THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007 VOL. I NO. XXXXII Westchester’s Most Influential Weekly
Debra Weissman v Ronald H. Weissman
May 17, 2007
Debra C. Weissman
Armonk, New York 10504
Justice Jonathan Lippman
Chief Administrative Judge
Justice of the Supreme Court
New York State Supreme Court
Westchester County Courthouse
111 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
White Plains, New York 10601
Re: Emergency Request for Criminal Investigation Regarding Judge Silbermann’s Unethical Interference and infl uence over Judge Scarpino’s Judicial Authorities
I am writing you an open letter requesting that you intercede in a criminal activity that is currently taking place in the Matrimonial Part of the Westchester Supreme Court. I am requesting that you place a temporary stay on all of my pending proceedings in front of the lower and appellate court until we can meet and you can hear the tapes that I have regarding Justice Silbermann’s interference by inappropriately contacting and directing the honorable Judge Scarpino as to how to proceed. I am requesting that you handle the investigation because Judge Silbermann reports directly to you and we are no longer dealing with unethical referees but one of the highest judges in our court system. I sent Judge Silbermann a letter last week before I realized that she, not Judge Scarpino, was the culprit.
Aft er you hear my tapes, you will agree that she must be handled immediately and must refrain from intimidating judges who are overseeing my case. You are well aware of my case, in which you intervened more than two years ago, when my attorneys contacted you regarding the former Referee Montagnino’s unethical behavior toward me, a battered wife and ward of the Court. His rulings against me were so blatantly biased and egregious that I was forced to fi le a grievance against him in the latter part of 2004. When my attorneys accused him of having ex-parte relationships with Mr. Joel Bender, the defendant’s attorney, during my entire matrimonial proceedings, he had the audacity to sanction us approximately $70,000 for even broaching the subject in open court. For getting too close to the truth, I was punished while my ex-husband was granted an illegal Conversion Divorce without a grounds trial, and was allowed to retain 99% of the marital assets worth over $30 million dollars.
Fast forward to March 28, 2006, when Mr. Bender fi nally admitted under oath that he did have many meetings with James Montagnino and his wife because of his desire to become a Supreme Court Judge. Now, more than 3 years later, I have spent over $100,000 in legal fees trying to rectify the fi nancial damage done by these two co-conspirators, the former Referee Montagnino, and Mr. Bender, that transpired throughout the divorce proceedings.
I am experiencing déjà vu. However, this time it is with the head of the matrimonial division of the New York State Supreme Court, Jacqueline Silbermann, Judge Scarpino, and the unethical Mr. Bender.
As occurred in January 2005 when I had indisputable evidence regarding their ex-parte relationship, which they both denied, I now have evidence that Judge Silbermann has actually interceded in My Judicial Misconduct Motion by contacting and instructing Judge Scarpino not to decide my case, which, in essence, is a ruling in my ex-husband’s favor. Th e law fi rm of Bender, Jenson & Silverstein, LLP, and the former Special Referee have blatantly ignored the law, ethical mandates, and evidence of fraud committed by the defendant with his legal representatives.
One can only surmise Judge Silbermann pressured him this way because of her personal, long-time relationship with Mr. Bender. How disingenuous could a head ofmatrimonial matters, who is at the end of her career, be? She seems willing to not only destroy her career for the sake of a corrupt attorney, but also, far worse, attempt to ruin Judge Scarpino by unethically interfering with his judicial decision-making powers. I was contacted by diff erent sources who all informed me of her actions. At fi rst I did not believe it, but it was reconfi rmed. Please be advised that I have recorded their stories because I wanted to have proof of Judge Silbermann’s unethical behavior, knowing full well that no one would believe this. What makes it so appalling is that if my case, given all the publicity it has received, can be fi xed by the head of the matrimonial division, how many others were also fi xed?
To the public she touts herself as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, but nothing could be further from the truth. Although I never intended to confront Judge Silbermann given all of her power and infl uence, I feel I have no other choice. I am not going to spend the rest of my life in poverty and
shame as a result of the corruption that presently exists in the Matrimonial Part of the Westchester, Supreme Court. I do not deserve this type of treatment and I have always acted with dignity and respect to everyone I have encountered in the court system.
