Spring Valley, NY - Couple Files Lawsuit Against County for Prosecutorial Misconduct
Spring Valley, NY - A couple is suing the county alleging prosecutorial misconduct over their arrest and indictment on charges of attempting to steal a house from a retired school bus driver.
County Court Judge Victor Alfieri dismissed the charges on Feb. 9, citing “prosecutorial misconduct,” but those words were deleted from an amended ruling filed Feb. 13.
Despite the deletion, Howard Wexler, a Manhattan attorney representing Michael and Chaya Goldstein, said issues remained to be addressed.
“We believe that there was a pattern of wrongdoing throughout the prosecution of this case,” Wexler said of the lawsuit filed.
Craig Brown, a special prosecutor from Orange County, has filed an appeal of Alfieri’s decision.
The appeal is in regard to Michael Goldstein. Alfieri had ruled that there was no evidence of criminality against Chaya Goldstein.
The Goldstein’s lawsuit also names District Attorney Thomas Zugibe; four assistant prosecutors; Venera Held, the retired school bus driver; and her attorney, Ronald DeCaprio of Garnerville.
In part, the lawsuit charges that the Rockland prosecutors “failed to conduct a good faith investigation and willfully ignored the facts demonstrating that (the Goldsteins) had not committed any crime.”
Regarding Held and DeCaprio, Wexler charged that they took actions that caused the Goldsteins to incur “unnecessary legal expenses” to gain control of the property at 60 Decatur Ave.
“I have a client to represent, and I will continue to represent my client regardless of the conduct of the Goldsteins,” DeCaprio said.
Held’s daughter, Donna Held, said her mother had several heart attacks in recent months and underwent bypass surgery.
“They’re saying that my mother never should have defended herself,” Donna Held said of the Goldstein’s lawsuit, which seeks unspecified punitive damages as well as attorneys’ fees.
In dismissing criminal charges of attempted grand larceny, forgery and possession of a forged instrument, Alfieri criticized prosecutors for withholding information about civil court proceedings that upheld Michael Goldstein’s contract to buy the house.
Venera Held, who lives in New City and rented the two-family house to tenants including another daughter, Marie, has insisted that she was tricked into selling the house to Goldstein during a July 4, 2003, meeting in a Monsey bagel shop.
State Supreme Court Justice Alfred Weiner sided with Goldstein, and his rulings have been repeatedly upheld by appeals courts.
Most recently, on June 16, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court ruled that Goldstein was entitled to $3,000 for each month he was denied access to the property, beginning March 17, 2006.
The appeals court also decided that Held did not have the right to cancel Goldstein’s contract.
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