Thursday, April 02, 1970

Case of Sheldon Selikoff

Case of Sheldon Selikoff
Superintendent of scouting at Public School 13 - Yonkers, NY
East Coast Mortgage Company - Greenburgh, NY
Organizer - The Bronx County Kennel Club Show - Bronx, NY
North Miami Beach, FL
Aventura, FL
Golden Beach, FL
Suny Isles, FL
Sunny Isles Beach, FL  

December 9, 1926 - December 24, 2003 

Sheldon Selikoff at the age of 44 was arrested and later convicted on charges of obscenity and the sexual assault of an 18-year-old employee in Greenburgh Town Court.  He is believed to have run a child pornography ring.  He was a Yonkers resident and was an assistant leader of a Boy Scout troop.  

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Table of Contents:

  1. Bronx to Discuss Future of Its Show  (04/02/1970)
  2. Scout Aide Charged In Pornography Case (08/13/1970)
  3. Westchester Scout Leader Indicted on Morals Charges (09/22/1970)

  1. People State New York v. Sheldon Selikoff (05/07/1973)

  1. Elderly man dies after driving off Route 80 into tree (11/25/2003)


Bronx to Discuss Future of Its Show 
New York Times - April 2, 1970

The Bronx County Kennel Club show, forced outdoors last Saturday when the Kingsbridge Armory became unavailable on short notice because of the National Guard occupancy, will be reviewed by members at a meeting next Wednesday.  The future of the 48-year-old fixture also will be discussed.  

Capt. Arthur J. Haggerty, the president, said yesterday that some members had suggested abandoning the armory altogher because of the uncertainties surrounding its use at any given time.  Haggerty, who operates a chain of dog training schools, favors a compromise –– one primary location, the armory, and an alternate location.

"Scheduling a show for any military installation always presents a problem," he said.  "We had to cancel in 1966 when the armory was required for movement of troops and equipment.  Another year there was a near miss.  In 1966 the club investigated several places in the Bronx and found nothing suitable.  Lat Friday, when we learned we could not use the armory the following day, I found one, but I am not at liberty to reveal the name."

 The event Saturday was held on the parking lot of Lehman College and almost everything including the weather turned out fine.

"At first I thought the parking lot would be too small for the record entry (2,014 dogs), Haggerty said  "But Sheldon Selikoff, the show chairman, said it was adequate and he proved 100 percent right.  He deserves most of the credit for getting the show organized on the new location

Haggerty said that with exhibitors coming from distant places, there was no choice but to hold the event, despite all obstacles, which included directing exhibitors to the new site from the armary and supplying water for dogs, catering services and sanitation facilities.  He admitted a large amount of "the luck of the Irish" in the operation, including benign weather.  Had the snowstorm of Easter Sunday arrived a day sooner the event might have become a shambles. 

And what breed of won best in the show?  The Irish settler, as represented by Chi. Mahogany Socair Buacaill, C.D., owned by Mrs. Helen Olivo and Alan Levine of Brooklyn.

Scout Aide Charged In Pornography Case
New York Times - August 13, 1970

White Plains, August –– The District Attorney's office here is invetigating a business office in the Tow of Greenburgh that according to District Attorney Carl A. Vergari, operated a "clearing house for sex and filth."

Sheldon Selikoff, accused of being the operator of the office at 54 Tarrytown Road, was arrested by Greenburgh police this morning after a serach revealed 23 reels of what was said to be pornographic film and a quantity of nude photographs, as wel as books and magazines. The name on the door was the East Coast Mortgage Company.

Mr. Selikoff, 44 years old, is a resident of Yonkers, where he is an assistant leader of a Boy Scout troup.  He was charged with obscenity and sexual abuse and released in $1,000 bail in Greenburgh Town Court. 


Westchester Scout Leader Indicted on Morals Charges  
Associated Press - September 22, 1979
Sheldon Selikoff, 44 years old, a Boy Scout leader, was indicted today by Westchester County grand jury on eight counts of morals violations stemming from operation of what the police called a "clearing house" for pornography.  

