Irene covers crime and the courts — name an interesting local case and she’s probably covered it — and she says what keeps the job so fascinating is the trials. She loves them. Ask her, and Irene will explain how trials “condense all of human emotion.”
“Going to court everyday,” she says, “is better than Broadway — it’s like having a front-row seat on human drama. You cannot make this stuff up.”
There’s never been a shortage of good material. Irene has covered all the big New York mob cases of the last generation, including the trials of John Gotti, and many of the big police stories, including the Knapp Commission, the infamous Dirty 30, and more recently, the torture of Abner Louima and the shooting of Amadou Diallo.
She was there in the courtroom when John Lennon’s killer was tried — she remembers Mark David Chapman entering court each day carrying his copy of “Catcher in the Rye.” In the 70’s Irene sat next to Martha Mitchell — both were knitting — as Mitchell’s husband, John, and several other Watergate figures were tried here in New York.
Irene covered the Murder at the Met case — when a violinist was killed by a stagehand during intermission of a performance by Mikhail Baryshnikov. She’s gone to Virginia twice — first for the trial of Lorena Bobbit, then for the trial of Marv Albert. She traveled to West Palm Beach for the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith; and of course, she covered the big one — the OJ Simpson case, from start to finish.
The Cornell family has been in the news business for many years. Her father, Cameron Cornell, worked in newspapers, radio and TV in Oklahoma, Savannah, Los Angeles and New York. Her uncle, George Cornell, was the religion editor at the Associated Press for more than 40 years. She often sits nex to her sister in court. Christine Cornell is a well-known courtroom sketch artist.
She worked her way through Hunter College as a copy girl at WMCA in New York where her father was the News Director. His successor, Barry Beere, was “the first to shove me out the door and say ‘go cover a story,'” Irene says. She must have done a good job, because after that, she was on the air every day.
During that time, Irene met her late husband, Danny Meenan, who was a reporter at WMCA for 25 years. She also discovered her love for courtroom drama. The first trial she covered was that of Alice Crimmins. All these years later, Irene still describes her in reporters’ shorthand as “the attractive red-haired cocktail waitress convicted of murdering her two children.” In 1970, when Irene made the move to WCBS after eight years at ‘MCA, she arrived just in time for the second Crimmins trial. It, too, ended in conviction, and Irene has been on New York’s crime and court beat ever since.
She is a producer’s favorite kind of reporter. She can spot a promising story a mile away, she’s an absolutely wonderful storyteller, and she’s never more excited than when she’s calling the desk to relate the latest tale she’s dug up from New York’s darkside — soon to be delivered to listeners in her own inimitable way.
Two of Irene’s children have been in the news business. Daughter Kati Cornell covered federal courts in New York for the New York Post and is now communications director for NYC’s special narcotics prosecutor – Bridget Brennan. Her stepson, Danny Meenan, Jr., is a television news producer in Australia. Her influence does not end with her own children. At least one young reporter has been heard to wonder aloud: How would Irene cover this story?
The man accused of raping a woman in Central Park has pleaded not guilty.
My father, Cameron Cornell, was a newsman. He gave me his enduring love for the news business, through good times and bad – and he certainly had both.
A shadowy Russian arms dealer was convicted Wednesday of seeking to make millions of dollars by selling heavy weaponry to a terror group so it could attack what prosecutors said he told his customers was a common enemy – U.S. forces helping the Colombian government.
The federal government sued one of the nation’s largest privately held mortgage brokers, saying its decade-long fraudulent lending practices cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars and forced thousands of American homeowners to lose their homes.
A U.S. citizen who holds an Iranian passport pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
The father of a man who admitted plotting to bomb New York City subways pleaded guilty Friday to charges he forged immigration forms on behalf of a nephew who ended up testifying against him at a trial earlier this year.
John Haggerty was convicted today of cheating Mayor Michael Bloomberg out of $1.1 million, ending a case that has put a spotlight on the billionaire mayor and the inner workings of his campaigns.
