SWC attorney Ralph Branciforte, for the People

Back in 2010, Freeport resident Jerry Valery broke into a Rockville Centre home – he allegedly pushed in a window AC unit – and began collecting an assortment of valuables, including jewelry, a camera and a laptop computer.

The owners were not home at the time, but had set a silent alarm.

Two Rockville Centre police officers confronted Valery at the back of the house, where he “violently resisted arrest,” according to police, throwing punches and making a grab for the officers’ holsters. He was eventually Tasered, arrested and arraigned, and in September 2012 sentenced to 22 years at the maximum security prison in upstate Malone.

Fast forward to last week, when Valery’s appeal came up for review. The grounds: That there was insufficient evidence to establish guilt and that his trial attorney had provided an ineffective defense.

rBranciforteArguing the people’s case was Ralph Branciforte, an associate at Uniondale law firm Sahn Ward Coschignano, who was taking part in a program that allows private-practice attorneys to serve as pro bono assistant DAs.

The program focuses on appellate cases, usually serious felony convictions. The volunteer attorney is responsible for reviewing the trial transcript, researching the legal issues raised on appeal, writing the respondent’s brief on behalf of the government and then arguing the appeal – in Branciforte’s case, before the Appellate Division’s Second Department.

The program gives attorneys in private practice valuable appellate experience while allowing them to help serve the people’s cause.

Branciforte, by the way, was near-perfect. The court upheld all of Valery’s convictions save for a third-degree burglary charge the judges felt was fully covered by an accompanying second-degree conviction.

A 2001 graduate of Tuoro Law School, Branciforte is now back at work at SWC, where he specializes in commercial litigation and appeals.


Nixon Peabody has added 11 partners to the firm, including one on Long Island.

nixon-peabodyThomas Mealiffe represents companies in commercial, complex tort and product liability disputes in a number of industries including insurance, health care, banking, medical device, software, and aviation.

“I’ve been following the increased regulation of manufacturers in the consumer product industry and the interplay between various regulatory regimes and digital health care products in order to prepare clients for the increased scrutiny and potential litigation exposure that will result,” said Mealiffe, who will work with the firm’s complex litigation and health care practices and as a member of the aviation and NP Trial teams.

Mealiffe is the co-author of a book on consumer product liability, which serves as a reference tool for lawyers and business people who interact or may interact with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Outside the office, he serves as a board member for the East Harlem Tutorial Program, a charter school that services upper Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City.

For a video introducing all 11 new partners, click here.


seidenNeil Seiden, managing director of Asset Enhancement Solutions, has been elected president of the Long Island Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association.

Seiden, a frequent panelist at symposiums focused on financing, is past president of the Long Island Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants and serves on the Long Island Committee of ACG, the Association for Corporate Growth.

Asset Enhancement Solutions is a financial advisory firm that provides investment banking and consulting services to companies considering selling themselves, acquiring a company or raising capital.


Farrell Fritz has promoted Robert M. Connelly, Toni J. Hoverkamp and Spencer L. Reames to counsel.

ConnellyConnelly is a land use and municipal attorney in the firm’s Water Mill office. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Hofstra University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University.





Jim Lennon Photographer 175-H2 Commerce Drive Hauppauge NY 631-617-5872

Hovercamp is a real estate attorney in the firm’s Hauppauge office. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.





reamesReames is an estate litigation attorney in the firm’s Uniondale office. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from St. John’s University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degrees from St. John’s University.




Rivkin Radler has announced five new partners:

canataMichael Cannata, of Wantagh, is a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group.

Michael is trial lawyer with extensive experience litigating complex intellectual property, commercial, and other business disputes in state and federal courts across the country.

He represents a wide range of clients, including product manufacturers and suppliers, animation companies, websites, artists, jewelers, restaurants, and entrepreneurs, as well as medical practice groups, construction contractors, insurance carriers, and municipalities.


del pizzoNancy Del Pizzo, of Summit, NJ, is a member of the Intellectual Property and Appeals Practice Groups.  Nancy helps solve commercial disputes, with an emphasis on intellectual property matters such as trademark, trade dress, copyright and patent infringement, domain name disputes, source codes, misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition, defamation, libel and trade libel.

She also drafts intellectual property-related agreements and drafts and files copyright registrations.


honigJeremy Honig, of Melville, is a member of the Appeals, Construction and Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use Pratice Groups.

