Rabbi Victor Koltun, with walker, told police on Nov. 6
GOSHEN — No one in the Orange County Court has been put on notice, but murder-for-hire defendant Victor Koltun has indeed hired a new lawyer, that attorney has confirmed.
Koltun, 42, of Brooklyn, is one of three men charged in the Nov. 4 double slaying of former Lloyd police Officer Francis Piscopo, 49, and his nephew Gerald Piscopo, 28, of Highland, at 12 Liberty St. in the City of Newburgh's Washington Heights section.
Koltun and his co-defendants, Frank Lewis, 56, of Brooklyn, and Craig Fennell, 52, of Manhattan, are in the midst of probable cause and statement admissibility hearings in Orange County Court, and Judge Jeffrey Berry has said he wants to start picking a jury for trial next week.
As the hearing started Tuesday, Koltun produced paperwork saying he had retained Brooklyn lawyer Arkady Bukh to represent him.
The court had gotten no notice of appearance from Bukh — required for the change of counsel — and Bukh has not contacted James Winslow, who is representing Koltun.
On Thursday, Bukh told the Times Herald Record that Koltun did, in fact, retain him about two weeks ago to represent him on the murder case and an unrelated money-laundering case in Brooklyn.
Bukh says he'll file his notice of appearance in Orange County within the week. Bukh also said he has been working with Koltun to resolve the case. Who he is dealing with is confidential, he said; and it is not the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
District Attorney Frank Phillips couldn't be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.
Winslow is continuing his trial preparations.
"I still have not been contacted by any counsel saying they've been retained to represent him," Winslow said Friday.
It still remains to be seen whether Koltun will be tried alongside Lewis and Fennell or whether his case will be severed; among the evidence presented in the hearing was a statement Koltun made, — against Winslow's advice — to the prosecutors on Jan. 21, implicating his co-defendants.
Koltun has raised another potential reason for delay: the upcoming Jewish holidays.
Koltun is a rabbi and very observant, Winslow said, and he may ask the judge for an adjournment because of that.
Sukkot begins at sundown Oct. 12 and continues through Oct. 19; Oct. 20 and 21 are Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.
Winslow said Koltun also wishes to make an Oct. 26 appearance in Kings County Supreme Court on the money-laundering case before beginning the murder trial.