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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rabbi Allegedly Ordered Murder Of Judge

GOSHEN — The judge handling the murder-for-hire case against a Brooklyn rabbi has removed himself from the case — because defendant Victor Koltun apparently tried to get someone to kill the judge, according to court papers.

Koltun, 44, faces first- and second-degree murder charges in the 2010 killings of former Lloyd cop Frank Piscopo, 49, and his nephew, Gerald Piscopo, 28, of Highland. Koltun is charged with hiring two ex-cons to act as gunman and lookout, and luring Frank Piscopo to a vacant house in Newburgh in order to kill him.

The case has been beset by delays; the most recent was due to a federal lawsuit Koltun filed against Orange County Court Judge Jeffrey Berry and police and prosecutors involved in his case, alleging a broad anti-Semitic conspiracy.

But Berry's decision to remove himself from the case had other roots. In his recusal order, Berry spelled out what he and Senior Assistant District Attorney David Byrne had only hinted at in two prior court dates.

"Upon information and belief, defendant solicited another person to effectuate the murder of this Jurist," Judge Berry wrote in the decision Friday. If substantiated, that would be potential impeachment evidence in the first-degree murder trial, and Berry would be "the subject of testimony and/or a potential witness in the Trial of this indictment."

Koltun will appear before the new judge, Nicholas De Rosa, Tuesday. Koltun's lawyer, Glen Plotsky, said there is one hearing outstanding in Koltun's case: to address whether his previous criminal convictions or other acts can be used against him should he testify. Koltun also has a pending motion to represent himself. So far, prosecutors have not filed charges against Koltun related to the apparent attempt to get someone to kill the judge.

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