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Thread: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

  1. #1

    Default Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    I don't understanding this ruling. Has anyone heard about this case and able to offer more info. RU, aren't you from NJ? Any info?
    --pm

    Widow must repay $150K to an inmate
    Court overturns award given in 1958 murder of Rahway cop


    Wednesday, July 11, 2007
    BY ROBIN GABY FISHER AND JUDY LUCAS
    Star-Ledger Staff

    Elizabeth Bernoskie waited more than four decades to see an arrest in the 1958 murder of her husband, Rahway Police officer Charles Bernoskie.

    Then, in a highly publicized trial six years ago, the suspect, a notorious killer named Robert Zarinsky, was found not guilty.

    Convinced the jury was wrong, Bernoskie sued Zarinsky in civil court and won, and he was forced to pay her more than $150,000.

    Yesterday, an appeals court ruled Bernoskie must give the money back.

    Zarinsky can now move to seize Bernoskie's assets, including the modest home in Rahway where she lived with her husband and raised their six children.

    "I don't know what I am going to do," a stunned Bernoskie said yesterday. "It is so horrible. I don't know where to turn, who to talk to. I have to digest it, but I don't want to digest it."

    Bernoskie said she no longer has the money she was awarded, having divided it among her adult children, all of whom were under 8 years old when their father was shot to death.

    "This is a horrible and diabolical and cruel decision," said Bernoskie's attorney Kenneth Javerbaum. "Everything is unraveled and undone. It is a cruel, torturous experience (Bernoskie) has had. It is probably giving (Zarinsky) enormous pleasure."

    Javerbaum said Bernoskie will probably have to abide by the court's decision. "The only possible avenue is to go to the (state) Supreme Court, and I don't think they will hear the case."

    Clifford Kuhn, Zarinsky's attorney, said the case ultimately came down to a simple legal question. "Sympathy is with Mrs. Bernoskie, but the law is the law," he said.

    The three-judge panel in Trenton agreed with Zarinsky that he should not have been tried in civil court in the first place because he had previously been acquitted of Bernoskie's murder in criminal court.

    The jury foreman in the 2001 criminal trial in Elizabeth said afterward that jury members believed Zarinsky killed the police officer, but felt they could not convict him because the prosecutor's case was weak.

    Zarinsky has been in prison since 1975 for the murder of 17-year-old Rosemary Calandriello of Atlantic Highlands and is a suspect in a string of other murders of teenage girls in the 1960s and '70s. Police have said they believe he is a serial killer.

    The Linden grocer was a married man living with his wife and parents when Calandriello disappeared Aug. 25, 1969, on her way to buy milk for her mother. She was never seen alive again.

    Witnesses testified that on the day she went missing they saw her with a man matching Zarinsky's description, in a Ford convertible like the one Zarinsky drove. The case was the first time a New Jersey prosecutor won a murder conviction without having a body to prove the victim was actually dead.

    At the time, authorities painted Zarinsky as a sociopath who trolled for teenage girls. He has been named a suspect in the unsolved murders of Linda Balabanow of Union in 1969 and Darlene Carlucci and Joanne Delardo in 1974. All of the girls were savagely beaten and strangled.

    Zarinsky has always contended he is the victim of overzealous prosecutors, and that he never murdered anyone. For years, he denied knowing anything about the Calandriello disappearance, but eventually changed his story to say he accidentally ran over her.

    He is currently appealing his conviction on the premise that there was no murder, just a terrible accident, but he has steadfastly refused to say what he did with Calandriello's body.

    Zarinsky was implicated in Bernoskie's murder after his sister Judith Zarinsky Sapsa and her husband were caught stealing from Zarinsky's mutual fund in 1999. Sapsa told police that when she was 16 her brother and her cousin came home and said they had killed a police officer during a robbery.

    The cousin, Theodore Schiffer, corroborated Sapsa's story, saying he was there when Zarinsky shot Bernoskie at a local car dealership. In exchange for his testimony, he was given a lenient three-year prison sentence, which he completed last year.

    Zarinsky's criminal trial ended with an acquittal because the jury felt the state's key witnesses -- Sapsa and Schiffer -- may have lied to help their own cases.

    Elizabeth Bernoskie followed up with a civil lawsuit and won $9.5 million in damages in 2003. Zarinsky was ordered to post his T. Rowe Price mutual fund as a payment toward the judgment. He has been fighting ever since to get the money back.

    "He is going to be very happy," said Kuhn, who argued Zarinsky's case before the appeals court. "He is going to feel vindicated. He felt his rights were violated in having to go to civil trial."

    http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index....500.xml&coll=1
    Last edited by pm01; 07-12-2007 at 06:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Ancient Arachnid Spider's Avatar
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    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    "The three-judge panel in Trenton agreed with Zarinsky that he should not have been tried in civil court in the first place because he had previously been acquitted of Bernoskie's murder in criminal court."

    But isn't this what happened to OJ? Is California law different fron NJ concerning this right to sue? I thought that it was okay because there is a different standard of proof in a civil case.
    Atrophy: what you get when you win atournament.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    Yes, California recognizes the distinction between civil and criminal matters and the burden of proof required respectively. And double jeopardy has no role here, insofar as in California.

    This is shocking and I don't see any support for the reasoning of the ruling. There must be some New Jersey law that controls this decision. I'd like to learn more.

  4. #4
    Olympic Champ RYou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    Yea, the decison is really ridiculous. Watch for Simpson to leverage the decision to make an appeal in CA to vacate his wrongful death loss.

    Essentially, the judges decided that since the murderer was found not guilty in the criminal trial, the wrongful death civil suit should not have been allowed to proceed. The murderer was tried for killing her husband, a peace officer and was found not guilty basically due to a butchered prosecution.

    The wife won some $9,000,0000 in the separate civil wrongful death trial and the murderer only had $150,000 which was taken and given to the widow. She divided the cash among her children years ago so there is nothing left. The court is saying she has to repay and it can take her home in lieu of cash reimbursement.

    That will never happen. There are enough good people around here that should the court actually try to take the home after all appeals, the cash will be there for her.


    "There must be some New Jersey law that controls this decision. "

    That's the crux of the issue, there is no law that controls the direction. Typical of New Jersey, the judges here set the law.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    RYou, thanks for weighing in. Unless there is some federal issue here, which there doesn't appear to be, OJ isn't helped by this due to it being different states (not to mention his appeal window has closed). When I have more time I will see if I can pull up the NJ Appellate decision so I can read the reasoning and support first-hand.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    That's the crux of the issue, there is no law that controls the direction. Typical of New Jersey, the judges here set the law.
    If this is true then I don't see why the NJ Supreme Court would not be interested in hearing this appeal since it has a significant impact.

  7. #7
    Olympic Champ RYou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    Quote Originally Posted by pm01 View Post
    If this is true then I don't see why the NJ Supreme Court would be interested in hearing this appeal since it has a significant impact.
    The state judges have no qualms about rendering decisions that ignore written law.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    Wow. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Olympic Champ RYou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Widow must repay $150K to an inmate

    http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a4905-05.pdf

    Here is the written decision.

    It seems that panel judges upheld a ruling to overturn the initial civil trial decision :

    "Because the delay between plaintiff's husband's death and the trial impaired defendant's ability to present a defense, we reversed the judgment and dismissed the complaint."
    Last edited by RYou; 07-12-2007 at 07:35 AM.

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