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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Judge appoints new lawyer in Brooklyn rabbi's case

GOSHEN — There's a new lawyer assigned — for now — to represent the Brooklyn rabbi who Orange County prosecutors say was the mastermind of a murder-for-hire plot that left two local men dead.

Victor Koltun, 43, is awaiting trial on felony charges including first- and second-degree murder in the Nov. 4, 2010, shooting deaths in Newburgh of ex-Lloyd cop Frank Piscopo, 49, and his nephew, 28-year-old Gerald Piscopo of Highland.

Koltun's co-defendants, two ex-cons from Manhattan and Brooklyn who acted as the lookout and the gunman, pleaded guilty in late 2011 to conspiracy charges for their roles. Since then, Koltun has gone through two lawyers and competency proceedings. For months now, he's been at loggerheads with the second court-appointed lawyer, Paul Brite. Koltun began filing motions on his own: asking Judge Jeffrey Berry to remove Brite and to allow him to act as his own lawyer, and asking that the case against him be thrown out. Last month, Koltun filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Berry, Brite, the district attorney's office and police on the case are part of an anti-Semitic conspiracy to railroad him.

On Tuesday, Koltun was back in Orange County Court, and Berry appointed a new lawyer, Glen Plotsky, to represent Koltun.

Speaking to the lawyers in court, Berry said he can remain fair and impartial in the case, but the lawsuit could create the appearance of impropriety. Berry said he may have to remove himself because of that and the possibility of new charges. He did not elaborate, but said he could potentially be a witness.

Berry will decide June 27 whether he will remove himself from the case, and whether Koltun will be able to represent himself at trial. If Koltun represents himself, Plotsky has the option to decline to be his advisory counsel. Koltun remains jailed in lieu of $1 million cash bail or $5 million bond.

By Heather YakinRecordonline

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