Discovery Reform May Be Near

This Newsday opinion piece addresses one part of proposed criminal justice reform in New York – discovery in criminal cases. New York’s discovery rules are indeed behind most of the country and the deck is often stacked against a defendant.

Discovery is the process by which the parties obtain evidence. Of course, one must know the evidence against them to successfully defend against it. While district attorneys in several New York counties provide informal “open discovery,” this is not always the case. Thus, as noted in the article, “many defendants facing criminal charges and their attorneys never see the evidence purportedly gathered — whether good, bad, or questionable.”

This is a problem that must be addressed. Imagine you are sitting in jail on a criminal charge and can’t afford the bail. Let’s say you think you have a defense, but are unsure how it will play out at trial because you have not seen the government’s evidence. You’re offered a plea deal that would see you released. How do you know your chances at trial if you don’t know the evidence? How do you make an informed decision? Many people faced with this problem simply opt for the easy solution-take the plea offer, plead guilty, and get out of jail. Later, when dealing with a collateral consequence of this conviction, regret sets in.

This happens too often in New York and must be fixed. Reforming our discovery rules by mandating the disclosure of all evidence at the very beginning of a criminal case would be a good start.

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Our own David Hammond featured on ABC Nightline

Former U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst Chelsea Manning is continuing to appeal her court martial for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Nightline’s Special Edition-“Declassified: The Chelsea Manning Story” aired in June 2017. Click here to view a clip of the interview!

ABC News Article About Chelsea Manning Case

Strangio noted that while Manning herself has been the key force behind the campaign for her freedom, she was greatly aided by a team who have fought relentlessly, from her court martial attorney, David Coombs, to her appellate team of Nancy Hollander, Vince Ward, and Dave Hammond. Chelsea Manning was released from military prison today after seven years of incarceration at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a free woman after President Obama commuted her sentence three days before he left office. Her imprisonment was longer than any whistleblower in U.S. history. To read the full article on ABC News’ website, click here.

Lawyers discuss possible plea for former OCC cashier suspected of stealing more than $100,000

Syracuse, NY — The lawyer for a former Onondaga Community College employee suspected of stealing from the school over the past decade was in court today to discuss a possible resolution of the case.

Defense lawyer Emil Rossi met with Assistant District Attorney Matthew Dotzler and County Judge Anthony Aloi to discuss the criminal case against Kathleen Kane. Dotzler said the prosecution is looking for a jail sentence and restitution of about $200,000. Kane, 47, of 206 Bennett St., East Syracuse, was arrested last year on four counts each of first-degree falsifying business records and fourth-degree grand larceny.

She is accused of stealing money from students’ payments while she was employed as a cashier in the OCC bursar’s office. The series of charges covers the theft of only $6,527 from April 9 through May 25. But in a statement to authorities, Kane admitted stealing $100,000 to $150,000 since 2003. She told authorities she began stealing at work after being divorced from her husband and falling behind with her bills.

Kane was not present in court today and Rossi declined comment on the specifics of any plea negotiations that took place at the bench with Dotzler and Aloi.

But Dotzler said the prosecution made an offer to have Kane plead guilty to one felony grand larceny charge and one charge of tax fraud to satisfy all charges from the thefts. The prosecution would seek to have Kane sentenced to two consecutive one-year sentences in the Onondaga County Correctional Facility in Jamesville, he said.

He also said authorities believe the total amount of money stolen from OCC to be about $200,000. Any plea deal would include an order for Kane to pay back that money. Kane also would be on the hook for any tax liability stemming from her underreporting her income by not reporting the thefts, the prosecutor said. Aloi adjourned the case to Feb. 13 for a status report from the lawyers.

This article was originally published on, click here to read the article.

Former Raymour & Flanigan accountant admits guilt in theft

Syracuse, NY — A former accountant for the Raymour & Flanigan furniture company admitted his guilt today in the theft of more than $126,000 from the company.

Anthony J. Caruso Jr., 37, of 4396 Princess Path, Clay, pleaded guilty before County Judge Joseph Fahey to a single felony count of second-degree grand larceny. He admitted stealing from the company from November 2010 through November 2011 while employed as an a company accountant.

Although Caruso only admitted to stealing more than $50,000 in entering his guilty plea, he agreed to pay $126,808.03 in restitution.