The CPLR mandates that newly discovered evidence be presented to the court in which the judgment being challenged originated. My attorneys and I have adhered to the letter of the law in every aspect of this litigation, but continue to have to fight against opposing counsel and the judges who are presiding over this case, who themselves fail to follow the law they have taken an oath to uphold. My September, 2006 motion asking the court to address the newly discovered evidence, resulted in
a decision where everything but the newly discovered evidence was addressed. Judge Scarpino’s attempt to avoid actually making a decision on the clear and convincing evidence is almost too incredible to believe, but could easily be explained if he was unduly infl uenced by his boss, Judge Silbermann. His attempt to “punt” and avoid having to actually address the fraud, misconduct, lying, and cheating which are pervasive and obvious can only lead to one logical conclusion.
Judge Scarpino has just recently accepted my ‘Motion to Reargue’ to address the fraud and misconduct committed by the defendant, the defendant’s attorneys and the former Referee Montagnino, but instead of allowing me to obtain the relief from their fraud and misconduct and allowing me to uncover additional documentation and provide the fi nancial relief I desperately need, and am entitled to, he rewards the defendant and his attorneys by striking any items of relief by allowing the defendant to be in contempt of court for the past 6 years.
Among the items of fraud that need to be addressed are millions of dollars of real estate and other
financial investments the defendant has been allowed to control and shift in his continuing eff orts to defeat any equitable distribution of the marital assets which I actively participated in accumulating. Specifi cally, Judge Scarpino is allowing the defendant, Dr. Ronald Weissman to continue to hide assets by striking from the motion the following:
• Th e purchase of a commercial building located at 15 North Broadway, White Plains, which was in the process of being purchased, with my active participation and marital assets.
• Money taken, in the form of a loan, from a marital investment account in Merrill
Lynch (850-19D82), which was never repaid, and was used as an initial payment for the property at 15 North Broadway.
• Failed to allow tracing of almost a half million dollars in investment accounts which were never disclosed in any Statements of Net Worth or any other documents.
• Address the misappropriation of the defendant’s contents of a Merrill Lynch (850-88808) IRA account in the amount of approximately $300,000.
• Address the failure of the defendant to provide life insurance in the amount of $1.8 million to cover payments due plaintiff .
• Address the fact that the defendant is conspiring with his insurance agent to provide false and misleading documents to the Court to show compliance with the requirement to provide life insurance to the plaintiff when, in fact, he has actually named someone else as the beneficiary.
One need only read the series of court papers submitted in my most recent attempt to have the Westchester Supreme Court address the misconduct and fraud committed by the defendant, the defendant’s attorneys and the former Special Referee, to be able to see, without a doubt, that the defendant had this case fi xed. Each and every allegation listed above of fraud and misconduct is not only backed up with evidence, but the evidence includes sworn statements by the guilty parties themselves, Mr. Joel Bender and former Special Referee James Montagnino. It is abundantly clear that the defendant’s attorneys have conspired with judges to obtain favorable decisions.
Judge Scarpino was brought into the Matrimonial parts last spring following an investigation by the Offi ce of the Inspector General of the bias and misconduct on the part of the former Special Referee Montagnino of which I was one of the leading complainants. For thirteen months (from January 2005 until the end of March 2006), my attorneys had attempted to elicit the truth from the defendant’s attorney, Joel Bender, and the former Referee Montagnino and have them admit to an improper ex-parte relationship which they had engaged in during the time of my divorce proceedings.
It was not until months aft er the judgment was entered, and my papers had been submitted to the Appellate Court, that Mr. Joel Bender fi nally admitted, while under oath, to the truth of his relationship with the former Referee. With this newly discovered evidence, my attorneys and I submitted a motion to Judge Scarpino to have him rule on the fraud and misconduct which was fi nally admitted by Mr. Bender. However, Judge Scarpino, denied my judicial misconduct motion
by stating that the relief being sought was the same as that which was pending before the Appellate Court despite the fact that almost 99 percent of the motion requested Judge Scarpino to address the newly discovered evidence of fraud and misconduct.
