Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Grohoske

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

January 31, 2017

The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Diann Grohoske, Defendants-Appellant. The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Calvin Grohoske, Defendant-Appellant.

          Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP, New York (Irwin Rochman of coumnsel), for appellants.

          Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (Alexander Michaels and Alan Gadlin of counsel), for respondent.

          David Friedman, J.P. Dianne T. Renwick David B. Saxe Judith J, Gische, JJ.

          SAXE, J.

         Defendant Diann Grohoske appeals from the judgment of the Supreme Court, New York County (Bonnie G. Wittner, J.), rendered August 14, 2015, convicting her of kidnapping in the second degree and robbery in the second degree, and imposing sentence. Defendant Calvin Grohoske appeals from the judgment of the same court and Justice, rendered August 14, 2015, convicting him of kidnapping in the second degree and two counts of robbery in the second degree, and imposing sentence.

         This unusual kidnapping case raises interesting issues regarding the related crimes of unlawful imprisonment and kidnapping and the elements of each, and whether the evidence presented here satisfactorily established those elements. It also provides a lesson to those who believe that the summary proceedings available under the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law to lawfully evict tenants are not summary enough.

         In September 2013, Daniel Lawson, a 25 year old student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, prompted by a listing on Craigslist, agreed to sublet a bedroom in a four-bedroom West Harlem apartment from defendant Calvin Grohoske ("Calvin"), who, along with another person, had leased the apartment from the building's owner. Calvin and his co-lessee made a practice of subletting some of the individual bedrooms in their apartment to various people. Calvin, who had lived in one of the rooms, sublet his room because in August 2013 he moved back to Texas, where his elderly parents owned a cattle ranch, so he could take care of them.

         The agreement was that Lawson would pay Calvin a $1, 000 security deposit and $1, 000 per month for the room. Lawson apparently paid the security deposit, and $864 of his $1, 000 rent due for October, by the time he moved into the sublet room on October 1, 2013. However, Lawson experienced difficulties in the apartment from the outset, when he learned that a man identified as the drug dealer for one of his roommates had forced his way into the apartment and confronted another of his roommates. By the middle of October 2013, Lawson had announced that he would not make any more payments for the apartment, and that "the deal was off."

         A flurry of text messages from Calvin were sent to Lawson, threatening him and telling him to vacate the apartment. On October 24, 2013, Lawson sent Calvin a Facebook message telling him to count the $1, 000 security deposit toward his rent, which he said would cover the rest of October and the first half of November, and that he would be vacating by the end of that period. After noting that he had heard that Calvin might come to New York, Lawson wrote, "[I]f you cross into my personal space, which I have paid and paid for at a premium, touch or mess with any of my belongings or my animal, or to try to engage with me in the state that I am in right now, I would rather fling open the gates of hell if I were you."

         Calvin replied quickly, advising Lawson that his failure to pay the rent resulted in a termination of the agreement. He advised Lawson to be out of the apartment by the end of October and said that he was going to submit a wage garnishment for Lawson's unpaid rent. Calvin said he arranged with another person to rent the room as of the end of October.

         According to Calvin, to clean and prepare the apartment for the new tenant's occupancy at the end of October, Calvin and his mother (both then in Texas) decided to come to New York. On October 29, 2013, the two of them flew from Texas to New York. Upon arrival, they purchased a new door lock at a Home Depot for the room that he had rented to Lawson, with the hope of changing the lock while Lawson was out of the apartment.

         At about 10:30 p.m. that day, Calvin and his mother, defendant Diann Grohoske (Diann), arrived at the apartment. Lawson testified that he was in bed, naked, with the lights off, watching Downton Abbey on his computer, when Calvin charged into the room, straddled Lawson on the bed and began punching him in the face; there was also testimony that Calvin "kneed" Lawson in the face. Lawson testified that Diann walked into the room carrying a gun; Diann denied having a gun at any time. According to Lawson, Diann instructed Lawson to get dressed and then to get down on the floor on his knees where Calvin applied duct tape to his wrists so that they would be bound behind his back like handcuffs. Duct tape was also placed around his chest so that his arms were held to his side. Calvin secured Lawson's cat Pookie in a cardboard box, securing it with duct tape. Lawson said that they also took his cell phone and wallet, which assertion Calvin and Diann denied. Lawson protested to these events by stating to Calvin and Diann that he had "squatter's rights" to the room, and that Calvin had to proceed to landlord-tenant court to obtain an order of eviction before throwing him out. To this, Lawson asserts that Calvin responded, "That's not how we do it in Texas."

         Calvin and Diann led Lawson downstairs. He was placed in the front passenger seat of Calvin's rental car, with Diann sitting behind him and Calvin in the driver's seat. Calvin put the duct-taped box containing the cat into the trunk of the car. According to Calvin, he had offered to drop Lawson at a shelter, but Lawson refused because a shelter would not be able to accommodate both him and Pookie the cat. According to Lawson, they proceeded onto the New Jersey Turnpike with Calvin driving and Diann sitting behind him with a gun to the back of his head. At about 12:50 a.m. the car left the New Jersey Turnpike and traveled across the Betsy Ross Bridge into Philadelphia. They eventually arrived at a deserted area in Philadelphia, where Calvin pulled over, and together Calvin and Diann forced Lawson out of the car and threw the cat box out on the street from the trunk. According to Lawson, he was shoved against a fence, and Diann cut some of the duct tape off him and told him, "[I]f you ever come back you are dead." Calvin and his mother then drove away.

         Lawson was able to free himself of the remaining duct tape and began to open the cat box. Apparently Pookie the cat was frightened by the experience of being boxed in an automobile trunk, because as Lawson tried to open ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.