Photos: Milton Allimadi\NYC.gov
Cap: One of the tyrant judges, McGowan, (above) finally retired. [Photo: Rick Kopstein/ © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC]
By Milton Allimadi
Even though she recently retired from State Supreme Court in Queens County, the negative impact on several families of Judge Margaret Parisi-McGowan’s biased rulings remains as a stain and odor on her legacy and on the court.
Parisi-McGowan, like her colleague and friend Judge William Viscovich—to whom many of Parisi-McGowan’s cases were conveniently “randomly reassigned” after she recused herself amidst controversy while she was still on the bench—didn’t care much for the evidence. She seemed to make rulings in favor of parties who were represented by certain lawyers; at least in some of the cases reviewed by Black Star News.
Although the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct never “found a reason to investigate” Judge Parisi-McGowan—the typical cliche response to all the multiple complaints against her—Judge Parisi-McGowan was infamous in her own court and in the country for her unapologetic conduct.
There are numerous negative comments about Parisi-McGowan on the respected lawyers’ site TheRobingRoom.com
“McGowan is a bully and railroaded me into an insane financial position. She has no common sense and does not look at the paperwork she is handed, even when that paperwork comes from the court appointed financial advisors,” reads a comment from June 8, 2021.
“Can confirm other comments. She is extremely biased, narrow minded and a bully. Very nasty and yes, very obviously has a God complex. Barely reads the documents/ motions etc. and makes snap decisions with no basis. What is she actually being paid for? To subvert and eradicate justice, it would seem,” reads a comment from May 2, 2020.
“Temperament is volatile and unpredictable. She’s predisposed to attend court appearances with very strong biases in place. She is very abrupt. If she can, she will try to flout the rules for diligence procedures and then strong arm, bully and coerce the litigant to settle without giving substantive weight to due process,” reads another comment from Feb. 3, 2020.
A judicial crusader’s site states that his mission is to expose “misconduct” by judges, attorneys and public officials nationally lists 19 judges; Parisi-McGowan is the only New York City judge on it and only one of three from New York state.
Dr. Robby Mahadeo
While Parisi-McGowan was still on the bench, after some of her cases were “reassigned” to Viscovich, he made even much more egregious rulings than hers. It was as if Parisi-McGowan was still presiding over the case through Viscovich and saying, “How dare you make me recuse myself.” In one case Viscovich blackmailed a father into paying over $100,000 in legal fees to a lawyer named Alyssa Eisner by ordering him locked up in Riker’s island and suspending visitation with his daughter. This victim of Parisi-McGowan’s and Viscovich’s tyrannical wrath, a doctor named Robby Mahadeo, had refused to pay Eisner’s legal fees for representing his wife because the couple’s prenup agreement precluded it. Yet both judges forced Dr. Mahadeo into paying Eisner’s legal fees in total disregard of the agreement.
What seems to be common among the victims of these egregious rulings by Parisi-McGowan and Viscovich is that the lawyers representing their adversaries in court were either John Gemelli or Eisner. These two lawyers are notorious for charging hefty legal fees that were approved by McGowan and Viscovich. Their clients become beneficiaries of the egregious rulings. Perhaps that’s how Gemelli and Eisner market themselves to potential clients.
Some lawyers make more money by billing their clients as the divorce cases drag on. In fact, one victim of a case presided over by Viscovich said one of his past attorneys told him that Gemelli once boasted that he didn’t mind prolonging divorce cases because he’d get to bill more in attorney’s fees.
Now that she’s retired from the bench, some victims of Judge Parisi-McGowan’s egregious decisions hope they will get a fairer hearing.
One such victim is a Queens dentist whose wife is a lawyer.
After their marriage soured, the dentist said he tried to serve his wife divorce papers but that she fled from the process server. The wife then turned around and served him with divorce papers, he said. The next thing she did was hire Gemelli. “The minute my lawyer heard she’d hired Gemelli, she told me to start documenting everything. She was afraid they would try to set me up,” the dentist recalled. “I started recording everything.”
But that didn’t matter. On Jan. 19, 2022 the wife filed an emergency order to show cause, asking that the husband be ejected from the marital property, alleging that he represented a threat to the family because he’d been physically abusive and was also a drug abuser. Without giving the husband a chance to defend himself and without a hearing, Judge Parisi-McGowan signed the order, he said. The dentist packed his things and moved. Judge Parisi-McGowan also granted the wife temporary custody of the couple’s two minor children. The judge granted Gemelli $70,000 in legal fees to date.
On Feb. 16, 2022, after moving out of the home, the dentist filed papers opposing Parisi-McGowan’s ruling, through his lawyer.
