Nunez ten­ant tes­ti­fies he never paid for space leased from city den­tist

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­ pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

A key wit­ness for the pros­e­cu­tion tes­ti­fied Wed­nes­day that he signed a lease with Gil­berto Nunez for the space in one of Nunez’s Wash­ing­ton Av­enue build­ings but that he never paid a dime for the use of the area.

Matthew Top­ple said un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion that he had been given im­mu­nity in ex­change for his tes­ti­mony.

Nunez, a Kingston den­tist who was ac­quit­ted in June of killing his ex-lover’s hus­band, is on trial in Ul­ster County Court for in­surance fraud and grand lar­ceny re­lated to an in­surance claim

he made on the build­ing he owned at 381-385 Wash­ing­ton Ave., next door to his den­tal of­fice. The build­ing was de­stroyed by a fire in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

Wil­liam McVey, an in­de­pen­dent in­surance ad­juster who re­viewed Nunez’s claim and rec­om­mended pay­ment for the losses in­curred in the fire, said Nunez was paid $180,000, in­clud­ing $8,400 for seven months of lost rental in­come. That’s the amount at the cen­ter of the trial.

Top­ple, who at the time rented an apart­ment from Nunez at 387 Wash­ing­ton Ave., said that in June 2013, he signed a lease with Nunez for space in the build­ing at 381-385 Wash­ing­ton Ave. be­cause they were friends and Nunez wanted to lower his in­surance costs on the build­ing. In ex­change for sign­ing the lease, Top­ple said, Nunez agreed to let him store his con­struc­tion tools in the build­ing.

Un­der ques­tion­ing by Or­ange County Se­nior As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Maryellen Al­banese, the special pros­e­cu­tor in the case, Top­ple tes­ti­fied that al­though he signed the lease, he was un­aware of its terms.

Asked if he ever gave Nunez money for the prop­erty, Top­ple said, “I did not.”

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by de­fense at­tor­ney Evan Lipton, Top­ple said he did sig­nif­i­cant work for Nunez for which he was paid at times in cash and at times in ex­change for re­duced rent. He said he couldn’t re­call how much Nunez paid him for his work or what he re­ceived in rent credit, though he said he prob­a­bly only paid rent for two of the four years he lived in his apart­ment.

“I thought it was a stan­dard lease agree­ment. I’d signed hun­dreds of them be­fore. I thought I was help­ing a friend out,” Top­ple said. “I didn’t read it.

Also on the stand, the 39-year-old con­ceded he had been ar­rested a num­ber of times, in­clud­ing for pos­ses­sion of stolen prop­erty, pos­ses­sion of drugs and on two oc­ca­sions driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol. But, he said, he “couldn’t re­call” the de­tails of those ar­rests or the out­comes of any crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions.

“I was do­ing a lot of drugs back then,” he said. “It was 10 years ago. It’s not some­thing I re­mem­ber, it’s not some­thing I can re­call.”

Nunez has not been charged with start­ing the fire but has been charged with in­surance fraud, grand lar­ceny and five counts of fal­si­fy­ing busi­ness records, all felonies, for claim­ing he lost rental in­come as a re­sult of the fire. The cause of the fire was never de­ter­mined.

The trial is to re­sume at 9:45 a.m. Thurs­day.

On June 14, Nunez was ac­quit­ted of mur­der­ing his for­mer lover’s hus­band, Thomas Kol­man, in Novem­ber 2011. Nunez, how­ever, was found guilty of two felony counts of pos­ses­sion of a forged in­stru­ment for hav­ing a fake CIA iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card on his com­puter and for giv­ing his for­mer lover a let­ter pur­port­ing to be from a CIA agent.

Kol­man, 44, whose wife Linda was hav­ing an af­fair with Nunez, was found dead in his own ve­hi­cle at a shopping plaza in the town of Ul­ster. Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged Nunez poi­soned him with a den­tal seda­tive so he could have Mrs. Kol­man to him­self. The de­fense ar­gued Nunez and Thomas Kol­man were best friends and the den­tist had noth­ing to do with the death.

Ul­ster County Judge Don­ald A. Wil­liams has said he will not sen­tence Nunez for the forged in­stru­ment con­vic­tions un­til after the den­tist stands trial for the charges re­lated to the in­surance fraud, as well as for charges of per­jury, of­fer­ing a false in­stru­ment for fil­ing and mak­ing an ap­par­ently sworn false state­ment in con­nec­tion to al­legedly fil­ing false in­for­ma­tion while ap­ply­ing for a pis­tol per­mit. Jury se­lec­tion for that trial is ex­pected to be­gin next month.

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