Tag Archive | "courts"

Castle Hill crack cocaine trade on trial

Three alleged gang members face trial in Bronx Supreme Court for a series of drug crimes in Castle Hill. (CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN, Bronx Ink)

Jury selection continued yesterday for the latest round of a murder and conspiracy case in which prosecutors indicted 25 defendants for a series of crimes related to the crack cocaine trade in the South Bronx. Kalieh McMorris, 23, and two brothers, Khalil Harris, 29 and Shariff Harris, 26, were among the few defendants who did not plead guilty. The three defendants face charges of conspiracy, assault, robbery and murder in Bronx Supreme Court. The court is expected to hear testimony from more than a dozen witnesses in the trial that could last well into December. The prosecution plans to present transcripts from tapped telephone conversations as well as DNA and fingerprint evidence related to the murder of Russell Allen, 24, an alleged drug dealer. Twenty of the original twenty-five defendants pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from a year in jail to 10 to 20 years in prison. McMorris and the Harris brothers pleaded innocent and face at least 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charges against them for conspiracy. Assistant District Attorney Adam Oustatcher said the crimes covered in the indictment began in February 2006, when McMorris allegedly shot two drug dealers at Castle Hill Houses, the same location where Allen was shot dead two years later. Allen’s relatives were in attendance during the jury selection. His cousin, Ashley Jones, said she came to seek justice for her family. “They killed my cousin,” Jones said. “We lost a family member and he’s never going to come back.” McMorris is charged with murder, robbery, assault, conspiring to sell crack cocaine, and using teens under the age of 16 to assist him. Shariff Harris faces robbery, burglary and assault. McMorris’ attorney Cesar Gonzalez said his client should be tried separately from the other defendants, as guilty verdicts against the Harris brothers, who are not charged with murder, might sway the jury on the additional charge against McMorris. “What happens when you knock down one domino?” Gonzalez asked. McMorris’ father, Jude Leon McMorris, said yesterday outside the courtroom that his son was not a murderer and that the DNA and fingerprints would prove that. “He is a good kid,” said Father McMorris, a chaplain at Rikers Island. “He was going to school and doing the right thing. He wasn’t in any gangs.” Father McMorris said his son hadn’t always listened to his parents, but that he had “made peace with God” during the three years he’s spent awaiting trial at Rikers Island, and was well respected there by inmates and guards alike. “He's been planting the seed that gang life is not the right path to take,” Father McMorris said. The case against McMorris and the Harris brothers stems from a six-month wiretapping operation during which 24 lines were tapped and 140,000 phone calls were intercepted. Two more defendants, including a third Harris brother, 28-year-old Hassan, are also awaiting trial. With additional reporting by Steven Graboski

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Pelham Bay landfill lawsuit set for court, The Bronx Times

A lawsuit against the Pelham Bay Landfill by families who claim their children developed cancer because of it, got the okay to fight their case in a court, reports The Bronx Times. The landfill was shut down in 1979, however many continue to claim that contaminated air, soil and groundwater caused leukemia or Hodgkin's disease in their children. The First Department Appellate Division ruled that there is enough evidence for a jury to determine if toxic chemicals have caused cancer in children. No court date has been set yet.

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5 civilians indicted in ticket-fixing case, NY Daily News

A Bronx grand jury has indicted 5 civilians along with 17 cops for the ticket-fixing scandal that has captivated the city, reports the New York Daily News. The civilians are thought to be suspected drug dealers, or those caught doing financial favors to cops involved with the ticket-fixing scandal. Though the grand jury is still sealed, charges against the 22 people in the case are expected to be revealed next week.  

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Man sentenced to 14 years for killing woman with stray bullet, NY1 News

A Bronx man was sentenced to 14 years in jail after a 2009 incident that led to him killing a 92-year-old woman with a stray bullet, reports NY1 News. Jamal Blair, 20, had fired a shot during a fight outside 92-year-old Sadie Mitchell's home in Williamsbridge. The bullet struck her in the back, and she died. Blair had taken a manslaughter deal that helped him evade a 25-year life sentence.

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Tenants sue landlord for moldy building, NY Daily News

Tenants in an East Tremont building announced Thursday that they were suing their landlords over the living conditions in their apartment, reports the New York Daily News. The building at 2097 Webster Avenue, they say, has been plagued by leaks, cockroaches and rats. The tenants are hoping for a Bronx Housing Court to appoint an administrator to manage the building. Housing court judges can appoint private administrators to unsafe buildings under state law.  

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Grand jury to vote in ticket-fixing scandal, New York Times

A Bronx grand jury has begun to vote on whether to bring charges to police officers accused  in the widespread ticket-fixing scandal, reports the New York Times. Amongst those possible facing charges relating to ticket-fixing are 10 officials of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, including as many as seven Bronx precinct delegates and three higher-ranking police union officials from the Bronx. The investigation into the ticket-fixing began almost three years ago, after an officer was caught on wiretap talking about the allegations of ticket-fixing.

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Head of construction coalition facing corruption charges, NY Daily News

The head of the Bronx-based construction coalition, United Hispanic Workers, was expected to be charged Monday after allegedly threatening contractors with violence if they didn't hire his members at job sites, reports the New York Daily News. Chief of the organization, David Rodriguez, and his field director, Daryll Jennings, allegedly strong-armed contractors to hire construction workers from their group, often threatening them with violence and labor unrest, the report says. The United Hispanic Workers was formed in 1982 to advocate for helping members of minorities groups enter into "white dominated building trades."        

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DSK asks court to drop lawsuit, Wall Street Journal

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, has asked a Bronx Court to drop a civil lawsuit filed by hotel maid and Bronx resident Nafissatou Diallo, the Wall Street Journal reports. Lawyers for 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn claim the Frenchman has diplomatic immunity from his former position at the IMF, and has asked the court to dismiss the civil lawsuit filed by the maid after he allegedly sexually assaulted her in May of this year. The original criminal case against Strauss-Kahn was dropped earlier after prosecutors questioned Diallo's credibility.    

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