Category: Crime & Punishment

DA Hoovler Announces Guilty Plea in Fatal Automobile Collision

October 5, 2017

Kingston Man Pleads Guilty to Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree for Killing 37 Year Old Passenger While Driving Intoxicated and Under the Influence of Marijuana

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Monday October 2, 2017, James Black, 29, of Kingston, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown to Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree, in connection with the death of a 37 year old man who had been a passenger in Black’s pick-up truck on December 22, 2016. At the time Black pleaded guilty, he admitted that he had been driving his pick-up truck on Quaker Street in the Town of Newburgh, at approximately 1:46 pm, when the truck left the roadway and collided into a tree, killing his passenger. It is alleged that Black admitted speeding being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision. The indictment alleged that his blood alcohol content was .19 per centum by weight of alcohol. Black, who also suffered injuries in the collision, was not immediately arrested, and the collision was investigated by the Town of Newburgh Police Department and an Orange County Grand Jury. Under the terms of the plea agreement placed upon the record at the time of Black’s guilty plea he faces up to three and one-third to ten years in state prison when he is sentenced on November 27, 2017.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the Town of Newburgh Police Department for their investigation of the case and Black’s apprehension.

“There is no excuse for driving while intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “Deaths caused by intoxicated drivers are as tragic as they are preventable. Those who drive while intoxicated, place the public, and themselves, at risk of death and other serious harm, and must be dealt with severely. I urge all who are tempted to drive in that condition to consider the consequences; not only of prison, but of knowing that you were solely responsible for the death of an innocent person, or a loved one. I thank the Town of Newburgh Police Department for their professionalism in handling this case and particularly for their working closely with my office in this investigation.”

This case is being prosecuted by Chief Trial Assistant District Attorney John Geidel.

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DA Hoovler Announces Guilty Verdict in Infant’s Death Murder Case

September 26, 2017

District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Verdict in Infant’s Death Murder Case

Jury Finds Father Guilty of Murder in the Second Degree for Killing Seven- Week-Old Infant

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, September 21, 2017, Michael Heil, 27, of Middletown, was found guilty, after a three week jury trial, before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown, of murdering his seven-week-old infant son. The jury found Heil guilty of two counts of Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First Degree, and Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Prosecutors had argued that on August 7, 2016, Heil slammed, severely shook, or threw the baby. The infant lived for about two weeks on life support before succumbing to his injuries. During the trial, nine medical witnesses testified for the prosecution and two experts testified on behalf of the defendant. Prosecutors had argued that the evidence from all the medical experts established that the infant had suffered catastrophic head injuries while being cared for by Heil. According to prosecutors, the evidence established that Heil had subjected his infant son to traumatic head injuries, while the infant’s mother was at work. Prosecutors established, through electronic and social media evidence, Heil’s growing pattern of frustration over the victim’s inconsolable crying as a result of being diagnosed with colic. This pattern continued in the hours and minutes prior to the victim becoming unresponsive. At the trial, Heil argued that the infant’s mother had injured the baby. Heil had been arrested by the City of Middletown Police Department on September 13, 2016.

Heil faces up to twenty-five years to life in prison when he is sentenced on November 16, 2017.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department for their investigation of the case and Heil’s apprehension.

District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Assistant District Attorney Jason Rosenwasser and Assistant District Attorney Janine Kovacs who prosecuted the case.

“There can be no more innocent a victim than an infant, and no greater crime than a father killing his own baby,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The evidence in this case showed that Zachary Heil had suffered brutal injuries, which could only have been inflicted by his own father. The jury rejected the defendant’s attempt to shift the blame to the baby’s grieving mother. In light of all of the circumstances, my office will be recommending that the maximum permissible sentence be imposed upon Michael Heil. I thank the City of Middletown Police Department for their professionalism in handling this case, and particularly for their working closely with my office in the investigation of Zachary Heil’s death.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

District Attorney Hoovler Announces Felony Plea to Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree

September 15, 2017

First Time Orange County District Attorney’s Office Has Obtained Conviction for Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree

Case Prosecuted as Part of the Orange County District Attorney’s
Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on August 29, 2017, Maria Medina, 67, formerly of Wallkill, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill, to the felony of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree. At the time that she pleaded guilty, Medina admitted that she had defrauded at least four different recent immigrants from Mexico and Columbia, making false promises to them that she would be able to expedite changes to their legal immigration status by providing them with United States residency cards, commonly called “green cards.” As part of the plea agreement, Medina agreed to pay $9,350.00 in restitution to the immigrants she had defrauded. Medina acknowledged that she will likely be deported after serving a term of incarceration that may be imposed on her when she is sentenced on October 24, 2017.

