Facebook Google+ By News Highland – April 1, 2020 AudioHomepage BannerNews Twitter Google+ Important message for people attending LUH’s INR clinic Facebook The health watchdog HIQA is to carry out a risk-assessment to see which nursing homes need more help to deal with Covid-19.Health Minister Simon Harris says a number of measures are to be taken to deal the outbreaks in nursing homes…………….Audio Playerhttps://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/simonh7am.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. HIQA to assess which nursing homes are at risk of Covid-19 News, Sport and Obituaries on Monday May 24th Arranmore progress and potential flagged as population grows FT Report: Derry City 2 St Pats 2 DL Debate – 24/05/21 Previous articleKenny calls for review of GoSafe costs after €26 million “loss”Next articleBishop says several priests are cocooning in the Diocese of Raphoe News Highland RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR WhatsApp Pinterest Pinterest WhatsApp Twitter Loganair’s new Derry – Liverpool air service takes off from CODA
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York • NYS Attorney General’s Office tells Parole Board it is “highly unlikely that Bower committed the crimes”• Parole Board grants freedom but blasts AG for no exoneration• March 25 and April 3 hearings• Family and lawyer still seek justiceRonald Bower, a 52-year-old father of two from Queens who’s spent the past 22 years behind bars for heinous crimes many believe he did not commit, will finally be coming home to his family.Bower, whose plight has been the subject of three Long Island Press cover stories, a letter-writing campaign instigated by the newspaper and a Facebook group “Free Ronald Bower” created and maintained by the newspaper, has been granted parole in large part due to a letter written in December from Thomas Schellhammer, the bureau chief of the New York State (NYS) Attorney General’s Office Conviction Review Bureau, urging his release and telling the Parole Board at Clinton Correctional Facility it is “highly unlikely that Bower committed the crimes.”Schellhammer’s recommendation, however, falls short of tossing out Bower’s convictions or granting exoneration. Thus, Bower—who was convicted of sodomy, sexual abuse and attempted robbery for two sexual attacks in Nassau and Queens—must register as a sex offender and adhere to stipulated guidelines that range dependent upon his risk-level assignment, which will be determined through two NYS Sex Offender Registry Act hearings: March 25 in Nassau and April 3 in Queens. He’ll be released sometime afterward. The NYS Parole Board was consequently saddled with the awkward task of releasing a convicted sex offender who has not been cleared of his crimes by the judicial system—something they hammered NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Office and Nassau and Queens district attorneys’ offices about during the parole hearing. Prosecutors from both Nassau and Queens district attorneys’ offices complained to the attorney general’s office, stating they were never informed of intentions to parole Bower nor contacted for their respective offices’ case files—a charge Schneiderman’s office strongly refutes.Schellhammer, an assistant attorney general and former homicide prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, is the latest in what has been a growing number of law enforcement officials who’ve supported Bower’s unwavering claims of innocence throughout the years, a list that includes current and former members of the NYS Inspector General’s Office of the state Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and even members of the very sex crimes unit that originally arrested and charged him.Regardless of the hubbub between the Parole Board and the three agencies, both Bower’s family and his longtime attorney Jeremy L. Goldberg—Appeals Bureau Chief at the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, who’s been working on Bower’s case pro bono for the past 20 years—are “jubilant,” says Ronald’s older brother Steve that he is finally coming home and commend the attorney general’s office for helping make that a reality. Neither, however, say they will rest until Bower has been fully cleared of the crimes he’s been convicted.“We’re happy about his release but we are not going to rest until he is exonerated and justice is done,” says Steve, who has been fighting for his brother’s release since his arrest and caring for their elderly mother ever since.“I’m very happy that my father’s coming home, but I’m not going to stop all efforts until his name is cleared and he’s exonerated,” vows his daughter Kristy, who was just a toddler when her father was incarcerated and is now a paralegal working for New York City. “I want him to have all the freedom he deserves, and parole is a blessing, but I really want exoneration so that he doesn’t have to fall within the restrictions and the stigma behind being a parolee. It’s just not fair.”