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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NY - Rabbi fit to stand trial for murder

Victor Koltun, 42, a rabbi from Brooklyn

GOSHEN — Murder-for-hire suspect Victor Koltun is once again fit to stand trial, according to the latest psychiatric assessment.

Koltun, 42, a rabbi from Brooklyn, is awaiting trial on charges including first- and second-degree murder in the Nov. 4, 2010 shooting deaths of former Lloyd cop Frank Piscopo, 49, and his nephew, Gerald Piscopo, 28, of Highland. The two men were shot execution-style in a vacant house in the City of Newburgh's Heights area. Two co-defendants pleaded guilty last fall to conspiracy charges and are serving prison terms. Prosecutors say Koltun arranged to meet Frank Piscopo, and then hired the two accomplices as muscle.

Koltun was back in court on Tuesday before Judge Jeffrey Berry, who noted that after a fifth psychiatric exam, the consensus is that Koltun is competent to assist in his own defense.

Senior District Attorney David Byrne said prosecutors accept the results.

Koltun's lawyer, Paul Brite, said his client wishes to dispute the finding, and asked for time to hire his own psychiatrist for an examination. Koltun's family will pay, Brite said.

Because the defendant challenges the competency finding, a hearing will be held to resolve the issue. Berry set a return date of July 5 for the case.

Brite asked the judge if he would order that Koltun be transported to Bellevue Hospital for the private psychiatric exam. Berry said he won't order that unless there is "some cogent reason" the psychiatrist can't travel to Orange County Jail, where Koltun has been held since his December 2010 arrest.

By Heather Yakin - Times Herald-Record

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