The jury’s latest question reveals confusion as they try to sort through the political wheeling and dealing that left Bloomberg’s re-election campaign out $1.1 million in the mayor’s own money.
Put simply, prosecutors say John Haggerty stole money from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Haggerty’s defense claimed he created a slipshod budget for the billionaire’s campaign because he believed no one cared about the details in a win-at-all-costs environment fostered by mayoral insiders desperate to hold on to power.
The long-term investigation, called “Operation Flat Rate,” focused on gambling and loan sharking rings, the real moneymakers for the Gambino crime family.
Jury selection got off to a rocky start Tuesday in the arms sale trial of a former Soviet military officer known as the Merchant of Death when reporters were initially kept out of the federal courtroom.
Two brothers from Long Island had just paid for one crime when, only hous later, they were charged with another.
John Haggerty denies the allegations against him, and his lawyers are striving to raise questions about Bloomberg’s campaign finances – questions they posed Tuesday to former Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey.
Prosecutors told the jury that Haggerty exploited the good will and trust of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his campaign staff.
The trial of a Queens woman accused of murdering her ex-cop husband continued Friday.
Jury selection got under way in the trial of a political consultant charged with stealing more than $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged two men with making $2.6 million in illegal profits on insider stock trades.
Prosecutors said Menashe Glanz filed false documents to get subsidies for an apartment that his brother lived in.
Heidi Jones, a former TV meteorologist, admitted today that she had made up claims of being repeatedly attacked by a stranger on the city streets. The allegations sparked an extensive investigation before police said she told them she’d invented the story to get attention.
Former Port Authority painter Mario Mastellone has already spent two and-a-half years in prison for defrauding the 9/11 victims compensation fund.
Former New York City cop Kenneth Moreno, found not guilty in the rape of a fashion executive, is off the hook on a heroin possession charge.
A former close friend of John Gotti Jr. who confessed to conspiring to kill three people was freed from jail after helping law enforcement jail 80 members of organized crime.
A New York City man sought to travel to Pakistan so he could die as a martyr by fighting jihad against U.S. forces, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Ten years after the fiery collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, Lower Manhattan came close to becoming an armed camp once again.
The last of four men convicted in an FBI sting operation was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison by a judge who said she was not proud of her government for creating the plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down military planes with missiles.
Louis Scala, the accused leader of a Staten Island drug trafficking ring that peddled over 40,000 oxycodone pills out of the back of an ice cream truck, has pleaded guilty.
A serial shop burglar has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for stealing thousands of dollars in cash and goods from a half-dozen Manhattan businesses, ranging from a pizzeria to an optical shop.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis has already decided the city’s firefighter entrance exam discriminated against minorities.
Four New York City men are facing drug-trafficking charges after investigators seized a record-breaking shipment of methamphetamine in New Jersey.
The Gambino crime family, knocked down and knocked down again by federal indictments, is reportedly going back to the old pre-John Gotti way of running an organized crime family.
58-year-old Ronald Tackman is the stuff of legend around the courthouse.
Best known from his award-winning ballad “You light up my life,” songwriter/producer Joseph Brooks killed himself using a mail order helium suicide kit.
He’s accused of stealing the identities and account numbers of over twenty major companies and then using his contacts in Manhattan’s West African community to attract customers.
New York prosecutors are offering no-jail plea deals to four of the five Columbia University students charged with selling LSD-spiked candy and other drugs on the Ivy League campus.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the fraud “epic in duration, magnitude and scope.” Prosecutors previously had put the figure at about $85 million.
15 months after a socialite was accused of murdering her 8-year-old autistic son in Manhattan’s Peninsula Hotel, she still has no trial date.
Two diamond dealers will spend more than a year in prison after being convicted of staging a heist in hopes of snaring insurance money to save their failing New York City business.
