidelines for collec-
tion to ensure compliance with statutory mandates. The guidelines and procedures we have developed are intended to ensure
that to the fullest extent possible DNA is collected from every defendant who is convicted of a statutorily designated crime, in-
cluding those who because they are not sentenced to probation or incarceration may attempt to evade submission of a DNA
sample. As to this latter category of defendants, the Office has met with judges and court clerks from the 42 Westchester
County local courts, along with representatives of all local police departments, and in collaboration with these agencies, has
established a County-wide DNA local court collection system. Under this system, the local court will mandate, and the local
police agency will collect, DNA samples from all designated defendants immediately after their local court sentence. Our sys-
tem has been used as a model for the state.
As a result of these collaborative effects, every month of 2007, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office proudly held
the distinction of having the highest and most successful DNA collection rate of all District Attorney’s Offices in the State
which participate in “Operation Impact”, a DCJS sponsored multi-agency initiative to reduce violent crime. In total during
2007, DNA samples from over 2,200 defendants were successfully collected in Westchester County and added to CODIS.
People v. Troy Cartwright - In 1993, Troy Cartwright People v. Curtis Palmer - On February 27, 2003, Cur-
stabbed Deborah Cobb, an acquaintance, in her Warburton tis Palmer forcibly broke into an apartment in Mount
Avenue, Yonkers apartment over thirty times and sliced her Vernon and stole a VCR from the home. Mount Vernon
throat. Cartwright fled the state and was convicted in Vir- police officers collected samples of blood stains from a
ginia shortly after the Yonkers murder on unrelated charges. window frame and from a typewriter in the bedroom. It
Because of his Virginia conviction, his DNA profile was in is not unusual for burglars to cut themselves on broken
CODIS through the Virginia DNA database. glass during a forcible entry. The blood samples were
This fourteen-year-old homicide was solved by tenacious brought to the Lab and a DNA profile was developed
police work by the Yonkers Police, including a re- and uploaded to CODIS.
examination of the evidence collected at the crime scene Shortly thereafter the Lab notified our Office of a CODIS
and, upon a CODIS hit, after DNA analysis by the West- hit. A court ordered buccal swab taken from the defen-
chester County Forensics Lab of blood evidence found at dant’s mouth confirmed his DNA matched the evidence
the scene. Our Office indicted then extradited Cartwright to at the scene.
Westchester and convicted him of the murder of Ms. Cobb
after a jury trial. In 2007, Cartwright was sentenced to 22 After a jury trial, Palmer was convicted of burglary in the
years to life in state prison for his conviction of murder in the second degree and on November 29, 2007, was sen-
second degree. tenced to 8 years in state prison.
THE JEFFREY DESKOVIC /STEVEN CUNNINGHAM CASES
As we have learned, DNA is not only a useful tool in the successful prosecutions of criminal offenders and the punishment of
the guilty, it is also an invaluable means by which to ensure no person is wrongfully convicted of a crime he or she did not
commit. Our Office in collaboration with the Westchester County Laboratory proactively and affirmatively uses CODIS to sub-
mit DNA profiles in old cases where a defendant has been convicted and where unidentified DNA evidence still exists. The
protocol is to submit a newly developed DNA profile to CODIS as if the case was being prosecuted today. One such cold
case review led to the true identity of the murderer for a crime for which an innocent man was wrongly convicted in 1990.
On a Wednesday afternoon, November 15, 1989, after attending classes at Peekskill High School, a 15-year-old female stu-
dent went into a wooded area near the Hill Crest Elementary School to take nature photographs. On Friday, November 17,
1989, her body was discovered by the Peekskill Police, who searched the area after a missing person report was filed by her
family. The victim had been raped and battered; she had sustained severe blunt force trauma to her head; and she had been
Jeffrey Deskovic, a 16-year-old classmate of the victim’s, was tried and convicted of her murder in 1990 even though the evi-
dence at trial was unrefuted that the DNA profile developed from the semen found on the victim’s body excluded Deskovic.
Sixteen years later, in 2006, my Office requested re-examination of the DNA evidence by the Westchester County Forensic
Lab under a cold case review. Fortunately, the lab had maintained the forensic evidence from the homicide. A DNA tech-
nique (Short Tandem Repeat or “STR”), which was not available in 1989, was utilized to develop a new DNA profile from
swabs taken from the victim’s body. The DNA profile was uploaded to CODIS and a match was made to Steven Cunningham,
a man serving 20 years to life for the 1993 Peekskill murder of his girlfriend’s sister.
When these CODIS results were obtained, my Office immediately moved for the release of Jeffrey Deskovic from prison. On
the People’s motion, the indictment against him was dismissed.
On March 14, 2007, Steven Cunningham pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree and admitted to fracturing the vic-
tim’s skull and strangling her during a rape. On May 2, 2007, Cunningham was sentenced to 20 years to life, to be served
consecutively to the sentence he was already serving.
Without the CODIS database, this horrific murder would never have been solved, an innocent man would have remained incar-
cerated, and a killer would have escaped justice. In keeping with this administration’s commitment to the improvement of the
criminal justice system, the District Attorney sought an independent review of the circumstances and events that led to the
prosecution of Jeffrey Deskovic. The District Attorney convened an independent panel of experts comprised of retired Judges
Leslie Crocker Snyder and Peter J. McQuillan, former Richmond County District Attorney William L. Murphy, and Richard
Joselson, Supervising Attorney of the Criminal Appeals Bureau of the Legal Aid Society of New York City, to conduct the in-
quiry and made available all materials and resources necessary for a complete and thorough review. The final report, which
evaluated the performance of the police, prosecutors, the court and defense counsel, was made public on July 2, 2007 and is
available on our Office’s website.
THE SECOND LOOK PROJECT
During 2007, my Office continued its work on the Second Look Project, which I commenced following the events surrounding
the Deskovic case. Two trial assistants have been designated to review case files of murder convictions obtained prior to 2000,
the year when STR DNA testing was the norm in forensic analysis in our cases. The purpose of the review is to determine
whether the DNA technology available today may be meaningfully employed in any particular case. The task is an arduous
one; however, the goal of ensuring that there is no question as to the validity of each and every conviction is paramount.
GANG VIOLENCE/FIR EARMS/NARCO TICS
Developed in direct response to the troubling increase in gun-related crimes in Westchester County, the Office’s Gang Violence
and Firearms Bureau actively coordinates investigations and the dissemination of information across jurisdictional lines relating
to gun possession and gun violence. In its newly formed partnership with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms
(BATF), the Bureau tracks the origin of illegal handguns recovered in Westchester County. In conjunction with the Westchester
County Department of Public Safety’s (WCDPS) Ballistics Unit and the BATF, the Bureau also works to solve seemingly unre-
lated gun crimes by linking shell casings recovered at
crime scenes with guns involved in other incidents
throughout Westchester County. In 2007, these con-
certed efforts led to apprehension and prosecution of
well over 200 individuals for firearms related offenses
in Westchester County.
Increased prosecution and law enforcement efforts,
combined with the District Attorney’s intensive efforts
to heighten public awareness of the increased severity
associated with handgun possession outside of the
home or place of business had led to a significant drop
in the number of weapons recovered in Westchester
County; the number of weapons recovered dropped
25% from 2006 (339) to 2007 (252).
In July 2007, the District Attorney’s Office entered into its fourth year of participation in the “Operation IMPACT” program, a
DCJS sponsored multi-agency initiative whose goal is to reduce violent crime. The success of the first two years of Operation
IMPACT resulted in the expansion of the program from its original member jurisdiction of Yonkers to Mount Vernon and, by the
third year, to White Plains, Greenburgh, and New Rochelle.
The fourth year of the IMPACT program saw the implementation of weekly meetings of field intelligence officers held at the
District Attorney’s Office. Representatives from each member agency, together with representatives from the NYS Depart-
ments of Parole, WCDOP and WCDOC, the County and State Police, and federal law enforcement agencies met to review
notable incident reports and share information obtained by the member agencies during the preceding week. This sharing of
information has been instrumental in the identification and location of gang members and the prosecution of both violent and
non-violent crime within the member jurisdictions and elsewhere.
In addition to the “Ceasefire” initiative, which is highlighted below, other collaborative efforts conducted in 2007 under the aus-
pices of IMPACT 4 included coordinated warrant sweeps in Yonkers and Mount Vernon, which resulted in the arrest of 66 of
the most notorious and violent felons wanted on warrants in those cities, as ranked by the respective police departments.
Also in 2007, and into 2008, the member police agencies and our Office worked closely with the Department of Parole and
WCDOP in monitoring the more violent felons under post-release supervision. Vigilant and proactive monitoring significantly
increased the detection of violations of probation or parole committed by some of the more troublesome repeat offenders. In
addition, cooperation with the federal Department of Homeland Security resulted in the identification, arrest, and deportation
of 16 Yonkers gang members in 2007. Traditional undercover narcotics investigations conducted in Yonkers and Mount
Vernon during IMPACT 4 led to the arrest of 44 drug dealers during the course of two drug sweeps. The Mount Vernon and
NYS Police Departments have continued their partnership in Blue/Grey patrols for the purpose of expanding uniform pres-
ence in high incidence areas. Greenburgh and White Plains have adopted a similar approach to increase a uniformed pres-
ence in high crime areas near their jurisdictional borders. All arrests generated from Operation IMPACT are monitored by the
District Attorney’s staff.
In the advent of the establishment of the field intelligence officers network, the opening of the INTEL center (discussed below)
and the increased opportunities for statistical crime analysis, the current focus of IMPACT 4, leading into IMPACT 5, is to
identify the type and location of the most pressing crime problems in each jurisdiction and to tailor an effective strategy to
combat that problem. For instance, based upon an analysis of current statistics involving shots fired, one Police Department
has discovered a high rate of occurrence of “shots fired” in the immediate proximity of various nightclubs during hours of op-
eration. As a result, this police department is formulating an enforcement plan, which will include participation from other city
and state agencies, directed toward the nightclubs. We anticipate that similarly targeted enforcement plans will be created in
other member jurisdictions.
n 2007, the District Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners undertook a cutting-edge initiative to address violent
crime and gang activity within targeted jurisdictions. This initiative, developed by Professor David Kennedy from John Jay
College of Criminal Justice and employed successfully in cities throughout the country, including Boston and Oakland, is
known as “Operation Ceasefire”. By partnering with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and members of com-
munity and social services, the goal of Operation Ceasefire is to utilize peer pressure and group dynamics to quell instances
of violent crime. Based upon the number of reported violent crimes, Yonkers and Mount Vernon were identified as the two
jurisdictions best suited for this initiative.