Mr. Seikoff, of Yonkers, was arrested on Aug. 10 after an 18-year-old girl, hired as his secretary, told the police that Mr. Selikoff showed her an obscene film and made advances towards her during her first day on the job.

District Attorney Carl Vergari said that in tha police raid on the office 23 reels of pornographic film and other items were found.

Mr. Selikoff, free on $1,000 bail, is superintendent of scouting at Public School 13 in Yonkers.  


People State New York v. Sheldon Selikoff 
May 7, 1973

Appeal from a judgment of the Westchester County Court (George D. Burchell, J.), rendered August 16, 1972 convicting defendant, on his plea of guilty, of grand larceny in the second degree and obscenity in the second degree and sentencing him to a prison term of not more than five years on the larceny conviction and a fine of $1,000 on the obscenity conviction.

Martuscello, J. Hopkins, Acting P. J., Munder and Christ, JJ., concur with Martuscello, J.; Gulotta, J., dissents and votes to reverse and remand the case to the County Court for specific performance of the sentence promise by the Trial Judge, with an opinion.

Author: Martuscello
 On May 12, 1972, during the defendant's trial, he moved to withdraw his plea of not guilty and to interpose guilty pleas to grand larceny in the second degree and obscenity in the second degree, under two indictments, in full satisfaction of those two, and two other, indictments. After some colloquy between the court and the defendant had taken place, wherein the defendant acknowledged his participation in the crime of grand larceny and denied that any promises had been made to him, the court stated that incarceration would not be required of the defendant. Specifically, this was stated:

"The Court: At this point Mr. West [the assistant district attorney] I would like to place on the record, Sheldon Selikoff, I have had a number of conferences with your attorney and with representatives of the District Attorney's Office with regard to the cases against you. Based upon the results of the conferences and conversations and the fact and representation made to the court, I indicated to the attorney and I am now indicating to you that in my opinion in the interest of justice that no incarceration of you is required and based upon this plea as to what other sentence I shall impose, I do not know and I make no promises. Do you understand that?

"Sheldon Selikoff: Yes, sir." The court indicated that its statement applied as well to the defendant's plea on the obscenity indictment.

At the sentencing on August 16, 1972, the court stated:

"At the time that such pleas were entered, this Court was not aware, nor was it advised, as to the extent of your participation involving the fraudulent scheme which was the basis of the grand larceny in the second degree of indictment No. 997 of 1970 to which you plead guilty.

"This Court, therefore, based upon the information it then had, informed you at the time you pleaded guilty that it did not believe that a sentence calling for your incarceration was required in the interest of justice.

"Subsequent to this expression of this view, however, this Court presided at the trial of the several co-defendants named in the same indictment with you, which trial lasted for some six weeks. From the evidence adduced on behalf of the People's case on this trial, it appeared to this Court that your participation in the fraudulent scheme which was the basis of the larceny alleged in this count of the indictment, as well as in the other larcenies alleged in the other indictments, Indictment 998 of 1970 and 999 of 1970, involving thousands of dollars, was not peripheral, subordinate or minor, but rather major and as a principal participant in the fraud.

"In light of these facts and circumstances, the Court feels that at this time that it cannot in good conscience and in the interests of justice keep the promise here to no incarceration.
"Furthermore, it appears from your pre-sentence report filed by the Probation Department that you deny any participation in any fraud by which sums of money were extracted from money lenders.

"Again, in regard to the indictment charging you with sexual impropriety, you, according to the pre-sentence report, deny any guilt in any such acts and claim that you are a victim of some persecution."

Accordingly, the court stated that in view of these circumstances and in the interests of justice, it would allow the defendant to withdraw his pleas of guilty. The court stated:

"Accordingly, Mr. Selikoff, this Court hereby grants you the opportunity to withdraw your pleas as heretofore made as to the two indictments."

