'Secret' tape leads to mistrial request
Story Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO June 21, 2013 A new secret recording surfaced Wednesday in the corruption trial of Village of Monticello Trustee TC Hutchins, and if Hutchins’ attorney Michael McDermott can convince the court that the DA’s office is guilty of misconduct for not acknowledging the existence of the recording earlier, Hutchins could be granted his second mistrial in as many months.
McDermott requested that Sullivan County Court Judge Frank LaBuda entertain his motion for a mistrial and dismissal of all the charges against Hutchins Wednesday while the county’s top prosecutor argued that he was not required to turn the tape over in the first place.
The ten minute tape contains a 2011 conversation between retired village Detective Luis Feliciano who handled the background check of former village police officer candidate Kariem McCline and former local NAACP chapter President Tommy Mack.
Mack’s wife, Deborah Monticello’s postmaster has alleged she overhead the evening phone call on speaker, and has additionally claimed that some of Feliciano’s questions in relation to his probe on McCline’s character were outright “inappropriate” and outside the scope of such an investigation.
On Tuesday day six of the trial Mack testified that she overheard Feliciano asking her husband Hutchins’ uncle questions regarding McCline’s sexual proclivities; specifically if the single father of three “slept with married women.” She offered nearly identical testimony in McCline’s trial last month.
Farrell says the tape will prove that Mack lied under oath, and argued that not only was he not required to turn over the secretly recorded tape, but that he should also be permitted to introduce the tape into evidence and be allowed to recall Feliciano to the stand.
McDermott called on LaBuda to sanction Farrell for prosecutorial misconduct for not disclosing the tape earlier in the trial. Wagging a finger at Hutchins, Farrell protested, “This defendant called a witness that did not tell the truth about Detective Feliciano.”
The case stems from allegations Hutchins allegedly used his influence as a village trustee to rig and expedite the hiring process for his friend McCline in his application to the village police force.
Hutchins is also accused of pressuring two village police chiefs former acting village Police Chief Mark Johnstone and former Police Chief Doug Solomon into terminating the background investigation into McCline before its completion.
After sending the jury home, LaBuda informed attorneys for both sides that the matter would have to be resolved before the trial could move forward and ordered transcripts of the tape. LaBuda also related in open court, regardless of the validity of Mack’s claims, that “several” of Feliciano’s queries were indeed questionable. LaBuda cited one example Feliciano’s question regarding McCline’s living arrangement with a woman at that time; specifically if the pair were living in a “non-marital relationship.”
Regarding the defense motion, Farrell said, “The people obviously object to this… this [the withholding of the tape] was not done intentionally.”
Closing arguments were expected on Wednesday. LaBuda ordered the jury back in court at 9 a.m. Thursday.