C.B. 1 member ousted over assault arrests

By Julie Shapiro

An arrest record kept a board member from being reappointed to Community Board 1, Downtown Express learned this week.

The board member was arrested twice in the last year for assaulting his wife, according to the District Attorney’s office. Charges for the second incident, in which he threw a corkscrew at his spouse, are still pending. The board member was co-chairperson of the Tribeca Committee.

“We were informed a short time ago by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office of the incidents.” Dick Riley, director of communications for Borough President Scott Stringer, said in a statement. “While we do not normally discuss individual appointments, clearly these incidents contributed to the borough president’s decision to not reappoint the person to the community board.”

On June 26, 2007, police arrested the board member at Thalassa Restaurant at 179 Franklin St. at 11 p.m. in an incident involving board member’s spouse and another person. The board member pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation less serious than a misdemeanor, on Aug. 17. Judge Ellen Coin issued a protective order and the board member was conditionally discharged to a treatment program.

Then, on Dec. 7, 2007, police responded to a domestic dispute. The board memeber pinned their spouse to the sink and threw a corkscrew at the spouses back, causing a laceration, according to the police report. The laceration was not described as deep and there was no mention of stitches in the police report. Police arrested and charged the board member with assault in the second degree, aggravated criminal contempt, criminal contempt in the first degree and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

The police found a .12 gauge shotgun and .35 mm rifle in the apartment, a violation of the protective order, which also prohibited the board member from assaulting or harassing the spouse. The two guns that the police found were family heirlooms that belonged to the board member’s grandfather and uncle

The District Attorney’s office had one other record of an arrest for the board member early in the morning of Oct. 12, 2001, at 139 Duane St. The incidence was described as a bar brawl of about a dozen people, which the board member stepped in to break up. The board member pleaded guilty April 16, 2002 to attempted assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor, and on Nov. 27, 2002 was conditionally discharged, according to the District Attorney’s office. The board member was close to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and sought treatment after the arrest, he said.

The board member, visibly shaken, spoke to Downtown Express Wednesday and said the arrests were tied to an alcohol abuse problem, which traces back to a serious ankle injury last March. After undergoing surgery, several doctors prescribed Vicodin and Percocet for the pain, which the board member found difficult to stop taking.

Later that spring, the board member’s spouse was diagnosed with a serious illness, with an uncertain prognosis. The board member was able to get off the painkillers but replaced them with alcohol. The board member was drunk at the time of the June 26 incident, and claims only to have grabbed the spouse lightly on the arm.

In the fall, the spouses prognosis was better, but the board member’s drinking continued. On the night of the Dec. 7 incident, the board member and the spouse were arguing and the perp was opening a bottle of wine and threw a corkscrew at the spouse.

“The spouse called the police, quite rightly so,” the board member said. “This time I knew it was time for me to stop drinking.”

The board member said it was his first and only act of violence.

After being arrested, the board member checked into a rehab center in Connecticut and underwent a seven-day detox and then a 28-day program.

“It’s the best thing I’ve done,” the board member said. “I haven’t drank a drop since Dec. 7.”

Now, the board member is working with the District Attorney’s office on the charges pending. The board member is going to regular meetings as part of a 12-step program and is undergoing outpatient treatment. The board member and spouse, who have been married for five years, are working on their marriage.

“It’s about redemption now,” the board member said. “I’ve done some bad things, but redemption is key here.”

In January, the board member told C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin about his alcohol problem and offered to resign from the board because meetings might have to be missed. The board member did not tell Menin about the arrests, and she encouraged him to remain on the board. In the meantime, the board member told four or five other board members about the arrests, he said.

The board member spoke with Menin earlier this week after finding out there would be no reappointment to C.B. 1, though Menin reassured the former board member staying on as a non-voting public member was not a problem. After their conversation, she heard of the arrests from another board member and now plans to talk to Stringer’s office to get more information.

“Given the circumstances, it would be inappropriate to appoint [id withheld] as a public member,” Menin said Wednesday. “It’s something we’re really going to need to look into.”