“What does it take for the authorities to recognize his innocence when so many people, their own people, already have?” asks Goldberg. “The big picture, to me—it’s about my client and it’s about ultimately getting him exonerated.”Double Vision: (L) Former NYPD Officer Michael Perez and Ronald Bower. Police allowed Perez to change out of the hooded sweatshirt he was arrested in and into a suit and tie for his mug shot, while demanding Bower put one on for his. (Long Island Press)“I’M INNOCENT!”Bower had been picked up by Queens sex crimes detectives on May 10, 1991 during his shift at the Douglaston Mall, where he worked as a security guard. The then-30-year-old father of two, who had no prior criminal record, was arrested, made to wear a hooded sweatshirt similar to the one victims described their attacker as wearing, photographed, paraded through several police lineups and eventually charged with two crimes Queens sex crimes unit investigators dubbed the work of the “Silver Gun Rapist”—an assailant eyewitnesses described as having considerably similar physical characteristics to Bower who accosted young women and girls in a series of at least nine sexual attacks through a corridor of eastern Queens and western Nassau counties in the vicinity of Union Turnpike between 1990 and 1991.The perpetrator’s M.O. was to approach his victims—sometimes two at a time—while they walked or as they entered their vehicles, force or drive them to secluded areas and demand them to perform oral sex on him at gunpoint.Sometimes, he’d also rape them. Victims described the weapons used as a small silver handgun and a snub-nose .38-caliber revolver. Internally, cops labelled the crimes as “Pattern #1/91.”Retired DOCS senior investigator Timothy Huff, whose visit with Ronald Bower in prison nearly 20 years ago sparked an investigation into who really committed the heinous sex crimes Bower was convicted of. (Long Island Press)While Bower was in custody, the crimes continued, and unbeknownst to he and his attorneys at the time, another man, a New York City police officer named Michael Perez, who had a striking resemblance to Bower, was also arrested and facing trial, accused of raping and sodomizing two women. When police pulled Perez over for erratic driving in relation to one of the incidents, a fully loaded, silver .38 caliber six-shot revolver with a 2-inch barrel was recovered from beneath the driver’s seat.Perez was off-duty at the times of each pattern attack and eventually became the subject of an Internal Affairs Bureau investigation. He was caught peeping into apartment windows and also in the act of having sex with a prostitute, according to court documents, and resigned shortly afterward.Yet while Perez was acquitted in both cases—and allowed by police to change into a suit and tie for his mug shot and lineups—Bower received an 18- to 54-year sentence for sodomy, sexual abuse and attempted robbery, with an official maximum expiration date of May 3, 2041.He has insisted his innocence ever since, which has often led to added friction within various prisons throughout New York State; because of his professed innocence, he refused to participate in mandated rehabilitation classes for sex offenders.Schellhammer outlined his reasoning for Bower’s release in his Dec. 30, 2013 letter, explaining that his bureau had been investigating Bower’s claims of innocence “for some time,” a probe that included speaking with investigators and witnesses associated with the crimes he was convicted of in an attempt to reconstruct those events “to the best of our ability.”“Unfortunately, due to the passage of time and the loss of some crucial evidence, we are unable to completely do so,” he writes. “Some witnesses have been uncooperative with the Conviction Review Bureau procedures. Accordingly, we are unable to fully close our investigation at this time.”“This position is based upon several factors,” the letter continues. “a) His physical resemblance to another person who committed identical crimes at about the same time as these in question, some of which occurred after Bower was in custody; b) the possible mis-identification of Bower as the perpetrator of these crimes by the victims; c) the lack of a propensity or any other prior indicator that Bower was inclined to commit offenses of a sexual nature; and d) the probability that Bower had an alibi for the nights in question.”“In light of these factors, I urge the Parole Board to grant Mr. Bower parole at its earliest convenience,” Schellhammer adds, noting that Bower’s is the only case to date that his office, which was created in 2012, has asked the Parole Board to consider granting parole to an inmate. “As a prosecutor, I am aware of the elements that the Parole Board looks to when considering granting parole, and I am aware that Bower has never fully accepted responsibility for these crimes. Considering what the Bureau has learned about the facts of these crimes, I believe there is ample reason for Bower not to do so. In any event, given that Bower has now been incarcerated for twenty years, I believe that society’s best interests are served by granting him parole.”The Parole Board at Clinton Correctional