Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'd like to personally wish a happy New Year to all... and thanks for being such great readers. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Commonwealth’s Proposed Findings of Fact (Part 1)

COMMONWEALTH’S PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT

1. The Defendant Harlow Cuadra joined in/filed a motion to suppress evidence as a result of a May 15, 2007 search by the Virginia Beach Police Department.

2. Detective Matthew Childress of the Virginia Beach Police Department and Corporal Leo D. Hannon of the Pennsylvania State Police testified at a December 4, 2008 suppression hearing for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

3. No witnesses were called by the Defendant, however, counsel for Joseph Kerekes, Attorney John Pike moved into evidence the transcript of the initial suppression hearing held on September 22, 2008. (N.T. pg. 56).

4. Detective Matthew Childress works for the Special Investigations Division of the Virginia Beach Police Department. (NT. pg. 6). The Special investigations Division investigates organized crimes, vice, narcotics, money laundering and prostitution. (N.T. pg. 6).

5. Detective Matthew Childress testified that Norfolk Companions is an escort company that operated in the Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach area (N.T. pg.7).

6. Detective Childress testified that he began to cultivate informants to infiltrate Harlow Cuadra, Joseph Kerekes and Norfolk Companions. (N.T. pg. 8). The “Boisrus” Internet website which was operated by Cuadra and Kerekes advertised the escort services of Norfolk Companions. (NT. pg. 8).

7. Commonwealth Exhibit 1 at the December 4, 2008 hearing was a page from the Boisrus web site listing a menu of different services the Defendants offered as testified to by Detective Childress. (N.T. pg. 9) This was printed out on December 21, 2006 by Detective Childress more than a month before the Kocis homicide. (N.T, pg. 57).

8. Exhibit 1 sets forth that “hot studs” would pick one up in a 2006 BMW M5 and the person can be taken back to the fabulous upscale in-call facility for “whatever it is hot boys do it unwind.” A nude video with the studs was available. This was an eXXXclusive offer. (NJ. pg 10-1 1.)

9. The 2006 BMW M5 is the car that is the subject of this motion. (NT. pg. 13). Detective Childress, as part of his RICO investigation, secured a Department of motor vehicle liens search on January 10, 2007, which predated the Pennsylvania homicide of Bryan Kocis. (N.T. pg. 34)

10. The informants, Andrew Shunk, Justin Hensley and David Jacobsen provided Detective Childress with information concerning the use of this car, as well as, money laundering and prostitution. (N.T. pg. 14)

11. In May 2007, Detective Childress was advised by the Pennsylvania State Police that they were preparing homicide warrants against Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. (NT. pg. 16)

12. In January 2007, Detective Childress was running a RICO investigation on Harlow Cuadra’s and Joseph Kerekes’ businesses. (NT. pg. 16). The Pennsylvania homicide investigation and the Virginia Beach RICO investigation were paralleling each other and being investigated simultaneously. (N.T. pg. 16).

13. On May 14, 2007, Detective Childress prepared a search warrant for the Defendants’ home and vehicles. (N.T. pg. 17) Paul Powers, an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney for Virginia Beach, reviewed and approved the warrant. (N.T. pg. 18) Judge Shadrick, a Virginia Beach Circuit Court judge, viewed and signed the warrant on May 14, 2007. (N.T. pg. 18-19). Pertinent paragraphs of the search warrant include the following: Section 3: the things or persons to be searched for our described as follows:

any and all assets, personal property, luxury items, jewelry, US currency, vehicles, or any and all items obtained, used, or associated with the furtherance of the criminal enterprise, or associated with the laundering of assets derived in whole or in part from the criminal enterprise, or prostitution ring.

Section 4: The material facts constituting probable cause that the search should be made:

The Virginia Beach Police Department’s Special Investigations Division received a complaint in January 2006 that a prostitution ring was being operated in the City of Virginia Beach, disguised as a legitimate escort service advertises Norfolk Companions Inc. This escort company was owned and operated by Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. A similar complaint was received in August 2006 alleging that the web site boisrus.com was operating as a front for illicit prostitution. The State Corporation Commission has Harlow Cuadra as the President of Norfolk Companions, Inc. and the City of Virginia Beach shows a business license issued to Norfolk Companions at 2537 N. Landing Rd, Virginia Beach, Virginia. As of December 27, 2006, Norfolk Companions, Inc. has listed their address as 1028 Stratem Court, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23451. A DMV and pistol records check shows both Harlow Raymond Cuadra (W/M;08/05/1 981; SSN:XXX-XX-XXXX) and Joseph M. Kerekes (W/M; 12/30/1973;SSN XXX-XX-XXXX) as both residing at 1028 Stratem Court.

Confidential Informant (CI) #170 is a reliable confidential informant, whose information has been cooperated, and was once employed by Norfolk Companions, Inc. CI #170 states that Norfolk companions and is owned by Harlow Cuadra and his business partner Joseph Kerekes and that they operate the business from their house and Virginia Beach located at 1028 Stratem Court. CI #170 states that potential clients sign up to be members of a web site called Boybatter.com for $200 or they are able to purchase XXX DVD videos and also order escort services on a linked web site boisrus.com. CI #170, while working as an escort for Norfolk Companions, was directed by Harlow Cuadra to perform sexual acts with paying clients. Cuadra was present during the performance of the sexual acts with those clients.

CI #170 received payment in check form and in cash from Norfolk Companions, Inc. for his escort/sexual services rendered. The checks were drawn from the Company’s checking account through a bank of the Commonwealth for $150.00, which is 30% of the $500 booking fee Norfolk Companions Inc. received, CI # 170 states that Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes are the primary escorts, but they also employ several other young men as well. Cl #170 has worked as an escort in the past for Norfolk Companions, Inc. and continues to have contact with Cuadra and Kerekes. This affiant observed the workings of Cuadra’s web site, boisrus.com This affiant learned from the web site that an “in-call” service is $200 per hour and “out-call” service is $250 an hour. CI # 170 states that “in call” refers to a date that is held at Cuadra’s house and “out-call” refers to the escort going to the client’s home or hotel room. In-call services are advertised as “all inclusive” and are held at their house at 1028 Stratem Court; the room provided as a massage table, multiple head shower, king size bed, leather couch and a hot tub and alcohol and snacks are provided for the client. Cuadra and Kerekes offer the client use of their video camera to tape the encounter. Out-call services require the escort/prostitute to meet with a client their home or at a hotel room where money would be given for sexual services; the escort/prostitute would comply with the client’s sexual request is directed by Cuadra and Kerekes, the escort/prostitute would then take the money back to Cuadra and Kerekes were they would give the escort/prostitute a percentage of the earnings. Cuadra and Kerekes advertise a “Signature Combo Deal” for $350 per hour at their “$1 million location” and that “rates all are all inclusive. No tips needed! Top, bottom, versatile, vanilla, active, passive service is rendered as needed!” This affiant affirms that these terms refer to sexual positions and preferences.

As of May 12, 2007, CI #170 has had continuous contact with both Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. They have offered CI #170 cash bonuses to return to full employment. CI #170 states for employment to include escort/prostitution as well as filming pornographic movies. Large-scale prostitution rings are motivated by the profits generated from prostitution, which they used to enhance their lifestyle or recognition in the community through the purchase of luxury items. Assets may include the purchase and leasing of property, the purchase and rental of communications equipment him of.

14. Judge Shadrick personally took the warrant to the Clerk’s Office and stamped it in at 3:24 p.m. (N.T. pg. 19) The search warrant authorized the seizure of vehicles related to prostitution or the escorting business (NT. pg. 84).

15. The next day, on the morning of May 15, 2007, Detective Childress received word from the Pennsylvania State Police that homicide warrants were issued by a magistrate against Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. (N.T. pg. 20).

16. Detective Childress testified that in February 2007 a search warrant had been executed at the Defendant’s home at 1028 Stratem Court, Virginia Beach, Virginia and two weapons were recovered; a .50 caliber Desert Eagle and a Smith & Wesson weapon. (N.T. pg. 21-22) Detective Childress testified that bullet holes were observed in the wall of the master bedroom in February of 2007. (NT. pg. 22).

17. As of May 2007, the Defendants’ Glock 9 mm was still unaccounted for which Detective Childress, Corporal Hannon, and Virginia Beach SWAT were all aware of prior to the execution of the May 14, 2007 search warrant and physical arrest of Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes on Pennsylvania homicide charges on May 15, 2007 (NT. pg. 22).

18. Prior to the execution of the May 14, 2007 search warrant, Virginia Beach police surveillance was running around the clock and the Defendants were staying within the residence. (N.T. pg. 23).

