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Long IslandCrime

Officials: Drugstore stop lands fraud suspect back in jail

Former Sea Cliff resident John Derounian is seen

Former Sea Cliff resident John Derounian is seen in an undated photo. Credit: AP

A former Sea Cliff man had only five days of freedom after spending 10 months in jail awaiting trial on federal fraud charges when he violated the conditions of his release by stopping off in a drugstore, according to officials and court records.

Federal prosecutor Mark Misorek, who had objected to the Nov. 15 pretrial release of John Derounian, 53, promptly moved to have him jailed again as a danger to the community. On Monday U.S. Magistrate Gary Brown at the federal court in Central Islip agreed.

Derounian had spent more than 20 years in state prison following his conviction for the murder of a Sea Cliff jeweler during a 1983 robbery when he was a teenager. At the time of Derounian’s sentencing in the murder case, the judge called him a “a miniature Charles Manson.”

Derounian, also known as John Stanley or John Standley, was 19 when he was accused of plotting the crime with accomplices. The jeweler was stabbed 15 times, $30,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, and the store was set on fire in an apparent attempt to conceal the crime, police said.

Derounian was released from prison in 2007 and put on lifetime parole, according to court records.

He is currently awaiting his federal fraud trial on charges of looting $1.2 million from the estate of a late state administrative law judge, Marilyn Mosberg Shapiro, through a complex scheme that federal prosecutors said involved his submitting a forged will claiming he was her heir.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack released Derounian last week to home incarceration with electronic monitoring after his attorney argued that his client’s health was deteriorating in jail.

On Friday, Nov. 17, while returning to his apartment after a required visit to state parole officers in Hempstead, Derounian stopped in a Corona, Queens, drugstore, where he bought toiletries, according to court papers.

The stop was not under the conditions of Derounian’s release, which required he go directly from the parole office back to his apartment. Federal pretrial service officers said that Derounian’s electronic monitoring bracelet showed he had spent 36 minutes in the store, according to the court papers.

Derounian’s attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, said Tuesday: “It is our position that Mr. Derounian’s bail violation was borne out of a misunderstanding and not an intentional disregard of the conditions of his release. Although Magistrate Brown ordered his bail revoked we will continue to push for pretrial release, as is the right of anyone who is merely accused of an offense.”

In the 2015 case of the deceased judge, officials said Derounian called police saying he had found her body in the apartment complex where they both lived. Prosecutors said he forged the will and had her body cremated, according to the court papers.

Sources have said that Derounian is being investigated in connection with the death of 77-year-old Mosberg-Shapiro. He has not been charged in connection with her death.

Griffin has said that his client “vehemently denies that he had anything to do with the death.”

One of the conditions of Derounian’s being jailed again is that his medical condition be evaluated, according to an otherwise sealed order.

John Marzulli, a spokesman, for Eastern District prosecutors, declined to comment.

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