- Rich Klein
STATE POLICE: INVESTIGATION INTO DEATHS OF ZEININGER, FINKEL IS ONGOING
The New York State Police today told The SullivanTimes that the investigation into the deaths of teenagers Justin Finkel and Devin Zeininger - killed in a fatal accident in Rock Hill on June 2 - is ongoing.
That information came in a letter denying this media outlet's Freedom of Investigation Law request for a copy of the accident reconstruction report.
"Please be advised that the record you seek concerns an ongoing investigation, " the letter said. "This is a record which was compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would interfere with a law enforcement investigation."
District Attorney Jim Farrell has said he wants to await the outcome of the investigation before deciding on whether any charges against driver Isaac Kantrowitz might be warranted. Kantrowitz, 86, is a retired Town of Fallsburg justice and previously served as Village of Woodridge judge. He has long been a trustee on the Village of Woodridge Board.
(Farrell is the Republican candidate for County Court Judge on the ballot for November and it's possible that the investigation might not be concluded until after the election. Town of Mamakating Justice Cynthia Dolan, a Democrat, is the other candidate for the County Court judge position that became available by the mandatory retirement of County Court Judge Frank LaBuda, who turns 70 in December).
The SullivanTimes has reported exclusively that Kantrowitz was involved in four auto accidents in three years, including one in December 2018 on the same Glen Wild Road where the teenagers were killed. In the 2018 incident, a pedestrian was struck and seriously injured in Fallsburg and required back surgery and months of rehabilitation. Attorney Kirk Orseck represented the woman in her personal injury lawsuit that resulted in a recent settlement. Farrell has said that he did not know about Kantrowitz's prior accidents at the time of the June 2 tragedy.
The families of the victims, upon learning of the prior accidents, have 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 over the summer. Although the Sheriff's Office and Fallsburg Police are not involved at all in the June 2 investigation, their agencies responded to the three prior accidents in which Kantrowitz was the driver.
The SullivanTimes last month asked Kantrowitz if he had any comment for the families of the victims at the conclusion of a Village of Woodridge Board meeting. He declined and was seen walking home with another trustee.His license to drive was suspended in July by the Department of Motor Vehicles and he has a hearing in November to determine if he should get that license reinstated.As previously reported here, the families of each victim have retained attorneys in civil actions yet to be filed. The SullivanTimes has been unsuccessful in learning if Kantrowitz has retained an attorney. His son-in-law is local attorney Jacob Billig. One source said that Kantrowitz was considering using Steve Lungen, Farrell's mentor and the former District Attorney, but that could not be confirmed and Lungen did not reply to our requests for comment.