Medina’s guilty plea marks the first time that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has obtained a conviction for the felony of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree. The case was brought as part of Orange County District Attorney’s Office Immigrant Affairs Initiative.

In August 2016, District Attorney Hoovler launched a new initiative, designed to assist Orange County’s immigrants in dealing with the criminal justice system. As part of the initiative, the District Attorney’s Office joined the New York State District Attorneys’ League of Immigrant Affairs (DALIA), an organization that comprises six other New York State district attorney’s offices, those in the New York City boroughs of Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as Nassau and Westchester Counties. Under the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative, an immigrant who has been the victim of a crime is able to call the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Coordinator to report the crime, and the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator, in turn, will ensure that the immigrant’s complaint is routed to the prosecution unit within the District Attorney’s Office that is most appropriate to investigate it. Victimized immigrants may report any type of crime, including violent crimes, human trafficking, domestic violence, and frauds. Immigrants who wish to report being the victim of a crime, or who otherwise need assistance in dealing with a criminal case in which they are the victim, or those wishing additional information about the initiative, may contact Counsel to the District Attorney Robert Conflitti, who serves as the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator, by calling (845) 291-2050 or by email to DAImmigrantAffairs@orangecounty.gov.com.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police for their investigation and for the arrest of Medina.

In addition, in June 2017, an Orange County grand jury charged Byron Castillo, 36, formerly of Middletown, with five counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, as a Hate Crime; Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree; and five counts of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree. The case is also being prosecuted as part of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative. It is alleged that Castillo defrauded five recent immigrants from Ecuador, by promising them that their relatives could get United States visas, and by providing them with false visa documents and plane tickets. The indictment alleges that Castillo stole in excess of three thousand dollars from at least five victims, and that he selected his victims in whole or in substantial part because of their national origin. It is alleged that Castillo targeted victims because they were from Ecuador. The targeting of victims because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct, renders some offenses, such as grand larceny, to be designated as hate crimes, and allows for enhanced punishment. If convicted of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, as a Hate Crime, Castillo faces up to five to fifteen years in state prison.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the City of Middletown Police Department are seeking the public’s help in locating Byron Castillo. Anyone with information concerning Castillo’s current location is urged to call Detective Evan Colon at the City of Middletown Police Department, or the Orange County District Attorney’s Office at (845) 291-2050.

The cases against Medina and Castillo are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kerry Kolek.

“Those who think that they can escape arrest or prosecution in Orange County by preying on undocumented immigrants, who may be reluctant to come forward because of their immigration status, are sadly mistaken,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “It is our duty as prosecutors to prosecute every crime, regardless of the citizenship status of the victim. All crime affects everyone in the community, and diminishes everyone’s quality of life. It must be well understood that this Office will not tolerate criminal acts of any type, against any victim, and if an offender selects a victim based on the victim’s race, color, national ancestry, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or identity, or any other constitutionally protected classification, we will prosecute those crimes to fullest extent of the law, and, as appropriate, we will seek enhanced sentences for those acts under New York’s hate crime statutes. We are a nation of immigrants and all of our residents deserve to be free from being victimized by crime. I urge anyone who believes that they or someone they know has been a victim of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud, or any immigrant who has been the victim of a crime, but is reluctant to report that crime for fear of immigration consequences, to contact our Immigrant Affairs Coordinator or any other appropriate law enforcement agency.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DA Hoovler Announces Sentencing of Major Trafficker in Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy Case

September 15, 2017

“Operation Chopper” Targeted Narcotics Distributors and
Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs

Final Defendant Sentenced for Operating as a Major Trafficker

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, August 31, 2017, Miguel Galvan, 37, of Vernon, New Jersey, was sentenced to ten years in state prison and five years post release supervision in connection with his plea the Class A felony of Operating as a Major Trafficker. Galvan was also sentenced to a $30,000 fine in addition and forfeited $25,000 as part of a 13A forfeiture action.