Through extensive field work and a thorough review of past incidents of violence, individuals are identified based upon their
connection to the groups committing these acts of violence. Members of these groups who are on probation or parole attend
a “call-in” at which representatives from various law enforcement agencies, the community, and social service organizations
let probationers and parolees know they will be held accountable for their actions. These individuals are educated regarding
the impact their actions have on their community and are asked to spread the word among their associates and make it
known that the violence in their neighborhoods must stop. The probationers and parolees who attend are also offered oppor-
tunities, through social service groups, to change their lives and extricate themselves from the violent criminal groups with
whom they are associated.
In order to get the message on the streets before the summer months when there is usually a marked increase in violent
crime, “call-ins” were held during May and June of 2007. In a show of unity designed to underscore the gravity of the mes-
sage being delivered, representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies attended the “call-ins”, including
the District Attorney’s Office, the Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Greenburgh, New Rochelle, White Plains, and Peekskill Police De-
partments, WCDPS, the NYS Police, the FBI, the United States Marshall’s Service, United States Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, WCDOP, WCDOC, the NYS Department of Parole, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
In addition to the Yonkers “call-in”, the Yonkers Police Department and Westhab have been working with 19 of the 26 indi-
viduals who, after attending, made a potentially life-saving decision to avail themselves of the social services provided at the
meeting, including career training and housing.
Operation Ceasefire, in conjunction with other initiatives undertaken by our Office and its partners in law enforcement, has
had an impact on the reduction of violent crime in Westchester County. Just as criminals do not recognize jurisdictional
boundaries, the efforts of law enforcement cannot stop at the borders. The positive effects of collaborative initiatives such as
Operation IMPACT and Ceasefire extend beyond the borders of Yonkers and Mount Vernon and benefit all residents of West-
Statistics generated by DCJS indicate that the total Violent Crime Reduction
number of violent crimes committed with a firearm in Violent Crime Reduction Westchester Impact
the Westchester County “IMPACT” jurisdictions Westchester Impact Police Police Agencies -
dropped 24% from 2006 to 2007. Again, this marked Agencies 2007 Robberies 2007
drop in violent crime can be attributed to increased
prosecution and law enforcement initiatives, as well
increased public awareness regarding the severity of
penalties associated with illegal handgun possession.
GANG RELATED OFFENSES - 12 %
In 2007, the Office prosecuted approximately 150
individuals for gang related offenses. Notable among - 10 %
these cases are: - 5%
People v. Rodney Postell - Rodney Postell, a gang member of the Manhattan Avenue Bloods in Greenburgh, was prose-
cuted and convicted in the shooting of Quentin Pollard. Postell brazenly and wildly fired his gun on a residential street in the
early evening hours, striking his intended target, Pollard, and nearly striking at least one of eight family members inside a
nearby house. One of Postell’s bullets struck Pollard in the leg, causing him to collapse on the sidewalk; another bullet
shattered the window of a house behind the victim, traveled through the living room past two children and their grand-
mother, and lodged itself in the kitchen wall, nearly striking the children’s mother and great-uncle, who were in the kitchen at
the time. Postell was convicted, after trial, of assault in the first degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree, and
was sentenced to serve consecutive terms of imprisonment of 25 years and 3 ½ to 7 years, respectively.
People v. Maurice Frazier - Frazier was also a People v. Jarrod Zanfordino - In February 2006, Zanfordino,
member of the Manhattan Avenue Bloods in a member of the Mount Vernon Bloods, was arrested after he
Greenburgh. In November of 2006, Frazier led was found in possession of a loaded Beretta handgun stolen
police officers from four northern Westchester out of Virginia. As the result of a collaborative investigation
jurisdictions, including Briarcliff Manor, Ossining conducted by the District Attorney’s Office, the Mount Vernon
Village, Ossining Town and New Castle, on a high Police and the WCDPS Ballistics Unit, it was determined that
speed car chase up Route 9 in New Castle. Fail- the gun recovered from Zanfordino had been used in 11
ing to negotiate a turn, Frazier crashed his car and shootings and/or “shots fired” incidents in Mount Vernon. In
fled into the woods off of Stormytown Road. Dur- May 2006, Zanfordino was indicted on three of the eleven
ing the ensuing foot chase, a police officer from incidents. In January 2007, following completion of pre-trial
Ossining Village was physically injured, having hearings, Zanfordino pled guilty to the top count of attempted
broken his ankle in several locations. In Novem- murder in the second degree, as well as assault in the first
ber 2007, Frazier was convicted upon his plea of degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second
guilty of assault in the second degree and sen- degree, and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison.
tenced to 3 ½ in years in state prison.
People v. Jerren Moody - In January 2007, Mount Vernon Police officers responded to the Calabash Bar, where they
found ballistic evidence of a shootout involving the use of a shotgun and handgun. However, no witnesses were discov-
ered and no arrests were made. The following month, Mount Vernon field intelligence officers learned that Jerren Moody,
a leader of the Heights Crew, a “Bloods” street gang set, with a long criminal history, had been involved in the Calabash
shootout. Search warrants were obtained and Moody was arrested. A cooperating witness, who at first withdrew his coop-
eration but was later convinced to go forward, identified Moody as having fired a shotgun at him. In December 2007,
Moody pled guilty to reckless endangerment in the second degree and was turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Cus-
toms Enforcement branch of the Department of Homeland Security (ICE) for deportation proceedings.
In addition to being a model of cooperative law enforcement between local, state and federal authorities, this case deliv-
ered a blow to the “stop snitching” code on the streets of Westchester County when the witness eventually cooperated with
People v. Jose Rodriguez - In July 2005, a collaborative investigation was launched by the District Attorney’s Office, the
Mount Vernon Police, NYS Police with the assistance of the BATF, into the narcotics and gun trafficking activities of Jose
Rodriquez, a Latin King gang associate, in Mount Vernon. The investigation uncovered not only that Rodriguez was trans-
porting guns into Westchester County from Virginia, but during the investigation, Rodriguez sold cocaine to an undercover
officer from NYS Police. In April 2006, Rodriguez was arrested after he returned to NYS from Virginia with a defaced 9 mm.
handgun, two magazines for a MAC 11 semi-auto pistol, two boxes of .45 caliber cartridges and one box of .357 caliber
cartridges. Search warrants were executed for Rodriguez’ residence and vehicles, which led to the recovery of a sawed-off
shotgun, a .40 caliber handgun, a bullet proof vest, and “Dremel” tool (used for grinding off serial numbers). Rodriguez was
convicted, upon his plea of guilty, of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal posses-
sion of a weapon in the third degree. On February 2, 2007, he was sentenced to 8 ½ years in state prison.
In 2007, the Office’s Narcotics Bureau continued its focus on investigating and prosecuting drug dealers who possess fire-
arms, as well as a significant number of gang related drug cases, both of which exemplify the violent nature of the drug busi-
ness. Noteworthy among the Bureau’s initiatives in 2007 was its central role in an extensive undercover operation in
Yonkers which resulted in the apprehension of 40 drug dealers. In addition, the Office, working in close collaboration with the
federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the NYS Police, was successful in dismantling a major crystal meth manufac-
turing lab operating in Northern Westchester. As a result of the Office’s concerted effort to foster inter-agency cooperation
and minimize duplicative investigative efforts by the federal, state and local agencies, we were able to secure the convictions
of over 400 individuals on drug related felonies. In addition, through the Bureau’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, more than one-half
million dollars in drug money was forfeited to the government to be used to further future investigative efforts to reduce crime.
In keeping with the District Attorney’s commitment to reduce crime through prevention and outreach efforts, our Office sup-
ports alternatives to incarceration for those non-violent drug addicted offenders who are in need of treatment in order to
break the cycle of incarceration due to addiction. Accordingly, in 2007, the Office continued its active participation, support
and commitment to the Road to Recovery/Interim Probation Programs and Drug Treatment Court. In 2007, over 50 defen-
dants participated in these treatment programs at the superior court level.
People v. Jesus Gonzalez - Gonzalez was a drug dealer who operated out of his home in Port Chester. Investiga-
tors from our Office, the Port Chester and Greenburgh Police Departments, and NYS Police executed a search war-
rant on the Gonzalez’ home and recovered an Uzi, a .25 caliber gun, $24,000 in cash, and drug records detailing an
extensive narcotics business based in Southern Westchester. On May 8, 2007, Gonzalez pled guilty to the top count
of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and was sentenced to 4 years in state prison.
Drug Treatment Courts: Local Court
In 2007, local drug treatment courts were operating in the City Courts of Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mt. Vernon, White
Plains and Peekskill, and the Town Court of Greenburgh. These courts provide an alternative to incarceration for
defendants convicted of drug or drug related misdemeanor charges by offering participants counseling, education
and treatment. Throughout the six local drug courts, assistant district attorneys serve as an important member of the
“drug court team” which monitors the progress of defendants through the rehabilitation process. Upon successful
completion of the program, provided the initial charge was a misdemeanor, our Office will move for the court to dis-
miss the charges. Where the initial charge was a felony, the defendant, upon successful completion of the drug
court program, may obtain a reduced misdemeanor plea offer with a sentence of a conditional discharge or a term of
probation. The defendant and his attorney are advised by the court of the proposed disposition of his or her case
prior to entering the program. From January 1 – December 31, 2007, 236 new applicants were screened for partici-
pation in the drug court programs, of which 106 were accepted. In total, during 2007, more than 250 defendants
participated in local drug treatment court programs, and 91 defendants successfully graduated.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CHIL D ABUSE AND ELDER ABUSE
When violence hits families, the District Attorney’s Office, working in collaboration with local law enforcement and Child Protec-
tive Services (CPS), responds immediately with a team of specialized prosecutors and trained aides. Crimes against spouses
and other intimate partners, children and the elderly continue to be reported at high numbers throughout the County. In 2007,
the District Attorney’s Office reviewed over 8,000 such reports, thousands of which were eventually prosecuted by this Office.
