2014-08-21 / Front Page

Attorney in Ariano rape case charged with witness tampering, bribery

Eric Gross

The circumstances surrounding the Lani Zaimi Ariano rape case have gotten more bizarre. The Carmel-Mahopac restaurateur, who is scheduled to be back in court next month for retrial in the alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman employed at his restaurant last year, will almost certainly have to find himself a new lawyer.

Attorney George Galgano, who was taken into custody in early July at his law office in White Plains by Carmel Police and State Police from the Special Investigations Unit after troopers raided the suite and recovered quantities of illegal drugs, was arrested again Thursday for witness tampering, conspiracy and bribery.

Galgano, 41, was arraigned in Putnam County Court on the felony charges and after posting $100,000 bail was released.

District Attorney Adam Levy conducted a news briefing at his office, where he was surrounded by members of his department, State Police and Carmel Police to outline the allegations.

District Attorney Adam Levy is flanked by members of law enforcement during his news conference Thursday. Photo/Eric GrossDistrict Attorney Adam Levy is flanked by members of law enforcement during his news conference Thursday. Photo/Eric GrossLevy charged that “Mr. Galgano’s actions strikes at the heart of the integrity of the criminal justice system. When a crime is committed, witnesses come into court to testify and a jury makes a determination as to whether or not the crimes were committed based on that testimony. However, instead of allowing the jury process to take its course, Mr. Galgano tried to stack the deck in his client’s favor by offering money and making other statements that would assure the witness would not come to court to testify. This is a crime.”

Following the briefing, Levy told this reporter that Galgano had “violated the law by stepping over the ethical line of lawfully representing a client. The law was broken and the attorney will be held accountable.”

It was also revealed that police had intercepted a message in which Galgano had allegedly threatened to shoot an assistant Putnam District Attorney.

The arrest comes less than two weeks after Galgano filed a $130 million lawsuit against the district attorney and Carmel Police alleging they violated Ariano’s constitutional rights in connection with his most recent arrest for a separate sexual assault.

Judge James Rooney presided over Ariano’s first trial that ended in a mistrial in March after a Putnam County jury hopelessly deliberated the fate of the Carmel businessman for six days. Rooney is also scheduled to officiate over the upcoming retrial that is slated to commence on Sept. 29, when jury selection gets underway.

The 44-year-old Carmel restaurateur was accused of  sexually assaulting the young woman on July 31, 2013.

The Mahopac resident was charged with rape and criminal sexual act—both felonies as well as unlawfully dealing with a child—a Class A misdemeanor.

While prosecutors contended that the victim said “no”, defense counsel charged that the teenager never said “stop” and when she became ashamed of her actions, she said she had been raped.

In April, a grand jury indicted Ariano on new charges of sexual abuse following his arrest by Carmel Police in February. That case  involved an alleged encounter with another waitress at his restaurant.

Levy said the intimidation and witness bribing charges stem from the second arrest: “The witness who was allegedly tampered with had nothing to do with the first trial.”

Two co-conspirators were also named in the indictment. Quincy McQuaid, 37 and Lia LoRusso, 41, both residents of Putnam County, were also charged with intimidation, witness tampering and conspiracy. Levy said Galgano hired the pair to assist in his query of the second alleged victim.

Three and one-half years ago Ariano pleaded guilty in Carmel Court to a misdemeanor charge of sexual misconduct. After copping the plea he was ordered to seek professional treatment.

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