Manhattan Dr. David Slavit is facing a court challenge related to a Feb. 2009 examination he did of Michael Jackson; an enterntainment firm being sued by the Jackson family says the doc has ignored a subpoena for records

A Park Avenue doctor who examined Michael Jackson months before his death is facing a court challenge from an entertainment firm that wants details about the checkup. Lawyers for AEG Live — the firm that was producing Jackson’s ill-fated comeback tour — have asked a Manhattan Supreme Court judge to order Dr. David Slavit to comply with a subpoena issued in California. AEG was hit with a wrongful death suit from the Gloved One’s family, who say the promoters should have known he was too sick for the stage. AEG’s lawyers say Slavit’s February 2009 examination of Jackson is essential to their defense because it enabled the firm to get insurance for the concert series, which was supposed to start in London in July 2009. Jackson died of an overdose in June 2009. AEG’s lawyers contend they have been trying for a year to get Slavit to sit for a deposition and share medical records from the exam. They say he canceled the first time they set a date for a deposition, court papers say, and that Slavit and his father, Leonard Slavit, a negligence attorney, have since put up a series of obstacles to establishing a new date. “Despite repeated and tireless efforts to resolve the matter without court intervention, AEG has no choice” but to ask the courts to order Slavit to cooperate, the AEG lawyers argued in court papers. Neither Slavit nor his father could be reached for comment. Jackson’s personal doctor, Conrad Murray, who provided the medication on which he overdosed, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Trial set for April in Joyner-Francis death case

A judge has scheduled an April 3 trial date for the three girls charged following a fight in a Howard High School of Technology bathroom that left 16-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis dead.On Tuesday, attorneys representing the three – Trinity Carr, Chakeira Wright and Zion Snow – appeared briefly in Family Court without their clients to schedule the non-jury trial.State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings told the judge that she expects the trial to span two weeks and to include testimony from multiple experts, including a heart specialist and the state's medical examiner who said Joyner-Francis died from a pre-existing heart condition, rather than from injuries sustained in the assault.Also expected to take the stand is Wilmington police Detective Tom Curley who previously testified about the fight at a hearing to determine if Carr, 16, should be tried as an adult or juvenile.Following that hearing, a judge ruled in August that Carr should be tried as a juvenile in Family Court. She is the only one accused of hitting Joyner-Francis and was charged with criminally negligent homicide, a felony, and third-degree criminal conspiracy, a misdemeanor.Cellphone video of the attack played in court showed Carr dragging Joyner-Francis by her long, braided hair through a handicap-accessible stall in the high school's bathroom on April 21.Carr is seen punching Joyner-Francis in the head at least 24 times and kicking her six to eight times, as Joyner-Francis tried to get away, Curley said. The last seconds of the video showed Joyner-Francis grabbing onto Carr, even as Carr tried to pull away from the fight.Because neither of the two other girls hit Joyner-Francis nor had prior arrests, prosecutors did not seek to try their cases in Superior Court as adults and charged them only with third-degree criminal conspiracy.Prosecutors alleged that communication between the three girls showed that they planned the confrontation Continue Reading

Suspended Delaware Chief Medical Examiner’s side work scrutinized

Suspended Delaware Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Richard T. Callery, under investigation after drug evidence disappeared from the laboratory he oversees, moonlighted as a contract pathologist for Rhode Island for at least a decade, The News Journal has learned.His busiest year in that state was 2010, when he performed 76 examinations or autopsies there, the same year it appears that problems started in Delaware's drug testing lab.Callery performed 173 autopsies or examinations in Rhode Island between 2008 and 2011, earning a total of $189,000, according to records obtained from Rhode Island. He receives $198,500 as an annual Delaware salary.The News Journal has also discovered several instances where Callery was involved in apparent conflicts of interest, testifying as a private, hired expert in one case against the Rhode Island Medical Examiners Office and another against his own office in Delaware.Callery was suspended with pay late last month when the Delaware Department of Health and Social services launched an administrative review of Callery and the Delaware Attorney General's Office started a criminal investigation into whether he misused state resources to operate a side business.Callery's suspension came shortly after problems were discovered in Delaware's Controlled Substances Labratory, managed by his office, following a Jan 14 drug trial that ended abruptly after a police officer opened an evidence bag in front of a jury that was supposed to contain dozens of blue oxcyontin pills and instead contained a handful of pink blood pressure pills.A month later, Delaware State Police closed down the state's drug lab and secured the drug evidence locker to conduct an audit. So far, officials have found at least 22 instances of drugs being tampered with or taken. Superior Court officials have postponed hundreds of drug prosecutions set to go to trial this month while investigators sort through the problem. No arrests have been made.The 22 compromised Delaware drug Continue Reading