The jury’s first note of the day was a request for help from the judge. They wanted to know how to evaluate the conflicting testimony they’ve heard in the case.
Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from Rikers Island Friday, trading his prison cell for house arrest at his apartment on 71 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.
The fate of two NYPD officers accused of raping a drunken fashion executive in 2008 is in the hands of a jury.
A Manhattan judge has sentenced the former boss of New York’s Liberal Party to a conditional discharge for his role in the state pension scandal.
FBI Agent Adrienne Busby Indicted In Manhattan Federal Court For Making False Statements About Informant
FBI agent Adrienne Busby is accused of stepping over the line, committing a crime after having an affair with a confidential informant.
It was another day of cross-examination for NYPD officer Kenneth Moreno as assistant district attorney Coleen Balbert grilled the cop accused of rape about the details on the night in question.
A former Wall Street titan was convicted Wednesday of making a fortune by coaxing a crew of corporate tipsters to give him an illegal edge on blockbuster trades in technology and other stocks.
New York City police officer Kenneth Moreno, accused of raping an intoxicated woman in her Village apartment after helping her to get home, will return to the stand to face cross-examination. He claims he was just comforting a drunk, troubled woman.
There will be no Mother’s Day celebration for Genovese crime family capo Anthony Palumbo, whose dear old mom turns 91 next week.
New York City jurors have acquitted Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms in his driving-while-high case.
A childhood friend of Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms has told a jury the player wasn’t smoking marijuana before being pulled over in New York City.
Officials said over $1.5 million in heroin was seized and 10 members of an alleged narcotics trafficking ring were arrested yesterday in Fort Lee.
The judge let jurors leave early on Friday. It was their fifth day of weighing the fate of the hedge fund manager.
Jurors spent part of Tuesday listening again to secretly recorded phone calls of Rajaratnam and other Wall Street insiders talking about the financial prospects for publicly traded companies.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the eight-year veteran was part of crew that pulled more than 100 holdups.
A jury has begun deliberating at the trial of a hedge fund founder accused of making tens of millions of dollars through insider trading.
One-time billionaire Raj Rajaratnam listened quietly as prosecutors have labeled him a Wall Street cheater. His own lawyers insist he acted honorably. A jury will be left to decide who’s right.
The woman insisted she has no doubt police officers were with her that night. Her testimony may cause the officers to take the stand.
There was mob history in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday. For the first time, the boss of one of New York’s five families testified for the government.
The alleged victim accusing two New York City police officers of sexual assault is expected to take the stand as early as this afternoon.
Two police officers on trial for rape called 911 and pretended to be citizens and reported phony situations that required police attention, prosecutors said Monday.
A 23-year-old woman was attacked so viciously during an argument with her boyfriend that her side was slashed open and her skull was fractured, prosecutors said Monday.
A lawyer for a Portuguese model charged with castrating and killing a TV journalist said he hopes to decide soon whether to pursue a psychiatric defense.
The boss of a woman who claims she was raped by an NYPD Officer inside her Manhattan apartment while another officer allegedly acted as a lookout took the stand Thursday.
Authorities said an undercover federal agent helped thwart officer Robert Whitfield’s plan. An accomplice, Islime Duvivier, also was arrested.
A former New York City art gallery director has been convicted in an art fraud case that brought actor Robert De Niro to the witness stand.
Mitchell Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola are charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino in 2007.
Bernard Kerik was treated fairly by a judge who gave him a year longer in prison than the three-year term called for by federal sentencing guidelines, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
For too long, Brooklyn residents have fallen victim to real estate scammers. Now, the Brooklyn D.A. and Sen. Schumer warn perpetrators to watch out.
Thirty-one people were arrested and charged with selling oxycodone pills out of an ice cream truck on Staten Island.
A judge has decided that a once-prominent New York City politician can serve 500 hours of community service rather than jail time for income tax evasion.
An admitted New York con artist has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of trying to rob a Swedish naval official who wouldn’t fall for a scam.
