Queens County DA Richard Brown. His office engages in serial prosecution of Queens resident since 2007?
[Truth To Empower]
Kris Gounden is caught in a vicious merry-go-round of arrests and prosecutions that he hopes will soon stop.
Gounden the Queens man who’s been harassed by officers from the 106 precinct for about 11 years now hopes the two remaining cases he calls “concocted” against him will be dismissed when he appears before Judge Michelle Johnson in Criminal Court on Mach 22.
It starts with an arrest on concocted charges by officers of the 106 precinct, which leads to what Gounden calls “bogus” prosecution by the Queens County DA and a trial in Queens Criminal court. The cases keep Gounden tied down and in the last two month alone he’s been fired from two jobs because of repeatedly needing time off to attend the court dates.
The March 22 appearance could lead to another job loss.
Over the years, a campaign of harassment in the form of thousands of tickets for bogus “violations” from City and State agencies led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines; this led to liens against his properties and he lost rental buildings worth about $4 million, driving him into poverty. The harassment even involves NYPD officers engaging in sex with Gounden’s wife, he alleged in complaints to the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau and in letters to NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens County DA Richard Brown.
Gounden has also written about his ordeal to the State Attorney General and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
There was some measure of relief one month ago, on Feb. 22, when Judge Johnson dismissed a case that had dragged on since August 2015. The Queens County DA alleged Gounden switched price tags at a Home Depot so he could pay $80 less than the true price for home roofing materials. Gounden denied the charges. The Queens DA spent taxpayers’ money to prosecute for 31 months. “There was no case because I never switched price tags,” Gounden says. “This is part of the harassment against me that now totals more than 15 arrests by officers from the 106 precinct dating from 2007. In this case from 2015 an officer was following me that day and set up something with some Home Depot employees and arrested me. First of all do you really think anyone would prosecute a case for $80 for three years? They couldn’t even make up a convincing lie. It’s a vendetta.”
Gounden was once on the winning side. An ethnic Indian immigrant from Guyana, he had worked hard and saved for years and bought a water front home worth over $800,000 in Howard Beach in 2006. But soon, his family was attacked by a racist neighbor who didn’t want them there and spit out the N-word. The Goundens got major media coverage which led to around-the-clock police protection for about six months in 2007. The Daily News compared the harassment from White neighbors to something from the deep South. When the media coverage died down, then the years of retaliation from local politicians, neighbors and police from the 106 precinct started, Gounden says.
The assistant district attorney who handled the Home Depot case seemed like a bumbler. Before the trial started in November 2017, he said the DA’s office had a video from Home Depot surveillance showing Gounden switching the price tags. Gounden had been demanding that the DA produce this video since August 2015.
Then when the trial started the ADA, Brian Cox, said the dvd containing the film from the 2015 incident had been lost. He told Judge Johnson during one of the hearings I attended that he couldn’t get another copy of the video because Home Depot’s policy was to destroy all film after two weeks.
The DA was presented with a dilemma when Gounden asked the judge to throw out the case claiming the DA had destroyed Brady evidence. If there was any film, it would show that he never switched any price tags and he’d be exonerated, Gounden argued.
Suddenly, DA Cox, in a Feb. 1 hearing told Judge Johnson that he had managed to secure another copy of the video. He said he had personally gone to Home Depot and searched their storage and retrieved the film. He even pulled out a DVD container.
As I sat there in the courtroom listening I said to myself “What’s wrong with this guy? How could he retrieve something that had been destroyed in 2015?” I waited for Judge Johnson to ask Cox that million dollar question.
She never did; not on that date.
She asked Cox if the video supported the allegations against Gounden and he claimed it did. Judge Johnson then told Cox that she couldn’t allow him, in the middle of a trial, to enter that video into evidence. However, she said, Gounden could be allowed to take it and watch it if he wanted. She adjourned the case.
The next question I asked myself: “Why would Gounden lie that he never switched price tags if there was indeed a video?”
That question was soon answered.
