Hip Hop Artist / Author / Prisoner Sues Dept. of Corrections for $10 Million Dollars (Jatanya and Tamara says they broke into Sing Sing for Nicholas)
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STORY TITLE: Hip Hop Artist / Author / Prisoner Sues Dept. of Corrections for $10
AUTHOR: Nedra James
Allegedly, he was supposed to have attempted to escape from Sing Sing Correctional facility in 2003, but when the smoke cleared, and the media publicity faded away, the evidence showed that Nicholas Zimmerman never actually “attempted” to do anything?
It was an amazing story. Jatanya Belnavis, Nicholas’ long-term girlfriend, was said to have loved him so much that she dressed up in a correctional officer’s uniform, strapped two loaded handguns to her waist and attempted to enter Sing Sing Correctional Facility posing as a correctional guard. Belnavis’ alleged intentions were to meet Zimmerman at his prison cell, give him the extra uniform she carried in her work bag and then the two would walk out of the prison proposing to go on a lunch break. The two guns? Well, that was a safety net. If the plan was foiled mid-operation, the lovers would shoot their way out of the prison and escape on a motorcycle waiting nearby. Although the New York State Police believed Jatanya was brave enough to initiate the mission impossible escape attempt, they alleged that Jatanya got cold feet half-way through the plan, suffered a panic attack and exited the prison without ever reaching Zimmerman.
Then it was Tony Dubose’s turn. After Jatanya failed on April 24, 2003, Tony decided to give it a shot on May 7, 2003. Again, Tony dressed up in the same uniform previously worn by Belnavis, (it was a perfect fit) strapped on the same two guns and strolled into Sing Sing Correctional Facility. However, this time the plan was countered.
When Tony’s shaky identification was questioned by Sing Sing’s door woman, he was sent to the Deputy’s office for further evaluation. Deputy Connolly questioned Tony about his business at Sing Sing and his identification. Tony told Dep. Connolly that he was a transfer from Fishkill Correctional Facility and that he would go to his car and get his “official transfer paperwork.” Although suspicious, Dep. Connolly (the highest-ranking security personnel in Sing Sing Correctional Facility) allowed Dubose to leave. According to the police, Tony never returned, and a massive manhunt ensued. From this point on, it’s anyone’s story.
Somehow this story caught the attention of several major newspapers and it was fed to the public without an opposing view. The mentioning of the guns, corrupt correctional officers, motorcycles, escape plans, etc… was strategically leaked to the media just hours before the grand jury would hear the case of The People of the State of New York V. Nicholas Zimmerman. With such intricate gamesmanship, Zimmerman wouldn’t stand a chance. The supposed impartial jury panel would now of course, be infected by the current media publicity, form a prejudged opinion of Zimmerman and subsequently find sufficient evidence to hold him for trial. Question is, what public official could put together a story such as this, much more get a jury to believe it?
Meet Jeanine Pirro, Westchester County’s former publicly disgraced District Attorney. Pirro would be the one to ultimately make the decision to try Zimmerman on the escape charges. She also set up several press conferences immediately before Zimmerman’s grand jury hearing and criminal trial in order to gain public favor and ensure a bias conviction. In a press release dated February 4, 2004, Pirro alleged that Belnavis, Dubose and an unidentified man named “Rock” carried guns into Sing Sing Correctional Facility as a prerequisite to the escape plan. She alleged that Zimmerman possessed a cellular phone in which he commanded and directed his accomplice’s actions in breaking into the 200-year-old prison. She alleged that there was a motorcycle parked outside of Sing Sing waiting for Zimmerman to escape on. However, when the 2005 trial finally rolled around, Pirro failed to produce any of the evidence she relied on so heavily to prosecute Zimmerman in the media with. She failed to introduce into evidence the cellular phone that she alleged Zimmerman had while in Sing Sing Correctional Facility. She had no motorcycle, no “Rock” and no one testified to seeing Zimmerman attempt to put on a correctional Officer’s uniform or walk out of Sing Sing. In fact, at a 2004, and 2005 Administrative hearing, several witnesses verified Zimmerman’s presence in Sing Sing and asserted that he never attempted to escape on either of the dates Pirro alleged. With such flimsy “facts”, one might question what “evidence” did Pirro present to the jury in order to manipulate a conviction?
Belnavis corroborated Pirro’s story. She said she did break into Sing Sing on the 24th of April 2003. She spoke of her phony panic attack, correctional uniforms and guns. When Zimmerman’s defense lawyer asked, “so where are the guns that you used for the escape attempt” Belnavis stated “I threw ‘em out”. When asked about the true identity and location of “Rock” Belnavis stated “I don’t know”. When Belnavis was asked whose decision, it was to break into the prison, she responded, “Ultimately, it was my decision. I bought the guns, uniforms, everything.”
Dubose added to the story. He testified that he broke into the prison on the 7th of May, was excused by Connolly to go to his car and then fled the scene. Dubose testimony, however, was more comical than Belnavis. Dubose stated that he had never met Zimmerman before the trial. When Zimmerman’s lawyer asked Dubose “so you were gonna break into the prison, make your way through all the checkpoints and gates, to meet up with a man you don’t know, and never met?” Dubose responded “yeah, basically.”