These cases, which involve the most vulnerable of victims, are vertically prosecuted by assistant district attorneys who special-
ize in domestic violence and abuse.
Because the vast majority of the more than 2600 domestic violence 2007 Domestic Violence Arrests
cases filed in 2007 in Westchester County courts occurred in Yonkers
and Mount Vernon, the Office has reorganized its staff and assigned 1546
specialized prosecutors and aides to work directly in these communities.
In 2007, our Mount Vernon branch, like the Yonkers branch before it,
established a specialized domestic violence team, whereby victims
benefit from on-site interviews and referrals to services within their own
communities. During 2007, 994 domestic violence cases were heard in Felony Charges Misdemeanors Violations
Yonkers City Court and 374 in the City of Mount Vernon Court . The
assignment of specialized domestic violence prosecutors to these
Courts has improved our ability to effectively advocate for appropriate case dispositions and ensure that serious felonies receive
prompt case assessment.
In 2007, a total of 535 child abuse cases, ranging from misdemeanors to felony physical and sexual assaults of children, were
filed in the criminal courts. In addition, seven suspicious deaths of children were investigated in 2007. One involved the brutal
beating death of a one-year-old that led to the filing of an indictment against the child’s father. Two other deaths investigated
proved to have resulted from natural causes.
In cases of elder abuse, funding provided by the Violence Against Women Act supported a dedicated elder abuse team of a
prosecutor and criminal investigator. The team meets with victims in their homes and thereby limit the stress and inconvenience
to sometimes fragile and often homebound victims. In 2007, 141 elder abuse cases were handled by our Office as compared to
93 in 2006.
People v. Robert Heller – Robert Heller and his wife were on their
People v. Yolanda Blackwell - On October 12, 2006, way home from New York City when they took a wrong turn and
Yolanda Blackwell, a pregnant mother of two, sub- ended up on the Tappan Zee Bridge. As they drove over the bridge
merged her 23-month-old son 9 to 10 times in scald- Heller’s wife disclosed that she was planning to end their
ing bath water because she was angry at the baby’s “tumultuous marriage.” Heller grabbed her by the neck and mouth,
father. Yonkers police and Empress Ambulance re- cutting off her ability to breathe or speak, and said “you are not
sponded to the 911 call and found the infant covered going to leave. Your daughter she is not going to see you again....”
with third degree burns to his legs, feet, buttocks and The car crashed into the overpass in Tarrytown and, as his wife
groin area. The child was transported to Jacobi Medi- attempted to run away, Heller caught her, threw her to the ground,
cal Center in the Bronx where he spent approximately punched her in the face and slammed her head repeatedly into the
five weeks in the intensive care unit and endured nu- pavement. With the attack still in progress, NYS Troopers, re-
merous surgeries and skin grafts. Blackwell pled sponding to 911 calls from other motorists, arrived on the scene.
guilty to the top count of assault in the first degree. The victim suffered severe head trauma and underwent weeks of
On October 2, 2007, she received a sentence of 15 medical treatment and rehabilitation. On November 16, 2007,
years in state prison. The court barred her from any Heller pled guilty to attempted murder in the second degree and
contact with the child victim for 28 years. was sentenced to 8 years in state prison.
Bias Crime: People v. Alexander Mitchell, David Bendazu, Joel Lopez, Rodolfo Ponciano and Abraham Ghaly - In 2007,
the Bias Unit of the Trial Division investigated 28 complaints of bias crimes. The most notable case was the prosecution of five
defendants for the June 15, 2006 bias attack on 32-year-old Miguel Vega. Mr. Vega was set upon by this group of young men, a
short distance from the victim’s Yonkers home. The assailants repeatedly stomped, kicked and punched Mr. Vega, causing se-
vere head trauma that resulted in his death at Jacobi Medical Center on the next day. During the crime, Mr. Vega’s wallet and
soda bottle were taken. The reason for this brutal attack -- according to defendant Mitchell’s own words, they wanted to “rob
In May 2007, the major actors, Mitchell and Bendazu both pled guilty to murder in the second degree and robbery in the first de-
gree as a hate crime and were sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison. The remaining three defendants pled guilty to robbery
in the first degree and were sentenced to state prison; Lopez to 5 years; Ponciano to 12 years; and Ghaly to 7 years.
he Public Integrity Bureau was established with a mandate to conduct investigations of public corruption and corruption
within the criminal justice system of Westchester County, including allegations of criminal behavior by public servants in
the performance of their official duties and by persons intimately involved in the working of the criminal justice system,
including police officers, correction officers, special agents, court officers and clerks, prosecutors, attorneys, jurors and judges.
The continued presence of the Bureau has evoked an air of trust and confidence among the public and an associated willing-
ness to report all types of corruption in the public arena. Notably, we have also experienced an increased willingness on the
part of police and other governmental agencies to approach the District Attorney's Office for assistance and cooperation in the
area of public corruption and misconduct. These conditions have enabled the Office to embark upon serious, long-term in-
vestigations into public corruption, both independently and in conjunction with other agencies.
The Bureau also investigates all shootings by police officers that occur in the County. When there is a fatal shooting, the Bu-
reau will conduct an investigation in conjunction with the Office’s Homicide Bureau. These investigations are extremely com-
plex and sensitive, and require the expenditure of considerable time and resources.
In 2007, the Bureau opened 60 new investigations and continued ongoing investigations from earlier years. In 2007, these
investigations resulted in the arrest and prosecution of 40 public officials and/or individuals involved in corruption within the
People v. Shelly Rivera - Shelly Rivera, an attorney admitted to practice law in the State of New York, stole $550,000 in
client funds from her aunt. Rivera traveled to Las Vegas and gambled away most of the stolen funds. On May 30, 2007,
Rivera pled guilty to the sole count of grand larceny in the second degree. On July 11, 2007 she was sentenced to serve
1 to 3 years in state prison. A judgment and order of restitution in the amount of $550,000 was entered for the victim.
People v. Chase Caro - Chase Caro, an attorney admitted People v. Michael Gray and Timothy Connolly - This
to practice law in the State of New York, stole $300,000 from case involved the investigation, arrest and conviction of
two clients and an additional $480,000 from a third client. two Westchester County Correction Officers for their
Caro was convicted, upon his pleas of guilty, of two separate roles in a narcotics distribution ring that operated in the
counts of grand larceny in the second degree. Caro re- metropolitan area, primarily in Westchester and the
ceived concurrent sentences of 3-9 years in state prison. Bronx. In June 2006, Connolly pled guilty to hindering
Judgments and orders of restitution totaling $780,000 were prosecution in the second degree and criminal posses-
entered for his victims. The District Attorney’s Office close sion of a controlled substance, and was sentenced to 5
working relationship with the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Pro- years probation. In March 2007, Gray pled guilty to
tection facilitated payment by the Fund to these three victims attempted sale of a controlled substance in the third
totaling $600,000 in 2007, with an additional $300,000 ex- degree and promoting prison contraband and was sen-
pected to be paid in 2008. tenced to a year in jail. Both officers were fired from
employment with the County.
People v. Kansas Gilleo – A full investigation conducted in 2007 led to the arrest and prosecution of Kansas Gilleo,
a former clerk in the City of Peekskill, for the theft of more than $10,000 in municipal receipts, including cash pay-
ments by city residents for water bills. In January 2008, Gilleo pled guilty to grand larceny in the third degree. She
was sentenced to 5 years probation and has resigned her position with Peekskill.
People v. Ernest Anderton, Anthony Manzo and Denise Dunham - Three employees of the Yonkers Department of
Public Works engaged in a criminal scheme to steal more than $20,000 in fraudulently claimed overtime pay. Following a
full investigation in 2007, Anderton and Manzo pled guilty in January 2008 to official misconduct and were ordered to pay
restitution totaling more than $40,000. Dunham was convicted following a jury trial of two counts of grand larceny in the
third degree and seven counts of falsifying a business record, all felony offenses. All three defendants have since either
resigned their positions or been fired.
CO NSUMER FRAUD AND PROPERTY THEFT
In 2007, the Office committed its High Technology Crimes Bureau and a squad of designated investigators to aggressively
pursue and curb the rising tide of identity theft in Westchester County. Through its sophisticated analyses of computers, tele-
communication systems, and dogged police work, the Office was able to charge dozens of identity thieves in 2007. Some
highlights of the Office’s work include:
People v. Andre Hines, Jerry Diamond, Brandon Brown, Pierre Rene, Tyrone Lee, Carmen Vaz, Debra Fleary, Alicia
Berry and Tara McQueen - In February 2007, the Office, working in collaboration with Mount Vernon, Greenburgh, Yonkers
and NYC police departments, conducted an investigation into an identity theft ring working out of an apartment in Mount
Vernon. Through various leads and surveillance work, investigators quickly learned that the apartment was the hub of an
identity theft ring that targeted dozens of individuals and banking institutions from Westchester County to Long Island. The
investigation culminated in a 45 count indictment against nine individuals, including four men - Hines, Diamond, Brown, and
Rene - who operated the ring out of the Mount Vernon apartment and “recruited” five others to work for them. Two of these
five, Tyrone Lee and Tara McQueen, were bank tellers who used customer information records to identify individuals with
large bank accounts who might not suspect that their personal identification information had been compromised. Armed with
this information, Hines used one of the victims’ identities to obtain credit for the purchase of a Porsche Cayenne. Two other
defendants, Carmen Vaz, and Debra Fleary, who acted as “runners’, were given counterfeit credentials enabling them to as-
sume the identity of female victims and withdraw cash from various accounts in banks located throughout southern West-
chester and the New York City area. Fleary and her cousin, Berry, also used the counterfeit identifications to attempt to ob-
tain consumer credit at a Sears department store. Multiple search warrants were executed in Mount Vernon and New York
City, resulting in the seizure of tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics equipment and other merchandise that were
purchased using credit cards and cash obtained through use of the victims’ stolen identity.