On January 27, 2017, Galvan had pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Craig Stephen Brown. At the time of his plea, Galvan admitted that he was a “profiteer” in that he arranged devised or planned sales of narcotics so as to obtain profits or expects profits and that he possessed, on one or more occasions within six months or less, a narcotic drug with the intent to sell it and such narcotic drug had an aggregate value of $75,000 or more.

On April 28, 2016, members of the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit, in conjunction with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Sussex County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office, executed multiple search warrants and made over twenty arrests throughout Orange County, surrounding counties in New York, and Sussex County, as a result of a seven-month-long narcotics investigation. Law enforcement officials recovered more than two kilograms of cocaine, most of which they seized in Sussex County. The investigation included the use of electronic surveillance, including wiretaps. In addition to uncovering crimes related to narcotics distribution, the “Operation Chopper” investigation also revealed crimes committed by “outlaw motorcycle clubs”.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit and the Sussex County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office for their efforts in this investigation

District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Assistant District Attorney Kerry Kolek who assisted in the investigation of the case and is prosecuting all of the defendants charged in the operation.

Galvan is the third defendant sentenced to ten years in State Prison in connection to the plea to the Class A Felony of Operation as a Major Trafficker as a result of the investigation. The crime, which was passed by the New York State in 2009, is referred to as the “Drug Kingpin Statute” and is reserved for high level drug dealers. The crime has never been charged by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office prior to District Attorney Hoovler taking Office.

“This defendant was a major supplier of the types of narcotics that are destroying the fabric of our society and killing our residents,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “It is only through coordinated law enforcement actions such as “Operation Chopper” that law enforcement is able to pursue those higher level drug dealers and craftier offenders who attempt to insulate themselves from criminal liability by dealing drugs through intermediaries. My office will continue to use every tool at our disposal, including the use of wiretaps, civil forfeiture actions, and utilizing criminal statutes which have never been charged before in Orange County, to go after high level narcotics dealers.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DA Hoovler Announces State Prison Sentences in Drug Distribution Conspiracy Cases

September 15, 2017

One Defendant Sentenced to 9 to 20 Years on Drug Conspiracy Charge

“Operation Family Ties” Targeted Major Narcotics Distributors

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Tuesday September 12, 19, 2017, Lamont Williams, Sr., 43, Mark Robinson, 36, and Steven Reed, 25, all of Newburgh, were each sentenced by Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill to state prison for committing the Class B felony of Conspiracy in the Second Degree. Williams, Robinson, and Reed had been charged in connection the “Operation Family Ties” narcotics conspiracy investigation. Williams, who had pleaded guilty on July 25, 2017, was alleged to have been one of the major leaders of the conspiracy. Williams was sentenced to nine to twenty years in state prison for the charge of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, and nine years in state prison, plus three years post-release supervision, for the crime of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. Robinson, who had pleaded guilty to the charge of Conspiracy in the Second Degree on June 19, 2017, was sentenced to four and one-half to thirteen and one-half years in state prison. Reed, who had pleaded guilty to the charge of Conspiracy in the Second Degree on June 19, 2017, was sentenced to two to six years in state prison.

In May, 2017, an Orange County grand jury had charged 35 defendants with felonies related to conspiring to sell cocaine and heroin, largely in the Newburgh area. The grand jury issued two indictments that alleged the existence of two separate conspiracies to distribute narcotics. The indictments charge Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, as well as other charges.

On March 13, 2017, the New York State Police, the City of Newburgh Police Department, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office executed sixteen search warrants and arrested over thirty individuals on felony charges as part of a nine-month narcotics investigation, dubbed “Operation Family Ties.” The United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Town of New Windsor Police, the Town of Newburgh Police, the City of Port Jervis Police, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance also aided in the execution of the warrants.

The investigation targeted the distribution of heroin, cocaine, PCP, and marijuana in the City of Newburgh and several surrounding towns in Orange County. The investigation began in June, 2016, when the City of Newburgh Police Department and the New York State Police received information about illegal narcotics sales in the area of 170 Carson Avenue in the City of Newburgh.

