Pomona Car Accident Leads to Burglary Arrest
Ramapo Police made an arrest on an outstanding warrant after an accident between a 1993 Nissan operated by Antoinette Collica, 19, of New City, who failed to yield the right of way to a 2012 Honda operated by Kerri Perna, 26, of Pomona. The collision occurred at the Palisades Interstate Parkway Ramp at Route 202 in Pomona at 3:13 p.m. on Thursday, February 7. Upon finding that a passenger in Collica’s vehicle had fled on foot, Ramapo Police and a New York Police K-9 unit conducted a search of the area. About an hour later, police found and arrested the passenger, Austin Reyes, 20, of Pomona, on Camphill Road. Reyes had an active warrant in the Town of Ramapo for charges which included burglary in the third degree, a class D felony, and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, a class A misdemeanor. The warrant was issued as part of an investigation into the burglary of Bais Mikroh in Spring Valley. Reyes was processed at the Ramapo Police Department, arraigned before Judge Simon at the Town of Ramapo Court, and remanded to Rockland County Jail with bail set at $2,500. His first court appearance will be on February 12 at 9 a.m. Following the accident, Collica, who sustained minor injuries, was transported by Spring Hill Ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital. No tickets were issued to her or anybody else at the scene of the accident.

Car and Bus Collide in West Nyack, Injuring Six
An accident at West Nyack Road and Parkway Drive in West Nyack at 8:30 a.m. on February 7 resulted in minor injuries to the passengers of a Rockland Tor Bus and the driver of a 2008 Saturn. According to Clarkstown Police Sergeant Jo Anne Fratianni, the accident occurred when the driver of the Saturn attempted to turn left out of Parkway Drive. The vehicles collided and injured five of the twelve passengers on the bus. The driver of the Saturn was treated for minor back trauma, but no serious injuries were reported. Reports of an initial fuel leak were addressed by the West Nyack Fire Department, which arrived to clean a small amount of spilled motor oil. Hazardous waste cleanup was deemed unnecessary, and no summonses or arrests were made.

Draft 2013-2014 Clarkstown School Budget Includes Property Tax Increase
Clarkstown School District Assistant Superintendent for Business, Facilities and Fiscal Management John LaNave presented a proposed school budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year to the Clarkstown Board of Education on Thursday. The budget would retain a $9 million gap and increase the property tax levy by 4.3 percent, while preventing cuts to current programs and staff. Expenses are expected to rise by $13 million, mainly from pension programs and FICA costs, but the $6.7 million in revenues cannot meet the increase. This leaves $6,301,000 million gap between expenses and revenues which needs to be addressed. In order to close the gap, an unrestricted reserve fund could be used, though LaNave mentioned that this may be subject to restrictions, could deplete the fund, and would only function as a one-time fix. Raising the property tax levy could provide a solution, but would also require an override of the state’s property tax cap. The presentation was a preview for the next fiscal year and does not function as a final proposal. A complete draft budget will be presented to the school board on March 14.

FEMA Buyout for Suffern Residents Announced by Mayor LaCorte, Senator Carlucci
Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte and Senator David Carlucci announced on February 7 that two separate structures containing four homes in Suffern’s Squire’s Gate Community will be subject to a buyout by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Joined by former residents, LaCorte and Carlucci expressed thanks to town and village officials who helped with FEMA’s application process, time and monetary estimates, and coordination with FEMA representatives. The homes, which were severely damaged by Hurricane Irene, were approved for the buyout and will be sold for 75 percent of the fair market value on the day the storm struck, netting a total of $1,084,500.The homeowners had little recourse after their insurance providers rejected their claims, but FEMA guidelines allowed buybacks so long as a property sustained more than fifty percent structural damage. Following abatement, the Village of Suffern plans to remove hazardous materials at the site, demolish what remains of the buildings, and maintain the plot as open space.

Woman Who Died After Late-Term Abortion Identified as White Plains Resident
A woman who died in Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, Maryland on Thursday from complications arising from a late-term abortion was identified as Jennifer Leigh Morbelli, 29, of White Plains, New York. Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek and pro-life organization Operation Rescue both claimed to independently verify Morbelli’s identity. Stanek and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman offered condolences to Morbelli’s family and vowed to continue their efforts to end late-term abortions. Morbelli, a kindergarten teacher, opted to abort when she found out that the fetus had anomalies. She was 33 weeks pregnant when the procedure was performed by Leigh Carhart at Germantown Reproductive Health Services. Police have yet to release an official cause of death, but it is suspected that Morbelli died from internal bleeding. Carhart has been on pro-life activists’ radars since a similar accident in 2005 when he performed a third-trimester abortion on Christin Gilbert, 19, who also died of complications.