In September 2007, Vaz pled guilty to grand larceny in the third degree and was sentenced to 1-3 years in state prison.
Fleary and Berry pled guilty to grand larceny in the fourth degree and were sentenced to 5 years probation. In October 2007,
Hines, Diamond, Rene and Lee pled guilty to identity theft in the first degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree. Hines re-
ceived a prison sentence of 2-6 years. Diamond received a prison sentence of 3-6 years. Rene and Lee were sentenced to 5
years probation. Brown pled guilty to criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and was sentenced to 5
years probation. Additionally, several of the defendants have been prosecuted by the federal government and other District
CRIMES AGAINST REVENUE PROSECUTION UNIT - CARP
While the vast majority of taxpayers voluntarily and honestly meet their tax obligations, those who do not and those who abuse
and defraud the system deprive all residents of a fair tax system. The District Attorney’s CARP unit works proactively and in
conjunction with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance to investigate and prosecute those who violate tax laws, and to
reclaim the lost revenue from those in noncompliance. CARP investigations focus on individuals, as well as entities, who fail
to report income earned, under report income received, and evade payment of taxes collected on behalf of the State.
In 2007, fourteen new tax investigations were opened. Tax cases prosecuted by the Office during 2007 include: an attorney
who repeatedly failed to file personal tax returns; a former medical group employee who was responsible for collecting insur-
ance co-payments and delivering the monies to the bank, but instead stole approximately $250,000 of the copayments and
never reported this income on personal tax returns; and an electronics retail business corporation which was convicted of
grand larceny in the third degree for failing to forward the appropriate amount of sales tax to the State. The Office’s CARP
Unit was successful in reclaiming approximately $430,000 in lost tax revenue for the State both in actual cash and restitution
When a defendant, who has been released on bail or on his or her own recognizance, fails to appear in court as directed a bail
jumping charge that can carry up to seven years in prison can and will be filed. The harsh reality of bailing jumping is that the
longer a defendant remains a fugitive, the more difficult it becomes to prove the underlying criminal charges in the event he or
she is ever apprehended. Witnesses may disappear or become uncooperative, or may be unavailable for a myriad of reasons,
or their memories may simply fade. The District Attorney has continued her vigilance in filing bail jumping charges and seek-
ing the forfeiture of the bail monies in those cases. In 2007, the District Attorney’s Office filed over 500 bail jumping charges,
sending an uncompromising message to defendants who abscond from court proceedings that their disregard of the judicial
process will not be tolerated.
WHITE COLLAR CRIME
Cases involving complex economic activity, such as consumer fraud, corporate embezzlement, real estate scams, home
repair fraud, economic crimes against the elderly, unemployment insurance fraud and tax crimes, necessarily require a cer-
tain amount of expertise, particularly in the area of analyzing complex business records. Accordingly, the Office maintains
an Economic Crimes Bureau to investigate and prosecute these cases. In 2007, the Bureau prosecuted approximately 30
“white collar” defendants and recouped millions of dollars for the victims.
People v. Rose and Mark Watt - Over a 3 1/2 year period,
People v. Neil Norwood - For approximately 4 ½ years, Rose and Mark Watt, a mother and son, stole approximately
Norwood, a local pharmacist in Tarrytown, filed numer- $387,000 from their mentally ill cousin after his mother died.
ous fraudulent insurance claims with a number of pro- Rose Watt, who had a power of attorney and was the executrix
viders including Medicaid, EPIC, CIGNA and Oxford of her aunt’s estate, stole cash that was left in a bank account
Health Care. In response to a civilian complaint, this for the benefit of her cousin. In addition, she used money from
Office and the NYS Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud the account to pay personal expenses for herself and other
Unit began an investigation, which uncovered fraudulent family members, including the purchase of two mobile trailers,
transactions at two pharmacies, one in Tarrytown and a pizzeria business, as well as food, housing and daycare ex-
another in Sleepy Hollow, both owned by Norwood. penses. Rose and Mark Watt together then proceeded to steal
Norwood employed several tactics to perpetrate the the equity of their aunt’s house, which was mortgage free at
fraud including the shorting of customer prescriptions, the time of her death. Rose Watt allowed the home to be sold
engaging in phantom billing and improperly substituting to and mortgaged by Mark Watt, after which she, Mark Watt
generic medications. His fraudulent transactions totaled and others shared in the mortgage proceeds. On November
over 3 million dollars and put the pharmacies’ customers 21, 2007, both Rose and Mark Watt pled guilty to grand lar-
at medical risk by providing them with less medication ceny in the second degree. They were subsequently sen-
than prescribed by their physician. Norwood pled guilty tenced to 1-3 years in state prison and ordered to pay restitu-
to the top counts of grand larceny in the first degree. tion to the victim. To date, the defendants have paid the victim
On April 24, 2007, he was sentenced to 2-6 years in back $50,000 of the monies they stole and the court has or-
state prison and ordered to pay $3,000,000 in restitu- dered them to surrender $20,000 in bail monies to be used as
tion. additional restitution to the victim.
ORGANIZED CRIME/CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE/AUTO CRIMES
The Organized Crime and Criminal Enterprise Bureau is comprised of two units: the Organized Crime and Criminal Enterprise
Unit and the Auto Crimes Unit. While the primary focus of the Organized Crime and Criminal Enterprise Bureau are proactive
criminal investigations, the Bureau also assists police agencies throughout Westchester County in investigating and solving
crimes where there is a pattern of criminal activity evidencing a possible criminal enterprise directing the activity.
In 2007, the Organized Crime Bureau filed charges against 235 defendants (204 of which were auto crime defendants), filed 12
indictments, obtained 50 felony convictions, and executed 60 search warrants.
One of the most notable cases in 2007 was a year long joint investigation
into a highly sophisticated $ 2,000,000 a week internet gambling ring. The
Harrison Police Department, the DEA, and our Organized Crime Bureau
worked together, employing every investigative tool available, including the
use of over 20 wiretaps (including 3 electronic bugs implanted in vehicles),
resulting in 21 individuals being arrested for their participation at every level
of a sports bookmaking operation. Sixteen of these individuals have been
charged with the felony of enterprise corruption and 14 have been con-
victed of felonies. Numerous search warrants were executed in connection
with the takedown in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut resulting in
the seizure of nearly a million dollars and multiple handguns.
In 2007, the Office’s “Auto Crime Unit”, which works in collaboration with WCDPS, was responsible for the prosecution of
over 200 car thieves. The Unit employs a variety of innovative crime fighting initiatives and techniques to combat auto theft
and has achieved a significant reduction in the number of auto thefts occurring in Westchester County. Some of the Unit’s
programs include: Operation Cyclops and VIN-Etching.
• Operation Cyclops - Under the “Cyclops” initiative, members of the Auto Crimes Unit joined with state and local po-
lice agencies, including the NYS Police, the Yonkers and Mount Vernon Police Departments, to perform road patrols
and static surveillance throughout the County in an effort to recover stolen vehicles. Using a “mobile license plate
reader”, the police are able to instantly capture the image of a license plate and determine whether the plate belongs
to a previously reported stolen vehicle. Using this technology, police are also able to ascertain whether a motor vehi-
cle has a suspended registration, whether it is uninsured, and whether it is suspected of having been involved in a
crime. In the first seven months of 2007, the Auto Crimes Unit conducted four "Cyclops operations", three in the
southern part of the County and one in the northern part of the County. In total, over 20,000 license plates were
scanned, 3 motor vehicles were identified as stolen and recovered, and 18 individuals were arrested.
• VIN-Etching - The Auto Crime Unit also conducts free vehicle identification number (“VIN”) etching for the residents
of Westchester County, in which the VIN is etched onto the vehicle’s window, making that vehicle far less attractive as
a target to car thieves. Last year, the Office held three such events and assisted approximately 100 car owners.
In 2007, the Office’s Environmental Crimes Bureau responded to a variety of emergencies that posed a public safety danger
to the community, such as abandoned chemical sites, significant chemical spills, and abandoned drums suspected to con-
tain hazardous materials. Throughout the year, assistants and our Offices’ investigators participated in and conducted spe-
cialized trainings designed to raise environmental awareness, assist the police in understanding the complexities of environ-
mental investigations, and facilitate communications and interaction with other agencies involved in environmental protec-
tion. This Office also established the Environmental Crime Tips Hotline 866-667-6588 to allow residents to contact our Of-
fice with information regarding any activity affecting the environment that may be illegal. Callers can choose to remain
anonymous and all information offered remains confidential.
U NLICENSED PESTICIDE APPLICATORS/HOME IMPROVEMENT FRAUD STING - Working in conjunction with the
County Consumer Protection Department, the WCDPS and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC), our Office organized an undercover sting operation in 2007 to pursue unlicensed home improvement con-
tractors operating in Westchester County. The sting operation also targeted individuals who engage in pesticide application
who are not licensed by Westchester County or the DEC, and thereby pose a threat to public and environmental safety by
avoiding the strict application and notice requirements imposed by state and county guidelines. Operating from a house in
Yorktown, a WCDPS detective, posing as a home owner, made several calls to contractors and landscapers who advertised
in the Pennysaver and elsewhere, but who were not located in the County database of licensed contractors and pesticide
applicators. A total of 18 individuals were arrested and prosecuted as a result of this sting, including 15 unlicensed home
improvement contractors and 3 unlicensed pesticide applicators.
W ATER TASK FORCE INITIATIVE - The Environmental Crimes Bureau continues to work in collaboration with the
Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH) to test, monitor and survey waterways throughout the
County for any sources of pollution. Using portable testing devices, WCDOH provides the Office with invaluable
background and baseline information regarding these bodies of water.
