Five young men, all in their 20s — four cousins and their good friend — went out on a Friday night to celebrate the end of the work week with drinks in a Brooklyn bar. What should have been a good time turned into a nightmare, and they wound up facing charges of Assault in the First Degree, Gang Assault in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and Menacing. What could make this worse? The alleged victims were off-duty policemen and a firefighter, who claimed Mr. Farrell’s client and his friends had stabbed them, beaten them, and smashed a beer bottle over one of their heads!
While the young friends were enjoying their beers at Kettle Black, a popular Brooklyn nightspot, an altercation started, and quickly escalated. Gary’s client, Kevin, a decorated Marine who had volunteered right out of high school, and done two tours of duty in Iraq, was hit over the head inside the bar and looked to be badly injured. His friends tried to help Kevin outside to safety; they were trying to get away from the brawlers. But they were followed, and things got worse.
Mr. Farrell said, “These were serious charges. The fact the uncle of all four cousins was a state senator form Brooklyn meant the DA had to bring in a special prosecutor from Queens. There was a lot of video surveillance inside and outside the bar. Unfortunately, we quickly saw that the video had been tampered with; it failed to show a number of things that we knew to be true. We were able to get to the bottom of that. One of the police officers’ friends, who was also arrested that night, worked for the video company that serviced the bar. He deleted parts that showed that our clients were not the aggressors and were, in fact, trying to get away. Ultimately, we were able to get the original video from the computer and it was helpful to the defense. A case is still pending against the man who tampered with the video. The full video showed that the police officers’ testimony was not consistent with what the jurors could see with their own eyes. They came back in very short order and, as I said at the time, that was pretty telling on how weak the case was.”
State Sen. Golden’s kin beat rap in bar brawl OREN YANIV Friday, March 23, 2012
The nephew of a Brooklyn lawmaker and two of his relatives beat the rap Friday in a bloody bar brawl that injured two cops and a firefighter.Daniel Golden, 25, nephew of state Sen. Martin Golden, and his cousins Kevin Crowley, 25, and John DeCarlo, 24, were all found not guilty of gang assault and other counts following a trial that cast doubt on the accounts of the alleged victims, all of whom were off duty during the 2010 fight.I’m just happy,” Daniel Golden said after the verdict was announced in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He and his kin had faced a mandatory prison sentence of at least three-and-a-half years if convicted.
The 7-week trial delved in a boozy night of partying at the Kettle Black bar in Bay Ridge that descended into a wild melee that spilled out onto the street.DeCarlo was accused of smashing a bottle atop the head of NYPD officer Paul Aparo and then punching Port Authority cop Ryan McCarthy, who had been trying to calm things down. Prosecutors said Golden added a haymaker, breaking McCarthy’s jaw, while Crowley was alleged to have slashed city firefighter Rosario Cicero.
Two others who had been hanging out with the acquitted trio that night were charged with having played minor roles: Michael Crowley, 22, and Peter Jung, 25, were prosecuted in a bench trial; a judge will render verdicts Monday. Defense attorneys argued it was the civil servants, and not the accused, who were responsible for escalating the fracas — chasing Golden and company outside of the watering hole following a brief dustup inside. “All they wanted was to get home that night,” DeCarlo’s lawyer, Michael Cibella, said of the five defendants. “It took two years.” The lawyers for the defense pointed out inconsistencies in witness descriptions of the chaotic scene, and hammered some of the prosecution witnesses for actions both during the night in question and afterward.
Aparo was blamed for telling a friend to delete video footage from inside the bar that showed him ripping his shirt off and busting his way through security and out the door, in pursuit of the five. McCarthy was exposed as having sent intimidating text messages to a witness who was reluctant to testify. Relatives of the men on trial clapped when the verdicts were read in the courtroom, then embraced the newly exonerated outside, wiping away tears. Gary Farrell, who represented Kevin Crowley, interpreted meaning in the jury’s quick and decisive decision.
“That’s pretty telling on how weak the case was,” he said.The case was handled by a special prosecutor from Queens County because Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes recused his office on account of a working relationship with Sen. Golden.