Facility, however, did not grant Bower’s freedom without first blasting the Attorney General’s Office at Bower’s Jan. 21, 2014 parole board hearing for putting them in the uncomfortable position of releasing a convicted sex offender and for failing to seek full exoneration.Anguish, personified: (L) Ronald Bower’s 84-year-old mother, Margaret, holds a photo of her imprisoned son as his brother, Steven, watches over her. (R) Ronald Bower in July 2004, behind bars, serving part of his 18- to 54-year sentence. (Long Island Press)“JUST DISMISS THESE CHARGES”“I am greatly disturbed that a prosecutor—and unlike any other attorney in the system, not even a judge—a prosecutor is charged with doing justice,” slammed Commissioner James Ferguson, according to a transcript of the proceeding. “That means doing the right thing. If they feel so strongly about this, I’m shocked and dismayed that they have not had—let me say it politely—the fortitude to come forward and just dismiss these charges.“Instead, they’re trying to convince the Parole Board to take the responsibility for releasing you on a pretty egregious offense because they don’t have—again, I’ll say it politely—the fortitude to come forward and basically release you or dismiss the charges or petition the court for your release,” he told Bower. “So that’s to me very disappointing.”“I am dismayed, if they feel so strongly, they have not taken their own action to secure your release, hoping that the Parole Board would give this weight to the letter that they have submitted and make a decision,” Ferguson reiterated.Commissioner Lisa Beth Elovich also weighed in, taking additional aim at Nassau and Queens district attorneys’ offices.“I too as a former prosecutor and someone that’s been involved in the criminal justice system for 23 years, find this shocking and I find this very, very disturbing the way this has been handled by the judicial system, the DA’s office, and anyone else involved in this,” she said. “What they are virtually doing is putting the Parole Board in a terrible position because as a Parole Board, we are charged to assume that the person that is in prison is guilty of what they’re in prison for because we do not have the resources to retry a case.“We don’t have the witnesses—we don’t have sworn witnesses, we don’t have documentation, we don’t have the evidence, we can’t cross-examine people. We don’t have any of those things at our disposal,” Elovich continued. “So there is a reason why we don’t retry a case. The District Attorney’s Office, however, has those resources in terms of what they have as sworn testimony, documentation, evidence.“So the fact that the DA’s office and all other prosecuting entities that have been involved in this have not taken a stand either way, to go ahead and say that this person is not guilty of what they’re in here for, I find that extremely disturbing,” she told Bower, “and the fact that an Attorney General…would personally write a letter saying that they feel that you are not guilty of the crime that you’re in here for and their only recourse they think is the Parole Board to release you, is a very deep concern. I don’t understand why this would not have been taken to a judge or some other judicial forum that would have the authority to release you based on lack of evidence or any other reason they can think of why you would not be guilty of what you’re in here for.“It does put the Parole Board in a very bad position.”Devastated: Ronald Bower’s oldest daughter, Kristy, and his mother Margaret react to a judge’s 2005 decision against reversing his convictions. (Jerry Martin/Long Island Press)Nassau and Queens prosecutors are also perturbed. Neither were copied on the Attorney General’s letter or apprised of the office’s conclusions, writes Nassau County Chief Assistant District Attorney Madeline Singas in a Feb. 28, 2014 letter to Chief Deputy Attorney General Harlan Levy, Esq. Neither were contacted by the Attorney General’s Office in order to review Bower’s files, either, she contends—a claim that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office “vigorously disputes,” according to the New York Law Journal, which published an article about Bower and his release in their most recent issue.“While we applaud the Attorney General’s creation of this new bureau, it is troubling that this review was undertaken without a review of the case files held by the District Attorneys of Queens or Nassau County,” she blasts. “Mr. Schellhammer’s letter to the Parole Board contains a single paragraph to support his conclusion that ‘it appears highly unlikely that Bower committed the crimes for which he was convicted.’ While those claims of innocence have been substantially reviewed and rejected by the prior Nassau County District Attorney’s administration, the Queens District Attorney’s Office, and examined and rejected by both state and federal courts, this office is prepared to fully re-examine this case immediately if warranted.