Still no verdict in Nunez fraud trial
Jury out longer than panel that cleared dentist of murder
Jurors in the Gilberto Nunez insurance fraud trial deliberated all day Monday without reaching a verdict.
The five-man, seven-woman jury began debating Nunez’s fate Friday afternoon following three days of testimony in Ulster County Court, and the panel now has deliberated longer than the jury that acquitted him of murder four months ago.
Nunez, a Kingston dentist who was found
not guilty in June of killing his ex-lover’s husband, is on trial 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; Nunez is not accused of setting the fire.
Jurors must decide is whether Nunez was entitled to an $8,400 insurance payout, out of a total of $180,000, that he said was lost rental income due to the fire; or, as prosecutors contend, whether he stole the money from the insurance company by filing a false claim for a vacant building.
Nunez has been charged with one count of grand larceny, one count of insurance fraud and five counts of falsifying business records, all felonies.
Throughout the day Monday, jurors, who appeared to be struggling over whether the building was indeed vacant, asked for numerous pieces of evidence, including an application Nunez completed for a zoning change for the building, prior to the date of the lease, in which he said the building was vacant. They also asked to rehear the legal definitions of intent, reasonable doubt and occupancy, as well as whether Nunez had a mortgage on the building at the time of the fire.
Jurors also asked to rehear prosecution testimony of Matthew Topple, who rented an apartment from Nunez at 387 Washington Ave. and signed a lease for the rental of the first floor of the building at 381-385 Washington Ave.
Under questioning by Orange County Assistant District Attorney Maryellen Albanese, Topple said he often paid his rent through barter and
that he did significant construction and renovation work on Nunez’s buildings, as well as a home owned by Nunez’s wife.
He also testified that he signed a lease for the first floor of 381-385 Washington Ave. but never paid — or intended to pay — rent for the space, which he used to store his tools. And he said he was unaware of the terms spelled out in the lease, which called for him to pay $1,200 a month for the space.
“He was a friend of mine and I was trying to help him out,” Topple said of Nunez. “I got to store my tools for free.”
In his insurance claim, Nunez said he lost five months of rent due to the fire. An insurance inspector testified he added an additional two months of lost rent onto Nunez’s claim to cover administrative delays.
In June, a jury deliberated for only six hours before acquitting Nunez of second-degree murder
in the November 2011 death of Thomas Kolman, his ex-lover’s husband. Nunez was, however, 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.
Nunez also is facing 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 in that case is expected to begin next month.
Ulster County Judge Donald A. Williams has said he will not sentence Nunez on any of the convictions until all of Nunez’s cases have been resolved.
Jury deliberations in the insurance case are to resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.