Law & Justice

Witness-Tampering Charges Against Zaimi Lawyer Dismissed Again; Levy Will Appeal

28e8088a7fd0a70881fe_f3a49ec7766da327f746__zBEdYrw_400x400.jpeg
George Galgano
28e8088a7fd0a70881fe_f3a49ec7766da327f746__zBEdYrw_400x400.jpeg

MAHOPAC, N.Y. - A Westchester County Court judge has once again dismissed witness-tampering and bribery charges against the attorney who represented Lani “Ariano” Zaimi—a Mahopac restaurateur—in two separate sexual assault cases involving Zaimi’s employees.

Judge David Zuckerman had originally dismissed the charges against Westchester County attorney George Galgano back in January citing lack of corroboration of witness testimony and procedural misconduct on behalf of the prosecution. However, Zuckerman left the door open for District Attorney Adam Levy to refile the charges should more evidence come to light, which Levy did earlier this year.

However, Zuckerman wrote that nearly the same problems existed with the prosecution’s case the second time around and once again dismissed all of the charges, which included fifth-degree conspiracy (bribing a witness) and sixth-degree conspiracy (tampering with a witness).

Sign Up for E-News

Galgano’s secretary, Stefanie Capolongo, who had been charged with criminal impersonation, saw her charge dismissed as well.

"Surprisingly, some of [improprieties] are the identical grounds which compelled this court to dismiss the first indictment,” Zuckerman wrote in his decision, dated Monday, Oct. 26. “The cumulative effect of numerous evidentiary and other errors which occurred during the grand jury presentment also compels the court to dismiss the indictment.” 

The charges against Galgano and Capolongo stem from the second assault case in which a woman claimed that Zaimi had assaulted her while she was in his employ. Prosecutors contended that while investigating that case, Galgano and Capolongo tried to dissuade the victim from testifying against Zaimi.

Galgano claimed he was merely looking for evidence to help exonerate Zaimi. He said Capolongo approached the victim's sister, Lia LoRosso, and her boyfriend Quincy McQuaid, about taping a conversation with the victim in effort to prove she was lying about Zaimi assaulting her. Lia LoRusso and McQuaid were later arrested on drug charges, at which time, Galgano says, they told police he had attempted to bribe the victim to not testify against Zaimi. 

Zaimi was found guilty of forcibly touching, a misdemeanor, in June and is still awaiting sentencing.

In a written statement to the New York Law Journal, Levy said he planned to appeal Zuckerman’s ruling in the Galgano case, arguing that the judge’s two decisions contradict each other and that sufficient evidence was indeed presented during the first grand jury and new evidence was presented during the second grand jury but ignored by the court.

“Judge Zuckerman’s decision…contradicted his original decision on Jan. 28,” Levy wrote. “Inexplicably in this case, where the court already held that sufficient evidence was presented, the court now holds the evidence is insufficient. This decision was reached despite the same evidence being presented, and additional corroborative physical evidence of Galgano’s guilt being added. This additional evidence appears to have been wholly overlooked by the court. The indictments were written in exactly the same way, which was not criticized by the court in the first decision, but once again, represents an about face assessment by the court.”

However, in Zuckerman’s decision, he writes that the district attorney introduced inadmissible hearsay as well as inadmissible opinion testimony of non-expert witnesses.

"A review of the minutes reveals that the evidence presented, viewed in the light most favorable to the people, does not establish every element of any of the offenses charged. In addition, the presentation was defective due to a lack of corroboration for the accomplice testimony,” the judge wrote. “In any event, there is also an absence of proof that George Galgano was a co-conspirator or in any way involved in any wrongdoing.”

The judge also ruled that text messages sent by the defendants that were presented as evidence "suggest not only that [Galgano] was not the genesis of the conspiracy to tamper with and/or bribe [the victim], and that…he not only did not support [efforts to tamper], but affirmatively directed that any misunderstanding of those acts be corrected immediately. “

Zuckerman ruled that the evidence presented to the grand jury suggests that Galgano merely participated in what was arguably proper conduct for a criminal defense attorney.

"There is simply no evidence that Galgano was involved in the conspiracy…” the judge wrote.