In his decision, Judge Scarpino skirted around the issue that underlies the integrity of the entire legal proceeding and addressed everything else. While the relief sought in the motion may have been the same as that which is before the Appellate Court, the facts, supported by the evidence he had before him, were not available at the time the appeal was perfected and could not have properly been included in the appeal since
SPECIAL Court Report ...cont’d from pg. 1
PAGE THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007
it had never been presented to a lower court to rule on. Judge Scarpino knew it was not possible in terms of the sequence of events, for the issue of ex-parte communications, meetings, etc. between the former Referee Montagnino and the law firm that represented the defendant to be included in my appeal. Mr. Bender and Montagnino conspired and intentionally concealed their relationship until Mr. Bender, who was taken by surprise at a sanction hearing and placed under oath, was finally forced to
reveal the truth after concealing it for months. The issue of these meetings between Mr. Bender and former Referee Montagnino are significant for several reasons. These ex-parte meetings took place during a period that Mr. Bender was appearing in front of former Referee Montagnino involving contested matrimonial cases. These meetings took place in Mr. Bender’s offices after hours. It
is mandatory that these types of meetings be brought to the attention of those who appear
in front of a Judge or hearing officer to insure that if a party feels they may be prejudiced by the relationship they can have the official recused. Not only was the relationship not presented by those individuals, but they intentionally concealed and lied about there being any ex-parte communication when directly questioned. Further, the purpose of these ex-parte communications was intended to support the former Referee Montagnino in his well-known attempt to obtain a nomination to become a Supreme Court Judge. Additionally, it was only after October 9, 2006 in his own affirmation that Mr. Bender finally confessed to having these clandestine meetings, but added details incriminating several other prominent Westchester attorneys also having meetings by naming names.
It was only after the damage was done and the defendant had obtained an illegal conversion divorce, was able to obtain all the marital assets and all the other assets he had hidden from me, tricked me, and manipulated the legal proceedings forcing me into an unconscionable stipulation (a stipulation which was clearly intended to have been formalized by a written agreement) that the former Referee Montagnino made me a ward of the Court. Another unbelievable act which was meant to further control and destroy me was to instruct his hand-picked court-appointed guardian to take the
limited funds that I received from the defendant and put them in trust to be dispersed with the assistance of the defendant. How corrupt is that?
Facts About My Case
I initiated my matrimonial action against my ex-husband, Ronald H. Weissman, MD following 25 years of abuse including many brutal physical beatings. The most serious of these beatings occurred in August 1998 when the defendant, punched me repeatedly in the face with such force that my brain was thrust against the inside of my skull many times, with such severity that he ruptured -literally ripped apart- the bridging veins between my cortex and my venous sinuses. The defendant, in an attempt to coverup this beating, began treating me as a patient, put me to bed, prescribed and administered medications which were contraindicated and failed to summon emergency medical
attention or to notify my own personal physician. As a direct result of the trauma, I suffered several strokes, which further weakened me physically and added to the damage caused during the beating. The strokes prevented part of my brain from getting the blood and oxygen needed thereby causing part of it to die. Only belatedly did I receive medical treatment, and that was only when a friend came by the house several weeks later and demanded that I be taken to the hospital immediately.
I have provided to the Court certified medical records of over 1,000 pages from three nationally recognized medical centers which have certified that my medical diagnosis is that of Traumatic Brain Injury. These certified records also contain admissions by the defendant, Dr. Ronald H. Weissman, that the cause of my Traumatic Brain Injury was the beating which he alone had administered. Despite the voluminous documentation and undisputable written proof by physicians and by independent medical providers, the defendant, the defendant’s attorneys and the former Referee continue to deny
that there was ever any spousal abuse, and that I suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury.
The certified proof I have submitted establishes that the defendant and his attorneys are liars. They must be held accountable for their intentional misrepresentation of the facts and the abuse I have been subjected to by the Court for the past six years, and they must be disciplined for years of malicious conduct which is unbecoming Officers of the Court. Every statement, every allegation I have made can be supported by written, certified, evidence. Every piece of evidence has been in both the Matrimonial Division of the Westchester Supreme Court, and the Second Department of the Appellate Division since 2001. The only ‘evidence’ the defendant and the defendant’s attorneys have to
present is his “denial” that there was ever any spousal abuse.
Yet, despite all the evidence and all the motions and court proceedings, the former Referee Montagnino and many of the former matrimonial judges have found ways to have ruled in the defendant’s favor at every opportunity they could. The have allowed him to control, from day one, over $30 million of marital assets. They have allowed him to submit almost blank Net Worth Statements from 2001 to the present. They have refused to prevent him from moving or selling assets which he continues to do in an obvious attempt to prevent their tracing. The defendant continues to buy major Westchester real estate properties and distributes our marital wealth unilaterally to others (See attached). All of these “Officers of the Court” continue to ignore the 800- lb. gorilla in the room, of a victim of spousal abuse who has been left with permanent physical and brain injuries as well as the testimonies from legal and medical experts/ institutions on domestic violence. The former Referee Montagnino has gone so far as to ignore his own hand-picked law guardian’s findings and recommendations and has actually accused me of making up this diagnosis in anticipation of my matrimonial action (Please see attached two decisions and orders dated 11/2005.)
