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An appellate court yesterday denied the appeal of a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to assault and discredit his adversary in a series of disputes growing out of a dog attack in Central Park. The decision will be published Wednesday. A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled that although the trial judge did not recite the full version of a circumstantial evidence charge to the jury, the evidence was so strong that no harm was done. The panel said the jury charge sufficiently suggested that jurors could only vote “guilty” if no reasonable hypothesis pointed to the man’s innocence. “By placing emphasis on the nature of circumstantial evidence, the courts seek to reduce the danger that jurors will ‘leap logical gaps’ by drawing unwarranted conclusions from the proof, a danger not present here since the evidence of defendant’s guilt of the substantive charges was entirely circumstantial only in the most technical sense,” Justice Joseph Sullivan wrote for the court in People v. Schachter, 2651. The man, tanning salon owner Norman Schachter, was found guilty in 2002 of concocting a plot to beat up then-65-year-old author Shaun Considine and plant drugs and child pornography on his body. At the time, Mr. Considine was suing Mr. Schachter and his wife, Debbie Gamiel, over their three Dutch Shepherd attack dogs, which had mauled Mr. Considine in Central Park after he finished his daily jog. Mr. Considine was also cooperating in a criminal prosecution of Ms. Gamiel, who had been walking the dogs without leashes. In an effort to derail the civil suit and the prosecution of his wife, Mr. Schachter devised a scheme to impugn Mr. Considine’s character. He paid a dog trainer, Derrick Moultrie, to beat Mr. Considine until he was unconscious and then plant drugs and child pornography on him. When Mr. Considine was taken to the hospital, Mr. Schachter reasoned, he would be arrested and discredited. Mr. Moultrie contacted a parolee to help him hire thugs to carry out the attack. However, the parolee was a confidential informant. He arranged for Mr. Moultrie to hire two undercover police officers to execute the plot. The officers played along to the end, having numerous conversations with Mr. Moultrie and accepting heroin, cocaine and child pornography from him. With Mr. Considine’s cooperation, they faked an attack at his apartment, removing him by stretcher from the premises, doused in fake blood. The fake attack occurred three days before Ms. Gamiel was scheduled to go to trial. After monitoring phone calls between Mr. Moultrie and Mr. Schachter for weeks, the police arrested both men. Mr. Schachter was convicted of attempting to intimidate a witness, conspiracy, attempted assault and drug charges. Defendant’s Role On appeal, Mr. Schachter argued that portions of his conviction should be thrown out because they were based on circumstantial evidence involving a scheme that was not actually carried out. Mr. Schachter argued that Acting Supreme Court Justice William A. Wetzel, who handled the trial, did not properly charge the jury on how to consider circumstantial evidence. Justice Sullivan rejected these arguments, writing, “as the record shows, there were no logical gaps between the proof as to defendant’s numerous and significant connections to [Mr. Moultrie] and the inevitable conclusion that he was [Mr. Moultrie's] accomplice and, indeed, the prime mover in this criminal enterprise.” The judge added: “Moreover, the court’s charge clearly explained that defendant could not be convicted if the evidence was consistent with his innocence.” In a separate opinion, the court confirmed Mr. Moultrie’s 6-year sentence. Ms. Gamiel pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and avoided jail time. Justices Eugene Nardelli, Alfred D. Lerner and Luis A. Gonzalez concurred with Justice Sullivan’s ruling. Assistant District Attorney Deborah L. Morse prosecuted the appeal. Adam D. Perlmutter of Donziger Perlmutter handled the appeal for Mr. Schachter.

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