Defense counsel refused to have his client withdraw his plea and demanded specific performance of the court's promise of no incarceration, on the authority of Santobello v. New York (404 U.S. 257). The court stood by its decision and again afforded the defendant the option of withdrawing his guilty plea. The defendant refused and again expressed his desire to plead guilty and enforce the court's promise as to his sentence. The court imposed a maximum five-year sentence on the grand larceny plea and a fine on the obscenity plea.

On this appeal the defendant again argues that he is entitled to specific performance of the court's promise of no incarceration, on the authority of Santobello (supra).
We affirm the judgment.

Initially, it should be noted that there is no absolute right to have a guilty plea accepted (Santobello, supra ; Lynch v. Overholser, 369 U.S. 705). Moreover, Santobello is inapposite to the case at bar. In Santobello, negotiations regarding sentence were conducted with the prosecutor. The defendant then withdrew his previous not guilty plea to two felony counts and pleaded guilty to a lesser included offense. The prosecutor agreed to make no recommendations as to sentence. At sentencing several months later, a new prosecutor recommended the maximum sentence, which the court (which stated it was uninfluenced by that recommendation) imposed. The defendant attempted unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea and his conviction was affirmed in the New York State courts. The Supreme Court of the United States held that the interests of justice and proper recognition of the prosecution's duties in relation to promises made in connection with "plea bargaining" required that the judgment be vacated and that the case be remanded to the State courts for further consideration as to whether the circumstances require only that there be specific performance of the agreement on the plea (in which case the defendant should be resentenced by a different Judge) or that the defendant be given the relief he seeks of withdrawing his guilty plea. On remand by a four to one vote, the Appellate Division, First Department (People v. Santobello, 39 A.D.2d 654, 655) held that "due process and the interests of justice will be fully served by a remand for resentence with the specific performance of the prosecutor's promise. (See, e.g., People v. Keehner, 28 A.D.2d 695, affd. 25 N.Y.2d 884; People v. Chadwick, 33 A.D.2d 687.)"
In Santobello, the defendant unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw his guilty plea and there was no public policy against specific enforcement of the prosecutor's promise. However, there cannot be an absolute sentence promise by the court at the time of acceptance of a guilty plea, as that would violate a statutory mandate and public policy. Prior to the imposition of sentence the court must order a presentence investigation and may not pronounce sentence prior to receiving a written report of such investigation (CPL 390.20, subd. 1). The presentence investigation "consists of the gathering of information with respect to the circumstances attending the commission of the offense, the defendant's history of delinquency or criminality, and the defendant's social history, employment history, family situation, economic status, education, and personal habits" (CPL 390.30, subd. 1). While many, if not most, sentence arrangements by the court at the time of a guilty plea are expressly made conditional upon the findings of the presentence report, it is clear that any such arrangement, no matter how phrased, must be considered contingent until such time as it is confirmed by the court, subsequent to its review of the presentence report, by the formal imposition of sentence. To hold otherwise would frustrate the whole scheme of the statute in providing for the acceptance of lesser pleas and for the imposition of sentences thereon with regard to their deterrent influence, the rehabilitation of the defendant and the protection of the public (Penal Law, ? 1.05, subd. 5). If the court has in fact made a specific sentence promise to a defendant at the time of a guilty plea which it cannot thereafter fulfill, it is perfectly fair and proper for the court to offer the defendant the opportunity to withdraw his plea, as was done at bar, and restore him to his prior position (People v. Di Giacomo, 40 A.D.2d 689; see American Bar Association Project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice, vol. on Pleas of Guilty, ?? 1.8; 2.1 [a] [ii] [4]; ? 3.3). The Legislature has expressly vested discretion with the court to permit a defendant to withdraw his plea at any time prior to the imposition of sentence and to restore him to his prior position (CPL 220.60, subd. 4).

In the absence of any showing of specific prejudice to the defendant or change in position in reliance upon the guilty plea, and none has been demonstrated in this record, he is in no position to object to this procedure.