Out-of-date property-tax rolls feed tax unfairness

The longer a community goes without a general reassessment of property, the more inequality or tax unfairness creeps into the tax rolls.That's one takeaway from Sunday's Tax Watch report, which examined how two famous New Castle couples – the Clintons and Sandra Lee and Gov. Andrew Cuomo – undertook home renovations and how it impacted their property-tax bills.In the case of former President Bill Clinton and former first lady-Senator-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their tax bill increased, as the town could add value to the property based on building permits obtained for the work. Lee, though, didn't obtain permits; her property-tax bill has dipped in recent years. (The governor's office, which responded to queries made to Lee, insists building permits weren't necessary for the kind of cosmetic work done; media reports, though, detail renovations that would require such town-issued permits.)Towns can alter property assessment based on certain home improvements. Property owners also can challenge their tax bills. But the big picture is lost in places like New Castle, where the assessment rolls were set decades ago. Because the town's tax rolls don't reflect current property values, it's almost assured that some residents pay more than they should and some pay less.So why not fix it? Because revaluation is hard.Some states, like Connecticut and Massachusetts, perform frequent statewide property revaluations. In New York, municipalities decide when to review property assessments, and some wait decades to do so. The process is complex, costly and bound to make some homeowners mad.Yonkers and Greenburgh are finally performing revaluations for their tax rolls, which date to the 1950s. Ossining also is updating its property data, last reassessed in the 1970s. Other towns such as Scarsdale and Pelham have taken the plunge, and several of Putnam County's towns perform frequent revaluations to keep their tax rolls fresh.The revaluation process – usually Continue Reading

Terrance McKnight set to air tribute to musician Hazel Scott

She entered Juilliard at 8 years old, worked and toured with jazz giants like Art Tatum, Max Roach and Lena Horne, was a Broadway and Hollywood star, and was one of, if not the first, African-Americans to have a national television show. Yet outside music historians' circles, classical pianist Hazel Scott is remembered more for marriage than music - her 11-year union with Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. made them the Michelle and Barack Obama of their day. Terrance McKnight is returning the spotlight to Scott's music. At 10 p.m. on Feb. 26, he will air the two-hour "Still Swinging, Still Classic: A Musical Biography of Pioneering Pianist Hazel Scott," as part of WQXR FM, Classical 105.9, Black History month programming. "Hazel has been forgotten," McKnight said. "But she was absolutely phenomenal. To be admitted to Juilliard when she was 8 years old? That's incredible." Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Hazel, her mother and grandmother moved to New York City when she was 7. By her teen years, she was playing professional jobs, and in the 1940s was a star at Cafe Society, then one of the few integrated nightclubs in the city. Her voluntary appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1950 - she denied being a Communist but beseeched HUAC members not to persecute artists - cost her the short-lived "The Hazel Scott Show" on the Dumont television network. Scott, Adam Clayton Powell 2nd's mother, was 61 when she died of pancreatic cancer in October 1981. McKnight, a pianist and former Morehouse College professor, said he originally heard of Scott in Adam Clayton Powell Jr.'s book, "Adam by Adam; the Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell Jr." A few years ago McKnight heard that someone had written a book about Scott, and he friended the author, Karen Chilton, on Facebook. They met in Brooklyn during an event last year, and Chilton gave him a copy of the book, "Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Continue Reading

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services set new guide for checking case status