19. On the morning of May 15, 2007, Detective Childress received word homicide warrants issued in Pennsylvania for the defendants; Detective Childress was then notified the defendants were leaving their residence with what appeared to be a bag/luggage. (N.T. pg. 24, 54) Detective Childress notified PSP of this development. (N.T. pg. 24)

20. Detective Childress was advised that the Defendants were leaving in their BMW M5. This was second hand knowledge to Detective Childress. (N.T. pg. 24).

21. The Virginia Beach search warrant, Commonwealth Exhibit 2, authorized a search of 1028 Stratem Court, Virginia Beach, Virginia and a search of vehicles on the curtilage. (NT. pg. 25) This was for RICO violations. (NJ. pg. 52).

22. The Defendants both entered the vehicle and drove away. (NT. pg. 26). Sergeant Winn, Detective Childress’ supervisor, and PSP decided, with the Defendants on the move, they should be taken into custody. (NT. pg. 26) Marked units of the Virginia Beach Police Department stopped the Defendants in the 3900 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard which is approximately 5 miles from their home. (N.T. pg. 27). This is a public place. (N.T. pg. 84). Marked units were used to ensure the Defendants were aware they were being stopped by law enforcement. (N.T. pg. 27). This occurred at 10:40 a.m. (NT. pg. 48). They were arrested on the Pennsylvania homicide warrants, (N.T. pg. 49).

23. Virginia Beach Police Department seized the BMW M5; it was taken back to the Special Investigations Division. (NT. pg. 28).

24. Virginia Beach police later searched the BMW. (N.T. pg. 29).

25. Virginia Beach Police Department has policies concerning the search of vehicles that are seized. (NT.T. pg. 29). Commonwealth Exhibits 3 and 4 are general policies/orders issued by the Virginia Beach Police Department.

26. Virginia Beach Police Department General Order 6.01, titled “constitutional issues” was marked as Exhibit 3. (N.T. pg. 29). Page 8 of the document addresses Vehicle Inventory Searches. (NT. pg. 29) The effective date was January 9, 2007 (NT. pg. 61).

27. Virginia Beach Police Department General Order 12.12 refers to Abandoned Vehicles, Towing and Inventory Procedures. (NT. pg. 30). The effective date was September 15, 2005. (N.T. pg. 61).

28. Detective Childress stated that these procedures were followed concerning the search and seizure of the BMW M5. (N.T, pg. 30).

29. Detective Childress testified that after the vehicle was seized, it was taken back to Special Investigations and secured. (NT. pg. 30). Whether the vehicle was contraband or whether the vehicle was seized pursuant to a search warrant, it had to be inventoried. (NT. pg. 88).

30. Detective Childress conducted the inventory search of the BMW M5. (N.T. pg. 30, 85-86). Some of the items recovered from the Virginia Beach RICO warrant were turned over to the Pennsylvania State Police. (NT. pg. 53). When they were initially seized, it was not for the purposes of the Pennsylvania investigation. (N.T. pg. 53) Detective Childress opened the glove compartment to the BMW, saw the tin container, opened it up and saw the Sig-Sauer knife. (N.T. pg. 79-80). The knife was not seized at the direction of any Pennsylvania law enforcement. (N.T. pg. 89) Once found, Detective Childress notified Pennsylvania law enforcement turned the knife over to them. (N,T. pg. 89) Detective Childress was aware that the Pennsylvania homicide had been committed with a knife. (NT. pg. 89).

31. Detective Childress testified that if a car is taken under forfeiture, Virginia Beach Police Department would do an inventory search. If Virginia Beach Police Department finds evidence or items in the vehicle that are of evidentiary value, they will be taken as evidence. (N.T. pg 96) Virginia Beach Police Department General Order 12.12 states “if the officer removes any item from the vehicle as evidence, the item will be documented on a separate property voucher and it will be packaged and submitted to the property in evidence unit in accordance with present policy concerning the evidence.” (N.T. pg. 97).

32. During the course of that inventory search, Detective Childress stated that items were documented thereby serving a two-fold purpose. First, it protects their personal property and secondly documents any evidence recovered from the vehicle. Those items were listed on Virginia Beach Police Department property voucher form which is the PD 78-4 form. (N.T. pg. 30-3 1).

33. Detective Childress further delineated what an in-service call is and what an out- service call is in prostitution. (N.T. pg 31). An in-service call is where the client would come to the provider either at a hotel room or at their residence. (N.T. pg. 31). An out-call service is where the provider would go to the client, whether at the client’s residence or a hotel or at some other location. (NT. pg. 31).

34. Detective Childress said this was set forth in the probable cause affidavit to the search Warrant. (NT. pg. 31).

35. Detective Childress stated that the search warrant authorized the seizure of items associated with prostitution and money laundering. (NT. pg. 32).

36. The items authorized to be seized were luxury items, vehicles, jewelry and cash. (N.T. pg. 32).

37. Detective Childress stated that the BMW M5 was considered a fruit of prostitution. (N.T. pg. 32). The car was considered contraband as it was used to facilitate their prostitution. (N.T. pg. 32, 84-85). The car was used to pick up and chauffeur clients. Its use was directly related to their business of prostitution. (N.T. pg. 32). In response to the court’s questioning, Detective Childress testified that the escort service was actually a disguise for the illegal prostitution ring. (NT. pg. 98). Detective Childress stated, in response to the Court’s questioning, his investigation in January 2007 was nearing an end when the Pennsylvania facts came into play. (N.T. pg. 99). Detective Childress stated at any time in December 2006 or January 2007, Virginia Beach police could have seized all of the Defendants’ assets. (N.T. pg. 99).

38. Detective Childress said that exigent circumstances existed when the Defendants were arrested because the Defendants were on the move and may have had a Glock 9 mm, weapon. Homicide warrants had been issued out of Pennsylvania; they had the means of absconding. (N.T. pg. 33) Detective Childress further related that the Defendants had a substantial amount of assets that they could easily liquidate through pawn shops and flee the area (NT. pg. 100).

39. After the BMW was seized, Detective Childress met with the Commonwealth Attorney to review the civil forfeiture proceedings against the Defendants’ property which included the 2006 BMW M5 with a listed value of $90,014. (N.T. pg. 34-35).

40. Exhibit 5 was the affidavit Detective Childress swore out concerning the civil forfeiture of vehicles, television, cameras etc. (N.T. pg. 36).

41. Corporal Leo Hannon testified that the Pennsylvania State Police secured arrest warrants for Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes between 9:30 and 10 a.m., May 15, 2007. (N.T. pg. 109).

42. Corporal Leo Hannon testified that Sergeant Winn advised him that the Defendants were possibly absconding as they had bags or “luggage” with them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

You asked... PC Answers... (As best I can).

I've decided to go ahead and start posting some of the answers early, mainly to ensure that questions won't be asked in duplicate. You're still welcomed to ask away... here... until January 4. There's a lot more questions to answer, and I'll be adding them as soon as I can.
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DManely asks... "You posted a witness list for the trial that included several out-of-state witnesses including California residents Grant Roy and Sean Lockhart. Since murder trials often include postponements and delays, and presumably people need to support themselves at their jobs, etc. participating in an lengthy trial could be a severe interruption in their lives. And if a witness lives in another state, I don't understand how a Pennsylvania court's jurisdiction would apply to that witness. Would you happen to know what specific mechanism of U.S. federal law compels a witness in another state to show up in a Pennsylvania courtroom if it is a hardship to testify?"

PC Answers: Ironically, we touched on this very same subject back in August, 2007. Here's a basic rundown.
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Jim asks... "So, who's been living at the Stratum Ct. house these days?"

PC Answers: To be honest with you, I have no idea. While I do know it's not Joe's or Harlow's family, who it is exactly will likely remain a mystery, as I'm not real keen on going to the door and asking "who are you?". :)
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Geoff Harvard asks... "Who now occupies the house at 1028 Stratem Ct., Virginia Beach, VA 23451, and does this occupant have any connection to the former occupants, Harlow and Joe, or to the developer?"

PC Answers: See above answer to Jim :). I do know that the developer has nothing to do with it, but I checked with a source, and it appears that Harlow and Joe have signed over title to a third person, however, the title change has currently not been submitted. I can only assume that this person is waiting to see what happens with the trial's outcome, and yes, this person does have a connection with Harlow and Joe, but I don't believe they're currently residing at the house.
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Anonymous asks... "What is the current status/location of Joe Kerekes? Has he been transferred for “processing?” Where do you think will be the final “permanent” assignment Joe will be located at?"