Defendant’s brutality against me robbed me of a life and career that I worked my entire life to obtain. Despite the years of abuse, I was a dutiful wife and mother and worked hard to improve my husband’s career and our family’s life. In a cruel brutal and clearly criminal instant, my life was taken away from me. I will never be able to accomplish the goals I had aimed for in my life. While the defendant reaps the benefits of our marriage, I am left to face an uncertain future with serious physical disabilities and brain injury. I will never fully recover from the injuries I suffered. The defendant and his attorneys continue to mischaracterize and misrepresent, in a demeaning and disrespectful manner, the disability I suffer and the cruel and unconscionable treatment they have subjected me to during this litigation. Instead of obtaining the assistance of the courts to allow me to end an abusive marriage and leave with sufficient assets to be able to take care of myself and obtain the medical care I still desperately need, I have had to endure six years of fighting through the fraud and corruption with seemingly no end in sight.
My sources have informed me that Judge Scarpino will allow me to sell the house but put the proceeds in escrow and yet not direct that the defendant place $30 million in escrow as well. How fair is that? According to the fraudulent outline of settlement placed on record, I already have the right to sell the house but for the fact that the defendant sued my former realtor and by doing so, terrorized every other realtor in Westchester. It is not bad enough that I can’t get on with my life but that the courts
support my ex-husband in his actions that clearly violate the law. While this is going on, I am still responsible for paying my own legal fees although there is a clear disparity between the income levels of the defendant and myself. Instead of taking the judicial action this case calls for, in fairness and equity, and considering the years of abuse, and the fraud and misconduct which the defendant and counsel have carried on for over six years, Judge Scarpino suggested that I file a Plenary Action to obtain relief. This is quite upsetting given the fact that I can’t afford to pay for my own medical
coverage, and this action would be another legal expense, another waste of judicial resources
and would give the defendant more time to continue his lavish lifestyle while manipulating
the marital assets and blocking me from getting the proper medical attention I still need. I want to be able to plan for my future which now includes planning on how to manage with a severe disability.
You should be outraged that as a battered wife and a ward of the Court, Judge Scarpino did not afford me the legal protections mandated by state and federal laws and constitutions. Additionally, Judge Scarpino has failed to replace the Guardian Ad Litem who personally told me she was withdrawing because she could not deal with Mr. Bender’s unethical shenanigans, thus denying me the ability to have equal access to the courts and be able to protect myself and my property. Although this case is in Judge Scarpino’s hands, he is apparently being coerced by Judge Silbermann to not rule, but to defer a decision until the Appellate Court rules on the separate issues before it. As a Judge in the Supreme Court of New York State, he has a responsibility to follow the rules, laws and Constitutions of both New York State and the United States. It is his responsibility to protect those individuals who need protection. In this case, I not only need the protection of the Court, but sought it out. It is now time for
Judge Scarpino to do the right thing and rule on the evidence he has before him. A review of the papers the defendant and defendant’s counsel have submitted do not address the issues of fraud and misconduct that the plaintiff motion papers go into detail describing. Why is it that Mr. Bender does not submit an affirmation denying the allegations? The reason the defendant’s papers do not address the issues in the motion is because they already know the outcome. Reading the Order to Show Cause that Judge Scarpino signed May 1, 2007, it is clear what the outcome of the proceedings will be.
I am asking you to immediately investigate the actions of the judicial personnel in my case who have denied my rights, continue to deny my rights, and continue to victimize me for what appears to be both a fear of doing the right thing, and an expectation that the unethical thing will be advantageous for them personally. I now turn to you and request that on behalf of all victims, that you do the right thing by addressing this blatant and unconscionable treatment of an abused spouse and send a
message in no uncertain terms to the judges and the attorneys and court personnel in Westchester that fraud, corruption, and brutality will not be tolerated.
Debra C. Weissman
cc: The Westchester Guardian
SPECIAL Court Report