“The defendant was in essence kicked out of his house and onto the street for no valid reason whatsoever,” his court filing stated. He complained that the ex parte application that was not “fully briefed” was “replete with baseless and unsubstantiated lies.”
The dentist said the drugs in the marital home in fact belonged to his wife. The alleged incident of physical abuse was from two years earlier and the witness whom his wife named in her divorce papers, contradicted her. In an affidavit dated Feb. 27, 2020 on behalf of the dentist, the witness said his wife’s characterization of the incident was as “an absolute fabrication…”
The next major ruling by Parisi-McGowan, which the dentist has since appealed, was the amount of temporary spousal and child support. “The amount requested by Gemelli did not follow the established formula,” the dentist said. He’s currently paying for all the expenses. His wife was also granted $12,000 per month in child support and alimony. Gemelli had first asked for $5,800 but then later asked for $16,000 per month. “There is no basis for that amount and Gemelli knows it’s not the correct calculation. The term used was double shelter.” The dentist’s appeal is pending.
Gemelli and his law partner Erica Shapiro didn’t respond to an e-mail message from Black Star News seeking comment.
Another person whose wife is represented by Gemelli in divorce proceedings is Shlomo Ruben, a real estate developer. As reported in a previous Black Star News article, Ruben has complained that Viscovich has made a series of rulings that favored his wife in distribution of funds from the couple’s joint real estate holdings, which are currently under the control of a receiver who, until recently, was Joseph Trotti.
The couple had 10 properties that have now been divided 50/50. As previously reported, Ruben has complained that he’s never received his half of revenues while his wife enjoyed distributions that may exceed $1 million. When the couple’s property at 140A Hull Street was sold for $600,000, Ruben said he only received $75,000. Ruben said he got no share of distributions when a condominium project at 1009 Hancock Street brought in $567,984 and when a closing from the couple’s 221 Beach 29 Street property, brought in $198,068.
The couple’s business received $460,000 in SBA loans. Ruben says only $399,000 is accounted for, out of which $200,000 was awarded to his wife by Judge Viscovich; the balance of $199,000 sits in Gemelli’s escrow account, Ruben said. He’s also complained that even though the tenants are willing to expedite rent payments via Zelle, the previous receiver Trotti had rejected this option. Without his fair share of distributions many critical repairs remain unattended, endangering tenants, he said. Ruben said his wife started getting favorable rulings when she parted companies with a previous attorney and hired Gemelli.
Gemelli and Shapiro didn’t respond to an e-mail message from Black Star News seeking comment about Ruben’s case as well as addressing the issue of the balance of the SBA loan in Gemelli’s account. Judge Viscovich, who’s presiding over the case also didn’t respond to a request for comment sent through the spokesperson for the New York Unified Courts system, Lucian Chalfen who never responds to inquiries from this publication.
In order to fully understand the disturbing relations between lawyers like Gemelli and Eisner and judges like Parisi-McGowan and Viscovich, it’s worth reviewing earlier cases involving these parties that have been covered by Black Star News.
In 2015, Dr. Robby Mahadeo’s wife sued for divorce. The couple have three children. At the time of the filing, one daughter was 12, a son was 10, and the youngest girl, just an infant. The couple enjoyed 50/50 custody for the first two years of proceedings that were presided over by two different judges. Things went downhill for Dr. Mahadeo once Judge McGowan started presiding.
During a hearing in December, 2017, out of nowhere, Dr. Mahadeo’s wife and the attorney for the children (AFC) Rayaz N. Khan, accused him of almost killing the then three year old daughter by intentionally feeding her peanuts even though he knew she was allergic, allegations denied by Dr. Mahadeo as “preposterous.”
Without a hearing or any evidence, Judge Parisi-McGowan stripped Dr. Mahadeo of his parental rights. Even after he presented medical evidence to prove that the child had suffered a strep infection, Judge Parisi-McGowan refused to reverse herself and told him “All doctors lie,” Mahadeo said, as reported in the original Black Star News story.
That was just the first of many egregious rulings by Judge Parisi-McGowan against Dr. Mahadeo, as documented in several Black Star News articles. Things got much worse when Judge Parisi-McGowan recused herself and Viscovich started presiding. Dr. Mahadeo’s wife was represented by Eisner, who on one occasion lied in a sworn affidavit that she had properly served Dr. Mahadeo. She couldn’t have because he was out of the country. Dr. Mahadeo filed a complaint about Eisner’s lies. Viscovich protected Eisner rather than report her for disciplinary proceedings. The judge eventually ordered Dr. Mahadeo jailed at Rikers. Black Star News’ coverage of Dr. Mahadeo’s plight was later featured on NBC by investigative reporter Sarah Wallace.