PC Answers: To the best of my knowledge, Joseph Kerekes is currently at SCI Camp Hill, and will remain there for about 6 weeks or so. In regards to his 'permanently' assigned prison, I'm going to guess that it will either be SCI-Forest, SCI Frackville, or SCI Graterford. I'll certainly post a story on this once he's transferred.
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Anonymous asks... "Do you know if the investigating authorities checked to see how many times Harlow spoke with Sean Lockhart after the Las Vegas Gay VN’s and prior to the murder of Brian Kocis? Were their text messages and e-mails retrieved? (Obviously they could have been and this would be an interesting read!)"

PC Answers: I don't know for a fact, but it would only make sense that the criminal investigation would've sought such communications. While there's been no mention of it thus far, it's entirely possible that it's part of the discovery, which naturally won't be made public until the trial.
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Rob asks... "Evidence, property belonging to Bryan Kocis/Cobra Video survived the theft by Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes. Which of the two suspects decided to retain this evidence intact? Was any of that purloined evidence tampered with or destroyed? Did the pair keep this evidence whole in order to blackmail either Kocis survivors, Cobra patrons, and/or Cobra Video models?"

PC Answers: I'm not sure which one decided to keep the evidence... though if I had to guess, I'd say it was probably Harlow. In regards to evidence being destroyed... there was no 'bon-fire'... surprisingly... most of it was kept and seized. The only 'blackmail' I've read/seen is Joe telling Grant: "and we all know what u said to us at the avn in vegas and we have it on tape recorder and out conversation at le Cirque is recorded as well dont fuck with us"
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DeWayne in San Diego asks... "PC Do you believe Joe Kerkes was in the Fox ridge Inn during the murder as he allocuted?

Or do you think he lied and was in the SUV awaiting Harlow doing the deed then opening the door so Joe could help loot the place."

PC Answers: Oh I definitely think Joe was in the SUV and assisted Harlow in looting Kocis' house. To me, one of the dead (no pun intended) giveaways was Joe's two cellphones pinging the same tower on Country Club Road. I seriously doubt Harlow was calling himself with a phone in each hand:

"In reviewing the records for Kerekes’ multiple cell phones, it was determined that one cell phone registered to Kerekes placed a call to another cell phone registered to Kerekes at 8:34 p.m. January 24, 2007. The signal from this call bounced off a cell tower located at Country Club Road, Dallas, Pennsylvania which can be seen from the Kocis residence, Prelim. Hrg. Trans.. Vol. IL. pg. 161"
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quickysrt asks... "What evidence was found in the rental SUV so far as blood, fiber, etc.?"

PC Answers: I've heard from several sources that Bryan Kocis' blood DNA was found in the SUV, but since this would be considered discovery, and not something that would be made public until the trial, I have no way of being able to actually confirm that this is accurate.
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Rob asks... "What kind of access did Robert Wagner have to Kocis' computer passwords, codes, and files?"

PC Answers: I haven't the slightest idea.
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will g asks... "Any further information since your anonymous tip confirming Mitch Halford as the sugardaddy -- I mean generous donor behind Harlow's new lawyers?"

PC Answers: I'm not sure what additional information could be had. Harlow's attorneys certainly won't divulge who's paying them, but I'm 100% certain that Mr. Halford is the payee, just as he was for Fannick. I wish I could elaborate more, but there's only so much I can say (for now) about certain things.
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DeWayne in San Diego asks... "Question PC is there anyone on the Revised Witness list that is a mystery to you? Someone you can't fathom why they would be called?

If not would you say the witness list reflects a Prosecution case that seems remarkably "Tight and Tidy""

PC Answers: I feel like this is a trick question. :) Seriously though... no, everyone on the revised list makes sense to me, and I definitely think the Prosecution has done the right thing.
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Rob asks... "PC-- Any thoughts as to why Harlow would keep any of this evidence intact? It would certainly be damning if recovered.

Was Harlow in the process of being filmed (casting couch) by Kocis on night of murder? That is, was a tape disk found in the video camera recovered in the raid on the Cuadra-Kerekes' bordello the subject matter focus of the images thereon Harlow Cuadra?"

PC Answers: Good question. I'm not sure why they kept some of the evidence, perhaps as a souvenir? I do know that some damning evidence was found, but as to specifics... I'm not at liberty to say. Folks that commit murder certainly are known to do some odd things though.

To the best of my knowledge... there's been no mention or evidence presented of Harlow being filmed, or a tape disk being found in the video camera(s) seized, so I really can't comment on that.
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Anonymous asks... "Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Grant and Sean were aware of any plans H&J may have had to murder Brian Kocis. What is (would have been) their TRUE criminal Liability in that scenario under Pennsylvania G.S.s? Would this have possibly been motivation to cooperate with the authorities?"

PC Answers: Well it could've been anything from inchoate murder to failure to report a crime. Based on the DA's thinking though, Sean Lockhart, Grant Roy, and Robert Wagner are currently 'freed' of any possible involvement.

As to the motivation to cooperate with the authorities, I'm guessing they're doing such because it's the right thing to do, would look a little odd if one wouldn't cooperate. The unfortunate thing however, is that we don't know what was really said during the Vegas dinner, and nor do the authorities... so it's all hearsay.
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Anonymous asks... "Are you planning to write a book on this case?"

PC Answers: It's crossed my mine, though I already feel as if this blog is pretty-much the same thing. Assuming there's a publishing company out there that would be interested, I might entertain the idea after the trial.
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More to come... and 'regular' comments are certainly welcomed on this post.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ask PC...

There's never been a dull moment with the murder trial of Bryan Kocis. Whether it's the latest attorney dispute, motions filed or a new trial date, there's always a lot to talk about. Here's your chance to ask Harlow & Joe on Trial's reporter (PC) any questions you may have about the case.

When you submit a question (leave a comment within this post), it'll be sent directly to me. The questions and answers will appear as they are written, and I'll post the entire Q&A session through January 5, 2009.

Please note that this is not an open area for real-time discussion among all users, but a chance to ask me questions about the trial of Harlow Cuadra and/or the guilty plea of Joseph Kerekes... your question(s) will not show up on this post, and if you prefer to remain anonymous, just let me know.

All questions must be received by 5:00 PM (EST), January 4, 2009, in order to be considered, and please limit your questions to a maximum of 3.

More Interview Inconsistencies...

In a section of the interview Harlow Cuadra did with John Roecker, which I titled "The Arrest", Harlow makes the following statements:

"Harlow: Ah Joe goes up to me, and he goes like, Harlow, you know I'm hungry, and I'm like so, umm big freakin deal, and he's like, I don't wanna go eat alone, and I'm in the middle of listening to this [inaudible], and I press pause on it, and uh, so I'm like alright, I just put on a shirt or something and we go down stairs and you know, when we, when we were on the highway, we noticed that there were like six cop cars behind us, but no lights, no sirens, or anything, ya know, I didn't think anything of it... and umm, once we got off on the exit, more and more of them were behind us and behind us, and I was like hey Joe, I think their doing some type of exercise, because ah, right across from my house there's a police academy... so I'm like, oh, ah, that's cool, there doing some type of exercise. So we pull in, and, ah, the ladies that work at the Boston Market, you know, like, their used to me, and they're like waiving from ah, outside the window, and I'm like waiving back, and then all of a sudden I noticed that they stopped waiving, so I looked behind me, and you know, all the cops are out of their cars".

Well... not surprisingly, there's a few holes in this story:

1. "right across from my house there's a police academy".



That's incorrect. The Virginia Beach Police Academy is located at 2509 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23456. This location is well over 7 miles from Harlow and Joe's house.

2. "So we pull in, and, ah, the ladies that work at the Boston Market, you know, like, their used to me, and they're like waiving from ah, outside the window, and I'm like waiving back".



This statement is also interesting. Harlow and Joe were arrested at about 10:00 AM on May 15, 2007. Harlow states that he and Joe are going there to eat. The Boston Market in question is located at 3981 Virginia Beach Blvd, so that wouldn't seem so surprising, but what is surprising is that the restaurant doesn't even open until 11:00 AM (I called and spoke with the Manager).

There's even more inconsistencies with this 'interview', but I'll save them for another post.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night before Christmas in Jail... Again.

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the cells
The convicts were locked up
All madder than hell...

Except for the lifers
Kicked back in their bunks
Heads filled with visions
Of fat little punks...

When suddenly from the roof top
There arose such a roar
That the bulls thought it was
A riot for sure...

