Criminal defense attorney Barry Covert of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria was interviewed by Mary Alice Demler on WGRZ-TV on Iver Phallen’s guilty plea to a 122-count indictment. Mr. Phallen, a Lewiston, New York, businessman, is accused of terrorizing young women in his home using a torture chamber he devised. The full interview is available here.
Mr. Covert noted in the interview, “Fifteen separate charges all carry the possibility of life in prison, so this is a very large, voluminous indictment. He’s facing very serious charges.”
The indictment, which covers only two alleged victims, features three counts of predatory sexual assault and 12 counts of first-degree kidnapping, each carrying a maximum of life in prison. The indictment also includes 28 counts of first-degree assault, 44 counts of second-degree assault, 26 counts of second-degree strangulation, four counts of second-degree kidnapping, two counts each of first-degree criminal sexual act and aggravated third-degree sexual abuse, and one count of first-degree coercion.
Other media outlets reported Assistant District Attorney Peter M. Wydysh saying the two alleged victims were “strangled and hanged, numerous times, to the point of blacking out and having seizures.”
For WGRZ, Ms. Demler said, “These charges involve just two women, but from what we understand, there may be more victims. What happens if more come forward later?”
Mr. Covert responded, “The district attorney’s office can definitely be expected to supersede the indictment by adding additional allegations.” He continued, “If there are any allegations from outside the county, you’re looking at a situation where there’s a different district attorney’s office. Or even outside the state, since they have a home in Florida. If there are any allegations that anything occurred down there, you’re going to have another state that’s going to have charges. You can even have federal charges if he transported women over state line, so there’s the possibility of a lot of different charges.”
Asked what the next steps are likely to be, Mr. Covert responded, “At this point, he goes through what is called the discovery process. The district attorney will provide to his defense lawyer various materials about the charges, then his defense lawyer will bring various motions, such as a motion to suppress the search warrant and to dismiss the indictment, and eventually he’ll have a trial.”
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas, who denied Mr. Phallen bail, set a tentative trial date of March 3.
Mr. Covert noted, “I know it is set for March right now, but I wouldn’t expect it’s going to go that quickly.”
Mr. Covert focuses his practice primarily in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense.