Plea Deals Sought in 2010 Bronx Torture Case

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | The Bronx district attorney is making plea deals with at least two of the seven defendants in a notorious 2010 anti-gay torture and assault case in that borough.

Theresa A. Gottlieb, a senior trial assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, discussed an expected “pre-pleading memorandum” from the attorney representing Luis Garcia, 28, at a June 12 hearing before Judge Steven Barrett.

“After we receive that, we’ll be prepared to offer pleas to this defendant,” Gottlieb said.

Garcia’s attorney, Elizabeth V. Roeckell, was not in court on June 12, and she did not respond to a call seeking comment.

At a June 15 hearing before Barrett, a defense attorney who was representing José Dominguez, 24, gave what appeared to be a pre-plea report prepared by the Osborne Association, a non-profit group that works with offenders, to Barrett and Terry Gensler, an assistant district attorney who appeared in place of Gottlieb. The judge then set a September date for a “disposition.”

Dominguez’ attorney, Robert Kramer, was not in court, and a colleague of Kramer’s stood up for Dominguez. That colleague referred questions to Kramer, who did not respond to a call. The Osborne Association did not respond to an email seeking clarification.

Any sentences promised to these defendants and the issue of whether their pleas would require them to testify at a later trial of the other men accused in the case were not discussed at the hearings.

“There were no plea offers made,” the district attorney’s press office wrote in an email. “However, it was stated in court that the defense is preparing a pre-plea memoranda which will contain factors that the defense believes we need to know… We have made no offers.”

The 2010 crime was an hours-long session of alleged sexual abuse, gang assault, robbery, and other crimes. There were six victims, all men, and each defendant is facing dozens of charges, with some charged as hate crimes. The defendants are alleged to have acted against the victims because they believed or knew that some were gay.

The defendants, who supposedly called themselves the Latin King Goonies, are alleged to have used ten different weapons, including a bat, pliers, a cigarette, a lighter, and a chain. Allegedly, they sodomized some of their victims with some of the weapons. Some defendants are alleged to have menaced some victims by displaying a gun. The crimes occurred in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx.

Charged along with Garcia and Dominguez are Indelfonso Mendez, 25, Elmer Confresi, 25, Nelson Falu, 19, David Rivera, 23, and Rudy Vargas, 24. Only Vargas is out on bail. The others are being held on Rikers Island, either because they could not make bail or they were remanded without bail.

In 2010, the crimes drew widespread revulsion for their brutality and condemnation for their motivation. David Paterson, then the governor, called the attacks “vile, loathsome, and despicable conduct.” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represents Chelsea, called it “the worst hate crime to hit our city in recent memory.”

All the defendants have pleaded not guilty, and the attorneys for the remaining five did not respond to calls seeking comment.