The goon squad ran in
And stood ready to hit
A big guard yelled out
Who started this shit...

It came from the roof top
Sniveled a snitch
It must be a breakout
Oh, son of a bitch...

They climbed to the roof
By way of the stairs
Found a fat little freak
In red underwear...

No, No yelled the dude
I bring you good cheer
Damn said the Captain
We found us a queer...

Alright mother fucker
Get your hands on the wall
They shook him down good
Asshole and all...

They beat him and threw him
Into the hole with a kick
Well so much for Christmas
They locked up St. Nick

Credit: http://people.cornell.edu/pages/bs16/Christmas/night_before_in_jail.txt

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When I originally posted this last year, I had no idea at the time that I'd be doing it again (I even tried to find something different, to no avail). Well at least we know this will be the last time (hopefully).

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Different Stories?

The following is from Harlow Cuadra's interview with John Roecker:

Harlow: I, I was looking at making a movie with several characters in it, and I didn't want to be in the movie myself. I was looking for someone to play the lead, and, and I came across Sean's picture, and, and I recognized him from a certain company soliciting me to go film for them.

Harlow: Ya know, that they e-mailed me two or three times, and they wanted me to go out there to California and film for them. When I saw his picture again, I said, you know what? I'll take them up on the offer, but I want to switch it around, I want him to film for me, and for what I'm thinking about doing here. Negotiations went from a large sum of money to no money, and instead they just wanted some type of reciprocal income... revenue sharing, and I said sure. Mostly because I wanted to try a new thing, ya know, Sean let me in on this whole new world of what to do. Like the blogs for porn stars, ah, the whole revenue-sharing thing, umm, mass DVD distribution.

Harlow: I mean, I knew it was there, but, I, I didn't have that kick out the door.

Roecker: So was he like dangling a carrot out in front of your face?

Harlow: Yeah, yeah, oh yes the whole time, the whole time, and ah, so I said sure, and we spoke about it, and then we kinda left it as is. A few days later, they ah, contacted me, and ah go, are you going to the AVN?, and I said the AV what?, and ah, it's a big awards show in Las Vegas, and I said, ah, well no, I was just in Vegas for a car show, I can't believe you're not going out there, and dadadada, and I said okay, blah blah blah, we spoke about it and that's it... we said our goodbye's, and ah, he calls me back moments later, and they, they really want us to go out to Las Vegas to speak about, to speak about putting something together, and ah, going through with our deal, and Joe said, you know what?, if their serious, yeah, we'll go. Ya know, we had just been back, but you know what, we'll make that damn trip again. So we went out there, and it was great, it was great, we shook hands and that was it, it's done, we were filming at the San Francisco AVN's on the 24th of February, and then slowly, I mean, you know Sean with more ideas of expanding and what not, I suggested that I go meet his old boss.
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Then we have Harlow Cuadra's account from his own blog, posted on April 18, 2007:

So who contacted who first? Why offer Brent so much cash?

Sometime around mid 2006 Someone at LSG Media, sent an email to my Men4RentNow.com escort add. It was basically an application “for your chance to work with Brent Corrigan himself @ brentcorriganonline.com”. it was extremely pretentious so I ignored it. At the time I had no clue who Brent Corrigan was.

Weeks later we started getting guys lined up for a big movie project, that required lots of guys. I used mostly myspace to do my scouting. While looking at a possible candidates friends list I spotted a familiar face. I couldn’t exactly remember where I saw this face before. I sent it a private message with my recruiting for porn spam.

To my surprise he emailed right back with an extremely bitchy response “I will no longer be used by the studios” blah blah blah. It was a boring day so I decided to fuck with him online and see what he said. Basically I responded back with something like “tell me your terms and we will work something out“. not to my surprise more bitchy comments followed. Brent eventually calmed down and basically wanted residual income along with other benefits.

Keep in mind that I had no clue who Brent Corrigan was. Here is this bratty kid telling me that he wants half. After some research(alexa ranking, blog popularity), I consulted with my powers that be.

I myspaced him the figure of 10k, he was appalled. Fine I went up to 30k(things then got serious). Brent still hinted at residual income. But I simply responded that if he got any money upfront there would be NO residual! Our only reason behind offering him the lump sum is that I did not want to deal with paper work, related with residual, and to minimize the drama. From that point on mark took over negotiations, and everyone settled on a full collaboration filming complex, that I will just spare you guys those little details. ok

How was the Vegas meeting brought up?

The Vegas meeting was something that came up completely out of the Blue.

The night before AVN , Brent came online(aim) stoked about his trip to Vegas. “I am surprised your not going Harlow” Brent said and how it was all a big industry party or something like that.

Keep in mind that I had just returned from the SEMA show, so I wasn’t exactly gung ho about going right back.

Brent asked if I could meet him there ”ill show you around”. I told him that I would if he would have dinner with me. Figured that if I could include some type of business matter into it, Mark would be a willing sponsor of the trip(It helped that he wanted to see the blue man group).

Brent agreed and off to sin city we went.
---

Oh, and on an entertaining side-note... it would appear that Harlow and Joe's former 'car buddies' are just now discussing the trial/plea situation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joe Get's His Court Bill

Kerekes' Court Costs

When Joseph Kerekes pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder, Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. sentenced him to life in prison without parole, and also ordered Joe to pay $2766.08 in funeral costs to the estate of Bryan Kocis, and $250 for the homeowner’s insurance deductible. Kerekes was also ordered to pay court costs, which at the time was unknown. Well that bill just came in yesterday, and it totals $655.73.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trial Delayed... Again.

Harlow Cuadra

The Times Leader reports that a Luzerne County judge has permitted attorneys Michael Senape and Stephen Menn to withdrawal from defending homicide suspect Harlow Cuadra.

Senape and Menn were replaced by Lackawanna County attorneys Joseph R. D'Andrea and Paul J. Walker during a court hearing before Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. on Tuesday.

Cuadra, 27, of Virginia Beach, is charged in the killing of Bryan Kocis in Dallas Township in January 2007.

A co-defendant in the case, Joseph Kerekes, 34, of Virginia Beach, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison for his alleged role in Kocis' death.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Cuadra. His trial was postponed from Jan. 5 to Feb. 17.
----
Meanwhile the Citizens' Voice is also reporting that the capital murder trial of Harlow Cuadra has been postponed until Tuesday, Feb. 17, following Cuadra's request for two private attorneys to represent him in place of his court-appointed, county-funded defense counsel.

Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. admitted attorneys Joseph D’Andrea, from Dunmore, and Paul J. Walker, of Scranton, to the case today, a week after they filed a notice declaring their intent to represent Cuadra.

Olszewski also granted the request from Cuadra's court-appointed attorneys, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape, to withdraw from the case, pending their filing by Friday of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in an evidence suppression matter.

Cuadra, 27, and Joseph Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., were accused of killing Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographic films, in January 2007 and later setting fire to his Midland Drive, Dallas Township home.

Kerekes pleaded guilty last Monday to second-degree murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole, the mandatory term for a second-degree murder conviction.

Cuadra refused a plea agreement and, until the delay, was scheduled to stand trial Jan. 5.

Read the full story in tomorrow's edition of The Citizens' Voice.
---

Update @ 12/17/08: Todays Citizens' Voice offers an expanded version of what took place during yesterday's hearing: The start of the trial for accused killer Harlow Cuadra will be postponed until Feb. 17 to allow two private attorneys hired by Cuadra “a reasonable amount of time to prepare” for the case, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said Tuesday.

Olszewski granted a six-week delay from the scheduled Jan. 5 start date after approving a request from attorneys Joseph D’Andrea of Dunmore and Paul J. Walker of Scranton to join the case. The attorneys had asked Olszewski for a 120-day delay.

“That’s not going to happen,” Olszewski said.

Olszewski also granted a request from Cuadra’s court-appointed attorneys, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape, to withdraw from the case, pending their filing by Friday of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in an evidence suppression matter.

Menn gave notice last month that he planned to resign from the county’s conflict counsel pool by the end of the year, but Olszewski rejected his request to leave the Cuadra case twice before the hearing Tuesday.

Cuadra, 27, and Joseph Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., were accused of killing Bryan Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographic films, in January 2007 and later setting fire to his Midland Drive, Dallas Township, home.

Kerekes pleaded guilty last Monday to second-degree murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole, the mandatory term for a second-degree murder conviction. Cuadra refused a plea agreement and faces the death penalty.

The lead counsel on all death penalty cases must be certified under guidelines set by the state Supreme Court in 2003. Walker has death penalty certification. D’Andrea is scheduled to complete the necessary continuing legal education credits by next week.