A number of other defendants have already pled guilty and been sentenced in connection with the enforcement action. In addition to the criminal charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has begun a civil forfeiture proceeding against many of the defendants, in order to seize from them the profits that they have made by illegally selling narcotics. The suit seeks over $3,000,000 in illegally-obtained profits.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Town of New Windsor Police, the Town of Newburgh Police, the City of Port Jervis Police, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division for their efforts in this investigation. District Attorney Hoovler highly commended the New York State Police for their investigation, given the complexity of the case.

Assistant District Attorney Neal Eriksen assisted in the investigation of the case and is prosecuting all of the defendants charged in the operation.

“My office will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies and use every lawful means available, including wiretaps and civil forfeiture, to fight the organized drug conspiracies that are helping to fuel the opioid epidemic,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “Those who think they can make enormous profits off the suffering of people who are addicted to narcotics, and insulate themselves from criminal liability by having others deal narcotics for them are sadly mistaken. ‘Operation Family Ties’ represents the success that law enforcement can have through coordinated efforts to attack high-level drug dealers and offenders who shield themselves from prosecution by dealing drugs through lower-level conspirators. Education and treatment are important strategies to keep people away from drugs, but it is becoming increasingly clear that vigorous law enforcement is necessary to dry up the supply of illegal drugs.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

District Attorney Hoovler Announces Final Guilty Pleas in Drug Distribution Conspiracy Case

July 26, 2017

Defendants Pled Guilty to Conspiracy and Drug Charges

“Operation Family Ties” Targeted Major Narcotics Distributors

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, that several additional defendants have pled guilty before Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill to conspiracy and drug charges, in connection the “Operation Family Ties” narcotics conspiracy investigation. With those guilty pleas, the “Operation Family Ties” prosecution has been concluded, with several other defendants having pled guilty previously.

In May, 2017, an Orange County grand jury charged a number of defendants with conspiring to sell cocaine and heroin, largely in the Newburgh area. The indictments charge Conspiracy in the Second Degree, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, as well as other charges.

On March 13, 2017, the New York State Police, the City of Newburgh Police Department, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office executed sixteen search warrants and arrested over thirty individuals on felony charges as part of a nine-month narcotics investigation, dubbed “Operation Family Ties.” The United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Town of New Windsor Police, the Town of Newburgh Police, the City of Port Jervis Police, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance also aided in the execution of the warrants.

The investigation targeted the distribution of heroin, cocaine, PCP, and marijuana in the City of Newburgh and several surrounding towns in Orange County. The investigation began in June, 2016, when the City of Newburgh Police Department and the New York State Police received information about illegal narcotics sales in the area of 170 Carson Avenue in the City of Newburgh.

The final pleas in the “Operation Family Ties” prosecution were as follows:

Defendant
Plea Date
Plea Charge
Lamont Williams, Sr.
7/25/2017
Conspiracy 2; Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance 3
Steven Hall
6/29/2017
Conspiracy 2
Corey Arnold
6/20/2017
Conspiracy 4
Sabrina Herring
7/18/2017
Conspiracy 2
Gabriel Richards
6/26/2017
Conspiracy 2
Corey Perdue
7/10/2017
Conspiracy 5; Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3
Joseph Horace
6/21/2017
Conspiracy 2
Ryan Nagle
7/10/2017
Conspiracy 4
William McNeill
6/26/2017
Conspiracy 2
Earnest Washington
7/19/2017
Conspiracy 2

Several of the above defendants are facing significant prison terms, including, in Williams’s case as much as ten to twenty years; and in Hall’s case five to fifteen years. Other defendants are facing shorter incarceration sentences in Orange County Jail and probationary terms.

In addition to the criminal charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has begun a civil forfeiture proceeding against many of the defendants, in order to seize from them the profits that they have made by illegally selling narcotics. The suit seeks over $3,000,000 in illegally-obtained profits.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Town of New Windsor Police, the Town of Newburgh Police, the City of Port Jervis Police, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division for their efforts in this investigation. District Attorney Hoovler highly commended the New York State Police for their investigation, given the complexity of the case.

Assistant District Attorney Neal Eriksen assisted in the investigation of the case and is prosecuting all of the defendants charged in the operation.