People v. James Dimopoulos and Bedford’s Best Inc. - The Bedford Diner, owned and operated by James Di-
mopoulos and his company, diverted its septage to a storm drain that ran directly to wetlands adjacent to the Saw
Mill River in violation of the Environmental Conservation Law. In addition, Dimopoulos offered a $1000 bribe to the
NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) inspector who was investigating the septic discharge.
The inspector refused the bribe and alerted the NYCDEP Department of Investigation. Believing that investigators
were the inspector’s bosses, Dimopoulus offered them a bribe as well. This case was prosecuted by our Office in
collaboration with the NYCDEP. On June 14, 2007, following a plea of guilty, Dimopoulos was convicted of giving
unlawful gratuities, and his company, Bedford’s Best Inc., was convicted of introducing hazardous substances into
the sewer system, a felony. Dimopoulos was sentenced to 3 years probation and his company was fined $7,500.
In addition, the entire septic system has been renovated at the defendants’ expense.
PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS
COUNTYSTAT, FIELD INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS, AND THE WESTCHESTER INTELLIGENCE CENTER
During 2007, the District Attorney’s Office, together with other local law enforcement agencies, continued to build an infrastruc-
ture – both human and technological – that this County has not seen before. As part of the Countystat Initiative, the District
Attorney meets on a regular monthly basis with the chief police executives of the six police departments who patrol the jurisdic-
tions responsible for 80% of Westchester’s crime (Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Greenburgh, White Plains, New Rochelle and
WCDPS) to discuss current trends in criminal activity, analyze recent crime statistics, and develop new strategies for combat-
ing crime as a collaborative effort.
The Office also meets weekly with field intelligence officers from the “Countystat” jurisdictions, the Westchester County Jail,
WCDOP, the NYS Department of Parole and federal law enforcement to review all violent and gang related crimes. Informa-
tion developed at these meetings underscores common problems that are driving countywide crime and allows for the develop-
ment of joint strategies to challenge emerging crime trends head-on.
Building on the Countystat Initiative, the District Attorney determined that a central clearinghouse was needed to enhance law
enforcement efforts in Westchester County. Called the Westchester Intelligence Center, its principal mission will be to provide
strategic solutions to prevent and solve crimes through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence from local,
state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the federally funded HIDTA - High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area – pro-
While each of the County’s 43 police departments brings individual strengths to the communities they serve, criminal activity
extends beyond individual localities and political boundaries, impacting neighboring communities. The Center will electronically
connect the District Attorney’s Office with local, state and federal agencies, allowing the departments to share their critical infor-
mation. By analyzing data received, the Intelligence Center will develop in-depth crime analyses, providing the District Attorney
and senior police officials with information to understand Westchester’s crime trends and develop strategies to combat them.
When fully operational the Intelligence Center will have access to millions of records that will be within reach of investigators
within minutes, instead of days or weeks. During 2007, the District Attorney procured space for the Center in a County building
in downtown White Plains, began construction and ordered the required computer hardware and software.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY REENTRY TASK FORCE
The successful reentry into society of formerly incarcerated individuals is a critical component of our efforts to prevent crime by
lowering recidivism. In 2007, with the District Attorney as chair, the newly formed Westchester County Reentry Task Force
began its work. The Task Force, a collaboration of state and local agencies, and the not-for-profit and faith-based communities,
is committed to improving the reentry of released offenders into their communities.
The goal of the Task Force, which conducts bi-monthly meetings, is to assist men and women who have recently been re-
leased from prison and are returning to live in Westchester County, by coordinating the delivery of appropriate supervision and
services by different agencies in a way that overcomes gaps in services that may create barriers to successful reentry into the
The preliminary results of the Task Force’s 2007 start-up year are promising. Of the 85 reentrants accepted into the program,
nearly all were connected to substance abuse or mental health services by the Task Force. Overall, reentrants had lower rates
of re-arrest and parole violation in 2007 than did other Westchester County parolees.
MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM TO INVESTIGATE CHILD ABUSE AND THE CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER
The District Attorney is committed to working as a team with the Department of Social Services (DSS), local police and the
Westchester Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) to investigate child abuse cases. During 2007, CPS services received ap-
proximately 6,000 reports of abuse and neglect. Each of these reports was reviewed by the Office to determine if any involved
crimes against children and whether further police investigation was warranted. To enhance our multi-disciplinary investigation
of these cases, the District Attorney and the County Executive led an effort by DSS, the CAC, the Chiefs and Commissioners of
Westchester’s local police departments, mental health groups and victim advocacy organizations to create the necessary pro-
In 2007, in recognition of Westchester’s development of best practices towards the growth of a Multidisciplinary Team, the Of-
fice of Children and Family Services (OCFS) awarded a grant to our Office for a new child abuse position. This grant allowed
our Office to hire an Investigations Information Coordinator who facilitates the sharing of information among law enforcement,
DSS and the CAC. From September through December 2007, the Investigations Information Coordinator also facilitated 97
single multiagency interviews of child victims consistent with a multidisciplinary approach.
In 2007, we also began the process of obtaining national accreditation of the CAC. The Center functions as the hub of child
abuse investigations. Members of the multi-disciplinary team conduct interviews in a safe, child-friendly environment and,
when necessary, a forensic pediatrician physically examines the child. The CAC has the distinction of being recognized as
one of eight New York Centers of Excellence by the Child Abuse Medical Providers Program.
JOINT ENFORCEMENT TEAM - JET
In November of 2001, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance provided funding to Westchester County to
establish a JET for the apprehension and prosecution of individuals guilty of the crime of non-support of a child. A District
Attorney investigator and prosecutor work in tandem with the Office of Child Support Enforcement to identify persons who
willfully fail to make child support payments. Since the program’s inception, 133 defendants have been prosecuted and
$397,025 has been collected from delinquent parents. During 2007, 14 cases were prosecuted under this program and a
total of $25,477 in arrears was collected.
PROBLEM SOLVING COURTS AND SENTENCING ALTERNATIVES
Crime is often driven by a myriad of social problems ranging from alcohol abuse to mental illness. Rather than adopt a one
size fits all approach, the District Attorney works closely with the NYS Office of Court Administration, WCDOP, and other key
community stakeholders in developing specialized courts and sentencing alternatives targeted at the root causes of criminal
activity. These uniquely tailored approaches incorporate our crime prevention goals into our traditional prosecutorial role.
INTEGRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS
In Westchester, all felony cases involving domestic violence are prosecuted in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court,
which also handles misdemeanors from New Rochelle and White Plains as well as other cities that have overlapping family
court jurisdiction or pending matrimonial cases. In Yonkers, an additional Integrated Domestic Violence Court handles
cases that involve both criminal misdemeanors and family offenses from that city. In both of these specialized courts one
judge presides over all aspects of the family’s case, from custody and child support to criminal assaults. Prosecutors rely
upon sentencing alternatives designed for the dynamics of domestic violence cases, such as batterer intervention programs.
In 2007, the Integrated Domestic Violence Court in White Plains handled 334 cases.
SEX OFFENSE COURT
Launched in 2006, this court promotes best practices in the resolution of sex offenses by dedicating a team comprised of
key stakeholders who have the knowledge and expertise required for prosecuting and managing convicted felony sex of-
fenders who are returned to live in the community. Through this court, victims of sex offenses receive a wide array of ser-
vices from organizations such as Victim Assistance Services, the Victim’s Justice Center of the District Attorney’s Office and
the Mental Health Association.
MENTAL HEALTH COURT
The District Attorney has continued her commitment to the Westchester Mental Health Court, which now serves as a model
for several other counties interested in duplicating the success had here in Westchester County. In this court, our Office
works closely with WCDOP, DSS and the County Department of Mental Health (WCDOMH) to identify appropriate candi-
dates for the court, facilitate the creation and implementation of individualized treatment plans for each defendant, and moni-
tor compliance with the offender’s treatment. The court seeks to implement a meaningful response to the specific problems
posed by defendants with mental illness in the criminal justice system. Only defendants accused of non-violent felonies are
referred to the court. As a long-term goal, the partners in this court seek to meet both treatment needs and reduce recidi-
vism by offenders with mental illness. In 2007, there was a 56% increase in cases referred to the court from 2006.
MADD VICTIM IMPACT PROGRAM
The District Attorney’s Office works closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, WCDOP and the WCDOMH to educate and
illustrate the dangers of drunk driving to those who have been charged with driving while intoxicated in the Westchester
County local courts. The MADD Victim Impact Program combines lectures, video presentations, and personal testimony to
increase awareness of the potential consequences of drunk driving. During 2007, our Office mandated the participation of
2,567 defendants charged with driving while intoxicated, and related offenses, in this program.
TEST TO ELIMINATE SEXUAL TRANSMISSION - TEST PROGRAM
High risk sexual behavior poses dangers to the community at large. Recognizing that individuals who engage in high risk sex-
ual activity may become involved in the criminal justice system, the Office works with the Court and WCDOH to effectuate the
TEST Program. In violation/misdemeanor cases in which defendants have been charged based on their involvement in certain
high risk consensual sexual behavior, the Court, with our Offices’ consent, offers those defendants, through their defense coun-
sel, the opportunity to benefit from a reduced court sentence in exchange for obtaining a voluntary, confidential rapid HIV test
at a DOH Clinic. This rapid HIV testing method allows results and appropriate counseling to be given within minutes after the
testing procedure. In 2007, over 75 individuals were referred by the Westchester County local courts for HIV testing pursuant
to this program.
CRIME PREVENTION AND INITIATIVES
KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE
Foremost among the District Attorney’s crime prevention measures remain her initiatives aimed at keeping children safe. From
our ground-breaking work on the Child Fatality Review Team to our dozens of workshops and community forums aimed at
curbing teen drinking and internet safety, the District Attorney is committed to keeping our most vulnerable residents protected.
CHILD FATALITY REVIEW TEAM - CFRT
In 2006, Westchester County became the fourth county in NYS to establish a state approved CFRT. The District Attorney’s
Office is an integral member of this multidisciplinary effort that endeavors through the study of circumstances surrounding a
child’s death to identify risks to the health and safety of children and prevent future child injuries and fatalities.