Accordingly, the judgment of conviction should be affirmed.
Judgment of the County Court, Westchester County, rendered August 16, 1972, affirmed.
The case is remitted to the County Court, Westchester County, for proceedings to direct defendant to surrender himself to that court in order that execution of the judgment shall be commenced or resumed (CPL 460.50, subd. 5).

Gulotta, J. (dissenting).

I would reverse the judgment and remand the case to the County Court for specific performance of the sentence promise made by the Trial Judge.
The record incontrovertibly shows an unconditional promise by the Judge that no jail sentence would be imposed. Prior to the acceptance of the guilty plea the court stated, in haec verba, "No incarceration of you is required and based upon this plea as to what other sentence I shall impose, I do not know and I make no promises." The "other sentence" necessarily referred to the alternative of a fine or probation.

Subsequently the court imposed a prison term of a maximum of five years and a fine of $1,000.

The court explained its action by indicating that additional information had come to its attention which made it inappropriate for it to keep its promise and offered to allow a withdrawal of the plea, which offer the defendant rejected. No claim is made that the defendant or anyone on his behalf misrepresented any facts which led to the court's promise.

I agree with the basic position we took in People v. Di Giacomo (40 A.D.2d 689) that a promise should be fulfilled or, if the arrangement is to be undone, that the People and the defendant are to be restored to the status obtaining before the plea, citing People v. Rice (25 N.Y.2d 822). (See, also, Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257.) However, returning to the status quo ante is impossible in this case where co-defendants of this defendant have been tried and acquitted in the interim and the defendant himself has waived his constitutional right against self incrimination and has made a full disclosure of his involvement in the crime to the prosecuting authorities and the Probation Department. The record shows that immediately prior to acceptance of the plea and the making of the promise there was a full discussion of the defendant's participation in the crimes charged. The Judge, some four members of the prosecutor's staff, the defendant and his attorney took part in that session. Thus, in reliance upon the court's promise, he at that time and subsequently laid bare all the facts pointing to his culpability. Furthermore, in view of the dilemma in which the court found itself, it would be somewhat unrealistic to suppose that sometime prior to sentence the District Attorney's office was not made aware of whatever additional information the Probation Department had gathered.

We need not fear any wholesale miscarriages of justice by requiring the court to abide by its commitment, since absolute promises, without reservations, such as we are dealing with here, are rare and there is really no need to make them. Faith in the judicial process is more important than seeing that this particular defendant receives a prison term, even though he may deserve it.

There may be some question about the desirability of a Trial Judge taking part in plea discussions and certainly he should not make an unqualified promise as to sentence prior to receipt of a presentence report. The American Bar Association has disapproved of these practices (see American Bar Association Project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice, vol. on Pleas of Guilty, ? 3.3). It acknowledges, nonetheless, that the practice of judicial participation in plea bargaining is rather widespread (id., commentary on ? 3.3[a]). However, in the instant case we are confronted with a fait accompli and the question is how to mete out even-handed justice.

On the other side of this coin, i.e., where a defendant has demanded the right to withdraw his plea and the People have insisted on specific performance of the plea bargain, both this court in People v. Chadwick (33 A.D.2d 687) and the First Department in People v. Santobello (39 A.D.2d 654) have required specific performance. In contrast, here we have the defendant demanding specific performance.

Elderly man dies after driving off Route 80 into tree
By Eman Varoqua and Justo Bautista
The Record - November 25, 2003

PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS, NJ - Authorities are investigating what caused a car to veer off Route 80 and crash into a tree Monday, killing the driver. 

Sheldon Selikoff, 76, of Miami was traveling west around 1 p.m., when his 2003 Dodge Neon ran off the road, state police said. The impact destroyed the car, they said. 

It was not known whether a medical condition was a factor in the accident, and an autopsy will be performed, state police said. 

The car was such a wreck, police said, that investigators could not determine whether Selikoff was wearing a seat belt. 

Trooper Tim Nevill said there were no witnesses to the accident, and police were looking for a cause.


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