“Organized drug conspiracies are helping to fuel the opioid epidemic,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “making enormous profits off the suffering of people who are addicted and can’t help themselves. ‘Operation Family Ties’ represents the success that law enforcement can have through coordinated efforts to attack high-level drug dealers and offenders who shield themselves from prosecution by dealing drugs through lower-level conspirators. Education and treatment are important strategies to keep people away from drugs, but it is becoming increasingly clear that vigorous law enforcement is necessary to dry up the supply of illegal drugs. We will use every lawful enforcement tool in our toolkit, including wiretaps, civil forfeiture, and creative charging, to fight illegal narcotics dealers.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

District Attorney David M. Hoovler and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Announce Guilty Plea in City of Newburgh Embezzlement Case

July 26, 2017

Former City of Newburgh Comptroller Pleads Guilty to Grand Larceny for
Stealing Money Collected from City Boat-Launch

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that, John Aber, 49, of Staten Island, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill, to Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, for having stolen money while he was the Comptroller of the City of Newburgh. At the time he pleaded guilty, Aber admitted that between August 2013 and December 2016, he used his position as City Comptroller to steal money collected from boat-launch fees in the city of Newburgh.

Aber is scheduled to be sentence on September 14, 2017. Aber agreed prior to being sentenced to pay restitution to the city of Newburgh in the amount $9,570.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Newburgh Police Department for their investigation, and the arrest of Aber. In addition, District Attorney Hoovler thanked Comptroller DiNapoli’s office, which collaborated in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Kerry Kolek, Nicolas Mangold and Steven Goldberg. The Comptroller’s investigation was led by his Division of Investigations.

“There is simply never an excuse for an official to steal public money,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “The City of Newburgh Comptroller was entrusted with these funds, so that they could be used for the benefit of the City. The abuse of that trust which resulted in him converting the funds to his own use is a serious matter. My office will continue to prosecute any theft of public monies. I thank the City of Newburgh Police Department for their investigation and the arrest of John Aber. I also thank the Office of the New York State Comptroller for their help in this case and look forward to continuing to work with Comptroller DiNapoli to ensure that no other monies are missing and that appropriate safeguards are put in place to deter this type of crime in the future.”

“Mr. Aber was entrusted with safeguarding the city’s finances; instead he used his position as city comptroller to enrich himself at the expense of the taxpayers,” DiNapoli said. “I thank District Attorney Hoovler and the City of Newburgh Police for their diligence and commitment to partnering to fight public corruption.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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DA Hoovler Announces Guilty Pleas in Robbery Cases

July 13, 2017

District Attorney’s Office Recommending 15 years in State Prison for Defendants
Who Engaged in a String of Gunpoint Robberies in Middletown and Wallkill

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced today that on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, three defendants pleaded guilty to a string of robberies which occurred in the City of Middletown, and the Town of Wallkill, between August 2016 and February 2017. Tajh Ali-Williams, 17, Kedney Celestin, 18, and Flancy Longuefosse, 17, all of Middletown, each pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Nicholas De Rosa to multiple counts of Robbery in the First Degree, and Robbery in the Second Degree, as well as to one count of Burglary in the Third Degree. At the time that the defendants pled guilty, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office stated that it will be recommending that Ali-Williams and Celestin each be sentenced to fifteen years in state prison, and five years post-release supervision, and that Longuefosse, who was charged with fewer robberies, be sentenced to eight years in state prison, and five years post-release supervision.

Ali-Williams pleaded guilty to seven counts each of Robbery in the First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree, as well as to Burglary in the Third Degree. At the time he pleaded guilty, Ali-Williams admitted that he, and others aiding him, displayed what appeared to be firearms when they committed robberies at: a Popeye’s restaurant in the Town of Wallkill , on August 31, 2016; a Dunkin Donuts store in the Town of Wallkill, on September 11, 2016; a Citgo gas station in the City of Middletown, on November 6, 2016; a Sunoco gas station in the City of Middletown, on November 22, 2016; a Valero gas station in the City of Middletown, on February 7, 2017; a Domino’s restaurant in the Town of Wallkill, on February 16, 2017; and the Sam’s Mart in the City of Middletown, on February 16, 2017. Ali-Williams, Celestin, and Longuefosse each admitted to forcibly breaking into a Nathan’s restaurant in the Town of Wallkill on October 31, 2016.

Celestin pled guilty to six counts each of Robbery in First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree, as well as to Burglary in the Third Degree, and admitted taking part with Williams in the robberies which occurred on August 31, 2016, September 11, 2016, November 22, 2016, February 9, 2017, and the two robberies which occurred on February 16, 2017.

