KANTOWITZ WON'T FACE FELONY CHARGES IN DEATHS OF TWO TEENAGERS in 2019
INDICTED ON ONE MISDEMEANOR CHARGE : RECKLESS DRIVING
LUNGEN: 'Terrible and Tragic Accident...Not a Crime'
ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION EXPERT PETE SCALIA WAS HIRED BY DA'S OFFICE - CLOSE ASSOCIATE OF LUNGEN
BREAKING: Isaac Kantrowitz, the retired Town of Fallsburg justice who has a courtroom named after him there, will not face any felony charges in connection with the June 2, 2019 incident that killed two teenage boys on Glen Wild Road in Rock Hill.
Instead, he faces just one Class A misdemeanor charge - reckless driving - plus two violations under the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law.
He was arraigned today by Hon. Bryan Rounds, the Ulster County Court Judge sitting in Sullivan County. The Woodridge resident, 87, was ordered not to drive a motor vehicle as a condition of his release from custody until his trial, according to Acting District Attorney Meagan Galligan.
Galligan today announced that a Sullivan County grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict Kantrowitz on the one misdemeanor and two traffic infractions. One was speeding (62 mph in a 45 mph zone). Kantrowitz, 87, was represented by former District Attorney Steve Lungen.
"Unfortunately, speeding alone is frequently insufficient to support a homicide charge in a case like this," Galligan said, who added that evidence showed that Kantrowitz was on a hands-free cell phone call at the time of the accident that killed Devin Zeininger and Justin Finkel. She said the evidence showed that Kantrowitz was not impaired by alcohol or drugs and that he had a valid driver's license at the time of the incident. . "The return of an indictment in this case not only reflects the careful consideration of all of the facts of this investigation by a grand jury but also moves this case toward a public trial of 12 jurors in town court," she said. Without mentioning the town, it's expected that the Kantrowitz trial will occur in Town of Thompson.
"As for the criminal charges, the misdemeanor and the two traffic infractions, they will be disputed in Court as is appropriate," Lungen told The SullivanTimes in an emailed statement. "This was a terrible and tragic accident. It was not a crime. " (See Lungen's full statement in a separate post).
The parents of Zeininger and Finkel were not immediately available for interviews.
Galligan's former boss, Jim Farrell, took no action on the matter and was elected County Court Judge last November. His mentor was Lungen.
Pete Scalia, a retired New York State Police accident investigator, was the accident reconstruction expert hired by the District Attorney's Office on the Kantrowitz matter. In an earlier interview regarding a 2013 accident in Town of Lumberland, Scalia said he was a close associate of Lungen.
The SullivanTimes broke the story in June 2019 that Kantrowitz had been involved in a total of four accidents in three years, including two incidents in which he struck pedestrians. A December 2018 incident with Kantrowitz behind the wheel nearly killed a female pedestrian - walking on that same Glen Wild Road in Fallsburg. She later settled a lawsuit against Kantrowitz and was represented by Liberty attorney Kirk Orseck.
In multiple interviews with The SullivanTimes during 2019, two victims of earlier Kantrowitz accidents said that he showed little concern for their injuries after the incidents.
They also said that local law enforcement officers who responded to those accidents were more interested in Kantrowitz's well being than them.
In one accident in which Kantrowitz struck a vehicle, the female driver said that she had a special needs daughter in the back seat. Kantrowitz never came over to see if either of them were okay, she said in a SullivanTimes video interview.