As I wrote in my previous column, when Gounden –still in the court building with surveillance cameras everywhere– opened the dvd container he discovered it was empty. Gounden charged back into the courtroom and confronted Cox and showed him the empty container. Without even blinking, Cox pulled out another dvd container. He opened this one and revealed that it did contain a dvd and he handed it to Gouden.
As I’ve written before, Gounden went to five professional video experts and all of them told him that they could not play the dvd and that in any case any data contained was so insufficient that it could not be video of the alleged price-ag switch.
What was the purpose of Cox presenting the phantom video? “I think it was for show,” Gounden says. “Cox wanted the transcript to reflect that he handed me the video so he would not have to be sanctioned,” he added, by the court for, “destroying Brady evidence that would have exonerated me.”
When I attended the Feb. 22 hearing Judge Johnson did finally refer to the dvd “magically appearing” at the Feb. 1 hearing while she was summing up the case for her ruling after Gounden asked that it be dismissed on account of the people not proving their case. That afternoon, after lunch break, ADA Cox had returned with a top gun, supervisory assistant district attorney Kevin Fogarty, whom Gounden later told me gave him the middle finger when he walked into the courtroom. Fogarty told Judge Johnson that the alleged crime Gounden committed –price tag switching– was the “oldest trick in the book.”
Judge Johnson said a witness –a Home Depot employee– had testified that he saw Gounden approach a clerk and get a piece of paper and then approach another store clerk, presumably to make purchases. The testimony didn’t support the prosecution’s case that Gounden was in possession of stolen merchandise or that he had committed theft. Judge Johnson dismissed the case.
Gounden still challenged Cox to show the video he claimed he had; the ADA promised to do so but never did. “A video showing me switching prices exists only in his mind,” Gounden says.
The Queens DA will present two more cases against Gounden before Judge Johnson on March 22.
The first one is from a Feb. 5 incident which I also wrote about in my last column. Here’s the short of it:
Gounden claims that on that afternoon he was driving to pick up his kids from school when a black BMW tailgating him struck his rear bumper when he was at a stoplight. He claims he pulled over and the driver cursed at him as he drove by. He claims a woman in the car was filming with her iphone. The driver pulled up in the middle of the road ahead.
Gounden took photos on his phone. He also called 911. Gouden claims the driver ran to his vehicle and punched and kicked his car leaving a dent. He says the incident happened at 116-32 117 a few blocks from his house.
Gouden says he drove off, heading back to the house where he lives with his grandmother. “I was afraid for my life. This guy was crazy,” he says. Gounden again called 911 when he reached his grandmother’s house. Meanwhile, the BMW driver later identified as Joseph Adorno, kept driving back and forth in front of Gounden’s house, he says.
Gounden was still on the phone with 911 when officers arrived, responding to his call, he says. Gounden’s 911 screen shots show that he made his calls at 2:26 PM and at 2:34 PM on Feb. 5.
Gounden switched on a recording device which captured his conversation with the 911 dispatcher and the responding officers. Gounden can be heard angrily complaining that the BMW driver was “crazy” and that he had bumped his car then attacked him. In the recording, Adorno and a woman who can be heard identifying herself as his wife claimed that they had videotaped the whole incident. They claimed Gounden struck Joseph Adorno with his car, while he was walking, and then fled the scene. They claimed the incident happened at a shopping mall in Five Towns, which is nowhere close to where Gounden says the encounter –with Adorno as aggressor–occurred.
Gounden can be heard exclaiming incredulously that he had never been to Five Towns on that day. He also demanded that the police officers –one of them is identified in a police report as Officer Bello from the 106 precinct– have the Adornos show the video they claim they had.
The recording shows the officers taking an aggressive tone towards Gounden even though he asks them to listen to his own evidence and the 911 calls he made. Gounden ended up being arrested.
Later, when Joseph Adorno filed a police report at the 106 –signed by Officer Bello– he now claimed the incident occurred at 116-32 117, which is where Gounden claims Adorno attacked his car. “You see how he is caught in a lie backed by the cops?” Gounden says. “At the scene, he and his wife tell the cops I hit him with my car at Five Towns, and I have that on tape. When they get to the precinct, when the cops see that this guy is lying, instead of arresting him for filing a false report they let him clean it up by placing himself in the right location where he attacked me.”
