Long Island, NY – Judge Accepts Blame For Being Too Lenient With Driver Who Killed Engaged Jewish Couple

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    Yisroel Levin, 21, and his fiancée, Elisheva Basya Kaplan, 20, got engaged a week before the deadly crash near JFK Airport.Long Island, NY – Less than two weeks after a newly engaged Orthodox Jewish couple lost their lives in a deadly car crash, the Supreme Court judge who chose not to send one of the two drivers arrested in the fatal collision to jail on an earlier conviction said that he regrets his decision.

    Judge Matthew Sciarrino admitted that going easy on 25 year old Zakiyyah Steward, who had been convicted of stealing a total of more than $3,000 from her employer over the course of four burglaries was a mistake, reported The Daily News (https://nydn.us/2HznbMT).

    “We were unsuccessful in getting her the treatment she needs as it was detailed in these reports,” said Sciarrino. “I’ll take the blame for giving her too many chances.”

    Despite an offer from prosecutors to sentence Steward to two to six years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea on her burglary conviction, Sciarrino ordered the Brooklyn woman into The Fortune Society’s prison alternative program, as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2HAy2WR).

    Steward was thrown out of the program for poor attendance and engaging in drug and alcohol use, but when she appeared again before Sciarrino in March, he ordered her back to The Fortune Society instead of sending her to jail.

    Less than a month later, Steward was one of two people arrested in the horrific crash on the Nassau Expressway, with six marijuana cigarettes in her pocket.

    Brooklyn assistant district attorney Robert Zweibel said that Steward’s blood alcohol level of .076% at the time of the crash was just below the legal limit of .08%. Steward admitted to police officers that she had been smoking marijuana “all day” and she was arrested on four different charges involving drugs and alcohol.

    Steward is being held in the Nassau County Correctional Center in lieu of $25,000 bail. According to a new directive from Sciarrino, she would be held without bail on the burglary charges should she post bond in Nassau County.


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