“Thus far, when we have asked to provide the office with any new or exculpatory evidence in order to facilitate any appropriate release of Mr. Bower from custody, you have declined to do so,” Singas continues. “Once again, I respectfully request that your office immediately share with us the evidence that supports the findings outlined in Mr. Schellhammer’s letter.”Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s Office only became aware of the Attorney General’s correspondence with the Parole Board and its conclusion, she writes, from a media inquiry—the Law Journal’s.Bower, whose horrific tours around the most brutal prisons throughout the state—Auburn, Gowanda, Green Haven, Sullivan, Clinton—have wrought him and his family immeasurable pain and anguish, told the Parole Board at his hearing that: “I’ve been crying almost every day.”“I’m innocent!” he told this reporter, his eyes welling up with tears during a jailhouse interview at one of those hellish facilities. “You have to believe me… I never hurt anyone.”
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Western play N.A. United, Santos battle Ann’s GroveFOOTBALL action continues tonight in the 2017 Limacol Round Robin Knock-Out tournament at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground, Bourda, with a double-header. Fans are hoping for a winner when the first match gets going from 18:30hrs when Georgetown side Western Tigers take on the ancient county’s New Amsterdam United in an all-out brawl.In the second game, the ever-improving Santos will challenge Ann’s Grove just over an hour and a half later.In the opening round of matches on Monday, Police drew with Mahaica Determinators 2-2 while Riddim Squad had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Camptown.After tonight’s matches, the event will move to the Leonora Stadium where Uitvlugt will play Eagles United and Pouderoyen will oppose Den Amstel.The following day the event will move to the Mackenzie Sports Club (MSC) ground in Linden with Milerock battling Northern Rangers and Winners Connection facing off with Grove Hi-Tech in Group A.The final matches of round one on January 29 will pit Uitvlugt against Eagles United in Group B and Pouderoyen against Den Amstel in Group C at a venue to be announced.The winners of the tournament will take home $500 000 and a trophy while the second-, third- and fourth-placed teams will receive $250 000, $125 000 and $75 000 respectively.Additionally, the winners of each group will receive $100 000 while the respective finishers will pocket $50 000, $30 000 and $20 000.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has moved to heal whatever rifts that may have occurred during the campaign for the leadership of the party, with re-elected leader Dr. Peter Phillips saying there would be no bloodletting.Phillips, who fought off a battle from the former 59-year-old national security minister, Peter Bunting, to win the leadership battle by less than 80 votes, told a news conference that the aim now is to consolidate the opposition party as it gears to contest the next general election against the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).“Having come through this campaign, we are mindful of all the issues raised during those 90 days, and in particular the clear message sent by the delegates [is that] ‘we want a unified party.“My opponent, Peter Bunting, and the comrades who supported him can be assured of my highest consideration and comradeship. Comrade Bunting and I held the first meeting yesterday at which we discussed a number of issues and we reaffirmed our commitment to cooperate fully for the success of the People’s National Party,” Phillips told reporters.He said in the discussions with Bunting, both parties had agreed that they will name a team led by the respective campaign managers which will meet and resolve any issues which have the potential for causing conflict.In addition, Philips said that each campaign is being dismantled and there will be no recrimination or victimization of any form even as the normal party functions.“We both agreed that our supporters should desist from attacks on other party supporters on social media or otherwise and that the party’s Code of Conduct and rules should be observed,” Phillips said, adding that the party will conduct an internal investigation into claims of vote-buying and other allegations that surfaced during the bitter campaign.Phillips, 69, who had first taken over the leadership of the PNP in March 2017, following the party’s defeat in the 2016 general election, acknowledged that his campaign had been partly funded by donations from corporate entities.He said also that individual PNP members and “persons all across the country” had contributed to the campaign, financially.“Most of all, what I valued was the number of small donations that came from people all across the country willing to give a J$20,000 (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) here, a J$10,000 there, a J$50,000 there who contributed the greater share of what came to our campaign”, he said.But while he was not able to disclose the total amount of funds spent on the campaign, he told reporters “I’m certain we still owe some”.