Cuadra and Kerekes were arrested in Virginia Beach in May 2007 and were originally scheduled to stand trial together in March. Days before the start of the trial, Olszewski disqualified attorney Demetrius Fannick from representing Cuadra and delayed the trial until Sept. 2.

Olszewski delayed the start of the trial again in August after ruling Mark Bufalino, an attorney for Kerekes, and Paul Galante, an attorney for Cuadra, could no longer serve on the case because the two attorneys work for the same law firm — the Wilkes-Barre office of Elliott Greenleaf.

“Your client has a penchant for liking to obtain new counsel and asking for continuances,” Olszewski told D’Andrea and Walker.

“If you’re in, I’m not letting you out,” Olszewski warned the attorneys. “Mr. Cuadra could jump up and down and make a scene. He could carry on all he wants. I’m not letting you out.”
---

The Times Leader also reports that accused murderer Harlow Cuadra has new attorneys – again.

At a court hearing Tuesday morning, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. allowed a withdrawal of Cuadra’s attorneys, Michael Senape and Stephen Menn.

Olszewski continued the trial date to Feb. 17 at the request of Cuadra’s new attorneys, Joseph D’Andrea, of Dunmore, and Paul Walker, of Scranton. The lawyers said they need more time to prepare for the trial, which had been scheduled to begin Jan. 5.

Cuadra, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., is charged with homicide in the January 2007 death of Bryan Kocis, his rival in the gay pornography industry. Police said Kocis, 44, was stabbed to death and his Midland Drive home set on fire.

Joseph Kerekes, 34, also of Virginia Beach, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder in the Kocis killing and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick strongly opposed the continuation because of the time, effort and money involved.

“We have a multitude of out-of-state witnesses we intend to bring in…,” Melnick said. “It takes a lot of work. A continuance is unwarranted.”

Olszewski said he didn’t think a fourth continuation was the solution.

Although D’Andrea and Walker asked for an additional 120 days for the continuance of trial, Olszewski scheduled the Feb. 17 trial date.

“(Cuadra) already has two attorneys that are prepared for trial. They can try this case with you or without you,” Olszewski said to D’Andrea and Walker.

Menn and Senape filed the papers Dec. 10, asking to be withdrawn from the case. Olszewski said Menn and Senape will be able to withdraw pending the completion of filings that are due on Friday. The attorneys entered the request one day after D’Andrea and Walker requested to be appointed to the case.

Menn asked to be withdrawn, citing economic hardship, and because he is resigning from the county’s conflict counsel pool of attorneys certified to handle death penalty cases. Senape hasn’t said why he asked for withdrawal from the case.

Olszewski previously denied two requests by Menn to be withdrawn from the case, stating he would not delay the start of the January trial any longer. In July, attorney Paul Galante was withdrawn from Cuadra’s case due to a conflict since he and attorney Mark Bufalino, who once represented Cuadra’s co-defendant Kerekes, worked for the same law firm.

When arriving at the courthouse, Cuadra said he was ready for trial and had no intentions of pleading guilty.

Olszewski asked Cuadra if he approved of the withdrawal of Menn and Senape.

“I agree.” Cuadra said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Plea Part 2?

Apparently the buzz around the courthouse is that Harlow Cuadra might be working on a plea deal now... guess we'll see... stay tuned.

Update @ 12/16/08 10:43 AM: Then again... maybe not. Apparently they're full steam ahead on the way to trial, at least from the prosecution point of view. Melnick is meeting at 11 am today with PPO and the new attorney, D'Andrea, to discuss the suppression matters and presumably the switch of attorneys. Melnick encouraged Senape to attend.

Harlow's Savior... Again?

On December 10, 2008... paid attorneys' Joseph D’Andrea and Paul J. Walker filed notice in Luzerne County Court, formally declaring their intention to represent Harlow Cuadra in the murder trial of Bryan Kocis.

While the attorney switch is still subject to approval by Judge Peter Paul Olszewski, Jr., one has to wonder how Harlow could come up with the money to afford 'hired' attorneys... again.

The first time this happened was back on January 28, 2008 when Harlow Cuadra hired attorney Demetrius Fannick... then after several months and motions, Fannick was removed. The retainer for Demetrius Fannick alone is said to be approximately $50,000.00 - I'm told most of which was given back after his removal.

So who's been 'bankrolling' Harlow's paid defense(s)?

Sources that currently wish to remain anonymous, due to the sensitivity of this story, tell me that it's Howard Mitchell Hallford... aka Mitch Halford... also known for allegedly letting Harlow use his vehicle when Joseph Kerekes wouldn't allow Harlow to drive one of his own, and for providing the vehicle that was used for Harlow and Joe's infamous trip to Florida.

It's also been alleged that Mr. Hallford's source for the lawyer financing is through his own retirement fund(s). Guess he's looking for a good return on his investment.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Could it be the Rolex?


As I mentioned in a post yesterday... during Joe's guilty plea negotiations, he mentioned something(s) to prosecutor's that apparently required additional investigation. Now after speaking with several sources again, I'm willing to put my neck on the line (even though I could still be wrong), and publicly state that I think it's the whereabouts of Bryan Kocis' Rolex watch, which was stolen from his house on the night of the murder.

Interestingly... Joe allegedly made this statement while he was in a Virginia Beach jail: “It should be noted that RIGGS questioned KEREKES’ story regarding taking the victim’s watch, as KEREKES had previously bragged about owning numerous items of jewelry, to which KEREKES responded, grinning; “I wanted it”.

I can only assume that the family would appreciate getting the Rolex back at some time.

Life Sentence has Benefits, Lawyers Say

An article in today's Citizens' Voice reports... when Joseph Kerekes stood before a judge last week and pleaded guilty to murder, he assured himself of a life in prison rather than risk being sentenced to death if he went to trial.

Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. summed up the finality of his plea: “Mr. Kerekes, you’re essentially giving up your life in society as you know it. In an instant, you will not be a free man for the rest of your life.”

It’s a monumental decision to make — accept a life sentence without a trial or put your life in the hands of a jury.

Some prominent local defense attorneys — none affiliated with the Kerekes plea — say there are benefits in taking such a plea, notably avoiding the misery of death row and possible execution. Life-term prisoners at least get to eat, exercise and associate with general population inmates, along with being able to work and take educational courses, they say. Death row inmates spend 23 hours per day in solitary confinement.

Although he won’t face death or death row, Kerekes’ plea ensures the 34-year-old will never see the outside world again. He will die in jail for his role in the slaying of rival gay pornography producer Bryan Kocis of Dallas Township.

“It’s the hardest thing we do — to advise a client to spend the rest of his life in prison,” said Basil Russin, Luzerne County’s chief public defender. “You have to say, ‘You have this defense, but a jury is not going to buy that defense. You could take the chance, but this is not going to fly and you’re going to lose and end up on death row.’”

Kerekes’ attorneys are barred from publicly speaking about the case because of a court-imposed gag order, so it’s not clear why he chose to plea. At last week’s guilty plea, attorneys said Kerekes implicated his romantic partner and co-defendant, Harlow Cuadra, 27, as the one who physically stabbed and slashed Kocis to death. But he admitted his role in the plot to travel to Luzerne County from Virginia Beach, Va. to “eliminate and kill” Kocis.

Cuadra did not accept a plea and his death penalty trial is expected to begin early next year.

Attorney Demetrius Fannick, who has won acquittals for several high-profile murder suspects, most notably Hugo Selenski, and also has advised clients to take such pleas, said the specifics of each case differ, but the importance does not.

“It’s a daunting task to have that responsibility to defend someone in that situation. There aren’t any higher stakes,” he said. “You advise them of the good points and bad points of their defense. Usually one outweighs the other. At the end of the day, the decision to plead guilty or proceed to trial rests with the defendant. It’s his life and his choice.”

Fannick said some clients would rather risk the death penalty than not giving themselves a chance at acquittal or a lesser sentence than life.

“Some don’t view the death penalty as any deterrent at all. They say, ‘If I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison, I might as well get the death penalty and die. I might as well take a chance (at trial),’” he says.

Attorney Al Flora Jr. has been at the forefront of the longest death penalty saga in county history regarding the death sentence of mass murderer George Banks. He has visited Banks numerous times on death row and has developed a breadth of knowledge to advise clients on their best option.

“Death row is pretty tough. You’re in solitary and have an hour a day for exercise. It’s a tough life. Whereas when you’re just doing life, assuming you’re not a problem, you’ll be out in general population,” he said.

