New York Gov. George Pataki yesterday cited charges against a career criminal in a string of sexual assaults and robberies on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to criticize Democrats in the state legislature for ignoring his bill to put those convicted of repeat misdemeanors in jail as felons, the New York Times reports. The governor noted the multiple arrests and convictions that the suspect, Kevin White, 34, had amassed over the past decade to highlight legislation Pataki proposed in 2000 that never passed in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
Since 1989, White had been arrested 27 times and faced 57 different charges, from disorderly conduct to possession of a weapon and selling marijuana. Of the charges, 43 were for misdemeanors and nine were for felonies; White was convicted of 24 misdemeanors and one felony. “If they had passed the law, in all likelihood he would have been in jail a year ago or two years ago or three years ago and not engaged in these serial rapes,” Pataki said.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said chronic misdemeanor offenders like White get rreduced sentences through plea bargains. “The governor didn’t propose a bill banning plea bargains, did he?” Mr. Silver asked. “I mean, that’s what’s really at the root of what happened here.”
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg expressed anger yesterday at what he called a revolving-door system for criminals, made easier by plea bargains. “You cannot continue to let people plea bargain their way out of serious crimes, go back out on the street and continue to destroy our society,” Bloomberg said.
Under the Pataki bill, a person convicted of a fourth misdemeanor within 10 years, would be sentenced under as “E-felon” and would face a mandatory 1 1/3-to-4-year sentence in state prison.