Since its formation, the Team has examined all unexplained, unexpected or suspicious child deaths occurring within West-
chester County. Pursuant to the Social Services Law, the Team has focused on child deaths reported to the NYS Central Reg-
ister of Child Abuse and Maltreatment or which occurred while a child or their family was under DSS’ care and supervision.
In 2007, an assistant district attorney and a deputy county attorney assumed the roles of co-coordinators for the Team and, in
that capacity, have led collaborative reviews of nine child deaths. Some of the circumstances the Team reviewed included
accidental deaths due to unsafe sleeping arrangements involving multiple persons in a
bed or the presence of pillows such as semi-circular breast feeding pillows commonly
referred to as a Boppy™, accidental choking on food, drowning in a bathtub, and a
suffocation which occurred while a child was apparently playing in a twin-sized mat-
tress cover. The Team also reviewed the homicide of a one-year-old infant who was
brutally beaten by her father.
For each fatality it reviewed, the Team prepared a detailed written report addressing
the cause and circumstances of the child’s death and the services, if any, provided to
the family by DSS. Since its inception, the Team has written 11 child fatality reports,
each of which received State approval. As of 2007, Westchester County was the only
CFRT in NYS writing its own reports rather than relying upon the State to perform this
important function. OCFS has recognized Westchester County’s CFRT for writing out-
standing reports and has used our Team’s reports as a model for child fatality teams in
Going beyond the statutory mandate of writing child fatality reports for the State, the
Team writes additional reports aimed at educating the public. In 2007, in conjunction
with the District Attorney and the County Executive, the Team launched a widespread multi-media campaign to warn parents
and caregivers about the risk of using mobile baby walkers. For years, pediatricians and child safety experts have been warn-
ing parents not to use them, and yet they remain popular. An informative brochure and flyer, which can be downloaded from
our website, outlines the hazards of walkers and offers some alternatives.
This outreach campaign also educated the public about the problems involved when calling 911 from a cellular phone, includ-
ing the fact that police might not be able to identify the location of the caller. The campaign encouraged calling 911 from land-
lines and explained alternate methods of properly reporting emergencies when using cellular phones.
Finally, the Team also released three independent reports for public consumption, highlighting the risk of suffocation to infants
when sleeping in the same bed with multiple persons.
TRUANCY REDUCTION STRATEGY GROUP
Understanding that a reduction in truancy corresponds to a reduction in juvenile delinquency and/or foster care placement,
representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, Yonkers Police Department, DSS, WCDOP, Family Court and other commu-
nity agencies met as a collaborative group at the Yonkers Board of Education. Together, these partners developed a truancy
reduction strategy targeted at the youngest children attending Yonkers public schools. The new policy fostered early identifica-
tion of absenteeism and aggressive reporting to social services. During the 2007-2008 academic year the program took flight
and there has already been an almost 90% increase in reports of educational neglect in Yonkers. Identifying these at-risk chil-
dren through this active cooperative effort has made it possible to offer the families of these children resources necessary to
keep their children in school and on track with their education.
Involvement of CPS can be one of the most effective ways of preventing crimes against children. Therefore, our Office contin-
ued to work closely with our community partners on training for mandated reporters on how to detect and respond to child
abuse and neglect. Our Office’s 2006/2007 prosecution of a mandated reporter for failing to report a case of suspected child
abuse sent a resounding message to mandated reporters throughout the County regarding the critical importance of their role
in protecting children. In 2005, before this prosecution, reports to CPS totaled 5,080 in Westchester. Following this prosecution,
reports reached record numbers, totaling 5,939 in 2006, and 6,128 in 2007, a 21% increase since 2005.
TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
A study by the Journal of American Medicine found that as many as 20% of high school teens have been physically or sexually
abused by someone they have dated1. To break the cycle of violence and keep our teens out of abusive relationships, our Of-
fice, in conjunction with the NYS Office of Court Administration, commenced the planning of a youthful offender domestic vio-
lence court. Targeting teens who commit misdemeanor domestic violence crimes, the court will be located in the Yonkers City
Court. Adolescent victims will receive immediate referrals and assistance from the District Attorney’s Office with special con-
cern for their age and lack of life experience.
TEEN DRINKING AND DRUG ABUSE
The District Attorney’s Office takes the issue of teen drinking very seriously. Combating it, however, is more than just a law
enforcement issue. As co-chair of the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth, and a member of 16 local com-
munity coalitions, the District Attorney works with parents, students and school officials to better meet the challenge of prevent-
ing underage drinking and substance abuse among young people. In partnership with Student Assistance Services, the Office
participates in “Teens, Drugs and the Law,” a series of parent workshops at which the District Attorney or an assistant district
attorney, a student assistance services representative, a doctor, and a police officer discuss the social, medical and legal con-
sequences of alcohol and drug use.
Recognizing that one of the growing sources of drug abuse by children and teens is the family medicine cabinet, the Office
presented “Parents: Today’s Unsuspecting Drug Dealers,” a workshop for parents of middle and high school students, in an
effort to raise awareness of this danger. In 2007, the Office presented 23 such workshops, and the District Attorney partici-
pated in 8 public forums on teen drinking and drug abuse. These presentations reached approximately 1,500 parents and
Other tools have been enlisted to prevent underage alcohol use. In 2007, 2,500 age calculator
placards, along with a device that detects driver license forgeries, were sent by our Office to all
licensed stores that sell alcohol products in Westchester County to assist these establishments in
insuring that only individuals 21 years old and over purchase alcohol. The placards also plainly let
customers know that the law will be strictly enforced at this establishment.
In an ongoing effort to protect children from becoming victims of internet predators, our Office has conducted internet safety
workshops for parents and middle and high school students. Besides emphasizing the risks associated in posting personal
information or images on social websites, our assistant district attorneys draw upon actual cases prosecuted by this Office to
illustrate the dangers of online predators. Parents are educated about the sophistication and tactics of online predators in their
efforts to contact children and young teens and urged to monitor their children’s online activity. In 2007, the District Attorney
and assistant district attorneys made presentations to approximately 40 groups, reaching over 1400 children and parents on
this important topic.
1Jay G. Silverman, “Dating Violence Against Adolescence Girls and Associated Substance Abuse, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicide,”
Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2001.
PROSECUTORS IN WESTCHESTER SCHOOLS
Our Office maintains an active presence in our community’s schools, with workshops and class discussions for elementary,
middle and high school students. Besides addressing the typical physical, verbal and non-verbal behavior that constitutes
bullying, our “Bullying Prevention” workshops for middle school students now focus on the latest permutation of this age-old
problem, that of cyber-bullying. The sometimes violent real-life repercussions of on-line intimidation and harassment under-
score the importance of this Office’s proactive efforts in this area.
It is well recognized that cruelty to animals is a behavioral indicator of future violence. In a well-received pilot program initi-
ated by the Office, four fifth grade classes, comprised of over 80 students, at Trinity Elementary School in New Rochelle
were taught about animal cruelty. The anti-animal cruelty program was presented in four separate sessions by a multidisci-
plinary team consisting of an assistant district attorney, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a veterinar-
ian. The District Attorney intends to expand this program to additional schools throughout the County.
Assistant district attorneys take our PRO-LAW curriculum into high school classrooms, presenting scenarios involving date
rape, internet crime, narcotics, and police searches, and engaging students in discussions of legal issues. Other assistants
serve as mentors, training high school students for the City of Yonkers “Mock Trial Competition” and the Yorktown “Youth
Court.” In 2007, our Office conducted 426 workshops, reaching approximately 8,800 children and teenagers on these impor-
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGAL PARTNERS
Established as a collaborative effort between the District Attorney’s Office and domestic violence agencies, this partnership
continued to focus on integrating civil and criminal legal issues that impact domestic violence victims by conducting continu-
ing legal education programs. Issues covered included fair housing and ethical dilemmas in the prosecution of a domestic
In 2007, an important initiative that assists undocumented domestic violence victims involved the implementation of new U-
Visa regulations. U-Visas allow victims of certain crimes including, rape, kidnapping and assault to receive authorization to
work and live in the United States when they possess relevant information regarding these crimes and cooperate with the
investigation or prosecution. With our partners at My Sister’s Place, Northern Westchester Shelter, the Empire Justice Cen-
ter, and the Pace Women’s Justice Center, over 60 domestic violence victims received legal assistance in obtaining U-Visa
certifications in 2007. These certifications allow domestic violence victims and their children the freedom to pursue legal im-
migration status in the United States separate and apart from their batterers.
On another front, the District Attorney, Westchester County’s Office of Women, Manhattanville College and the Westchester
County Chiefs of Police Association conducted training for the members of local police departments and other county and
state law enforcement agencies on the recently enacted human trafficking law. This year’s annual conference, entitled
“Police Response to Violence Against Women and Children,” focused on human trafficking and included a lecture by the Dis-
trict Attorney’s Sex Crimes Bureau Chief on the role of police in sex offender management and Megan’s Law. Our partners
continue to build inter-agency relationships to assist victims of human trafficking by providing services to victims that will sup-
port them through the process of a criminal prosecution.
On a day-to-day level, the District Attorney’s domestic violence legal partners ensure that every domestic violence victim re-
ceives access to critical services. Over 2,600 domestic violence cases were handled by the Office in 2007, and in every
case the Office reached out as quickly as possible to each victim to assess the case and conduct safety planning. Each vic-
tim receives information with links to our partners who provide legal services, counseling, housing and advocacy.
PREVENTING GUN VIO LENCE
As of November 1, 2006, anyone who illegally possesses a loaded handgun outside of his or her home or place of business
faces a minimum of 3 ½ years in state prison.
The District Attorney’s support of these tougher penalties is well known. As she has stated, “Illegal handguns are a catalyst
for violence and death. The lives of far too many people for far too long have been damaged by gun violence. In elevating the
penalty for carrying an illegal loaded handgun to a minimum of three and a half years, the message couldn’t be plainer: this
behavior will not be tolerated and if you chose to disregard the law, you will be held strictly accountable.”
