Friday, December 07, 2007

Trials & Trails

DAILY MAUL. “A two car accident claimed Friday afternoon claimed the life of the driver of a Coxsackie Transport driver.” Those words opened the top story in last Saturday’s issue of GreeneLand’s foremost newspaper. And in an earlier issue, readers were invited to contemplate, to try to picture, this phenomenon: “E-Mail Flap Heats Up as Teachers Demand Apology.”

THE TRIAL. Will James Pine escape conviction in connection with the Halloween Night death of Michael Formichelli?

A GreeneLand jury of seven women and five men will answer that question on or about the end of next week. The jurors will decide whether Pine’s part in the fatal beating of Formichelli makes him guilty, as charged, of manslaughter and felonious assault.

Presiding over the trial in Catskill’s county courthouse is Judge George R. Bartlett of Schoharie County. He received the assignment after GreeneLand’s two county judges, George J. Pulver Jr and Daniel K. Lalor, recused themselves. They did so, Seeing Greene was told, because the defendant’s mother had been a long-time functionary in the court system.

Among witnesses scheduled to appear at the trial is Pine’s friend Michael Deyo, 37, of Athens. He already has entered a plea of guilty to criminal assault for his part in the pursuit with Pine, and the beating, in Catskill, of Formichelli. That pursuit purportedly began with a quarrel in the Dubois Road apartment of Mary Hyer Seeley.

Prosecuting the case is District Attorney Terry Wilhelm, who in his opening statement said “a vicious attack” and “savage beating,” including the use of a long club and motivated by intent to inflict “serious physical injury,” ended the life of Formichelli.

Representing Pine is criminal defense specialist Richard Mott of Albany. He is remembered most vividly among GreeneLand courthouse denizens for his success, against formidable obstacles, in winning an acquittal back in 1998 for Thomas J. Hall, who was charged with committing a murder outside a Catskill night club.

The prosecutor in the Hall case was then-District Attorney Edward Cloke. The acquittal prompted Mr Wilhelm, then an assistant district attorney, to seek the top job. When he won the Republican Party endorsement, Mr Cloke chose not to stand for re-election.

“FRIAR YUCK” is the alternate name that an October visitor nominates for GreeneLand’s foremost (=most capacious) resort. “We stayed 2 nights at the Friar Tuck inn for a convention of NY State Wildlife Rehabilitators,” the visitor recalls in a Trip Advisor message. “Luckily we are a benevolent, happy group that managed to laugh at how bad it was rather than get angry…. Most people in our group had to get the staff to re-clean their rooms, especially the bathrooms, before they could stand moving in. There were two confirmed reports of bedbugs….The floor plan had to have been designed by a person with mental deficiency.... Had our Board members not been smart enough to put up their OWN signs we would all have still been there today, still wandering.... The atmosphere is 1970's pseudo-Camelot kitsch and there is a smell of mold everywhere. As other reviews have mentioned, the desk staff is surly and yes, the guy screwed up my checkout as well because he 'couldn't find my record of having paid.... Finally, this may be nit-picking but they KNEW we were a group of wildlife rehabbers -- "ANIMAL PEOPLE" -- and yet they served (urk!) VEAL at every single meal. And told people it was chicken….”

“WORSE than anything in the third world," says another recent visitor, to another GreeneLand hostelry. Of the Quality Inn & Conference Center, a Trip Advisor correspondent says “I have stayed in hotels all over the world and in many developing countries, but nothing anywhere was as bad as this. I was promised Wi-Fi but it never worked and they said they couldn't get it serviced on weekends. The room smelled like a turkish prison. The heat never came on and there was no one to fix it, so we froze all night. They offered me another room to shower in the following morning, but we would have to drive there.” Moreover, a July visitor from Laguna Beach CA says the Quality Inn manager “tried to cheat us out of over $100 by charging us over the rate quoted and then being unresponsive to our requests for reimbursement. When I took it up with American Express, they wrote a letter justifying the overcharge. I then complained to Quality Inn Corporate, and they spent months researching it, saying the hotel needed to weigh in. When the hotel ‘became unresponsive’ with corporate, too, I finally (after 3 months) received a reimbursement check.”

TONIGHT (66 years after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor):

*Sawyer Motors’ holiday kick-off party, with tree-lighting, Santa, drawings for free kids’ bicycles, games. West Bridge St, Catskill, from 6pm.

*Lex Grey sings with the Will Smith trio at Catskill Point Inn, from 8:30 pm.


*Catskill Puppet Theater presents “Ivan’s Three Wishes” at Doctorrow Center for the Arts, Hunter, from 3:30pm. 263-2063.

*Divine Enlightenment store on West Bridge St, Catskill, offers “Afternoon with the Angels” from 3 pm. Free 10-minute chair massages by Maria Elena Maurin. Optional $25 “angelic guidance.”

*Merchants of downtown Catskill offer a special holiday stroll, with store and street decorations galore, Frosty and his Snow Angels, live music by Basic Instinct, drawings for big Christmas stockings, from 5pm, with fireworks at 9.

*Catskill Point Inn offers Arabian Nights party with belly-dancing, from 9:30pm


*Athens Cultural Center hosts a series of readings, from 2pm, by writers Annie Forbes Cooper, Becky Minew, Mary Lou Becker and Ed Bloomer, with musical interludes by John Williamson. or 945-3547.

*Thomas Cole National Historic Site, at 218 Spring St, Catskill, hosts Christmas party for all comers, from 3pm, with cookies, mulled cider, ice cream punch, and Hudson River School-related gift items. 943-7465.

DECEMBER 15. Adventurer Albert Podell recounts highlights of his and partner Harold Stephens’s motor journey around the world—the longest and the last. Sponsored by Theodore S. Belfor, dentist, and Frank Cuthbert, enterpriser, at BRIK gallery, 473 Main St, Catskill, from 7pm, as a fund-raiser for the County Arts Council. Admission at $20 includes autographed copy of Who Needs A Road? 943-0145.

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