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued new instructions on inquiring about an immigration case. Before making an inquiry, first try to check the status of your case online. Go to and click on Case Status Online. With an application receipt number, you can check the status of your case. Also at, you can check typical processing times so you'll know if a decision on your petition or application is overdue.To ask USCIS about your case, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at (800) 375-5283. You'll need your receipt number and if you have one, your alien registration number (your "A" number). You'll want to have a pen handy so you can write down the name and/or ID number of the NCSC representative who takes your call, the date and time of the call, and - if the agent gives you one - a request referral number. If after having called the NCSC, you do not get results in 30 days, email the USCIS Service Center handling your case. That information is noted on your filing receipt or other correspondence from USCIS - EAC for the Vermont Service Center, SRC for the Texas Service Center, LIN for the Nebraska Service Center and WAC for the California Service Center. The email addresses are California Service Center: Vermont: [email protected]; Nebraska: [email protected], and Texas: [email protected] If you don't get a response in 21 days, email the USCIS Headquarters Office of Service Center Operations by email at [email protected] USCIS says you'll receive a response in 10 days. I welcome this effort by USCIS to improve service using the Internet. I hope it works for my readers. Write me about your experience. Q. I came here as a permanent resident at age 5. I am now 42. My father naturalized when I was 14. My mother naturalized when I was 22. Am I a U.S. citizen? Mimi, New York A. Assuming your parents were married when you turned 18, you are not a U.S. citizen. To become a citizen, you'll need to apply to Continue Reading

More drugs, less crime: Health reformers should worry about setting back pharmaceutical innovation

In 1990, the United States was near the peak of a decades-long crime wave. Time magazine reported that New York City was undergoing "a surge of... violent crime that government officials seem utterly unable to combat." Less than two decades later, the city's crime-rate has plummeted. Noting yet another year-over-year decline in criminality, The New York Times recently reported that experts are at a loss as to explain why - but many credit the impressive work of the New York Police Department. To be sure, the NYPD has done impressive work, but it's important to understand that New York's experience mirrors similar drops in crime across the country. Beginning in 1960, U.S. crime rates climbed steadily, and for decades they showed no sign of slowing. By the early 1990s, each year saw nearly 800 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents - up fourfold from fewer than 200 three decades before. But then, both violent crime and property crime dropped sharply. The trend has continued steadily downward ever since. Numerous explanations for the shift have been proposed, but none fully explain the simultaneous downturn in crime in the U.S. and in our neighbor to the north, Canada. So what happened? A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that the decline in crime was directly influenced by the increased efficacy and prescription of psycho-pharmaceuticals - drugs used to treat mental illness. As Congress considers how to reform America's health sector, and with it, make major changes impacting the pharmaceutical industry, it is worth recalling that drugs don't merely make individuals healthier - they can improve society as a whole in subtle and unexpected ways. The authors of the report, Dave Marcotte of University of Maryland and Sara Markowitz of Emory University, examined evidence dating from 1997 through 2004. They found a clear pattern: As prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased, the incidence of violent crime decreased. In Continue Reading


TWO YOUNG QUEENS LOVERS who died inside a garage from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning were on their first date, grieving relatives said yesterday. "It was the first time they had gone out together," said the mother of Delly Collado, 28, who didn't want her name used. "He wasn't her boyfriend." Collado's nude body was found alongside a semi-nude Jonathan Tapia, 21, in the front passenger seat of Tapia's Acura just after 7:30 a.m. Saturday. The car, which was still running, set off carbon monoxide alarms in the 99th St. home above the garage in Corona that Tapia rented from a neighbor. The official cause of death is undetermined pending toxicology tests, the city medical examiner said. A stream of mourners brushed away tears as they left flowers and lit candles in front of the garage yesterday. The pair - who did not discuss their relationship with their parents - lived with their families just a few blocks apart and also attended the same Catholic church, Our Lady of Sorrows on 37th Ave. Tapia's family paid a visit to Collado's home yesterday to extend their condolences before heading to the church to make funeral arrangements. "I talked with them, they were very kind. They didn't have any animosity toward us," said Tapia's father, Freddy Tapia. "They didn't think there was any criminal act." Collado's mother added that she has no hard feelings toward Tapia's kin. "They suffered the same way we did," she said. Yesterday, Collado's online My Space profile was filled with tributes to the raven-haired beauty, who was remembered as a passionate, energetic woman with a caring heart. "Delly baby we will all miss your smiles. You're a ball of energy and one of a kind," wrote one friend. "I will never forget your personality, heart and passion for fun." [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