Judge Viscovich, ever the tyrant, ultimately forced Dr. Mahadeo to withdraw his complaint about Eisner and to agree never to speak to this reporter from Black Star News again.
There’s no question that Judge Parisi-McGowan and Judge Viscovich both used lawyers’ fees to punish some parties whose cases they presided over.
On Sept. 26, 2018 Dimitri Bourianov sued for divorce and sole custody. He presented evidence that his wife had been having affairs with three different lovers. Bourianov’s wife hired Gemelli. Bourianov in his court papers claimed his wife was reckless and that one of their two children had stumbled on her and a lover having sex in the living room of the couple’s marital residence. “So? She likes sex,” Judge Parisi-McGowan said, according to Bourianov.
Judge Parisi-McGowan threatened Bourianov that if he didn’t accept 50/50 custody she’d force him to pay both sides’ legal fees. On Sept. 22, 2021, Bourianov’s wife even filed papers asking for $100,000 in legal fees for Gemelli.
Initially, Judge Parisi-McGowan, citing the first amendment, rejected Gemelli’s attempt to have this reporter kicked out of her courtroom so the shenanigans wouldn’t be covered by Black Star News. After the first article about the Bourianov case was published in Black Star News, Judge Parisi-McGowan sided with Gemelli and the attorney for the children. They both now claimed—insanely—that the article would be harmful to the children, ages six and four. This was because, according to the two wise men, the children could read the articles one day when they grew up. So articles in Black Star News according to Gemelli, the attorney for the children, and Judge Parisi-McGowan, was more harmful then the children stumbling upon a lover having sex with their mother in the living room.
Judge Parisi-McGowan barred this reporter from covering subsequent proceedings, saying he could only cover the financials. “I ended up paying Gemelli $60,000 based on McGowan’s orders,” Bourianov says.
Another instance where Judge Parisi-McGowan and Judge Viscovich operated like a tag-team was the Leeds vs. Cholakian case. Judge Frederic Leeds, a federal immigration judge sued his wife Dr. Siranush Cholakian for divorce in January 2018.
Prior to the filing Judge Leeds had broken his wife’s arm in a domestic incident in the presence of their minor children and she’d pressed charges. Judge Leeds claimed he’d been defending himself from the diminutive wife. Yet, Judge Parisi-McGowan ordered Dr. Cholakian’s then lawyer, Max Di Fabio, to advise her to drop criminal charges against Judge Leeds otherwise—as the lawyer conveyed the message—“she would not look kindly on it,” as reported by Black Star News at the time.
Di Fabio was so alarmed by the blatant bias that he memorialized it in a document both he and Dr. Cholakian signed. Yet, Di Fabio was so intimidated by Judge McGowan that he advised his client to sign a settlement agreement giving sole legal custody to Judge Leeds, she said, at the time Black Star News reported her story.
Judge Parisi-McGowan also issued a stay-away order of protection against Dr. Cholakian for five years without holding a hearing even though Dr. Cholakian was the one whose arm had been broken. Following a series of articles in Black Star News, Judge Parisi-McGowan finally recused herself. Yet, demonstrating her bias and intense animus toward Dr. Cholakian, she issued one more adverse ruling against her even after she’d already recused herself. She reversed herself only after Black Star News reported the matter to then Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and to the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
As with Dr. Mahadeo’s case, Dr. Cholakian’s was also conveniently “reassigned” to Judge Viscovich where, as reported in several Black Star News articles, even more tyrannical rulings continued, this time by Viscovich.
These are the dictatorial proceedings presided over by Judge Parisi-McGowan, who retired with full pension benefits. Judge Viscovich remains on the bench, presiding over cases and ruling in favor of clients represented by Gemelli and Eisner.
Will things get any better now that Parisi-McGowan has retired?
“Now that I will have a new judge I hope both sides will be given a fair hearing,” the dentist whose case was presided over by Parisi-McGowan, said.
Ruben, the real estate developer, said, “I am just hoping that my case will be decided by the facts.”
Note: While preparing this article and attempting to link past reports, this reporter discovered that several original articles dealing with the cases presided over by Judges Parisi-McGowan and Viscovich have been deleted from our website. We’ve periodically found out that past articles related to several other cases have been deleted from out site without our knowledge and earlier this year our website was knocked out of operation for over two weeks. The deleted articles will soon be reposted.
If you’ve been a victim of well-documented instances of biased rulings by any judge in the New York Courts system please get in touch via [email protected] Follow me @allimadi on Twitter and miltonallimadi on IG