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BOHEMIA/Attorney calls plot suspect 'impressionable'

A Commack teenager charged with helping her ex-boyfriend plot an attack on Connetquot High School went along with the plan because she was "impressionable," her attorney said yesterday.

Dana Saltzman, 16, went shopping for guns with Christopher Franko, 17, of Bohemia, as he plotted a Columbine-style attack on the school he had attended, according to an indictment handed up by a Suffolk grand jury.

But her attorney, J. Ceasar Galarza of Massapequa Park, said after Saltzman's arraignment in Riverhead that the girl had only a minor role in the alleged plot.

"She was just his girlfriend," Galarza said outside court. "She's a 16-year-old and she's very impressionable."

Saltzman pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree conspiracy before Judge Stephen Braslow and was released without bail. She is due back in court on July 28.

Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said Saltzman voluntarily removed herself from the Bellport BOCES program, where she and Franko met, after her arrest. She never was a Connetquot student, he said.

Kurtzrock said outside court that Saltzman gave a "detailed confession" to police, though he declined to say whether she was cooperating with prosecutors.

"She certainly isn't an equal participant" in the alleged plot, Kurtzrock said. "She was certainly involved. However, I think she's in a very different place than Mr. Franko is."

Franko, who in 2007 pleaded guilty in a previous plot to attack the school, last week pleaded not guilty to second-degree conspiracy. He was ordered held without bail.

If convicted, Franko and Saltzman each could face 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison, unless they are eligible for youthful offender status, Kurtzrock said. If they are granted youthful offender status at their sentencings, Saltzman and Franko could serve 1 1/3 to 4 years behind bars, he said.

In an interview with Newsday after his arrest last month, Franko blamed Saltzman for his most recent legal problems, saying she called police because she was mad at him.

Galarza dismissed the accusation.

"I think he's delusional," he said. "I think his record speaks for itself."

- CARL MACGOWAN


WOODMERE/1st degree murder won't be sought in Harlem killing

The Manhattan district attorney has agreed not to pursue first-degree murder charges in the Harlem killing of Woodmere motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker.

The decision Wednesday had been a foregone conclusion since the office of District Attorney Cyrus Vance conceded months ago that substantial evidence supported defendant Kenneth Minor's claim that Locker paid Minor to kill him to allow Locker's family to collect insurance.

After indicting Minor on first-degree murder on a theory that he was using Locker's ATM card, the district attorney's office now will seek a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutor Peter Casolaro told Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman on Wednesday.

Prosecutors contend that even if Locker wanted to be killed, Minor is guilty of second-degree murder. Berkman has rejected claims from defense lawyers that a so-called assisted suicide is manslaughter, which carries a lower sentence.

Prosecutors have said Locker was debt-ridden, had just increased his life insurance, had discussed funeral arrangements and may have made goodbye videotapes for some of his children.

Locker, 52, was found strangled and stabbed to death in his car in East Harlem in July 2009. He had taken out a reported $18 million in life insurance.

- JOHN RILEY


NASSAU COUNTY/Lawmakers to act on $15M settlement after delays

The Nassau County legislature on July 12 will take up an allegedly tardy $15 million settlement promised to a man who lost his leg after being run down by a police car, according to court papers filed yesterday by the county attorney.

The man, Thomas Hartmann, won a $19.6 million verdict from a Brooklyn federal court jury, and the county agreed on March 16 to drop appeals and settle for $15 million, due in 90 days. But Hartmann's lawyer says the money hasn't been paid, and U.S. Magistrate Cheryl Pollak this week ordered the county to explain what's going on.

Donna Napolitano, a deputy bureau chief under County Attorney John Ciampoli, said in a letter to Pollak that the paperwork was forwarded to the legislature's presiding officer, Peter Schmitt, in April, but it wasn't until June 11 that the July 12 date for legislative consideration was set.

Daniel Hansen, Hartmann's lawyer, citing letters in which the county lawyers guaranteed that they had authority to settle for $15 million, asked Pollak to consider reinstituting the original $19.6 million verdict and adding interest and penalties.

Napolitano said that, despite the letters, Hartmann's legal team always understood that legislative approval was needed for any settlement over $100,000 and that the 90-day deadline couldn't be guaranteed. She urged Pollak to take no action.

A spokesman for Schmitt said last night that the delay resulted from the county attorney's failure to file a resolution authorizing the settlement with the clerk of the legislature, a necessary technical step to bringing it up for approval.

- JOHN RILEY

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