He concentrates his practice in real estate, construction, and landlord-tenant litigation. Jeremy has substantial experience in complex commercial litigation.

He has tried several cases to verdict as both lead counsel and co-counsel and successfully has argued appeals in New York in the First and Second Departments of the Appellate Division.


mcIsaacMichael McIsaac, of East Meadow, is a member of the Corporate and Health Services Practice Groups. He represents large physician groups’ practices, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and healthcare providers in a broad range of transactional and regulatory matters.  Michael counsels health care clients on mergers and acquisitions, asset sales, employment agreements, equipment leases, commercial contracts and finance transactions.  He works with large physician group practices on organizational and corporate governance matters, preparing shareholder and limited liability company agreements, and helping clients remain compliant with applicable business laws and their underlying governing documents.


wiedmannAmy Wiedmann, of Baldwin, is a member of Appeals Practice Group.  Amy focuses her practice in investigating and litigating insurance fraud involving healthcare and property claims in no-fault, bodily injury, uninsured motorist and subrogation matters.  As a member of the Firm’s Litigation & Appeals Practice Group, Amy regularly represents national and regional insurers in fighting fraud in the healthcare and automobile industries in actions to recover payments to physicians, medical clinics, attorneys, public adjusters, and others as part of complex, large-scale insurance fraud and kickback schemes in federal and state litigation, arbitration and mediation



Up-and-coming tech startup QB Sonic has won the local round of a national business plan pitch-off focused on products and services for women and families.

Three Hofstra University faculty members selected the resident of Stony Brook University’s Long Island High Technology Incubator as the best regional-round entry in the InnovateHER Competition, a U.S. Small Business Administration contest designed to showcase products and services with “a measurable impact” on women and families, as well as legitimate commercialization potential and a definable marketplace need.

QB Sonic is focused on high-resolution imaging of hard and soft tissue, allowing real-time 2D and 3D mapping and assessment of musculoskeletal injury and disease – a significant advantage of current diagnostic and treatment options for women with osteoporosis, among other conditions.

The regional competition, hosted by Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship, was open to entrepreneurs from Long Island and New York City. Submissions to the virtual competition included explanatory cover letters, proposed business plans and optional PowerPoint presentations. Hofstra announced Nov. 17 that it had been selected to host the regional round and received a total of 11 submissions through Nov. 30.

B Sonic was selected from “a number of strong applications,” according to Mark Lesko, executive dean of the Center for Entrepreneurship. The startup’s technology, business plan and commercialization strategy “displayed the potential … to have an impact on the lives of millions of women,” Lesko said in a statement.

The winning company was founded in 2014 by Chief Executive Officer Sharon Barkume, a former patent attorney for an early-stage VC firm who’s guided several high-tech startups, and Chief Technology Officer Yi-Xian Qin, an SBU professor of orthopedics and biomedical engineering and director of Stony Brook’s Orthopedic Bioengineering Research Laboratory.

Qin is the actual inventor of the company’s proprietary non-invasive ultrasound stimulator, which will focus primarily on maintaining bone tissue in the hips of people with osteoporosis and osteopenia. According to QB Sonic, those diseases affect over 50 million women in the United States, 200 million women in China and 80 million women across Europe, mostly over the age of 50, and are blamed for more than 350,000 hip fractures annually in the United States alone – with up to 20 percent of fracture patients dying within a year of the injury and another 20 percent requiring long-term care.

QB Sonic has so far received more than $2 million in grants to help develop new non-invasive ultrasound stimulator technology. The LIHTI resident also qualified in February for Empire State Development’s Start-Up NY program, promising to create five full-time jobs and invest at least $25,000 in the regional economy in exchange for corporate tax benefits.

Barkume said having QB Sonic’s work acknowledged by in the local InnovateHER round was “rewarding” – as is the recognition of not one but two of Long Island’s top universities.

“Starting a medical device company, especially on Long Island, is a challenging task,” she said. “We are very grateful for all the support QB Sonic has received from Stony Brook University, and now Hofstra University.”

QB Sonic’s InnovateHER Competition submission will now be forwarded to the SBA, which will select semifinalists from a national collection of local winners. Those semifinalists will be invited to compete in person for prizes of $10,000, $20,000 and $40,000 at the Women’s Summit National Finals, scheduled for March 16 and 17 in Washington.

