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Court docs reveal attempts to broker cash payment in Handy beating case

Dec 05, 2022 1:00 am

Roger Hannigan Gilson is reporting for the Times Union court papers filed last weekend, before jury selection was set to begin in the trial of four people charged in the 2020 beating of local mechanic Harold Handy include details of attempts to negotiate a cash payment to Handy that would have allowed all four of the accused to avoid criminal charges. The four defendants are charged with unlawful imprisonment and assault stemming from the alleged beating during an Independence Day party in Kinderhook. The filings include a draft agreement between Handy and defendants Sheriff's Deputy Kelly Rosenstrach; her husband, gym owner Alex Rosenstrach; IRS agent Bryan Haag; and contractor Corey Gaylord, promising a payment of $650,000 if Handy helped his alleged attackers avoid criminal charges. The filings also included a screenshot of a text message from Handy's private attorney requesting an even larger payout. The matter was set for trial on November 28, but about an hour into jury selection, District Attorney Paul Czajka [CHAI-kah] called for a private conference with county Judge Richard Koweek. After that conversation, Koweek announced an adjournment, but failed to give a reason; the minutes of the conversation have been sealed. Five days before, Haig's attorney, Paul DerOhannesian [Deh-ROH-hann-eesian] II, asked the court to subpoena Handy's private lawyer, Paul Freeman, for documents related to any attempt to secure a cash settlement from the defendants. Czajka responded on the eve of trial with his own filing. In it, Czajka stated he had never seen the draft settlement agreement or the text message before DerOhannesian's subpoena request. Those documents should have been turned over to prosecutors as part of the pre-trial discovery process, Czajka said, and he asked the court to sanction the defense counsel for failing to comply with discovery laws. Czajka also claims the defense attorneys had failed to reveal the identities of their clients' civil attorneys, nor anything about the negotiations that appear to have taken place. It is unknown if the recent filings were the reason the court proceedings were abruptly adjourned because Koweek and Czajka remain silent on the subject. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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