In April of 2011, Alice W., a talented and strikingly attractive freelance photographer, dined out with her boyfriend in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. On pulling out of her parking spot in her new Audi, Alice was pulled over by the police, who claimed that she had failed to signal before pulling out. They further claimed that, on requesting her license and registration, an officer had observed red watery eyes, unsteady gait, and a strong odor of alcohol on her breath. Confident that she was fine to drive, Alice agreed to take a breath alcohol test on the spot; she was very slightly over the legal limit.
She was arrested, taken back to the precinct, charged with DWI, and released without bail. Alice knew that she had had only two glasses of wine, and that a guilty plea would stain her life forever. She asked her business attorney to refer her to a criminal defense lawyer; he recommended Gary Farrell. She met with Mr. Farrell and decided to fight. At the trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, Gary Farrell called the police officer’s testimony into question by showing how good Alice looked while taking the videotaped coordination tests and how clearly she spoke while she was answering the officers’ questions. She and her boyfriend testified that she had had only two glasses of wine with dinner that evening. The judge found Alice not guilty, saving her from the many negative consequences of pleading guilty to Driving While Impaired.
This was a case of innocent texts between a niece and her uncle turning into a world of trouble. Wikerson D., a New York City corrections officer with an eight-year record of excellent service, got a texted request from his 15-year-old niece requesting a ride home from school. Responding in the affirmative, he asked her for a recent photo. Wik had plenty of photos at home but wanted one for his cell. Since Wik, in his mid-thirties, worked the night shift, he picked his girlfriend’s eight-year-old daughter up from school every day. After picking up the little one, he swung by his niece’s school and took her home.
Later that night, Wik’s brother, reviewing the texts on his daughter’s cell, jumped to a very wrong conclusion. The upshot: Wik was charged with sex crimes, including Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. If convicted, Wik faced a likely prison sentence and the loss of his career and his pension. The case unraveled when Wik’s brother and sister-in-law testified. It became clear to everyone that they held a grudge against Wik, and had pressured their child into testifying. Confident the jury would see that he had nothing but avuncular affection for his niece, Wik took the stand and let the jury hear his side of the story: there was no story, because nothing happened. In a mere 15 minutes, the King’s County jury came back with its verdict: Wik was acquitted of all charges and had his life back. Court staff congratulated Mr. Farrell, telling him the speed with which the jury came back was a record.
Driving to work in a company van, Michael O., an employee of Emerson Electric Company, swerved to avoid a young man on a bicycle who suddenly appeared in his lane. Tragically, Michael and the bicyclist, who had been traveling in opposite directions on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, both swerved in the same direction to avoid each other. Michael could not avoid hitting the young man, an 18 year-old college student, who died at the scene.
At 28, Michael was only ten years older than the cyclist. He had earned his Associates degree and was maintaining a high average while finishing his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at SUNY. He was married and worked full time as an Emerson customer engineer. Distraught after the accident, Michael told the police how the cyclist had suddenly crossed into his lane, and how he had tried desperately to avoid him. Nevertheless, the police arrested Michael, charging him with criminally negligent homicide and related charges. A judge ordered him held without bail, even though he had no criminal record and had not been drinking or taking drugs. Emerson’s in-house counsel retained attorney Gary Farrell to prepare a writ of habeas corpus that resulted in Michael’s release on bail. Gary then went to work on the defense of the case.
Michael was indicted based on allegations that he was speeding, blew through a red light, and the fact that he was driving with a suspended license because of his failure to pay a $250 surcharge on a previous ticket; even though the fine was paid, the city now adds a $250 surcharge in certain circumstances. At trial, the District Attorney produced a truck driver who testified that he was stopped at the light and that Michael flew by him, running a steady red light and striking the cyclist. Several witnesses corroborated the trucker’s story, and the DA called an accident reconstructionist to testify as an expert witness.
Michael’s attorney, Gary Farrell, told the jury a different story — one the jury members could see with their own eyes. Mr. Farrell played a surveillance tape from a nearby restaurant that showed Michael had gone through the light, which was not red, a full eleven seconds before the trucker even arrived at the intersection. Mr. Farrell said, “The video was the key to the case. It showed that the other witnesses, including the expert witness, were wrong.”
Mr. Farrell also produced a New York City bus driver who testified that he had seen the young cyclist driving erratically before he cut in front of Michael. Michael testified on his own behalf. It took the Kings County jury just a few hours to acquit Michael of Criminally Negligent Homicide, Reckless Driving, and going through a red light. Michael’s acquittal was covered by the New York news media.