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29 Monday

They\'re antique collectors, not thugs, says tenant of family caught with stockpile of weapons

Members of the Brooklyn family caught with a stockpile of weapons are antique collectors - not dangerous thugs, according to a tenant.

Tenant and longtime friend Michael Poole, 29, was initially busted along with Thomas Siano, 57, Kathleen Siano, 58, and their son, Vincent Siano, 29, and charged with criminal possession of weapons.

Police found 30 guns, seven knives and two crossbows in the living quarters of the Sianos' Gravesend home after executing a search warrant Friday, according to the Brooklyn district attorney's office. The charges against Poole, who rented space in the home, were dropped.

Poole went to court Sunday to defend the family he has known all his life. Poole said the weapons were family heirlooms that were never used.

"These weapons were left to him by [Thomas Siano's] grandfather and uncle, who he used to go hunting with," said Poole, a professional locksmith.

"They were heirlooms. He put them up in the attic because he didn't know what else to do with them. He never brought them out. He didn't want anyone to get hurt."

Dozens of pills also were found in their home, which sits across the street from a grade school, police said. Several neighbors and tenants of the Siano family said Sunday that the pills were for the medicines Prozac, Paxil and Xanax - and that all were obtained legally.

Kathleen Siano suffered a seizure Sunday before her arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court and was taken out of court in a wheelchair before being formally charged.

The judge ordered Thomas Siano to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before he's due back in court April 16.

The arraignment for their son was pending last night.

"I'd never have thought they have such an arsenal up there, but they're just collectors. They wouldn't hurt a soul. We feel completely safe living here. This isn't fair to them," said Chris Ruiz, 27, who also lives on the Siano property.

A decades-long neighbor, Peter Consolo, 47, said Thomas Siano also collects old coins.

24 Wednesday

TLC statistics are taking honest New York City cabbies for a ride

News that New York City taxi drivers cheated passengers of some $8.3 million was shocking, especially to those familiar with the industry. It was, in fact, too shocking to be believed.

According to a press release hurried out late Friday afternoon by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the agency had suddenly "discovered" 1,872,078 trips where passengers were illegally charged an excessive rate.

By the following Monday, the TLC was moving in reverse, with its chairman, Matthew Daus, saying new data shows "a very large number" of drivers were mistakenly implicated in the scam. The so-called scam, as we now know, was that passengers were charged a suburban-rate double fare for rides in the city. As it turns out, the drivers did hit the wrong fare button. But they did so accidentally at the end of the rides - which means no passengers were overcharged.

Daus, after providing eerily precise numbers on Friday, on Monday said he could provide no further figures.

But what Daus has not explained is why the TLC rushed its charges before it understood its own data. And because the original "scam" was reported by newspapers as far off as England and India, the TLC's premature announcement seems like a classic case of a lie marching halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

The TLC said it learned of the gouging by an analysis it conducted of GPS data. But had it looked past its computer screens, the agency would have seen unmistakable signs of error.

03 Monday

Eugene Perchikov, suspected in deaths of mistress & Manhattan widow, commits suicide in Israeli jail

A Russian doctor who thought he got away with the "perfect murder" of two women killed himself after New York prosecutors unraveled his dastardly scheme.

Now the families of Dr. Eugene Perchikov's victims are cheated of the justice they had long sought, and robbed of answers they believed would come forth at the doctor's trial.

"He was a bad man, but no one is rejoicing in his death," said Jacques DeBrot, lawyer for the relatives of Larysa Vasserman of Brooklyn, who was slain in 2002, and Tatiana Korkhova of Manhattan, who was murdered in 2004.

"I feel sad about it and my clients do as well," said DeBrot.

Perchikov, 62, died Sunday after he was found bleeding profusely from self-inflicted wounds in a Jerusalem jail, where he was awaiting extradition to New York since his October arrest.

The globe-trotting murder suspect who once wrote short stories of staging the "perfect murder" using undetectable poisons, committed suicide by using his medical knowledge and a disposable razor to slash the main artery in his leg, official said.

Israel Prison Service spokesman Yaron Zamir said Perchikov died in his bunk as eight other prisoners slept in the same cell.

Extradition papers obtained by the Daily News reveal for the first time that a New York grand jury secretly indicted Perchikov in 2009 for the murders of Vasserman, 46, and Korkhova, 54.

He was also indicted on charges of insurance fraud, grand larceny and possession of stolen property - $1 million he collected on a life insurance policy for Vasserman.

Defense lawyer Michael Irony said he spoke with Perchikov Friday, and they recently reviewed the prosecution's case against him.

"He had no reason to be in bad spirits," Irony told The News. "We both thought he had a good chance not to be extradited."

The extradition papers make clear that greed prompted Perchikov to prey on his victims - two women he lured into his diabolical scheme with the promise of love.

Perchikov had persuaded his victims to take out hefty life insurance policies and name him as the main beneficiary.

Prosecutors suspect he injected both women with a lethal dose of apomorphine, a powerful drug he knew could not be identified in a postmortem exam.

In the 1990s, Perchikov wrote of committing the "perfect murder" using a combination of apomorphine and noradrenaline.

Dr. Barbara Sampson, a deputy city medical examiner, concluded that the murders of both women were "consistent with death induced by the penetration of material or poison by another person."

Vasserman, a single mother from the Ukraine, died in 2002 after experiencing a violent vomiting spell in her Brooklyn home. She met Perchikov when he answered her personal ad.

Korkhova, a widowed bookkeeper who immigrated from Russia, was found dead two years later in her Manhattan apartment after having dinner with Perchikov.

02 Wednesday

Fake doctor Michail Sorodsky, charged with raping sedated patient, gets six-year sentence

A Brooklyn quack charged with raping a sedated patient and sexually assaulting seven others got a lenient six-year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea on Tuesday.

Michail Sorodsky, 63, received the deal - over prosecutors' objections - from Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Guy Mangano.

"Our office strongly disagrees with the sentence and is exploring all possible avenues to ensure this defendant will never harm others again," said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney general.

Prosecutors said they will pursue civil confinement after Sorodsky is freed to ensure he's under constant supervision.

The phony physician who billed himself as a holistic healer was accused of inserting pro-biotic yogurt into women's genitalia and, in one case, having intercourse with a sleeping patient.

He confessed in court to all charges - including first-degree rape and 11 counts of aggravated sexual abuse - after the indictment was consolidated from 102 to 20 counts.