Haverstraw Man’s Death Ruled a Suicide
The Rockland County medical examiner ruled on Monday that Jose Minaya, 59, of Haverstraw, died of a self-inflicted stab wound to his upper abdomen. Minaya, who lived at his West Street apartment with his wife and two children, was known to have been prescribed medication for depression. He was discovered by his son, who called police shortly before 1 p.m. The police launched an investigation, interviewing friends and family while the medical examiner pieced together the cause of death. In addition, the examiner tested for the presence of any drugs or alcohol which might have been in Minaya’s system and expect results within a few weeks.

FBI Nets Suspect in Agency-Engineered Bomb Plot
Following a lengthy sting operation, the FBI’s South bay Joint Terrorism Task Force nabbed Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, on February 7 for conspiring to bomb an Oakland, California bank with the “help” of an undercover FBI agent posing as a man with connections to the Taliban and Afghan mujaheddin. The Bureau stated in an official release that Llaneza, an ex-convict who had served a one year sentence for transportation of an assault weapon and possession of a high-volume magazine, wished to pin the attack on anti-government militias, triggering a government crackdown and possible civil war. The target, an Oakland branch of the Bank of America, was chosen by Llaneza due to its high-visibility as a site of protests. The agent provided Llaneza with a fake bomb which they stated was never a threat to the public, a common FBI tactic for terrorism sting operations. Llaneza purchased two cell phones which served as detonators, parked an SUV carrying the bomb, and attempted to detonate it, spurring Federal agents to make the arrest. Llaneza’s next court appearance was scheduled for February 13, 2013 and he was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in an activity to affect interstate commerce. He is being held without bail and if convicted faces a maximum of life in prison.

Police Accidentally Shoot 2 Cars Searching for Alleged Cop-Killer
During a manhunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who stands accused of killing three and injuring two, police mistakenly fired upon two vehicles they believed to be Dorner’s pickup truck, a grey Nissan Titan. David Perdue and his wife Lyzzette Perdue were on their way to the beach early on Thursday when a police car pulled them over and released them. Seconds later, another police car rammed them and opened fire, resulting in no gunshot wounds, but leaving David with a concussion and injured shoulder. Not long before, the LAPD had also mistaken another pickup, a blue Toyota Tacoma occupied by Maggie Carranza and her mother Emma Hernandez, for Dorner’s pickup, opening fire and inflicting non-fatal wounds, with the mother shot twice in the back and the daughter suffering a hand injury from broken glass. The LAPD has issued apologies to the occupants of both vehicles and has vowed to reimburse the parties’ medical expenses. The LAPD also offered the Perdues a rental car and offered to buy back Carranza’s Toyota.

Governor Cuomo Announces $185.8 Million Grant for Health Benefit Exchange Program
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on February 10 the acceptance of a $185.8 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, part of $385 million in federal funds, which will finance the state’s new Health Benefit Exchange Program. The program’s goal is to create a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to find deals on affordable health insurance by creating an “organized marketplace” where individuals, employers, and insurers can interact. The program will function by setting up an electronic system to allow simple online application and enrollment in insurance programs. Application services come complete with customer service and a statewide system of assistors to inform applicants. Extensive marketing and information campaigns will also be organized to raise awareness of the new system, which will accept enrollments for six months starting on October 1, 2013 and will begin coverage on January 1, 2014. Estimates suggest that the program will insure 1 million New Yorkers, including 615,000 individuals and 450,000 small businesses. New York is one of five states to receive a Level Two Exchange Establishment Grant for such a program.

Rockland to Consider Gun Buyback Program
Law enforcement in Rockland County will consider holding a gun buyback program. Rockland Sheriff Louis Falco, who said the department has done it before, is looking into doing it again. “That would take guns that we don’t even know about off the streets which makes the police and law enforcement officials safer as well as the public,” Falco said. Orange County is in the midst of a program with guns being returned to police departments in the three cities. The Orange County program continues through mid-March. (from midhudsonnews.com).