In order to promote public awareness of the increased penalties, our Office engaged in an outreach campaign in 2007, focus-
ing on at risk groups and communities to alert them to the new law and its penalties. Called “Easy Choice or Hard Time”, we
distributed 10,000 posters and palm cards throughout Westchester County, assisted by police departments, youth bureaus,
schools, community centers, churches and movie theatres. Additionally, inmates released from the Westchester County
Jail, and defendants placed on probation or parole, were alerted to the new law. To maximize exposure, posters were placed
on over 300 Westchester BEE-LINE Buses and at select Metro-North Railroad train platforms (see cover photograph).
Using the slogan, “Team up Against Violence,” a basketball tournament was organized as a vehicle for engaging young peo-
ple in meaningful dialogue about gun violence. Starting with six local games, and culminating in a championship in May at the
County Center, players were recruited from Ossining, Peekskill, White Plains, New Rochelle, Yonkers and Mount Vernon. With
great pride and admiration for all participants, I attended the championship tournament when trophies were presented to the
winning team of young players.
RO AD TO RECOVERY DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAM
The Road to Recovery (RtR) program provides long-term drug treatment to a defendant charged with a felony crime that is
largely driven by his or her addiction. A participant pleads guilty to a felony, enters in-patient drug treatment for at least nine
months, lives in a halfway house for at least three months and then has supervised living for at least three months. Upon suc-
cessful completion, the defendant is permitted to withdraw his or her guilty plea to a felony, replace it with a guilty plea to a
misdemeanor, and is sentenced to three years probation.
A RtR consortium, consisting of individuals from the District Attorney’s Office, the Legal Aid Society, defense attorneys, Treat-
ment Alternatives to Street Crime (TASC), other treatment providers, WCDOP, DSS, Supervising Judge of the Criminal Courts,
Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) and the Department of Parole, meets quarterly to
discuss ways and means to improve the program. Consortium meetings were held on March 6, June 4, September 17, and
December 10, 2007. Topics discussed included problems participants encountered at the treatment centers, with violations of
their RtR contracts, and VESID (job training) enrollment, as well as provider problems with the application process for DSS
funding. In response, the RtR consortium streamlined the application processes by establishing a direct liaison between the
treatment providers and DSS or VESID.
As a result of these inter-agency efforts, recidivism by drug defendants has decreased and participants have become produc-
tive citizens through treatment without incarceration.
In addition to submitting our own legislative initiatives to the NYS Legislature, our Office maintained an active voice in the Dis-
trict Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY). The District Attorney designated several members of the Of-
fice to serve as her representatives and actively participate on various prime and subcommittees of the DAASNY, including
the influential Legislative Committee, which works to express the collective views of the membership on matters of policy and
legislation to advance the interest of prosecution in NYS.
• HUMAN TRAFFICKING
In 2007, the District Attorney, as a member of the Legislative Committee of the DAASNY, was instrumental in fashioning
what would become the State’s first human trafficking and labor exploitation law. Compelled by studies showing that
over 2,500 children in NYS are exploited each year for purposes of commercial sexual activity, NYS, for the first time,
enacted legislation, modeled after its federal counterpart, specifically penalizing sex trafficking and labor trafficking. In
addition to punishing those who would intentionally advance or profit from prostitution by compelling or inducing their
victims into prostitution, this legislation, effective as of November 1, 2007, provides a mechanism by which victims of
human trafficking may receive assistance and services, and creates a task force to coordinate implementation of the
new laws. In October 2007, in anticipation of the implementation of this statute, the District Attorney co-sponsored a
County-wide law enforcement training program on human trafficking.
• DISSEMINATION OF INDECENT MATERIAL TO MINORS
Also in 2007, the Office played an integral role in the passage of legislation concerning sexual predators on the internet
and a perceived gap in the law. In amending § 235.22  of the Penal Law (“Disseminating indecent material to minors
in the first degree”), the NYS Legislature codified legal arguments made by this Office to the Court of Appeals in People
v. Jeffrey Kozlow, a 2006 case arising out of a sting operation conducted by this Office and involving the defendant’s
on-line sexual entreaties to an investigator posing as a “14-year-old boy”. The new section, which went into effect on
March 9, 2007, serves to finally clarify that the offense of disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree
includes not only the dissemination of offensive images, but any manner of depicting harmful accounts of nudity, sexual
conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, including the use of words and other forms of written communication.
• CYNTHIA’S LAW
In 2006, as part of an integrated response to what is known as “shaken baby syndrome”, which kills or seriously harms
some 1,400 children a year, our Office was instrumental in the drafting and passage of “Cynthia’s Law”, which makes it a
felony offense, entitled reckless assault of a child in the fourth degree, to
cause injury – regardless of intent – by “shaking, slamming or throwing” a
child under the age of 5. The District Attorney wishes to acknowledge that the
adoption of this legislation was a direct result of the tireless efforts of Darryl
Gibbs, who currently serves as a victim’s advocate with the District Attorney’s
Office. Tragically, in 2000, Mr. Gibb’s 8-month-old daughter was killed by a
licensed childcare provider who shook the infant so hard that she sustained
massive brain damage. Mr. Gibbs, who is a retired corrections officer, chan-
neled his grief into an impassioned campaign for the adoption of “Cynthia’s
Law” and is currently pushing for corresponding federal legislation.
People v. William Capone - On March 17, 2007, William People v. Michel Enriquez - In the morning of De-
Capone brought his two-month-old daughter to the pediatri- cember 26, 2006, the Harrison Police Department
cian, complaining that she cries when she is placed on her responded to a call of an infant not breathing. The
back. After observing bruises to the infant’s back, the doctor emergency first responders transported the 5-month-
instructed Capone to bring the child to Maria Farieri Chil- old infant to the hospital, where medical experts, with
dren’s Hospital, where medicals experts, in collaboration the assistance of the forensic pediatrician from the
with the forensic pediatrician from the Children’s Advocacy Children’s Advocacy Center, determined that the in-
Center, discovered multiple rib and skull fractures. The in- fant had sustained brain injuries consistent with
fant’s twin brother was also examined by the forensic pedia- “shaken baby syndrome”. The police investigation
trician from the Children’s Advocacy Center and found to determined that the infant was in the care of his 23-
have multiple rib and skull fractures. The Eastchester Police year-old father, Michael Enriquez, who admitted to the
and our Office’s Child Abuse Bureau began an investigation Harrison police detectives that he was tired from
and charged the father with the assaults of both of his chil- working and became upset when his son would not
dren. Capone was prosecuted under the newly enacted stop crying. Enriquez repeatedly shook his infant son
“Cynthia’s Law” and, on December 12, 2007, pled guilty to and as a result the baby began to have difficulty
the top count of the reckless assault of a child and the at- breathing. Enriquez was prosecuted under the newly
tempted assault in the second degree and assault in the enacted “Cynthia’s Law.” On June 27, 2007, Enriquez
third degree with respect to the female twin. The father is in pled guilty to reckless assault of a child (the top count
a court ordered presentence treatment program. in the indictment) and is in a court ordered presen-
tence treatment program.
WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
LOCAL CRIMINAL COURTS
In 1969, then District Attorney Carl A. Vergari set into motion a plan to bring the District Attorney’s Office out of White Plains
and into the city, town and village courts of the County, by having assistant district attorneys prosecute local criminal court
matters in those courts. Previously, private attorneys were contracted to prosecute in the local criminal courts. Mr. Vergari’s
vision was to establish satellite branch offices around the geographical regions of Westchester so that the District Attorney’s
Office could have a presence in the local communities throughout the County. By decentralizing the District Attorney’s Office,
prosecutors assigned to the branch offices could provide on location training for local police departments, become familiar
with trouble areas in each locality, and be readily available for consultation with community residents.
Over a seven-year period (beginning with the opening of the Yonkers office in January 1971, and culminating with the open-
ing of the Northern Westchester Mount Kisco office in November 1978), eight satellite offices were created to prosecute all
criminal matters in the 42 local courts of Westchester County. The eight branch offices were located in Greenburgh, Mount
Kisco, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Peekskill, Rye Brook, White Plains and Yonkers. In 2007, the Peekskill office was
closed and a new branch office was opened in Yorktown. Thus, starting with the forward vision of one man, former District
Attorney Carl Vergari, almost 40 years ago, the Local Criminal Court Division of the District Attorney’s Office has grown from
1 branch office in Yonkers, staffed by 3 assistant district attorneys, into a network of 8 branch offices, now staffed by 29 as-
sistant district attorneys.
Almost all criminal cases prosecuted by our Office are initially handled by prosecutors in one of the eight branch offices. In
2007, 38,673 cases were prosecuted in the local
city, town and village courts. Of this number, The City of Peekskill informed the District Attorney in 2006 that the of-
31,713 were misdemeanors and violations and fice space occupied in Peekskill would no longer be available in light of
5,554 were felonies. a request to the City of Peekskill by the NYS Office of Court Administra-
tion for additional room to accom-
Community service is at the heart of the profes-
modate Peekskill City Court’s ex-
sional work undertaken by the assistant district at-
pansion plans. In 2007, the Peeks-
torneys in the branch offices. In addition to the kill Branch Office relocated to York-
work done by each assistant in the courtroom, they town Heights. The jurisdictions
teach at local police training programs; provide le- covered by the new Yorktown
gal advice to local police departments; assist in Branch Office did not change, con-
programs for alcoholics, drug users and the men- tinuing to include Peekskill, the
tally ill; and assist citizens in resolving complaints Towns of Cortlandt and Yorktown
before any criminal charges are filed in court. As- and the Villages of Buchanan and
sistants from our branch offices also routinely ad- Croton-on-Hudson. The branch handles over 3,000 cases each year
dress community groups regarding violent crime, and currently staffs three Assistant District Attorneys and support staff.
drug offenses, youth gangs, vandalism and other
local crime issues.