Rajaratnam was represented in court by seven lawyers as a pool of about 100 potential jurors was questioned by Holwell to make sure they had no personal history or biases that would interfere with their ability to judge the case fairly.
There was barely time for the parents of Sylvie Cachay to get a good look at their daughter’s accused killer but her father said he saw enough. “He didn’t face us, he didn’t care,” Dr. Antonio Cachay said. “He looked like he was guilty.”
Kenneth Starr “lost his moral compass … partly as a result of his infatuation with his younger fourth wife,” Judge Shira Scheindlin said before imposing the prison term.
Gotlin says Locker wanted Kenneth Minor’s help to “do a Kevorkian.”
A case involving a woman who claims she was raped by a police officer is in pre-trial hearings.
City Special Narcotic Prosecutor Bridget Brennon said state police arrested two men they say is involved with a heroin mill in the Gun Hill section of the Bronx.
A judge sentenced a man to 35 years to life for a deadly Harlem shooting in June 2007.
Was it murder or suicide for hire? That’s the question in a Manhattan courtroom where Kenneth Minor is facing murder charges.
A judge said Wednesday there was enough evidence to support the new contempt, stalking and other charges against Jack Jordan, Uma Thurman’s convicted stalker.
The NYPD was ordered to hand over more than a decade’s worth of internal reports on shootings that include details from witnesses and the officers’ first-hand accounts.
In describing their sometimes mad-cap shenanigans, the prosecutor said that no real robbers would act like these guys.
A New York state supreme court panel is weighing whether to overturn the murder conviction of a woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband.
Federal authorities expanded their crackdown on insider trading that masks itself as legitimate market research.
It’s the year of the rabbit.
A Portuguese male model accused of beating to death a well-known journalist in a Manhattan hotel room has been arraigned.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan sentenced Ahmed Ghailani to life, calling the attacks “horrific.” He also ordered Ghailani to pay $33 million in restitution.
Cops bust a cocaine delivery operation that targeted NYU students.
Thursday was a good day for federal agents and bad day for the mob. In the morning the FBI made arrests from New England to Florida. In all, 127 mafia members and associates were charged.
A co-defendant of hedge fund operator Raj Rajaratnam pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges in a case that has led to an ever-widening probe of insider trading within the securities industry.
All five suspended students have hired new high-powered attorneys to fight the charges that they ran a well-organized narcotics distribution ring out of frat houses.
A second victim testified she was 15 years old and in custody of the Juvenile Justice Department when counselor Tony Simmons raped her in an elevator after delivering her to a family court appearance in Manhattan.
Gerald DeGerolamo is on trial for allegedly trying to steal a diamond engagement ring, valued at $30,000, from a man who was offering to sell it on Craigslist.
A van driver who downed drinks before running over and killing a pregnant woman on a Manhattan sidewalk is headed to prison for seven to 15 years.
He’s been in and out of jail 41 times in the past 12 years and now he’s going away even longer. Judge Carol Berkman sentenced Naim Jabbar to seven years in prison for what authorities called the “eyeglass scam” on Thursday.
A trial has been set for an aging, down on his luck mobster after being arrested for attempting to rob a man trying to sell a diamond engagement ring.
The boyfriend of fashion designer Sylvie Cachay, whose body was found in a bathtub in a room at the swank Soho House Hotel in Manhattan, was indicted this morning.
Police said they found a loaded semiautomatic gun in a rear door of the $250,000-plus car after it was stopped for speeding.
The eldest son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff hanged himself by a dog leash in his apartment Saturday after two years of “unrelenting pressure” following his father’s arrest.
Two men attacked a Muslim religious leader in a hate-fueled assault in a subway station, with one hurling slurs along with a fist, prosecutors and Muslim advocates said Thursday.
Mohammed Wali Zazi is scheduled for arraignment Thursday in Brooklyn federal court. An updated indictment issued last month charges him with obstruction of justice and other counts.