The local InnovateHER competition was judged by Elizabeth Venuti, senior associate dean of Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business, and Anne Hamby and Veronika Ilyuk, both assistant professors of marketing and international business at Hofstra.

A team captained by Tim Fabrizio of Calhoun High School took top honors in the ninth annual Adelphi Challenge, which brings together future marketeers for a competition styled after The Apprentice television show.

Two hundred students from 19 local schools were divided into mixed teams for the contest, which required assembling a successful marketing plan within an hour to present to a panel of judges from such companies as concert promoter Live Nation, Apple, Nike Women and AAA Northeast, among others.

Fabrizio’s team, called Flagship Marketing, bested the pack with a campaign aimed at the youth demographic via pop-up concerts and a social media push. The team won VIP tickets to a Live Nation concert of their choice, plus a plaque and bragging rights.

“Creativity and teamwork helped us get here more than the work of just one person,” Fabrizio said.

More than 1,600 high school students have participated in the challenge since 2007. This year’s running also featured remarks by Rita Little, the former vice president of marketing at Bed Bath & Beyond and an Adelphi grad.


mahlerNew York Business Divorce, the breezy biz breakup blog written by Farrell Fritz partner Peter Mahler, has been named one of the nation’s 100 best by the ABA Journal. Mahler has penned hundreds of items on sibling rivalries, partner backstabbing and the other merriments common to his specialty, including recent looks at feuding pizzeria founders and a bitter row between the third-generation owners of an electrical parts company.




Doreen O’Grady, RN, DNP has been named chief nursing officer and associate executive director of patient care services at Glen Cove Hospital.  Dr. O’Grady has held various clinical and managerial roles at the health system for more than 30 years and previously was chief nursing officer at Forest Hills Hospital.


Daniel K. Fichtelman has been hired as an associate attorney at Islandia-based Lewis Johs Availone Aviles. He was an associate attorney at Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert and Varriale in Mineola. * * *


Six attorneys from Sahn Ward Coschignano have been named Rising Stars in the New York Metro region of Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers program, which recognizes the best of the legal profession using surveys, follow-on research and peer evaluations. Only 2.5 percent of up-and-coming attorneys are eligible for the Rising Star designation.

The SWC attorneys and their practice areas:

Joseph Bjarnson left

Joseph Bjarnson, Business Litigation

Daniel Braff right

Daniel Braff, Land Use/Zoning

Christian Browne left

Christian Browne, Civil Litigation (Plaintiff)

John Christopher

John Christopher, Real Estate Law

Elaine Colavito

Elaine Colavito, Family Law

Adam Koblenz

Adam Koblenz






Another four SWC attorneys, including managing partner Michael Sahn, were honored as members of the general Super Lawyers list. In addition to Sahn, whose practice is focused on land use and zoning, they include Jon A. Ward, who specializes in business litigation; Wayne G. Edwards, a partner in the land use and zoning practice; and Andrew M. Roth, a business litigator.

Michael Sahn

Michael Sahn

Jon Ward right

Jon Ward

Wayne Edwards left

Wayne Edwards

Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth

“It is an honor to be named personally, but much more important is the credit and honor to the firm to have so many of our attorneys recognized by Super Lawyers,” Sahn told Innovate LI.



In other people news:

mugKaren Sweeney has been appointed vice president of member experience at Bethpage Federal Credit Union in Bethpage. She previously worked on digital customer experience for American Express Travel and Membership Rewards for American Express in Manhattan.





Racanelli Construction Co. of Melville has new hires:

Tanuja Singh Duffy has joined as an assistant project manager/administrator. She was a project management assistant with Leader Electric in Manhattan.

Dana M. Norris has joined as an administrator. She was administrative assistant with Almar Tax Service in Deer Park.

Nelly Fuentes has joined as an assistant project manager/administrator. She was an assistant project manager with Island Acoustics in Bohemia.


Jennifer-ngJennifer Ng joined the real estate practice group at Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman in East Meadow as an associate. Ng previously was an associate at Mel S. Harris & Associates in Manhattan.





Founding partner Robert Wild: Great people at the right time and place.

Founding partner Robert Wild: Great people at the right time and place.

This month’s opening of an Albany office doesn’t signal a new lobbying focus or any other political agenda for Great Neck-based Garfunkel Wild.