Deciding whether to plea is a lengthy process in which you spend hours analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the case, along with aggravating and mitigating circumstances in a defendant’s life that are considered in a death penalty phase, Flora said.

“It’s not an easy thing taking a defendant through the process in capital murder cases. It comes down to the decision of the defendant. That’s why in cases like this (Kerekes), Judge Olszewski went through a lengthy guilty plea colloquy to make sure the plea is voluntarily entered, that no one forced him, that he understands the charges he’s pleading to. It’s very difficult any time you’re representing a client facing the death penalty.”

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Was Joe's Plea Really a Surprise?

Then:

From Joe's jailhouse confessions (Part 1): RODDEN further stated that on another occasion, KEREKES stated that he was drinking at the Fox Ridge Inn and at one point “passed out”, as though he might utilize that as a defense. KEREKES stated; “they wont be able to get me for murder. Harlow went out to meet the guy, and he wont say anything about it, because I told him not to. I’ll get out in five years and make tons of money off of this”. RODDEN hypothesized that KEREKES was going to testify against CUADRA and, “get a deal”.

In conclusion, RODDEN stated that although KEREKES never confessed to killing the victim, “he (KEREKES) pretty much told me how him and that other guy (CUADRA) did it”. RODDEN further hypothesized that KEREKES “probably put the kid (CUADRA) up to it, and now he’s gonna try to hang him out to dry. I think he (KEREKES) was at (the victim’s) house though, whether he did the stabbing or not. He (victim) didn’t deserve to be treated like that”.

Joe's jailhouse confessions (Part 2): It should also be noted that RIGGS hypothesized that KEREKES played more of a role in the victim’s murder, however according to RIGGS it was apparent that KEREKES was attempting to make CUADRA appear to be more criminally culpable in this case to “take the fall” if someone was going to.

... and from Joe's jailhouse confessions (Part 3): TOLLEY related KEREKES said he and “the other guy” killed some guy because of competition. TOLLEY added KEREKES kept saying, “him (KEREKES) and the other guy killed the guy in Pennsylvania.” KEREKES also said he was turning States evidence against the other Dude.

Now:

Melnick said Kerekes told them Cuadra decided to “eliminate” Kocis, purchased a .38-caliber gun and knife from a Virginia Beach pawn shop and rented an SUV to drive to Pennsylvania. Melnick said Kerekes and Cuadra traveled together and Kerekes said he paid cash for a room at the Fox Hill Inn because the motel had no security or surveillance. They paid for the room in cash so they could not be tracked.

Melnick said Kerekes told them the two did surveillance on the Kocis home prior to the homicide, and that Kerekes participated in e-mail correspondence sent to Kocis before his death. Kerekes told attorneys he was aware Cuadra intended to kill Kocis, and the lighter fluid and lighters used to set the blaze were purchased at Wal-Mart.

Kerekes said he stayed at the motel while Cuadra went to the Kocis home. When Cuadra returned, he said he had murdered Kocis and set the home ablaze, according to Kerekes. Prosecutors said Kocis’ throat was slashed to the point his death was ruled homicide by decapitation.

Kerekes told attorneys Cuadra returned with several items belonging to Kocis, including a Rolex watch, camcorders, tapes, computers and Kocis’ cell phone. They discarded the murder weapon and some of Kocis’ belongings.
---

My conclusion: While things certainly didn't work out the way I'm sure Joe would have liked for them to... I guess we could have seen this coming. No wonder the Prosecution doesn't want Joe to testify... it would be an absolute mess.

Though Joe won't be testifying against Harlow Cuadra at trial... I've heard from two different sources that some 'interesting' things came out in Joe's ellocution, that apparently requires more investigating. Perhaps in the end, Joe will still get the last laugh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Harlow Trial Q and A

With Harlow Cuadra's trial scheduled to start within a couple of weeks, I've decided to put together a Q&A post to answer several questions that I've been receiving over the course of the past few months:

Q: When does the trial start?

A: Jury selection is scheduled to begin on 02/17/09 at 9:00 AM.

Q: Can anyone attend the trial?

A: Yes, though it'll be on a first-come first-served basis. Family and press are usually given assigned seating... the rest will be up for grabs.

Q: How many people are allowed in the courtroom?

A: Depending upon the courtroom (it'll likely be #2) ... between 70 and 80 people or so.

Q: Should I get there early?

A: Yes... get there a little early as PPO likes to start right on time. I wouldn't expect a line to get in, but in some cases, the sheriff has put additional security, on top of the courthouse security at the entrances, to scan people going in. If they do, that could take a little longer and create a line. If that's not in place, you should be able to walk right in and grab a seat. The front rows on each side will likely be closed for security issues.

Q: What's the closet hotel to the Courthouse?

A: Here's a list of hotels and their distances.

Q: Can I get seats or tickets ahead of time?

A: No. Unless your immediate family, it's first-come first-served... so get there early.

Q: Where's the nearest airport?

A: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, it's about 12 miles from the Courthouse.

Q: Where should I park?

A: There's a small parking lot across the street from the Courthouse, though it tends to fill up fast. There's also several other parking lots and garages nearby... free parking will likely be difficult to find unless you're staying at the Ramada or Best Western, were you'd be better-off just leaving the car and walking (assuming it's not 20 below).

Q: What are the Courthouse hours?

A: Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM... you can usually get in a little earlier.

Q: Where's the Courthouse located?

A: 200 North River Street in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania.

Q: Are electronics permitted in the Courthouse?

A: Cell phones with cameras are not allowed in the building. Laptops are permitted in court, as long as they do not record anything. Recording devices of any kind are not allowed in court. Cameras are allowed on the first floor only, unless otherwise directed by a judge. I'm not sure what the rule on blackberrys is.

Q: Will the trial be televised?

A: No.

If I missed any questions... please feel free to ask in the comments section, and I'll try to have an answer for you as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joseph Kerekes: Written Plea [Part 1]

Judge to Rule by 12/19/08

According to recent court documents filed... Judge Peter Paul Olszewki, Jr. is expected to announce his ruling on the Motion to Suppress Evidence by December 19, 2008.

The items of most interest include a knife and laptop computer... evidence siezed from the BMW M5 during Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes' arrest in May 2007.

Joseph Kerekes has already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder... while Harlow Cuadra apparently prepares for trial.

Harlow Cuadra's New Lawyers (Perhaps)...

It would appear Harlow Cuadra has new (paid) defense lawyers (again):

12/10/2008 Praecipe for Entry of Appearance filed. Atty D'Andrea & Atty Walker

Update @ 11:57 AM: It would appear that it's Attorney Joseph R. D'Andrea, Esq., and I think the other is James J. Walker, Esq.

Update @ 2:21 PM: Correction: the second attorney's name is Paul J. Walker, Esq.

Update @ 3:12 PM: It's official:

12/10/2008 Entry of Appearance Walker, Paul Joseph
12/10/2008 Entry of Appearance D'Andrea, Joseph R.

Update @ 12/11/08: According to the Citizens' Voice: Days after his co-defendant reached a plea deal with prosecutors, accused killer Harlow Cuadra has asked two private attorneys to represent him in place of his court-appointed, county-funded defense counsel.

Attorneys Joseph D’Andrea, from Dunmore, and Paul J. Walker, of Scranton, filed a notice in Luzerne County Court on Wednesday, formally declaring their intention to represent Cuadra.

D’Andrea confirmed his and Walker’s involvement in the case. Walker was out of the office Wednesday and did not return a telephone message.

Also Wednesday, Cuadra’s court-appointed attorneys, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape, filed a joint notice announcing their withdrawal from the case.

The attorney switch is subject to the approval of Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Cuadra, 27, and Joseph Kerekes, 34, both of Virginia Beach, Va., were accused of killing Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographic films, in January 2007 and later setting fire to his Midland Drive, Dallas Township home.

Kerekes pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole, the mandatory term for a second-degree murder conviction.

Cuadra refused a plea agreement and is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 5. Cuadra faces the death penalty.

Menn gave notice last month that he planned to resign from the county’s conflict counsel pool by the end of the year, but Olszewski twice rejected his request to leave the Cuadra case, saying a change of attorneys would delay the start of the trial at least six months.

“That’s not going to happen,” Olszewski said Nov. 20.

D’Andrea and Walker could request an extension to familiarize themselves with the case, but Olszewski would not be required to grant it, according to attorneys and others familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a court-imposed gag order.

If Olszewski were to deny an extension, that decision could not be considered grounds for an appeal, an attorney familiar with the case said.