Gounden was later locked up at Riker’s Island and his mother who lives in Florida had to send money to a friend to bail him out.
When I contacted the New York Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) and the 106 precinct commander Capt. Brian Bohannon, Jr., on March 21 to ask whether Gounden’s side of the story had been investigated and his 911 calls reviewed, there was no response to my inquiries.
Gounden himself went to the 106 precinct to get a copy of the police report he says he filed with Officer Bello but was also denied, he says. DCPI and the 106 precinct also didn’t respond when I asked them about this.
Adorno has since filed an insurance claim with All State Insurance stating Gounden struck him with his car; he submitted the police report signed by Bello with the claim. “I already spoke to an All State investigator and I also sent them a letter I wrote to Bohannon explaining what really happened,” Gounden says. “I told them that Adorno filed a false police report which means that his insurance claim is also false.”
The other case against Gounden is what he calls “the most bogus of all.” Here’s the short:
After one of his many arrests by officers from the 106, in 2015 Gounden filed a lawsuit against Thomas Pasquale, then the commanding officer. Gounden claims when that case was about to go to trial in late 2016, an NYPD officer named James Wilfinger started going to his home fishing for information about the lawsuit from his wife. Gounden later filed a complaint with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau claiming Wilfinger seduced his wife –who was then a teetotaler– with alcohol and drugs. He hired a private investigator and documented Wilfinger and his wife having sex inside vehicles outside bars. Gounden’s wife later complained to him that Wilfinger had injured her when he forced her into a sex act she had never performed. Gounden photographed his wife’s alleged injuries.
On November 16, 2016, Gounden confronted Wilfinger in bed with his wife and videotaped the incident. Gounden again confronted Wilfinger on January 1, 2017 and claims Wilfinger pulled a gun on him on that occasion. Gounden claims officers from the 106 precinct refused to arrest Wilfinger.
Then in February, 2017, Gounden attended yet another hearing before Judge Johnson in connection with an arrest by the 106 precinct.
After the hearing, Gounden was arrested by two officers, including Valerie Cincinelli. “They didn’t even have a warrant and didn’t know why they were arresting me,” he says.
This time, to cover up the fact that they had refused to arrest Wilfinger, the 106 concocted charges against him — that he had engaged in “forcible sexual touching” of his 23-year old step-daughter. “A complete bogus concoction,” Gounden says. (Incidentally, Gounden says the BMW Adorno drove into his car’s rear bumper resembles the one Wilfinger drives; the NYPD didn’t respond when I asked if Adorno was a police officer or if he knew Wilfinger).
Gounden’s mother in law Sati Mohan, who lives in the same Howard Beach home, signed a notarized affidavit stating that the alleged incident never happened. Gounden’s wife also signed an affidavit saying her daughter never told her of such an incident.
When I inquired on March 21 about the alleged forcible sexual touching case against Gounden and whether the Queens DA had listened to Gounden’s 911 calls or investigated his side of the story in the car incident case of Feb. 5, spokesperson Ikimulisa Livingston said: “We do not comment on pending cases.”
Judge Johnson will hear both cases today.
In an unrelated but revealing case, Cincinelli, who was one of the officers involved in arresting Gounden, leading to the sex charges, was herself arrested on March 5 for second degree aggravated harassment and criminal contempt in the first degree, the DCPI confirmed to me.
The Queens DA’s spokesperson, Livingston, said Cincinelli’s next court date is April 13.
According to the charge sheet Cincinelli allegedly violated an order of protection from Queens family court barring her from communicating with her ex-boyfriend John Dirubba. She allegedly called him on the phone and said, in part: “You ruined my life. You’ll see what happens to you. You better keep your mouth shut. I hope your daughter dies.” A person familiar with the matter claims Cincinelli pulled out a gun in one incident.