- Rich Klein
RETIRED FALLSBURG JUDGE KANTROWITZ DIES ONE WEEK AFTER SCHICK DECLINES TO SENTENCE HIM TO JAIL
WOODRIDGE - Isaac Kantrowitz, the retired Town of Fallsburg judge, has died, according to multiple media outlets late yesterday.
The reports attributed the news to Steve Lungen, the former Sullivan County District Attorney who was a decades-long friend of Kantrowitz and his defense attorney. Lungen did not say what caused his death.
His passing came exactly one week after State Supreme Court Justice Stephan Schick declined to sentence the 88-year-old to any jail time for reckless driving that led to the death of two teenagers on June 2, 2019.
Justin Finkel, 14, and Devin Zeininger, 16, lost their lives that day when Kantrowitz struck them while driving on Glen Wild Road in Rock Hill as they were walking back from an antique car show at the former hotel known as The Sullivan.
Kantrowitz, a former Village of Woodridge trustee, plead guilty to the reckless driving charge - an unclassified misdemeanor - on March 1 after a Sullivan County grand jury indicted him on August 25, 2020.
He appeared before Schick on March 25 for sentencing, where family members implored Schick to sentence Kantrowitz to the maximum time in jail permitted under the law. But Schick instead gave a small fine and a mini speech about what a great life Kantrowitz built for himself, while telling the families of the victims that he hoped they could someday find peace.
The SullivanTimes was the first to report about three other accidents with Kantrowitz behind the wheel, including one in December 2018 - also on Glen Wild Road - in which a woman was seriously injured. Town of Liberty attorney Kirk Orseck represented the woman in a civil suit that resulted in a settlement.
Former District Attorney Jim Farrell, who said he did not know about the prior accidents, refused to prosecute the case when he was running to become County Court judge in 2019.
His second-in-command, Meagan Galligan, did begin looking into the case upon becoming Acting District Attorney in January 2020 and amid intense public pressure from the families of the victims and their supporters. (Galligan won election to DA in November 2020).
A New York State Police accident reconstruction report, obtained by The SullivanTimes, revealed that Kantrowitz was traveling at 70 mph in a 45 mph zone just seconds before striking and killing the two boys. But Galligan told the public on August 25 that Kantrowitz was only traveling at 62 mph. She has never explained where she got the 62 mph figure.
The accident reconstruction report also stated that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Kantrowitz on felony charges.
It's unknown what Galligan presented to the grand jury last summer that resulted in an indictment on just the misdemeanor and two vehicle and traffic violations.
Kantrowitz has a court room named after him in Fallsburg, even though he was admonished by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 1979 for three charges of misconduct relating to the improper assertion of influence in traffic cases.
Coincidentally, Kantrowitz was never issued any tickets by local law enforcement agencies (Fallsburg Police, Sheriff's Office and New York State Police) in each of the four accidents that he was involved in from 2016 through 2019.