The lead counsel on all death penalty cases must be certified under guidelines set by the state Supreme Court in 2003.

Walker has death penalty certification. D’Andrea is scheduled to complete the necessary continuing legal education credits by next week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So What Happens to Joseph Kerekes Now?

Joseph Kerekes

Now that Joseph Kerekes has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the brutal slaying of Bryan Kocis, he'll be spending the rest of his natural life behind bars. So what's he got to look forward to... well... within the next 6 days... this:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PERSON IS INCARCERATED IN A PENNSYLVANIA STATE PRISON?

When an inmate enters into the Department, the diagnostic and classification process begins. This means that the inmate is tested for mental, physical, and emotional problems so that he can receive a correctional plan. It also shows the inmate’s strengths, such as his education, skills, and emotional stability.

A male inmate coming into the Department will go through the State Correctional Facility at either Graterford, Pittsburgh, or Camp Hill; however, every man is classified at the Diagnostic and Classification Center in Camp Hill. The whole diagnostic and classification process takes about four to six weeks. A newly committed inmate is separated from the general population inmates during this time.

When an inmate first arrives into the Diagnostic and Classification Center the Reception staff does the following:

• looks over the identification of the new inmate,
• makes sure all the paperwork is in order, and
• calculates what the inmate's sentence should be, based on the length of the sentence, how much time the inmate has already served and other factors.

The inmate is searched to make sure that no contraband is being brought into the facility. He is photographed and fingerprinted. The inmate will also get special clothing that identifies him from a general population inmate as a new, unclassified inmate.

The inmate is assigned a corrections counselor and is given his first cell assignment. He will also get an Inmate Handbook which explains the rules about inmate behavior, inmate grooming, telephone calls and religious programs.

Many tests are performed before putting the inmate in population with other inmates. The initial medical screening rules out obvious medical problems, emotional problems, and TB. The staff also give tests that tell if the inmate has a mental illness. The inmate takes IQ tests and tests that measure educational achievement. A new inmate will also take a test that tells if he has a problem with drugs or alcohol and how serious the problem is.

The inmate is also interviewed by other treatment professionals. Interviews by corrections counselors, psychologists, drug and alcohol treatment specialists, chaplains, educators, and medical staff help to decide what treatment or education the inmate needs and how closely he needs to be supervised. An inmate covered by the DNA Detection of Sexual and Violent Offenders Act are required to have a blood sample taken, which is sent to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

CLASSIFICATION AND CUSTODY LEVEL

After all the tests and interviews are completed, the inmate is assigned a custody level. The custody level determines the amount of security needed to manage the inmate. In addition, a Needs Assessment is completed which tells the prison staff what needs the inmate’s needs are in treatment and education.

The find out what needs the inmate has and to determine what custody level is right for him, the Pennsylvania Additive Classification Tool (PACT) is used. The PACT is a series of questions, and each question’s answer has a score that when added together given a total that tells what custody level is recommended for that inmate.

The inmate may be assigned a custody level of 2, 3, or 4. Custody level 2 means that the inmate is suitable for a minimum security facility. Custody level 3 is medium security and custody level 4 is close security. There are special situations where the inmate may need less security or much more security than is available in these 3 levels.

Custody level I is only used for an inmate being placed into a Community Corrections Center. Custody level 5 is used for an inmate who needs maximum security and is placed in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), Special Management Unit (SMU), and Long-Term Segregation Unit (LTSU). If the inmate needs to be in one of these custody levels, the corrections counselor will request what is called a classification override. If the Department’s Central Office agrees that it is justified, the inmate will receive the special custody level.

When all of this is completed, a Classification Summary is developed for use by the staff at the facility in working with the inmate. The summary includes the following information: a photo, description of what the inmate looks like, problem areas, an official version and an inmate version of the crime, criminal history, how the inmate functioned during his time in prison, education and work history, social history, medical information, the inmate’s sentence, custody level and needs assessment information.

The Classification Summary makes sure that the prison staff has a complete picture of the individual inmate. This is important in order for the inmate to get the most benefit from his time spent in prison and helps the classification counselor know what the inmate needs as far as treatment and education.

When the Classification Summary is complete, the facility staff meet and decide which facility best meets the educational, treatment, and security needs of the inmate. One factor that is considered is whether the inmate has enemies in a facility who may wish to harm him so that the inmate can be kept safely away from them. The facts of the report of enemies must be verified. Another factor that decides placement is where space is available at that time.

The inmate’s custody level is reviewed with him every year of his sentence. If the inmate maintains proper behavior, works and actively participates in recommended programs, he will generally be assigned to the less restrictive housing. If the inmate achieves custody level 2 for 12 months and is within two years of parole review, he can apply to the Unit Management Team in his facility for consideration for a promotional transfer to his home region. A life sentenced inmate in custody level 2 and 3, who completed ten years of his sentence and meets the criteria may apply for promotional transfer to his home region. The inmate must comply with promotional level 2 criteria to apply for a hardship transfer.

Source: Prison Handbook for Families and Friends

Cuadra Rejects Plea Deal

The Citizens' Voice is reporting that Joseph Kerekes’ co-defendant Harlow Cuadra refused a plea agreement Sunday and will stand trial Jan. 5 for first-degree murder and other charges, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Prosecutors offered Cuadra a deal similar to the one Kerekes accepted: a plea to second-degree murder in exchange for life in prison without parole.

Cuadra, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., had been seeking a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a court-imposed gag order.

A first-degree murder conviction at trial could mean a death sentence for Cuadra.

Cuadra is also exploring the option of hiring a private attorney to replace the two members of his court-appointed defense team, Stephen Menn and Michael Senape.

Attorneys for Cuadra filed a notice of possible alibi defense in August claiming, like Kerekes, that he was in Room 211 at the Fox Ridge Motel in Plains Township motel the night when Bryan Kocis was killed in January 2007 in Dallas Township, 12 miles away.

Kerekes said he will not testify against Cuadra, but gave a statement to investigators implicating Cuadra as the architect and executioner of the Kocis murder.

Cuadra posed as a fictitious character to gain a meeting with Kocis and went to his home alone the night of the killing, Kerekes said.

Joseph Kerekes to Serve Life in Prison

The Citizens' Voice is reporting that Joseph Kerekes turned his head toward the left side of the courtroom Monday, cast his gaze at the area where the jurors would have been had he gone to trial, and listened to the family that sat in judgment in their place.

“We will never forgive nor will we ever forget what Mr. Kerekes did to this family,” Michael Kocis said after Kerekes pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in the January 2007 killing of his son, Bryan Kocis.

Minutes later, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. sentenced Kerekes to life in prison without parole, the mandatory term for a second-degree murder conviction, and an additional 56 months to 112 months in state prison and 24 months probation for the other charges: criminal conspiracy, evidence tampering and theft by unlawful taking.

“I’m very sorry,” Kerekes said, turning away from Olszewski.

Kerekes, 34, of Virginia Beach, Va., entered into a tentative plea agreement with prosecutors around 11 p.m. Sunday, after more than nine hours of negotiations at the state police barracks at Wyoming, with details and documents being worked out into Monday morning.

Kerekes’ attorneys, John Pike and Shelley Centini, first approached prosecutors about a possible plea three weeks ago and renewed their efforts after a pretrial hearing on evidence suppression last Thursday.

Kerekes, 34, and co-defendant Harlow Cuadra, 27, also of Virginia Beach, faced the death penalty and were scheduled to stand trial Jan. 5. Cuadra refused a plea agreement.

Kerekes said he will not testify against Cuadra.

Olszewski accepted Kerekes’ guilty plea after questioning him for more than an hour, gauging his understanding of the process that led to the agreement, and the sentence that he faced.

“Mr. Kerekes, you’re essentially giving up your life in society as you know it,” Olszewski said. “In an instant, you will not be a free man for the rest of your life.”

Kerekes completed a written guilty plea colloquy and signed a plea agreement that also bears the signatures of his attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys Michael Melnick and Shannon Crake.

Kerekes, wearing a green Luzerne County Correctional Facility jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles, stood next to his attorneys and prosecutors as he affirmed his plea — nodding and saying “yes” as Olszewski read each of the five charges to which he had agreed to plead.

During the negotiations at the state police barracks Sunday, Kerekes gave a statement “to develop a factual basis for the plea,” Melnick said.

Kerekes told prosecutors he and Cuadra viewed Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographer, as an “impediment to the expansion of their pornography business,” Melnick said.

“They decided to eliminate and kill Bryan Kocis,” Melnick said.

