On March 10, PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis joined Gov. George E. Pataki at a press conference in Staten Island about crime-fighting legislation. The press conference was held on the anniversary of the murder of two New York City Police Detectives in Staten Island during an undercover gun-trafficking operation. The State Troopers PBA stands in support of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, and we also encourage the passage of legislation that provides Troopers with the tools and resources to safely accomplish their dangerous jobs. Below is the press release issued by the office of Governor Pataki. PBA President De Federicis’s comments are placed in bold and underlined for emphasis. Also in this posting are photos from the press conference – to enlarge any of the photos, click on the photo you are viewing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 10, 2005
GOVERNOR CALLS FOR PASSAGE OF TWO CRITICAL CRIME-FIGHTING BILLS
Urges Immediate Passage of Death Penalty and Gun Trafficking Legislation on 2nd Anniversary of NYPD Detectives’ Murder on Staten Island
Governor George E. Pataki today joined elected officials, law enforcement officials, law enforcement union leaders, and the family of fallen NYPD Detective Rodney J. Andrews to call upon the Assembly to pass two critical pieces of criminal justice legislation – a bill that would fix the provision of the state’s death penalty law that was ruled invalid by the Court of Appeals, and a bill to combat gun trafficking.
"The tragic deaths of Detective Andrews and Detective Nemorin remind us all of the dangers our courageous law enforcement officials face everyday," Governor Pataki said. "We need laws to keep our communities safe, and to protect our police officers as they carry out their heroic work. The Senate has repeatedly passed legislation that would ensure that we have a capital punishment law on the books and another bill that would help crack down on illegal gun trafficking.
"If the Assembly had passed the death penalty legislation, the vicious murderers of Detectives Andrews and Nemorin could be facing the ultimate punishment in State court. Sadly, the Assembly’s failure to pass the gun trafficking legislation allows illegal gun dealers to escape facing serious penalties for peddling their deadly wares on our streets. It’s time for the Assembly Leadership to act on these crime-fighting bills," the Governor said.
Two years ago today, Detectives Nemorin and Andrews were shot and killed on Staten Island during an undercover gun trafficking investigation. Under the Governor’s proposal to combat gun trafficking, if Detective Nemorin had arrested the gun-dealer for the sale of one gun during the first gun-buy operation, the dealer would have been subject to mandatory imprisonment and could have been charged with a Class D violent felony, which carries a sentence of a minimum of two years and up to seven years in State prison.
Current law penalizes the sale of one gun as a Class D non-violent felony, which carries a sentence of only one to three years, or even probation. Detectives Nemorin and Andrews were murdered when they went back for a second sale in order to arrest the gun-dealer on a more serious charge.
Assemblyman Matthew Mirones said, "We’re here today not only to commemorate the lives of Police Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin, but also to acknowledge the daunting risks police officers throughout our state – and indeed, their loved ones – face each day in fulfilling their oaths to protect and serve. I believe that we, as legislators, are bound to write and enact legislation that minimizes these risks and deters perpetrators from committing these types of violent acts. To this end, the Assembly Majority – the very same legislators who supported the capital punishment statute ten years ago – have blocked this legislation from reaching the Assembly floor for a vote."
Assemblyman Vincent Ignizio said, "These two initiatives will go a long way to build on a historic crime reduction that Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg have ushered in to our city and state. I strongly urge and support the Assembly leadership to take up the death penalty issue and at the very least put it to a vote."
Congressman Vito Fosella said, "Law enforcement needs every tool at its disposal to fight crime and protect our citizens. This is the primary function of government, yet the State Assembly continues to block meaningful reform of the State’s capital punishment law. Detective Andrews and Detective Nemorin were murdered in cold-blood by a vicious killer who had no respect for the law, law enforcement or life itself. Justice demands the ultimate punishment. Fairness demands that the State Assembly act at once to reinstitute capital punishment in New York."
Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan said, "On this day, when we remember the supreme sacrifice made by Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin at the hands of a gun-trafficking gang, it is time for the Assembly to follow Governor Pataki’s leadership and immediately act to fix the death penalty law and enact meaningful legislation aimed at punishing those who trade in illegal weapons."
Criminal Justice Director Chauncey G. Parker said, "Governor Pataki’s proposal will give law enforcement officials the tools they need to detect and apprehend illegal gun traffickers before their guns ever hit the streets of New York. The death penalty law has helped contribute to New York’s dramatic crime reduction because it serves a major crime deterrent. We need to make sure this law is available to district attorneys and juries in the worst of the worst cases."
