A judge Friday dismissed a felony indictment against Muttontown’s former mayor, citing a violation of her right to a speedy trial following her 2017 arrest for allegedly not paying taxes for five years.
The Nassau District Attorney’s Office had alleged Julianne Beckerman, 50, and her husband, Dr. Adam Beckerman, 58, didn’t file New York State personal tax returns for the years 2010 to 2014 and owed $243,865 in back taxes despite earning more than $4.5 million during that time.
The law says prosecutors have to be ready for a trial within six months when someone is accused of a felony, acting state Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy said in Nassau County Court while making his ruling.
“The people had, as I indicated, 183 days to announce their readiness for trial. But they failed to do so,” Murphy said, while dismissing the criminal tax fraud case.
After the ruling, prosecutor Diane Peress asked to put more information before the court about a period of time when she said the district attorney’s office was prepared to go forward as the case was pending but didn’t because of defense requests.
But the judge said he had made his decision.
Court proceedings Friday showed some of the dispute revolved around whether Manhattan attorney Robert Altchiler, who represented both husband and wife at their initial district court arraignments, had waived the wife’s right to a speedy trial as he had for the husband in April 2017.
The judge also said that the prosecution’s failure “to elicit from the defense or put on record … that this period of time was excluded from speedy trial period is fatal to their case.”
Attorney Brian Griffin, who represented Julianne Beckerman, said after court that his client has maintained all along that the government actually owed her a tax refund for those years.
“From the very beginning, Mrs. Beckerman was clear in her innocence and that she would demand a trial. She would not consent to waive her speedy trial, or any other right, because she didn’t commit a crime. Whether by law or by trial, this case was always going to be dismissed,” the Garden City lawyer added.
The District Attorney’s Office released a statement Friday that said: “We believe the court’s decision is in error and we are exploring our legal options.”
Records show Dr. Beckerman, a gastroenterologist, pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor charge in the tax case and is due for sentencing in June.
Altchiler, who still represents the physician, said Friday that he expected his client’s sentence would consist “of paying monies back to the state.”
Julianne Beckerman, who was first elected Muttontown’s mayor in 2006, didn’t seek re-election in the village’s 2018 election, citing her belief in term limits and saying her decision was unrelated to her felony tax case.
Court records show she had been facing multiple felony charges and could have faced up to 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted.
She declined to comment after court Friday.