Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Tuesday, “These defendants allegedly engaged in an illicit and disturbing scheme in an attempt to obstruct justice. They have now been exposed and I intend to hold them accountable. I would also like to commend the victim and her family for their courage in resisting the alleged extortion and reporting it to my office.”
According to the investigation, on March 2, 2016, Israel was arrested and subsequently indicted for sexually abusing a woman when she was 12 years old. He was arraigned and bail was set at $100,000 cash or $50,000 bond, which he posted. He was offered a plea to five years’ prison and 10 years’ post-release supervision, which he rejected. An order of protection was issued forbidding him to contact the victim or her family.
In July 2016, according to the investigation, Israel hired Vincent Parco, who owns a private investigative firm, to surreptitiously record embarrassing video images of a family member of the victim to allegedly get the victim to stop cooperating against Israel. He was allegedly paid approximately $17,000.
On January 6, 2017, Israel appeared in court, was offered the same plea he had been offered earlier in the case, and rejected it. On January 17, 2017, the family member was approached by a stranger wearing a scarf who showed him a cell phone video of the embarrassing images and stated: “Be smart. Stop making trouble.” The family member reported the incident to the DA’s office.
Israel’s case proceeded and a trial date was set for June 26, 2017. On June 22, 2017, a stranger approached another member of the victim’s family and showed that person a cell phone containing the video.
Finally, a third person contacted the family member and allegedly offered to act as a mediator, offering to obtain the video from Israel and destroy it and to obtain a statement from Israel admitting to his crimes as “insurance” in the event the video gets released but he cautioned the family member not to report any of this to the authorities.
This was also reported to the DA’s office and on June 26, 2017, investigators from the District Attorney’s office executed a search warrant at the third party’s home and recovered the video and a statement in which Israel makes some admissions as to improperly touching the victim.
Embarrassing video images were also recovered from Parco’s office computer, pursuant to a search warrant, and he subsequently admitted that he was hired by Israel.
Israel is charged with first- and second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. All of the defendants are variously charged with second-degree unlawful surveillance, third- and fourth-degree promoting prostitution; first-degree dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image, fourth-degree tampering with a witness, and second-degree criminal contempt.
Justice D’Emic set bail at $150,000 for Israel and released Parco and Freudenthaler without bail. He ordered them to return to court on October 20, 2017.