Snowman Fest Brings a Crowd in Orangetown
Orangetown hosted its first ever Snowman Fest at the Orangetown Town Hall on the afternoon of Saturday, February 9, kicking off what Town Supervisor Andrew Stewart hoped to be an annual event. About two dozen residents, mostly families with small children, came out in a foot and a half of snow and took the opportunity to build snowmen complete with scarves, hats, mittens, and other accessories. The event was the first chance that many of the children had to play in the snow and build a snowman. Given the relatively mild impact of the storm on the town, the event was perfectly timed. No power outages were reported in Rockland County as a result of Friday’s snowfall and roads were cleared very quickly, giving families ample opportunity to enjoy the after effects of a big, fresh snowfall.

SEAL Who Killed Bin Laden Unemployed, Uninsured and Denied Pension
In a recent interview with Phil Bronstein of Esquire Magazine, the unidentified Navy SEAL who fired the shot that killed Osama Bin Laden opened up about his post-deployment struggles with personal finances and veterans’ services. The serviceman reported that he left the Navy three years before his pension was set to kick in and was dropped from Tricare, a healthcare plan designated for military members and their families. In effect, not only is he uninsured and without a pension built up through years of service, but his family is also without medical coverage. The SEAL also explained his search for work following his service. He formed a small company with several ex-SEALS, but has found no line of work for the company which provides for his needs while honoring the confidentiality rules Special Forces members are often bound to follow. Though the mission brought national acclaim to his SEAL unit, the man says that given the threat of reprisal from Bin Laden’s sympathizers and the secrecy of the mission, he has no way to benefit from his fame. In response to the interview, the military newspaper Stars and Stripes pointed out that every veteran is eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans’ affairs. Bronstein replied that the former SEAL was unaware of that option and that even if he could receive the aid, it would not cover his family’s healthcare needs.

Wesley Hills Man Accused of Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse
The Rockland County District Attorney is pursuing misdemeanor sexual abuse charges against Isaac Frances, 60, of Wesley Hills, who allegedly kept a woman against her will in a room of his house at Hillside Court. The charges initially included felony acts of sexual abuse and criminal sex acts involving intercourse and oral sex, but these charges were dropped. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe stated that he could not explain why the prosecution is not pursuing more serious charges. Frances’ defense lawyers Kenneth Gribetz and Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg plan to call about a dozen witnesses-including the alleged victim-to argue the acts were consensual. Among the witnesses are two medical doctors who will challenge accounts of the woman’s injuries and character witnesses to testify on Frances’ character. The case is set to begin with opening statements on Wednesday morning, followed by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Dunlap’s presentation of the prosecution’s case. The defense will open its case on Thursday, with testimony expected to end on Friday.

Monsey Accident Damages Hydrant, Prompts Road Closure
An accident in the Village of Monsey on February 12 damaged a fire hydrant and caused flooding which temporarily shut down a section of Viola Road between West Maple Avenue and College Road. The crash occurred when Ephraim Schwartz, 57 of Monsey, was driving his 2004 Lincoln along Viola Road. Another car came into his lane, forcing him off the road and into the hydrant. Though Schwartz was unharmed, the crash damaged the hydrant enough to send a spray of water into the air, showering down on both the road and a local home at 192 Viola Road. United Water, Orange & Rockland, and the Monsey Fire Department appeared on the scene to control the flooding, which shut down the road for two and a half hours. The other car involved in the accident has not been identified and no summons has been issued.

Federal Audit Targets Medicaid as Cuomo Faces $15 Billion Overcharges
Following a finding by the federal government that the State of New York improperly overcharged $15 billion to Medicaid over the course of twenty years to treat developmentally disabled people, Governor Cuomo and the state Department of Health are being pressed to levy more cuts to the state’s Medicaid system. Effective April 1, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut reimbursement rates for several New York facilities, reducing federal Medicare reimbursements by $1.1 billion per year in total. The New York State Department of Health is now under pressure to cut deeper into their healthcare system to cover the loss while also repaying the federal government $15 billion in Medicaid overcharges. The $1.1 billion in annual cuts are likely to be spread across non-related providers. State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson stated that cuts will probably be shouldered by not only developmentally disabled Medicaid recipients, but patients across the board, calling a plan which places the burden on the developmentally disabled alone “draconian.” Though the state Department of Health is looking into ways to avoid the overcharge repayment, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services may withhold $10 billion in Medicaid funding incentives. The incentives were to be given as a reward for state cost-cutting measures, but may now be dispersed only with partial or full reimbursement of the $15 billion. Still, negotiations between state and federal health authorities are ongoing and the situation may be subject to change.

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