Longuefosse pleaded guilty to three counts each of Robbery in the First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree, as well as to Burglary in the Third Degree, and admitted taking part with Williams, and sometimes Celestin, in the robberies which occurred on August 31, 2016, September 11, 2016, and November 6, 2016.

District Attorney Hoovler commended the City of Middletown Police Department for their investigation and arrests in the case, as well as the New York State Police and the Town of Wallkill Police Department who aided in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jason Rosenwasser.

All the defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on August 30, 2017. The judge stated that notwithstanding the recommendation of the District Attorney’s Office, he will sentence Ali-Williams and Celestin to no more than seven years in state prison and five years post-release supervision, and Longuefosse to no more than five years in state prison and five years post-release supervision.

“Being the victim of a gunpoint robbery is a harrowing and often life-altering experience,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “Those who commit these types of robberies not only terrorize the victims who are present, but all in the community who no longer feel safe where they live, work and shop. This type of armed, violent, street crime deserves a severe state prison sentence, particularly when the crime is repeated on multiple occasions. My office will continue to seek lengthy state prison sentences anytime someone displays what appears to be gun during a robbery.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the St

District Attorney Hoovler Joins Sheriff DuBois to Announce Countywide Public Benefits Fraud Arrests

July 7, 2017

Twenty-Three Defendants Charged with Stealing over $220,000 in Welfare, Food Stamps, HEAP, Child Care and Other Public Assistance Benefits

185 Defendants charged with Welfare Fraud since 2014

Goshen, NY – Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, joined by Sheriff Carl E. DuBois, today announced that twenty-three defendants have been charged with felony charges of Welfare Fraud and Grand Larceny for illegally obtaining over $220,000 in public assistance benefits administered through the Orange County Department of Social Services.

The enforcement action was the result of the collaborative efforts of the Orange County Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney’s Office. During the investigation of the cases, civil investigators of the SIU reviewed files of public assistance benefit recipients suspected of fraud, interviewed those recipients, and forwarded cases to the District Attorney’s Office for further investigation. Investigators from the District Attorney’s Office interviewed many of the recipients before filing charges against them. The fraudulently obtained benefits included Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly called “food-stamps”, Child Care benefits, Temporary Assistance (TA) benefits, and Medicaid benefits. The total amount allegedly stolen from the Orange County Department of Social Services in this enforcement action is $220,572.47.

This public benefits fraud enforcement action is the seventh one since District Attorney Hoovler took office. To date, 185 individuals have been charged with Welfare Fraud as a result of those enforcement actions. The total dollar amount of fraud involved in all those cases is $1,858,195.36. To date, the County has been repaid approximately $529,079.64 by criminal defendants who were charged in the enforcement actions.

Since the actions began in June 2014, the Department of Social Services has also collected $214,201.85 from recipients who voluntarily paid back benefits that they received, but were not entitled to. Those recipients repaid those funds after being contacted by the Department of Social Services civil investigators, without any additional arrest or prosecutorial action by the Sheriff’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office. By comparison, in the three years prior to the first enforcement action, the Department of Social Services civil investigators only collected $48,165.061 from similarly situated recipients. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, only $12,127.31 was recovered as a result of welfare fraud prosecutions, and only four defendants were charged. Three prosecutions were brought in 2011, one was brought in 2012, and no prosecutions were brought in 2013 against those who defrauded the Orange County Department of Social Services.

Sandra Bailey, 50, of Newburgh, was charged with Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree for failing to report the income of her husband, this resulted in her receiving SNAP, Medicaid and HEAP benefits that she was not entitled to in an amount exceeding $34,848.

Prisca LaPlante, 52, of Otisville, was charged with Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree and Grand Larceny in the Third degree for falsely certifying that her father was residing at her residence in Otisville, New York, while he actually lived in Haiti. This resulted in her receiving SNAP and Temporary Assistance benefits that her father was not entitled to in the amount of $19,673.