So says the law firm’s chairman and founding partner, Robert Wild, who cited more of a right-place, right-time opportunity than any kind of legislative push.

In fact, Wild told Innovate LI, the 35-year-old firm wasn’t even looking to expand. But the availability of three stellar attorneys in the Albany region, close to various New York State regulatory agencies that regularly cross the healthcare-focused firm’s path, made it a no-brainer.

“This firm specializes in representing hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, ambulatory centers and (health-focused) private-equity investors,” Wild said. “Many of the issues we deal with arise from state legislation from various departments – agencies that regulate our clients.

“We do a lot of work with these state agencies, and the individuals who have joined the firm are all from the Albany area,” the chairman added. “So it just made sense.”


James Dering

The three new partners – James Dering, Sandra Jensen and Michael Stone – are all “very well known in the healthcare field,” Wild noted, with long tenures in the New York Department of Health under their individual belts. Dering, who is the Albany office’s managing partner, served almost five years as the health department’s general counsel, with critical health-related issues including 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, the 2014 Ebola scare and New York’s fledgling medical marijuana program cropping up on his watch.

“Garfunkel Wild has a great reputation in the healthcare field,” Dering said. “The three of us have worked together for a long time and we were all looking for a new opportunity at exactly the time [the firm] was looking to open an Albany office.”

During her 14 years with the health department, Jensen logged time as acting director of the department’s Bureau of House Counsel, which guides state lawmakers on a wide range of healthcare issues. Stone was a health department assistant counsel for more than a decade, specializing in licensing issues and other facets of healthcare law.

“We have extensive knowledge of healthcare laws and how they apply,” Jensen noted, adding the Albany office is targeted to provide services not only for Capital Region clients but “all over the state, Long Island and Buffalo and elsewhere.”

“The main benefit is our knowledge of public health law and regulations,” Dering said. “Given our mutual experiences at the health department, it’s pretty extensive.”

The new partners will focus on issues such as the Affordable Care Act, privacy in the age of electronic medical records and the addition of private medical practices to larger provider groups.

“They’re all really good people and they fit perfectly in our firm,” Wild said, noting the hiring of experts of this caliber is common practice at Garfunkel Wild, which is headquartered on Long Island “but is not necessarily a Long Island practice.”

The partners in charge of the firm’s Hackensack, NJ, office, which opened in 2000, both had over 15 years of healthcare-related legal experience when they came on board, according to the chairman, while the head of the Stamford, Conn., office – which opened in 2007 – is a medical doctor who went to law school after completing medical school.

The firm’s 80 attorneys even include four “nurse-lawyers,” Wild added, including the chairman’s wife, attorney Judith Eisen, who chairs the firm’s finance and real estate practice, as well as its focus on health insurance portability and accountability.

The firm has no current expansion plans beyond Albany – “Managing one office is different from managing four offices,” Wild noted – though “like every other firm, we’re always interested in growing our practice.”

“We will always consider new opportunities if we think they’re consistent with our firm’s focus and our business model,” the founding partner said. “But we’re not looking to expand for the sake of expansion.”

For now, the emphasis is on representing clients on a number of civil and commercial issues across a broad range of practice areas, including mergers and acquisitions, financing, construction, environmental issues and estate planning. The firm is also focused on getting the Albany office up to speed – and that, Wild reiterated, does not include schmoozing state lawmakers to influence healthcare regulations or other state statutes.

“We’re a law firm,” Wild said. “We’re not looking to lobby. We’re looking to continue to represent our clients associated with healthcare and a number of other issues.”


Harmandip-KullarHarmandip Kullar has been named CFO of ULC Robotics in Hauppauge. Kullar, who has more than 20 years of experience in finance and business management, was most recently CFO for Plures Technologies in Manhattan.




SUNY College at Old Westbury announced three appointments within its division of student affairs:

Omar Estrada Torres was named dean of students, after serving as the associate dean of students at Catholic University in Washington.

Stacey DeFelice is now director of services for students with disabilities. She previously served as the director of the MORE Program at Five Towns College in Dix Hill.

Gareth Shumack, the school’s new director of residential life, previously served as the assistant director of residential life at Adelphi University in Garden City.

associateRebecca Faber has been named an associate in the real estate practice group of Lazer Aptheker Rosella & Yedidin in Melville. Prior to joining Lazer Aptheker, she was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in Manhattan.