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This is what remains at 2 Potters Lane after 51 trees were illegally axed. Photo by Cooky Blaha

The matter of the 51 trees that were clear-cut at 2 Potters Lane in November of last year was arraigned at the Village of Great Neck court on Jan. 21 with Village Justice Jon Mostel presiding.

Attorneys for the defendants waived their right to a speedy trial, pleading "not guilty" and asked to be tried together.

Summonses had been issued for each tree downed without a permit from the village to the president of the United Mashadi Jewish Community of America, Morris Aziz; to Avi Gohari of Highpoint Springs Realty; and to Luis Melendez who is alleged to have done the actual work.

According to the village ordinance, a judge may fine up to $5,000 for each tree taken down without a permit. Justice Mostel stated at the beginning of the court session that he may impose fines and/or community service for those found guilty in his courtroom.

The synagogue and the real estate firm will be represented by Peter Mineo of Forchelli, Curto, Crowe, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Cohn. Beth Ross will represent Mr. Melendez.

It is unclear when the case will be heard as Ms. Ross stated that she will be unavailable on the designated court dates for the next two months.

(Editor's note: For background on this matter, visit the Record's website at www.antonnews.com and see the issue of Dec. 11, 2008 with the article entitled "51 Trees Decimated for an Unapproved Parking Lot.")


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