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3 Suspects Charged In Newburgh Double Murder

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (CBS 2/AP) — Police have identified and charged three suspects in the fatal shootings of a former police officer and his nephew in Newburgh.

Rabbi Victor Koltun, 41, and Frank T. Lewis, 56, both of Brooklyn, and 51-year-old Craig R. Fennel of Manhattan were arraigned on second-degree murder charges on Thursday.

Newburgh police said both Lewis and Fennel are on parole for previous convictions on attempted murder charges.

The bodies of Francis Piscopo and his nephew Gerald Piscopo were discovered inside a vacant house on Liberty Street in Newburgh on November 4.

Francis Piscopo was a former sergeant with the Lloyd Police Department.

Piscopo left the force in 1990, and has since has faced charges of dealing marijuana, intimidating witnesses and stealing baseball gloves and a chain saw from his old department.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • timothy


  • Bonnie

    Is this the same Victor Koltun who purchased two family homes in the previously quiet neighborhood (Warwick St., Bklyn, NY)? This slum landlord supposedly purchased the homes and rented to people while charging very high rents. Families still live in these homes infested with rats, garbage and sewage buildup. The quiet residents of this block are shocked to know that we have been dealing with a criminal when we complained to him about the poor upkeeping of the homes. Thank you for doing us a favor. The term “rabbi” on this crook is an insult to everyone.

  • jb

    Is Victor Kolton really a Rabbi?? does he have any legitimate rabbinic credentials or does he just call himself that? All the news media are using “rabbi” headline which certainly gets people to read the article (it’s much more interesting than just another thug) but is there any truth to it?

    • jnb757

      See article below… It is a disgrace to call him “Rabbi”
      He is obviously a swindler…

      CITY OF NEWBURGH — Police have charged a rabbi and two hard-core felons in last month’s killing of an ex-cop and his nephew in Newburgh.
      All three suspects were arrested by City of Newburgh and state police Wednesday night in New York City.
      Rabbi Victor Koltun, 41, of Brooklyn, faces two counts of second-degree murder. He was arraigned separately from the other two suspects in City Court in Newburgh after spending Thursday morning at the Arden Hill campus of Orange Regional Medical Center. Koltun, who weighs more than 450 pounds, leaned hard on a walker as he shuffled into Judge B. Harold Ramsey’s courtroom. “How are you doing, sir?” Koltun asked the judge.
      Defense lawyer James Winslow said Koltun suffered from diabetes and depended on insulin. He also claims to have a seizure disorder, Winslow said. Koltun pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
      “He absolutely denies that he murdered anyone,” Winslow said. “He’s a rabbi and a businessman.”

      Police say Koltun and the other two men killed former Lloyd police Sgt. Francis Piscopo, 49, and his nephew, 28-year-old Gerald Piscopo of Highland. City cops found the Piscopos on Nov. 4, dead from gunshots in an empty house in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Newburgh.

      Winslow said police seemed to have focused on his client’s past dealings with the Piscopos in charging him. Koltun claims the Piscopos were trying to extort money from him and had roughed him up in the past.

      “These two guys that were murdered apparently were not choirboys,” Winslow said.

      Frank Piscopo had left the Lloyd police force in 1990 after accusations he’d stolen from the police evidence locker. He was arrested in 2004 in a marijuana case and accused of intimidating a witness.

      Koltun has his own criminal history, including a federal conviction on mail fraud. According to federal court records from 2000, Koltun was the mastermind behind a scam to take checks from stolen bundles of mail and forge them. He threatened witnesses with a gun when the scam unraveled and warned them against cooperating with investigators, court records say.

      In February, Koltun was among 12 people indicted in Brooklyn on charges of mortgage fraud. He and an attorney were accused of taking out a $225,000 mortgage on a senior citizen’s home without her knowledge. The Kings County district attorney said Koltun and the attorney used the money to pay down a large debt on another real estate scam in Long Island.

      While Koltun dealt mostly in numbers, the other two suspects tended toward violence. Craig Fennell, 51, of Manhattan, served nearly 24 years of a 25-to-life sentence in state prison after he was convicted of first-degree attempted murder, manslaughter and assault as well as second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He was released in 2006 and was still on on parole when he was arrested Wednesday.

      Frank Lewis, 56, of Brooklyn, was also on parole after an attempted murder conviction. He served nearly nine years in state prison and was released in 2005.

      The three men were arraigned on two counts each of second-degree murder and sent to Orange County Jail without bail

      • john

        another jewish tribal man defending his fellow jew..everytime a jew get cougth the tribe chimps out!

  • Amanda

    Know the facts. These 3 men are out on parole for previous attempted murder charges. So you say, “why arrest these three..they did us a favor.” I wonder how you would feel if your father, brother, uncle or dear friend died from one of these three men killing them. Would you still feel the same??? Take into consideration that there are grieving families out there BECAUSE of these three men…I send my condolences to the victims family.

  • Jnb757

    Is this the same Victor Koltun just arrested in a real estate fraud scheme in Kings County?

  • Nick

    Why arrest these three? Sounds like they did us a favor.

    • john

      jewish tribal man defending his fellow jew

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