DA suggests stiff sentence for Gilberto Nunez

Gilberto Nunez leaves court after being acquitted of a murder charge earlier this year. Behind him are his lawyers Gerald Shargel (left) and Evan Lipton. (pool photo by Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

Gilberto Nunez leaves court after being acquitted of a murder charge earlier this year. Behind him are his lawyers Gerald Shargel (left) and Evan Lipton. (pool photo by Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman)

Kingston dentist Gilberto Nunez is back behind bars and facing years in prison following his latest felony conviction. On Nov. 17, an Ulster County jury found the 49-year-old Poughkeepsie resident guilty of three felonies connected with a false statement made on a pistol permit application.

The conviction is the latest twist in a bizarre case that has been recently featured on two network true crime shows. It comes give months after the dentist, who maintains a practice on Washington Avenue in Kingston, was acquitted of murder in the November 2011 death of his friend and romantic rival Thomas Kolman Jr. Prosecutors claimed that Nunez dosed Kolman with a powerful medical sedative in a Town of Ulster parking lot in a deliberate effort to kill him; at the time, Nunez was having an affair with Kolman’s wife Linda Kolman. Prosecutors argued that Nunez killed Kolman because he feared that the couple had reconciled and Linda was about to break off the affair. Nunez became a suspect early in the investigation into Kolman’s death but the dentist was not indicted until October 2015.

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Shortly after the indictment, the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office was forced to recuse itself from the investigation because of a conflict of interest. Since then Nunez’ prosecution has been handled by Orange County Senior District Attorney Maryellen Albanese and Assistant DA Tanja M. Beemer.

Defense attorneys Gerald Shargel and Evan Lipton from the high-profile New York City law firm Winston Strawn Associates argued that autopsy results were inconclusive and that the most likely cause of Kolman’s death was a heart attack. They also challenged a prosecution expert’s opinion that headlights seen approaching Kolman’s car hours before he was found dead belonged to Nunez’s Nissan Pathfinder.

Jurors acquitted Nunez of second-degree murder after just six hours of deliberation. But the same jury found Nunez guilty of two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. The forgery charges stemmed from a bizarre plan to convince Linda Kolman that he was a CIA agent and that her husband was cheating on her.

In October, Nunez faced a second trial based on allegations that he had inflated by $8,400 an insurance claim for damage to his office from a fire at an adjacent building in February 2015. The jury trial ended in conviction on felony counts of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree insurance fraud in the third degree and five counts of first-degree falsifying business records.

Nunez’s most recent trial focused on allegations that he lied about the circumstances of his discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. Nunez enlisted in the Marines in 1987, but went AWOL just eight days after arriving at his first duty station following recruit training. In 1990, Nunez — who in 2011 sported a large Marine Corps decal on his SUV — was caught and eventually given a discharge under “other than honorable” conditions. Nevertheless, when asked on a 2015 pistol permit application if he had ever been dismissed from a job or military service “for cause” Nunez answered no. That answer led to charges of second-degree perjury, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and first-degree making an apparently sworn false statement. On Thursday, Nov. 17, a jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts. Following the verdict, County Court Judge Don Williams accepted a motion by prosecutors to send Nunez, who has been free on $1 million bail since October 2015, to the Ulster County Jail without bail pending sentencing.

Convicted on a dozen felony charges in three separate trials, Nunez could face decades in state prison if Williams chooses to sentence him to consecutive, rather than concurrent, terms for the crimes. Following his June trial, Williams told attorneys that he would hold off sentencing on the forgery charges until after all of the outstanding cases against Nunez had been resolved. Williams also indicted that he would accept no plea deals in any of the cases.

Orange County DA David Hoovler said that his office would seek a substantial prison sentence at a sentencing hearing set for Feb. 7, 2017. “Given the myriad of crimes that this defendant has been convicted of, and the expansive time frame during which they occurred,” Hoovler wrote. “My office will be recommending consecutive state prison sentences.”

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