New York State Police Superintendent Wayne E. Bennett said, "Placing consequences on the illegal trafficking of guns and amending the State’s death penalty legislation so that the State’s District Attorneys can once again apply it in appropriate cases, assists law enforcement in keeping our communities safe. Governor Pataki’s proposals will also help protect law enforcement when they are doing their jobs."
Michael Palladino, President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Inc., said, "The Governor’s continued support for law enforcement in New York State is genuine and truly appreciated. This legislation, in conjunction with reinstatement of the death penalty, will make both our streets and the law enforcement community safer."
Daniel M. De Federicis, President of the State Troopers PBA, said, "Once again, we have Governor Pataki to thank for acknowledging the dangers inherent in police work, and for championing legislation that will better protect our brave and hard-working men and women in law enforcement as well as all New Yorkers. This legislation will provide Troopers with the tools and resources necessary to take gun-traffickers off the streets, and for the court system to be able to keep these criminals off the streets and out of our neighborhoods."
ILLEGAL GUN-TRAFFICKING BILL
The Governor’s illegal gun-trafficking bill would amend the existing "criminal possession of a weapon" statutes to more severely penalize the possession of multiple weapons. It would also amend the "criminal sale of a weapon" provisions to lower the number of illegal weapons required for prosecution under the law and to penalize aggregate sales. This legislation would also close the loophole for gun traffickers who intentionally limit the number of firearms in a single transaction.
Criminal Sale of Firearms
The criminal sale of a weapon offenses are graded in the Penal Law by three degrees ranging in seriousness from a Class D felony to a Class B felony. The illegal sale of a single firearm is a Class D non-violent felony [Penal Law §265.11]; the illegal sale of 10 or more firearms is a Class C violent felony offense [Penal Law §265.12]; and the illegal sale of 20 or more firearms is a Class B violent felony offense [Penal Law §265.13].
The Governor’s proposal would amend these provisions by (1) classifying the Class D felony offense of the illegal sale of even one firearm as a violent felony offense; (2) punishing as a Class C violent felony the illegal sale of 5 or more firearms; and (3) punishing as a Class B violent felony the illegal sale of 10 or more firearms.
Criminal Possession of Multiple Firearms
Under current law, the criminal possession of a weapon is penalized by four offenses which range in seriousness from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B felony. With respect to the illegal possession of multiple firearms, the Penal Law does not include similar gradations. The Penal Law [Penal Law 265.02(5)] sanctions the illegal possession of 20 or more firearms as a Class D violent felony offense punishable by a minimum determinate sentence of 2 years and a maximum of 7 years. An offender who possesses 19 or fewer firearms can be charged only with a mere Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
The Governor’s proposal would strengthen existing law by: 1) reducing from 20 to 3 the number of firearms required to be possessed for the Class D violent felony offense; 2) creating a new Class C violent felony offense for the illegal possession of 5 or more firearms [carrying a determinate sentence of at least 3 ½ years and up to 15 years]; and (3) creating a new Class B violent felony offense for the illegal possession of 10 or more firearms [carrying a determinate sentence of at least 5 years or up to 25 years].
Closing the Loophole
In addition, the Governor’s proposal recognizes the fact that gun traffickers often evade the strict felony penalties for multiple illegal sales by intentionally restricting the number of firearms that they sell in a single transaction.
This measure amends the law to eliminate this loophole by augmenting the "single transaction" standard with a one year rule. For example, under current law, a gun trafficker who illegally sells one gun each month over the course of a year could only be charged with a D non-violent felony for each of those transactions. Under the Governor’s proposal, the trafficker would be charged with a B violent felony offense.
DEATH PENALTY LEGISLATION
The Governor has proposed legislation, passed by the Senate, that would amend the state’s death penalty law to fix a provision that was ruled invalid by the state Court of Appeals.
The Court ruled that under the law, judges were improperly required to instruct jurors in capital cases that if they deadlocked and failed to reach a verdict during the penalty phase of a trial, the judge would impose a sentence that would leave the defendant eligible for parole after 20 to 25 years.
The bill would require that in addition to capital punishment or life in prison without parole, juries would be given a third option of imposing a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole when sentencing convicted murderers. In addition, the bill would require that if a jury is deadlocked, a sentence of life without parole would be imposed, and juries would be told of that provision before sentencing.
This bill would apply to all pending capital cases, as well as crimes committed prior to the effective date of any change in the law.