HIS DNA SETS HIM FREE AT LAST. Jailed for 21 years after wrongful rape conviction

A BROOKLYN MAN imprisoned nearly half his life for raping a cop's wife won his freedom yesterday, finally getting the DNA evidence to prove his long-asserted innocence. Although Scott Fappiano, now 44, lost the best years of his life, he never lost his hope, his sense of humor or his mother's support - and he displayed all three yesterday. "I'm just happy it's over," said Fappiano, his smiling face covered with red lipstick kisses from the many relatives who hugged him after he emerged from a Brooklyn courtroom a free man, without the shackles he had worn on the way in. "Scotty, we made it!" shouted Fappiano's tiny, white-haired mother, Rose, when Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Hall ordered his release with the Brooklyn district attorney's consent. Fappiano was convicted based on flawed witness identification, and his innocence had been almost impossible to prove because of lost evidence, said Innocence Project lawyer Nina Morrison. But the Innocence Project located two vials of DNA material, including the rapist's semen, that had been buried in a private lab's storage facility. New DNA testing by the city medical examiner confirmed Thursday that Fappiano was not the rapist. "A wealth of other evidence that could have been tested years earlier" was never located in the NYPD's storage facility, the Innocence Project said. The case dated to Dec. 1, 1983, when an intruder broke into the Brooklyn home of a cop as he and his wife were sleeping. The assailant bound the husband with a telephone cord and repeatedly raped the wife. Fappiano was collared six days later. His first trial in 1984 ended in a hung jury, 11 to 1 for acquittal, because the husband could not identify Fappiano in a lineup the day of his arrest. Blood-typing tests also had failed to link him with cigarettes and stained clothing at the crime scene, and the victim described her attacker as being 5 inches taller than Fappiano, who had prior arrests for rape but was never Continue Reading

Nicholas Figueroa identified as one of two bodies pulled from East Village blast site; he died while paying check on sushi date, family says

A $13 tab and a twist of fate doomed a young man in the hellacious East Village explosion. One of the two people killed in the gas blast that leveled three Second Ave. buildings died when he left his table to settle the tab at Sushi Park. His lunch date survived when the force of the explosion blew her out of the eatery. The body of Nicholas Figueroa, 23, was recovered Sunday from the Second Ave. rubble, along with another victim believed to be restaurant worker Moises Lucon, 26. “Nicholas got up to pay his check. He was at the back of the restaurant at the time of the explosion,” said Awilda Cordero, a family spokeswoman. “His lady friend is better and survived because she got blown into the street,” Cordero said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Sunday that the bodies were recovered at 1:11 p.m. and 3:41 p.m., after cadaver dogs sniffed them out. He said one of the dead men was found 20 feet from the entrance of Sushi Park at 121 Second Ave., while the second was discovered 20 feet deeper into the restaurant. Figueroa’s heartbroken family confirmed his body was found in the collapsed building. He was on the lunchtime date at Sushi Park with a co-worker from Bowlmor Lanes at Chelsea Piers when the blast ripped through the restaurant. His relatives went to the site Thursday after checking his bank records and discovering Figueroa had just paid the $13.04 bill when the explosion occurred at 3:15 p.m. Nigro said authorities were still searching through the wreckage given the “very slight chance” of another victim. Relatives of both Figueroa and Lucon, an immigrant from Guatemala, had kept a vigil at the blast site, praying for two miracles. When the first body was recovered Sunday, Figueroa’s brother initially refused to accept the grim news. “That’s not him. God, that’s not him!” Neal Figueroa said. Hours later, the family confirmed the Continue Reading