According to Kerekes, Cuadra ordered an online background check of Kocis days before the murder, sent e-mail messages and photographs to Kocis, placed telephone calls to him on a cell phone purchased and used only to call Kocis, and rented a vehicle that was seen by witnesses in Kocis’ driveway around the time of the killing.

Cuadra wrote to Kocis posing as an inexperienced pornographic film actor named “Danny Moilin” and used the character as a ruse to gain a private meeting with Kocis, 46, who led a nearly reclusive life in Dallas Township, Kerekes said.

Cuadra went alone to Kocis’ home on Midland Drive while Kerekes stayed at the Fox Ridge Inn in Plains Township, Kerekes said. Cuadra allegedly slashed Kocis’ neck, nearly decapitating him, and stabbing his torso nearly 30 times and later setting fire to his Midland Drive home.

Cuadra returned to the motel in the rented vehicle and the two men fled to Virginia, Kerekes said.

Investigators found links between Cuadra, Kerekes and the killing in a February search of the Virginia Beach, Va., home where the alleged killers lived, including two Sony digital video cameras that had been taken from Kocis’ home.

“This was the most catastrophic and momentous event that ever happened to the Kocis family,” Melnick said. “They are seeking closure. It has been a tough road.”
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Meanwhile, according to the Times Leader... when Harlow Cuadra returned to a Plains Township motel where he and Joseph Kerekes had been staying in January 2007, he told Kerekes he had followed through on their plans: the murder of Bryan Kocis, Kerekes told attorneys in recent days.

Kerekes, who pleaded guilty on Monday to charges stemming from his role in Kocis’ death, also said Cuadra stole a number of items from Kocis’ Dallas Township home. Kerekes said he and Cuadra disposed of the murder weapon and a few of Kocis’ personal belongings.

Kerekes, 34, of Virginia Beach, Va., was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on the charge of second-degree murder. Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. also sentenced Kerekes on four related charges.

Cuadra, 27, and Kerekes were charged with the Jan. 24, 2007, stabbing death of Kocis, their rival in the gay porn industry. They were scheduled to stand trial together in January, but Kerekes entered a guilty plea agreement with prosecutors after discussions during the last week.

Cuadra is still scheduled to stand trial next month.

Attorneys and family members could not comment on the case because of a court-imposed gag order. Michael Kocis, the victim’s father, spoke before the sentencing and expressed gratitude toward prosecutors and authorities for their hard work in bringing some closure.

“We will never forgive and we will never forget what Mr. Kerekes has done to this family,” Michael Kocis said.

Kocis’ mother and sister also spoke in court and cried as they said they were thankful for some closure, and that the family was glad Kerekes had come to terms with what happened.

Kerekes did not speak before being sentenced but cried when Olszewski read the charges. As he was leaving the courthouse, Kerekes said he “absolutely will not testify for the state against Harlow (Cuadra)” at the trial.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick said he and Assistant District Attorney Shannon Crake, as well as Kerekes and his attorneys, John Pike and Shelley Centini, met several times during the past four to five days, including Sunday, to discuss the plea.

Melnick said Kerekes told them Cuadra decided to “eliminate” Kocis, purchased a .38-caliber gun and knife from a Virginia Beach pawn shop and rented an SUV to drive to Pennsylvania. Melnick said Kerekes and Cuadra traveled together and Kerekes said he paid cash for a room at the Fox Hill Inn because the motel had no security or surveillance. They paid for the room in cash so they could not be tracked.

Melnick said Kerekes told them the two did surveillance on the Kocis home prior to the homicide, and that Kerekes participated in e-mail correspondence sent to Kocis before his death. Kerekes told attorneys he was aware Cuadra intended to kill Kocis, and the lighter fluid and lighters used to set the blaze were purchased at Wal-Mart.

Kerekes said he stayed at the motel while Cuadra went to the Kocis home. When Cuadra returned, he said he had murdered Kocis and set the home ablaze, according to Kerekes. Prosecutors said Kocis’ throat was slashed to the point his death was ruled homicide by decapitation.

Kerekes told attorneys Cuadra returned with several items belonging to Kocis, including a Rolex watch, camcorders, tapes, computers and Kocis’ cell phone. They discarded the murder weapon and some of Kocis’ belongings.

Kerekes was sentenced to an additional 56 months on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery, theft by unlawful taking, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence. Olszewski ordered Kerekes to pay more than $2,500 in funeral costs to the estate of Kocis, and $250 in homeowner’s insurance.

“Essentially, you’ve given up your life,” Olszewski said. “You will not be a free man ever again.”
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Joe's Sentence:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Joseph Kerekes to Take Plea Bargain

Accussed murder suspect Joseph Kerekes is expected to accept a plea bargain within the hour. He arrived at the courthouse around 11:00 AM, and the hearing/meeting is scheduled to begin around 11:45 AM.

More shortly.

Update @ 11:42 AM: The Citizens' Voice reports that Joseph Kerekes, one of the two men charged with the January 2007 killing of Bryan Kocis, is expected to plead guilty today to second degree murder in exchange for life without parole, attorneys involved in the case said.

A hearing is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. Kerekes, 34, and co-defendant Harlow Cuadra, 27, faced the death penalty and were scheduled to stand trial Jan. 5.

The plea agreement materialized after a pretrial hearing on evidence suppression last Thursday, with details and documents being worked out over the weekend and into the morning today.

Update @ 12:25 PM: The Times Leader also reports that one of two men charged with killing gay porn producer Brian Kocis pleaded guilty this morning to second degree murder and several other charges.

Joseph Kerekes, 34, entered the plea before Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Kerekes and a co-defendant, Harlow Cuadra, 27, were charged in May 2007 with killing Kocis, their rival in the gay porn video industry, inside his Dallas Township home in January 2007.

Police said Kerekes and Cuadra, both of Virginia Beach, stabbed Kocis to death, then set his home on fire to try to cover up the crime.



Update @ 1:12 PM: Citizens' Voice is reporting that Joseph Kerekes, one of the two men charged with the January 2007 killing of Bryan Kocis, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other charges in exchange for life without parole, attorneys involved in the case said.

Kerekes entered into a plea agreement with Luzerne County prosecutors late Sunday night and affirmed his plea just after noon today during a hearing before Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Kerekes, 34, and co-defendant Harlow Cuadra, 27, faced the death penalty and were scheduled to stand trial Jan. 5.

The plea agreement materialized after a pretrial hearing on evidence suppression last Thursday, with details and documents being worked out over the weekend and into the morning today.

Kerekes and his attorneys met with prosecutors at the State Police barracks at Wyoming and gave a statement "to develop a factual basis for the plea," Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick said.

Kerekes told prosecutors he and Cuadra viewed Kocis, a rival producer of gay pornographer, as an "impedement to the expansion of their pornography business," Melnick said.

"They decided to eliminate and kill Bryan Kocis," Melnick said.

Kerekes completed a written guilty plea colloquy and signed a plea agreement that also bears the signatures of his attorneys, John Pike and Shelley Centini, and prosecutors.

Kerekes stood with his attorneys and prosecutors as he affirmed his plea, nodding and saying "yes" as Olszewski read each of the six charges to which Kerekes had agreed to plead.

Kocis' family watched from the jury box on the left side of the courtroom as Kerekes entered his plea. District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll and First Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Tokach looked on from a section of chairs behind an empty defense table on the right side of the room.

Beside the murder charge, Kerekes pleaded guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence, tampering with physical evidence, theft by unlawful taking.

Update @ 1:32 PM: According to the Citizens' Voice, Joseph Kerekes, one of the two men charged with the January 2007 killing of Bryan Kocis, was sentenced just after 1 p.m. today to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and other charges.

Kerekes entered into a plea agreement with Luzerne County prosecutors late Sunday night and affirmed his plea just after noon today during a hearing before Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr.

Olszewski accepted the plea after more than an hour of questions for Kerekes, gauging his understanding of the process that led to the agreement, and the sentence that he faced.

Olszewski sentenced Kerekes to the mandatory life sentence and a combined 56 months to 112 months in state prison and 24 months probation to be served consecutive to the life sentence.

Since Kerekes will serve a life term, the additional time was a formality that could be considered if Kerekes petitions a future governor for a pardon, Olszewski said.

Update @ 4:45 PM: WNEP reports that Kerekes refuses to testify against Cuadra. "I absolutely will not testify for the state case against Harlow," Kerekes said after his plea. Cuadra's trial is set to start January 5.

Update @ 5:02 PM: WNEP 5:00 PM Live News states that Kerekes said that "Cuadra had murdered Bryan Kocis and set his home ablaze".