Because of the above suspicious allegations, Zimmerman had been in solitary confinement under the guise of an “ongoing investigation” since May 2003. While the escape attempt itself seems fictitious, the alleged “investigation” appears to be nothing more than a pretext to keep Zimmerman in the hole. At a preliminary hearing in 2005, Deputy Inspector General, George Seyfertt was questioned about his reasons for placing Zimmerman in solitary. Inspector Seyfertt claimed that there was an ongoing investigation of an escape attempt, but that “he was not part of the investigation, had no involvement in it, had never interviewed anyone alleged to be involved in the case, and never generated or documented any notes in relation to the investigation”. However, in the very same breath, Seyfertt confirmed that he ordered Zimmerman’s solitary confinement in 2003? When asked why he ordered the confinement, Seyfertt said “Based on information I received from the New York State Police, I put Zimmerman in confinement”. Seyfertt’s accomplice in the State Police would be Darren Daughtry, a NYSP Investigator at the Hawthorne Barracks in the County of Westchester. Daughtry would accept responsibility for the entire investigation and also state that he was “totally convinced as early as May 2003, that Zimmerman had planned the escape attempt”. Apparently, it doesn’t take too much to convince Daughtry.
Continuing the 2005 hearing, Daughtry stated that he “had no direct knowledge of an escape attempt at Sing Sing”, and that “all of his information came from third party hearsay”. When asked what third party that might be, Daughtry stated “the accomplices, Dubose and Belnavis.” However, Daughtry was not so quick to admit that he arrested Belnavis and Dubose without probable cause, held them in jail and repeatedly threatened them with the fear of doing 40 years in prison if they did not corroborate his theory of an escape attempt at Zimmerman’s trial. Ultimately, after 15 months of ridicule, harassment, and coercion, Dubose and Belnavis would do just that. In the end, Zimmerman would be convicted of “attempted escape” and sentenced to 12 1/2 – 25 years. Dubose and Belnavis? Well, even though they alleged to have broken into the prison, with guns, uniforms, etc…, since they helped Daughtry, they went home with probation?
Zimmerman doesn’t seem to be taking these escape allegations so lightly and, in fact, he’s fighting back. In 2006, Zimmerman filed a $10 million-dollar lawsuit against Seyfertt, Daughtry, and 17 other members of the New York State Police and the Department of Corrections alleging, among other things, that each member directly or indirectly placed Zimmerman in solitary confinement in order to force a confession out of him about the escape allegations.
Zimmerman’s lawsuit is corroborated by affidavits, documents, exhibits, and transcripts that prove to a moral and (legal) certainty that his rights to due process of law were violated and that he should have never been placed in solitary confinement, and especially not for that long. Even more troubling for the Dept. of Corrections is the fact that Westchester County Judge Robert Dibella has already ruled that Zimmerman’s confinement was “unjustifiable” and that “it imposed a hardship on him”. Judge Dibella’s statements will undoubtedly be used at Zimmerman’s civil trial.
In addition, author Kendra Lyneigh Hughes recently released an investigative outline into Nicholas’ first and second case. The book entitled “My Side of the Story – The Investigation – Part I” uncovers certain aspects of Zimmerman’s trial that the Criminal Justice system would surely like to keep covered up. In a Q & A exchange between Zimmerman and Hughes, Zimmerman explains that “Judge Roger R. Rosengarten and A.D.A. Leigh Bishop put my trial together so nicely that the average American citizen would not see that I was railroaded and continue to be railroaded to this day”.
Zimmerman’s allegations of being railroaded are not far-fetched and in fact, they
carry a great deal of validity. He was originally imprisoned on a gun possession charge stemming from an incident in which Nakia Stubbs alleged that Zimmerman attacked her with a gun in September of 1998 in Rosedale, Queens at approximately 3:00 a.m. However, after Zimmerman’s trial and conviction, Stubbs swore under oath that “I believe Nicholas’ conviction might have been a grave error. I was never absolutely certain that Nicholas committed the crime. The detectives came to my house and showed me one photograph and I told them that it resembles the person involved. Prior to this, I had only seen Nicholas on two occasions, for 5 minutes each time, and that was months before I was attacked. After continuously telling A.D.A. Leigh Bishop that I wasn’t sure that Nicholas committed the crime and that I didn’t want to testify, Bishop threatened me and said I would be arrested and held in jail until I identified Zimmerman as my attacker. I reluctantly testified and Nicholas was convicted. I respectfully recant any and all testimony that indicated that Nicholas committed the crime against me.” (Nakia Stubbs – March 24, 2003 – Queen’s County) Judge Rosengarten and A.D.A. Bishop mocked Stubbs recantation testimony as a “recent revelation” and “inherently unreliable”. Apparently, according to Rosengarten, Stubbs’ testimony is only reliable when she is helping to put black men in prison but not when she is attempting to free one??
As of the time of this writing, Zimmerman’s appeal to the escape attempt charges was pending in the Appellate Division, second department. The appeal to the weapon’s possession case is pending in the Eastern District Court of Judge Allyne R. Ross. The $10 million-dollar lawsuit is pending in the Northern District Court of Judge Thomas McAvoy, and the superbly written, well documented “My Side of the Story” is available for purchase at www.FREENicholasZimmerman.com. The book receives 4 stars out of 5, only because the book ends abruptly, leaving the reader frustrated as Jatanya Belnavis takes the stand to testify against Zimmerman. A devilish ploy by the writer to ensure that everyone goes out to get Part II to find out exactly what Jatanya said at the trial.
“My Side of the Story / The Investigation / Part I”
Available at www.FREENicholasZimmerman.com
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