Because Caruso had made full restitution prior to today’s court appearance, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Dotzler agreed to have Fahey sentence Caruso to a conditional discharge. That means Caruso will avoid any jail time or the need to report regularly to a probation officer. He could have faced up to 15 years in state prison.

Sentencing is set for March 13.

Court papers filed in the case early last year charged Caruso with issuing company checks to fictitious people and then depositing the funds into his own personal banking account.

Court papers also indicated Caruso had been fired by Raymour & Flanigan after being confronted in November 2011 about a problem using company gift cards for his own benefit. A company official told authorities Caruso blamed his problems on gambling.

Caruso and defense lawyer Robert Tisdell left court without comment after Caruso’s guilty plea. Dotzler said the main concern of furniture company officials was to be reimbursed fully as quickly as possible. The prosecutor said he did not know where Caruso obtained the money to pay back.

The original article was published on, to read the article click here.

Furniture maker’s office manager imprisoned for theft

Syracuse, NY – The former office manager for a wood furniture manufacturer in DeWitt was sentenced today to serve two to six years in state prison for stealing more than $260,000 from the company over six years.

Kimberlei A. Senke, 44, of Libby Street, Liverpool, had nothing to say before County Judge Joseph Fahey imposed the sentence.

But the judge bluntly pointed out the least Senke could have done was offer an apology, especially after listening to her former employer talk in court about the impact of the theft on him, his family and the company.

Gregory McCartney, owner and president of Artistry in Wood on Manlius Center Road, appeared to be fighting to maintain control as he told Fahey in court today about the financial and emotional impact of Senke’s thievery.

Senke had been a trusted office manager and friend of his family, McCartney said. Senke was arrested a year ago and accused of stealing more than $260,000 from the company from 2005 through March 2011.

She pleaded guilty Dec. 29 to second-degree grand larceny, fifth-degree criminal tax fraud and workman’s compensation fraud.

Defense lawyer James McGraw noted Senke had paid back $53,000 in restitution to date. But that was not going to keep her from state prison. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Dotzler said that even if Senke had come up with full restitution, she was to be sentenced to serve one to three years in prison. With restitution still unresolved, the deal called for the two- to six-year sentence Fahey imposed, the prosecutor said.

According to Dotzler, Senke did not appear to have a gambling or substance abuse problem to account for the thievery. She was just living above her means and stealing to support that lifestyle, the prosecutor said. McCartney said he had given up pay for a year and a half, used savings and retirement money and laid off employees in order to keep the business alive in the wake of Senke’s thefts. He and his family and his other employees had been exposed to “needless anxiety” and experienced “a deep sense of betrayal” as a result of Senke’s criminal conduct, McCartney told Fahey.

After faulting Senke for failing to apologize, Fahey said the defendant “richly deserved” the state prison penalty he was imposing. Fahey ordered Senke to pay another $211,000 in restitution, plus $11,629 to the New York State Department of Taxation and $26,091 to the New York State Insurance Fund.

This article was originally published on, to view the article, click here.

Former Cicero hotel manager admits stealing more than $50,000 on the job

Syracuse, NY – The former manager of a Cicero hotel admitted in court today to stealing more than $50,000 from her employer over a period of two months in 2010.

Cathaline Aylmer, 40, of Utica, pleaded guilty before Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey to a single felony count of second-degree grand larceny. She admitted stealing from the Days Inn Hotel on Bartel Road in Cicero from June through July 2010.

With the case heading for trial soon, the prosecution agreed to a plea deal calling for Aylmer to be sentenced to five years’ probation. She will be required to pay $48,811.53 in restitution. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Dotzler said that’s to cover the thefts Aylmer committed by taking cash from the hotel and by running up expenses on the corporate credit card.

She also had been accused of stealing supplies from the hotel to try and sell on Craigslist and eBay. But a co-defendant, Brett M. Howard, is being held responsible for paying back about $12,000 in restitution to cover those thefts, Dotzler explained.

Howard, 33, also of Utica, pleaded guilty last year to fourth-degree grand larceny for stealing restaurant supplies and hotel equipment in the rip-off scheme. Authorities have said he is Aylmer’s boyfriend. Aylmer is to be sentenced July 16.

This article was originally published on, to view the full article, click here.