Recognizing the evolving role of a prosecutor, the District Attorney’s Office is com-
mitted to reaching out to the Westchester County community to enhance our crime
prevention and prosecution efforts. This Office seeks to work collaboratively, build-
ing partnerships with government agencies, police, not-for-profit agencies and the
citizens of Westchester. In addition to the presentations discussed above, in 2007,
the Office participated in the countywide National Night Out at Playland, offering a
DWI simulator, the Operation Safe Child identification program, and crime preven-
tion materials to over 250 people; addressed a wide range of audiences, including
parent, business, neighborhood, senior citizen, religious, and veterans groups, on
District Attorney Janet DiFiore, along with topics such as fraud prevention, bias crime, internet safety, and senior citizen
WCDPS Commissioner Thomas Belfiore safety at 110 events in 39 communities; attended 17 fairs and festivals around the
at Rye Playland as they observed the 24th County to distribute crime prevention materials and respond to any questions or
annual "National Night Out" against crime. requests for assistance from the over 3,000 members of the public who attended
THE VICTIMS’ JUSTICE CENTER UNIT
rime affects victims on many levels-physical, emotional, psychological
and financial. The Victims’ Justice Center Unit seeks to help victims cope
with the effects of the crime perpetrated against them and navigate
through the often confusing criminal justice system. The unit is a multilingual
center that helps victims and their families cope with the emotional, physical and
financial impact of crime. The unit provides a wide range of victim services, in-
cluding: information and guidance regarding their rights and safety; assistance in
obtaining reimbursement for lost income, funeral expenses, medical and psycho-
logical expenses and loss of essential personal property; court accompaniment;
placement in shelters; advocacy and referrals to other agencies; multi-lingual
interpreters; free counseling and therapy; crisis intervention; and assistance with Gisela Marin, mother of Jessica Santos,
victim impact statements. The unit also informs victims of NYS’s VINE Program along with District Attorney Janet DiFiore
(Victim Information and Notification Everyday) whereby victims can ascertain reacts to the conviction of Anthony Bur-
prisoner status and release dates of convicted felony offenders in the custody of
ton for manslaughter in the drive-by kill-
the NYS prison system. During 2007, the staff of the Victims’ Justice Center Unit
assisted approximately 5,680 residents who, through no fault of their own, were ing of her daughter in Yonkers.
forced into the criminal justice system.
TRAINING AND EDUCATION
LAW SCHOOL EXTERN PROGRAM
Recognizing the importance of training and mentoring law students pursuing careers in the criminal justice field, on Febru-
ary 27, 2007, the District Attorney’s Office obtained a practice order from the Appellate Division, Second Department, allow-
ing law students, under the supervision of an assistant district attorney, to participate in court calendar parts, pretrial hear-
ings and misdemeanor trials. Before participating in any court proceeding, all participants undergo an intensive training
program at their law school and then shadow and observe the work of assistant district attorneys for several weeks. Last
year, 18 honors externs participated in this program: 17 from Pace Law School and 1 from Brooklyn Law School.
Having learned firsthand the importance and value of a robust internship program, the District Attorney’s Office continued to
devote considerable time, energy and resources to the enhancement of the education of high school, undergraduate and
law students. Through our internship programs, the Office opened the door to the field of criminal justice to 108 students,
representing 18 law schools, 25 undergraduate colleges and universities, and 9 high schools from the Westchester area
and around the world, who in turn provided the Office with approximately 21,120 hours of volunteer work. In Spring 2007, 7
law students, 8 undergraduates and 2 high school students participated in our internship program. Each law student and
undergraduate worked at least 10 hours a week for the academic semester and each high school student worked a mini-
mum of 50 hours. In Summer 2007, we had 34 law students, who worked full time for 8 weeks, 25 undergraduates, who
worked part-time for 8 weeks, and 8 high school students, who worked a minimum of 50 hours. In Fall 2007, we had 21 law
students and 3 undergraduates, each working at least 10 hours a week for the academic semester.
All attorneys admitted to the NYS bar and practicing within the State of New York are required to continue their legal educa-
tion by attending or teaching classes. An accredited provider of continuing legal education classes since March 29, 2002,
this Office provided 26 quality programs in 2007. Lecturers included a Westchester County Court Judge, the Chief Counsel
of the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, and notable law professors and defense attorneys. The classes, organized pri-
marily for the benefit of the members of the District Attorney’s Office, were made available by the District Attorney to attor-
neys from the County Attorney’s Office, the Legal Aid Society and the private bar as well. To address the special needs of
our newly admitted attorneys, the District Attorney’s Office conducted trial advocacy programs involving a series of mock
trials in which local police departments provided officers as witnesses so that the assistants and the police could both prac-
tice their trial skills.
TRAINING OTHER AGENCIES
The District Attorney knows that a well informed community and police force are the primary tools for preventing and suc-
cessfully prosecuting crimes. In recognition of this fact, the District Attorney assigned several assistant district attorneys to
meet with and train residents and police officers about important issues relevant to their concerns.
ANIMAL CRUELTY/ANIMAL FIGHTING SEMINARS
On May 15, 2007 and December 4, 2007, the District Attorney’s Office trained police at the Westchester County Police
Academy on how to identify, investigate, and collect evidence in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. An assistant
district attorney and expert on animal fighting from The Humane Society lectured at these events. Aimed at recent police
academy graduates, the seminars were attended by representatives from 43 police departments.
METHAMPHETAMINE AND CLANDESTINE DRUG LABORATORY AWARENESS SEMINAR
On April 10, 2007, at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, the District Attorney’s Office conducted a free training
seminar that was attended by over 120 area law enforcement and emergency services personnel. Lecturers included Spe-
cial Agents from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team and the chief of
this Office’s Narcotics Bureau. Topics discussed included methamphetamine recognition, abuse, effects and trends; clan-
destine drug lab recognition, dangers, production methods and “first responder” procedures; investigation and prosecution
of clan lab cases; an overview of recently-enacted state and federal laws; methods for dealing with endangered children
found at clan lab sites; clan lab site contamination and remediation issues; and who to contact for clan lab entry, assess-
ment and processing.
GANG VIOLENCE TRAINING
There are approximately 2,200 known gang members identified in Westchester County, and this Office has been able to help
reduce violence among the gangs by providing better intelligence to both local communities and local law enforcement
regarding the operation of gangs and the recognition of gang members by clothing, colors, hand signs, gang terminology, and
graffiti. Through this grass roots approach to education, fewer gang members have been found on the streets openly wearing
In 2007, the District Attorney’s Office presented numerous youth violence trainings as part of this Office’s aggressive initiative
of combating youth violence by joining local, state, and federal law enforcement with schools, community outreach groups and
religious institutions. District Attorney Criminal Investigator Andrew Grascia, a nationally recognized expert in youth violence,
lectured to members of law enforcement and civilians both in Westchester County and across the nation on a wide range of
issues relating to youth violence and gangs, including topics such as “Females and Gangs”, “East Coast Gang Trends”,
“Outlaw Bikers”, and “Prevention and Intervention Strategies and General Gang Identifiers.”
This Office will continue its bifurcated approach to combating gang violence by aggressively pursuing gang-affiliated offenders
and gathering gang intelligence as well as continuing to educate law enforcement and civilians countywide.
UNDERAGE DRINKING PREVENTION PROGRAM
The Office organized two training events designed to reduce the incidence of underage drinking in the County. Both ses-
sions were held at the Westchester County Center and each was attended by over 80 members of the local and county po-
lice agencies. At the first session, held on March 6, 2007, police were instructed how to conduct sting operations using un-
derage undercover operatives, who would attempt to buy alcohol from vendors, including bars, local stores and delicates-
sens. At the second session, held on June 12, 2007, police were instructed on how to recognize false driver’s licenses used
to purchase alcohol. and how to look for and approach house parties where underage drinking may be taking place.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS SERVING THE ELDERLY
Older individuals represent one of the fastest growing populations in the country. Westchester County continues to be
ahead of the curve in proactively addressing the emerging issues in this area. In order to assist seniors who may become
prey to financial scams, neglect or physical abuse, an assistant district attorney serves on the County’s Elder Abuse Coali-
tion. By partnering with outside agencies, this Office is better positioned to reach out to and educate seniors on ways they
can protect themselves from becoming the victims of crime. In 2007, the Office participated in Senior Law Day and other
forums by training senior citizens on the appropriate uses and the perils of powers of attorney, the risks of identity theft
through the mail and internet, the red flags and signs of physical abuse and neglect, and other predatory financial schemes.
Additionally, we worked closely with Adult Protective Services, the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the He-
brew Home at Riverdale, New York, and other service providers to assist at risk seniors in finding temporary emergency
shelter and other interventions. The District Attorney also published an article for practicing attorneys entitled “Prosecuting
and Preventing Elder Abuse” for the Elder Law Attorney of the NYS Bar Association (Spring 2007, Vol. 17, No. 2).
The District Attorney’s Office is funded by the County of Westchester. It is the responsibility of the District Attorney to present
a budget request that is both fiscally responsible as well as practical in terms of allowing this Office to carry out its legal man-
dates. Many of the initiatives and programs outlined in this report have been established and/or continued without a request for
increased funding by utilizing existing staff, federal and state grant funding, and by maximizing existing resources, as well as
by utilizing monies seized from drug dealers and other criminals as part of their criminal enterprises. Although significant in its
own right in terms of actual dollars, the District Attorney’s budget comprises only a comparatively small (under 2%) component
of the overall county budget. The District Attorney continues to work closely with the County Executive, the County Board of
Legislators, and the Budget Department in order to maintain a budget that is both prudent and responsible. In 2007, as in 2006,
the District Attorney’s Office again completed the year under budget and as such was able to return back to the County general
fund significant budget savings totaling over a half million dollars.
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore with representatives of insurance companies as
they received $2,206,416.46 in restitution checks. They had been victimized by Elm Street Medical, a
medical mill fraud enterprise, which operated over a period of approximately five years.
Westchester County District Attorney's Office
Richard J. Daronco Courthouse
111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
White Plains, New York 10601
Telephone (914) 995-3414