- Rich Klein
EDITORIAL: KANTROWITZ CRIMINAL RECORDS SEALED BUT CAN'T ERASE HIS TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
The records relating to the criminal case of Isaac Kantrowitz were sealed in August, a little more than four months after State Supreme Court Justice Stephan Schick praised the career of the retired judge - and then asked the families of teenage victims Devin Zeininger and Justin Finkel to find a way to forgive him for his reckless driving that killed the two teenagers on Glen Wild Road in Rock Hill on June 2, 2019.
"Criminal records are automatically sealed when the defendant gets a good result (called a favorable disposition) in a criminal case," according to the state Office of Court Administration website.
The court document about the sealed records was filed last month with the County Clerk and discovered today in a search by The SullivanTimes.
Kantrowitz, the retired Town of Fallsburg judge, died on April 1, 2021, just one week after the bizarre "sentencing" hearing in front of Schick (March 25, 2021). The only penalty meted out to Kantrowitz was a fine of just over $1,000 and his license was revoked.
He was represented throughout the criminal case by former District Attorney Steve Lungen, who just happened to be a very close friend of Kantrowitz , who was also the very first boss of current DA Meagan Galligan as well as the mentor to Jim Farrell, who followed Lungen as DA and who is now a county court judge.
Well, Lungen surely got his late friend a "good result" under Section 160.50 of the Criminal Procedure Law of New York State, with the help of Galligan and Schick, who likely should have recused himself.
This entire case was the textbook example of Sullivan's despicable Old Boy Network operating at full capacity - but this time with the addition of Galligan who had promised the families of the victims justice but who failed them miserably.
Kantrowitz was traveling at 70 mph in a 45 mph zone five seconds before striking the two teenagers, according the State Police Accident Reconstruction report obtained by this media outlet. It also said that Kantrowitz was traveling at 62mph on impact.
Galligan told a news conference in August 2020 following the grand jury indictment on the reckless driving misdemeanor charge that he was traveling only at 62 mph. It's unclear -but doubtful - that the grand jury ever saw the key excerpts from the State Police report that clearly noted the 70 mph speed just FIVE SECONDS before impact.
That might have led to a more serious criminal charge against Kantrowitz, even possibly raising the misdemeanor to a felony.
"When I inherited this case, my Office made this investigation a priority and fulfilled our promise to these victims to make a full, fair and legal presentation of this case to a grand jury and to prosecute any crimes it charged," Galligan said after Schick declined to sentence Kantrowitz to any days in jail. But the families of the victims, who gave emotional victim impact statements at sentencing in March, have previously stated in so many words and over the course of the case, that Galligan failed to deliver on that promise.
Kantrowitz was involved in three other accidents between 2016 and 2018 but was never ticketed in any of them, thanks to his Old Boy Network law enforcement connections - even though he nearly killed a pedestrian in December 2018 on that same Glen Wild Road. The woman who was severely injured in that incident later reached an out of court settlement with Kantrowitz's insurance company and was represented by Liberty attorney Kirk Orseck.
The families of the victims, upon learning of the prior accidents, had tried to apply public pressure on Farrell to prosecute Kantrowitz and also met with Sheriff Mike Schiff, Undersheriff Eric Chaboty and Fallsburg Police Chief Simmie Williams at a "Coffee with the Sheriff" event in Fallsburg during the summer in 2019.
Although the Sheriff's Office and Fallsburg Police were not involved at all in the June 2, 2019 investigation, both agencies responded to the three prior accidents in which Kantrowitz was the driver and in which he received not one traffic ticket.
In one of those incidents, accident victim Megan Fessak told The SullivanTimes one week after the June 2, 2019 tragedy that her cellphone (described by Fessak as a flip phone) did not have service in the area so she asked Kantrowitz if she could use his so they could call the police. But she said he refused to call police and then further refused when she asked if she could use his phone to make the call. That tells you much about the man who they named a courtroom after in Fallsburg. And speaking of Fallsburg, Fessak went on in that interview to explain that John Chevalier of the Fallsburg Police Department did not come over to ask for her version of events.
"So I found it necessary to approach him in his squad car in order to explain to him what had actually happened," Fessak said, adding that she believes the officers were attempting to “railroad” her into believing the accident was entirely her fault. “They didn’t seem to believe me, “ she said.
That tells you something about the Old Boy Network.
Kantrowitz has passed and his records are sealed.
But citizens of goodwill must keep their mouths and minds open wide to confront exactly these kind of injustices that allowed a person of influence to flout the law for three years while causing death and destruction on Sullivan County roads.
It's the only way the corrupt Old Boy Network can be put to rest once and for all.