After Lia LoRusso and McQuaid told police Galgano attempted to bribe the victim to not testify, police issued search warrants for Galgano’s home and office and allegedly discovered a cache of illegal prescription drugs. As a result, Galgano was also slapped with several drug charges in Westchester County. Those charges are still pending and Galgano said he would not comment on them at this time other than to say he expects to be exonerated in those cases as well.

Regarding the witness-tampering case, Galgano said he was happy with the judge’s recent decision to dismiss the charges yet again.

“The judge actually found no evidence that anyone was guilty,” Galgano told Mahopac News. “But [Levy] is not accustomed to not getting what he wants. My life has been turned upside down and my law practice has been destroyed. I never would have taken the Zaimi case if I knew what would happen. I have done nothing wrong. There is absolutely no evidence of any wrong-doing. [Levy] doesn’t have any proof.”

However, Levy wrote in his statement that the evidence presented to the grand jury was clear.

“It was the collective belief of the 23 Putnam County grand jurors who heard all of the testimony, saw all the evidence, read all the text messages, assessed the credibility of the witnesses and found sufficient evidence to indict George Galgano, [and codefendant Stephanie Capalongo],” he wrote. “We are appealing this decision. Judge Zuckerman had his opportunity to give his opinion. We are seeking the opinion of the Appellate Division Second Department. We will not allow this decision to declare open season on our victims. We will fight to protect them, and to protect the public from the dangerous precedent that this decision threatens.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

Facebook, Fools, Friends and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Since its inception, Facebook has been a regular target of mockery and criticism—everything from, “Do I really need to see a picture of the pastrami sandwich you had for lunch?” to “Why did you help the Russians get Donald Trump elected?”

No one likes to mock and criticize more than I do—just ask all of my former friends. And while I agree that Facebook can ...

It Was the Economy That Got Trump Elected

I am not easily shocked by much anymore. Yet, I was by last week’s column by fellow columnist Bernie Kosberg. Kosberg, whose column runs regularly in Mahopac News and sometimes in Yorktown News, said in the first paragraph: “Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of ...

God Is Just! Schneiderman Is Out!

Whenever you doubt that God is just, remember last Monday. That is the day New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned.

As you know, I have had him in my sights for a long time. He has squandered our tax dollars with more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration. Plus, his lawsuits against Big Oil and trying to nullify our double jeopardy laws. Most will go nowhere as ...

It Wasn’t About the Economy or Jobs

Soon after President Trump was “crowned” by the Electoral College in November 2016, I wrote a column about Putnam County voters that garnered some attention—both good and bad. Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of suitable jobs, but to the overarching fear ...

BOCES… What’s in a Name?

Do you ever wonder what BOCES stands for? We associate the name with a center of learning that supplements the general curriculum of local high schools by teaching students specialized trades. Beyond that, does everyone in the non-BOCES population, those who have no direct connection to the programs, fully appreciate the priceless value it brings to our communities’ young adults and their ...

Bias in Media, in Me, in You

While listening to an interview with a voter on my car radio, I thought I had excess ear wax that obstructed my hearing. The voter (whose name is Bruce) said this about one of the qualifications that a Senate or House candidate must have to earn his vote: “I don’t want anyone with ideas. We have enough of those already.”

I’m a journalist and have been one my entire ...

Dog Allergies, Part Deux

“I have some good news and I have some bad news,” I told my husband.

“Give me the good news first.”

“OK. The vet doesn’t think the dog’s ear infections are from a food allergy after all, so we don’t have to keep feeding him that hypo-allergenic food,” I said.

“Hallelujah,” shouted my husband. He was understandably ...

Cross My Legs and Hope to Die

One morning, I had a big cup of coffee as I usually do, and then I got in the car and drove 40 minutes to a clothing store I had been curious to check out. I don’t normally drive 40 minutes to go shopping, but since I am a stay-at-home mom and everyone knows we stay-at-home moms just spend our time shopping and eating bonbons, I figured, “What the hey.”

Having had the ...

CD Release Concert - New Middle Class at Putnam Arts Council

May 23, 2018

Press Release




Contact: Mike Borok  info@newmiddleclass.com

Phone: (914) 962-0120


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 19, 2018


Putnam Arts Council Hosts CD Release Concert featuring New Middle Class, with Dan Pelletier & Wendy Cody

MAHOPAC, ny: On Saturday evening, June 16, 2018, the Putnam Arts Council will host a concert ...