Defendants arrested in the most recent enforcement action include:​

NAME
TOTAL AMOUNT
BENEFIT
AGE
ARREST CHARGES
PLACE OF RESIDENCE
SANDRA BAILEY
$34,848.75
FS, MA,HEAP
50
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
KRISTY BONGERS
(Jesser Ruiz’wife)
$3,496.70
CHILD CARE
35
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
JESSER RUIZ
(Kristy Bongers’husband)
$3,496.70
CHILD CARE
37
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
ORANE BREMMER
$7,298
SNAP
38
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
JENNIFER CINQUEMANI
$5,245.53
SNAP, TA
26
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Monroe
PRISCA LAPLANTE
(Saint Martin Davilmer’s Daughter)
$19,673.00
SNAP, TA
52
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Otisville
ANDREA DAVIS
$6,893.01
CHILD CARE
38
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
ERGAN DZELOSKI
$1,923.65
SNAP, MEDICAID
26
Welfare Fraud 4th
Grand Larceny 4th
Middletown
ANA FLORES
$36,378.75
SNAP, TA
26
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
PRINCESS LAMB
$9,722.19
CHILD CARE
27
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Wappingers
MILO MACKEY
$7,096
SNAP, MEDICAID
33
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
SAMANTHA NAPOLI
(Michael Napoli’s wife)
$2,606
SNAP
28
Welfare Fraud 4th
Grand Larceny 4th
Newburgh
MICHAEL NAPOLI
(Samantha Napoli’s husband)
$2,606
SNAP
29
Welfare Fraud 4th
Grand Larceny 4th
Newburgh
LILIAN ORTEGA
$9,551.00
SNAP
33
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
SHARRISE SCARBORO
$5,058
SNAP, PA
40
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Middletown
TACONDRIA DODSON
$25,436.00
SNAP
30
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
JIALIN TIAN
$6,460.00
SNAP
26
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Otisville
NICHOLAS TSATSARON
$1,129.60
SNAP, TA
31
Welfare Fraud 4th
Grand Larceny 4th
Newburgh
NANCY WEISSMAN
$18,531.65
SNAP, TA
37
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh
ANDREA WHITENY
$5,245.64
SNAP, TA
34
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Middletown
FOULICHARD BOYER
$9,517
SNAP,CHILD CARE
38
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Newburgh

The District Attorney’s Office and Orange County Sheriff’s Office are asking for the public’s help in locating the following defendants who are currently wanted on arrest warrants:

NAME
TOTAL AMOUNT
BENEFIT
AGE
ARREST CHARGES
PLACE OF RESIDENCE
SAINT MARTIN DAVILMER
(Prisca Laplante’s father)
$19,673.00
SNAP, TA
84
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Haiti
ANNA SHEEHAN
$4,462
SNAP, TA
49
Welfare Fraud 3rd
Grand Larceny 3rd
Walden

District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Orange County Commissioner of Social Services Darcie Miller, and the Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit for their work on these cases, as well as Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois and the investigators in his office, who aided in the arrest of the defendants.

The maximum sentence for the Class D Felonies of Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree is 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

The maximum sentence for the Class E Felonies of Welfare Fraud in the Fourth Degree, and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree is 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

“Stopping the theft of public monies, and recouping public money which has been fraudulently taken, has been a major priority of my Office since I became District Attorney,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “The over one-half million dollars that has been recovered as a result of these enforcement actions can be used to provide public assistance to those who truly need it. I am grateful for the hard work and cooperation of our partner agencies, including the Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit’s and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, as we continue to combat public assistance fraud. We evaluate all of these cases individually, and make appropriate plea offers to lesser offenses if the circumstances warrant it. However, in all cases defendants are not allowed to keep monies that they should not have received in the first place. Public benefits programs are designed to help the truly needy, and to ensure that money remains available to help those in need. Fraud in these programs simply cannot be tolerated.”

Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois stated, “The Orange County Sheriff’s Office continues to partner with the District Attorney and other county agencies in this and other efforts to ensure the proper distribution of benefits to those that are in need, and to arrest those that choose to cheat the system by fraudulent means. The partnership in these investigations is unprecedented and maximizes enforcement efforts put forth.”

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kerry Kolek.

