Judge warns Nassau on Bird settlement

Sharon Dorsett, who filed a federal lawsuit saying

Sharon Dorsett, who filed a federal lawsuit saying that police failed to protect her daughter, Jo'Anna Bird, from the man who was convicted in April 2010 of her murder, had agreed to a settlement with the county but has yet to receive payment. (Dec. 8, 2011) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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A federal judge warned Nassau County Thursday that he wanted the county legislature to vote on a $7.7 million settlement in the death of Jo'Anna Bird or he would declare the agreement invalid and order a civil trial in the case.

Judge Arthur Spatt said he hoped the legislature would approve the agreement by the end of this month, but he would give it until the end of January to do so. If it acted past January, Spatt said the legislature would be engaging in "unreasonable delay."

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Spatt ruled in denying a motion by Frederick K. Brewington, the attorney for Bird's family, asking the judge immediately to convert the agreement into a court order, requiring the county to pay the $7.7 million without further delay.

Brewington had reached the settlement agreement with the county in July after charging that Bird was murdered in 2009 by a boyfriend in her New Cassel home after Nassau County police were negligent by not actively enforcing an order of protection. But the settlement also needs the approval of the legislature.

Brewington, of Hempstead, had asked Spatt to order the payment of the settlement, saying the county legislature was deliberately not paying the money as "retaliation" against him for filing an unrelated suit against the county. That suit involved a Republican plan to redistrict the county legislature.

County Attorney John Ciampoli said he believed the legislature would follow the judge's time frame.

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A jury convicted Leonardo Valdez-Cruz of first-degree murder in April 2010 for Bird's death. He is serving a life sentence.

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