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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rabbi accused of murder back in Orange County Court

GOSHEN — One thousand days after Gerald Piscopo and his uncle were fatally shot in the City of Newburgh, the murder case against the man charged with orchestrating their deaths inched slightly closer to trial on Wednesday.

Victor Koltun, 43, of Brooklyn, faces first-degree murder and other felony charges in the slayings of Gerald Piscopo, 28, of Highland, and Frank Piscopo, 49, a former Lloyd police sergeant.

Two co-defendants, who acted as gunman and lookout, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are serving prison terms. Koltun's case has inched forward in small increments, beset by legal issues.

On Wednesday, Koltun was back in court, with two key matters pending: Whether Koltun will be able to represent himself, as he has requested after burning through two court-appointed lawyers; and whether Judge Jeffrey Berry will continue on the case or recuse himself. 

The latter issue arose because Koltun filed a federal lawsuit claiming a vast anti-Semitic conspiracy against him, naming police officers, District Attorney Frank Phillips, Judge Berry and City of Newburgh Judge B. Harold Ramsey as defendants.

So far, neither judge has been served with papers. On Wednesday, Berry explained in court that Koltun has asked the federal courts to assist with serving the judges.

Judges cannot be served within 1,000 feet of their courthouse.

It appears, Berry said, that the U.S. magistrate who reviewed the request and other papers is going to recommend that Koltun's complaints against both judges be dismissed.

Berry said that doesn't allow him to decide whether he'll keep the case; he referred obliquely to other matters prosecutors are looking into with Koltun.

Berry said Senior Assistant District Attorney David Byrne has informed him that Koltun will be sentenced Thursday in Kings Supreme Court to 11/3 to four years in prison on a grand larceny conviction. Koltun's lawyer, Glen Plotsky, said the Brooklyn judge has ordered that Koltun be returned to Orange County Jail after that sentencing.

The case returns to court on Aug. 28. Berry said if he keeps the case, it will likely go to trial in mid-October.

Read more at Rrecordonline.

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