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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District Attorney Hoovler Announces Two Indictments Charging Defendants with Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree-First Cases in Orange County History

June 27, 2017

Two Charged in Unrelated Schemes to Defraud Recent Immigrants by
False Promises of Expedited Immigration Proceedings

First Time an Orange County Grand Jury has Charged the Felony of
Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree

Cases Being Prosecuted as Part of the Orange County District Attorney’s
Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative

District Attorney’s Office and Police Seek Public’s Help in Locating
Defendants and Identifying Additional Victims

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on June 26, 2017, that an Orange County grand jury has charged two individuals with felonies including Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree, for defrauding immigrants with false promises of being able to expedite changes to their immigration status in exchange for money. The cases mark the first time that an Orange County grand jury has charged the felony of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree. Both defendants, whose cases are unrelated to each other, are also charged with Grand Larceny and Scheme to Defraud. The cases are being prosecuted as part of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative.

Byron Castillo, 36, formerly of Middletown, was charged with five counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, as a Hate Crime, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and five counts of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree. It is alleged that Castillo defrauded five recent immigrants from Ecuador, by promising them that their relatives could get United States visas, and providing them with false visa documents and plane tickets. The indictment alleges that Castillo stole in excess of three thousand dollars from at least five victims, and that he selected his victims in whole or in substantial part because of their national origin. It is alleged that Castillo targeted victims because they were from Ecuador. The targeting of victims because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct, renders some offenses, such as grand larceny, to be designated as hate crimes, and allows for enhanced punishment. If convicted of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, as a Hate Crime, Castillo faces up to five to fifteen years in state prison.

Maria Medina, 67, formerly of Wallkill, was indicted by an Orange County grand jury and charged with four counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and four counts of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud in the First Degree. It is alleged that Medina defrauded at least four different recent immigrants from Mexico and Columbia, by making false promises concerning her ability to expedite changes to their legal immigration status by providing them with United States residency cards, commonly called “green cards.”

The case against Castillo was investigated by the City of Middletown Police Department. The case against Medina was investigated by the New York State Police.

Both defendants are currently wanted on arrest warrants issued by Orange County Court in connection with their indictments. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Middletown Police Department, and the New York State Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the defendants. Anyone with information concerning Castillo’s current location is urged to call Detective Evan Colon at the City of Middletown Police Department. Anyone with information concerning Medina’s current location is urged to call the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, at Troop F Headquarters in Middletown. Those with information concerning the whereabouts of either defendant, or anyone who believes that they have also been defrauded, may contact the Orange County District Attorney’s Office at (845) 291-2050.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department and the New York State Police for their investigation of the cases.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kerry Kolek.

In August 2016, Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler launched a new initiative, designed to assist Orange County’s immigrants in dealing with the criminal justice system. As part of the initiative, the District Attorney’s Office joined the New York State District Attorneys’ League of Immigrant Affairs (DALIA), an organization that comprises five other New York State district attorney’s offices, those in the New York City boroughs of Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as Nassau County. Under the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative, an immigrant who has been the victim of a crime is able to call the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Coordinator to report the crime, and the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator, in turn, will ensure that the immigrant’s complaint is routed to the prosecution unit within the District Attorney’s Office that is most appropriate to investigate it. Victimized immigrants may report any type of crime, including violent crimes, human trafficking, domestic violence, and frauds. Immigrants who wish to report being the victim of a crime, or who otherwise need assistance in dealing with a criminal case in which they are the victim, or those wishing additional information about the initiative, may contact Counsel to the District Attorney Robert Conflitti, who serves as the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator by calling (845) 291-2050.

“It is our duty as prosecutors to prosecute every crime, regardless of the citizenship status of the victim,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “All crime affects everyone in the community, and diminishes everyone’s quality of life. Those who think that they can escape arrest or prosecution in Orange County by preying on undocumented immigrants, who may be reluctant to come forward because of their immigration status, are sadly mistaken. It must be well understood that this Office will not tolerate criminal acts of any type, against any victim, and if an offender selects a victim based on the victim’s race, color, national ancestry, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or identity, or any other constitutionally protected classification, we will prosecute those crimes to fullest extent of the law, and, as appropriate, we will seek enhanced sentences for those acts under New York’s Hate Crime statutes. We are a nation of immigrants and all of our residents deserve to be free from being victimized by crime. I urge anyone who believes that they or someone they know has been a victim of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud, or any immigrant who has been the victim of a crime, but is reluctant to report that crime for fear of immigration consequences, to contact our Immigrant Affairs Coordinator or any other appropriate law enforcement agency.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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