Poughkeepsie Journal
August 29, 2005

Shooting victim, widow seek convict's cash

By Larry Fisher-Hertz

On April 16, 1981, New York City police officers John Scarangella and Richard Rainey spotted a van in the St. Albans section of Queens they suspected was being used by a burglar in the neighborhood.

Minutes after the officers pulled the van over, Scarangella and Rainey lay inside their patrol car, critically wounded. The two men in the van had opened fire with automatic weapons.

Scarangella died 15 days after the shooting. Rainey was forced to retire from the police department, permanently disabled by the eight bullet wounds he sustained.

On May 1, 2006 -- 25 years to the day after Scarangella's death -- Rainey will be in a Dutchess County courtroom, facing a Green Haven Correctional Facility inmate convicted of taking part in the shooting.

The inmate, Anthony LaBorde -- who has since changed his name to Abdul Majid -- is the respondent in a civil suit filed by Rainey and Scarangella's widow, Vivian, under the state's so-called ''Son of Sam'' Law. Majid is serving a sentence of 33 years to life in prison for the shootings.

The ''Son of Sam'' law, named after serial killer David Berkowitz, provides that ''all funds from any source received by a person convicted of a crime'' may be recovered by crime victims. The law was enacted in 1979 after Berkowitz was reportedly seeking payments for a book and movie about his crimes.

In next spring's trial before state Supreme Court Judge James Brands, a jury must decide whether Rainey and Scarangella's widow are entitled to a $15,000 judgment Majid recently obtained in a civil rights suit against the state Department of Correctional Services.

Majid, who was reputedly a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army when the shooting took place, was brought to the Dutchess County Courthouse in Poughkeepsie under heavy guard Aug. 4 for a pretrial conference with Brands and New York City attorney Gregory Longworth, who is representing the Rainey and Scarangella families.

According to a transcript of that meeting, Longworth said he was seeking $15 million in damages, starting with the $15,000 Majid obtained in his federal lawsuit.

''That money right now is seized in his inmate account at Green Haven,'' Longworth told the judge. ''Certainly, we'd like to attach that as part of the judgment, and any lottery proceedings if he were to win a lottery and/or inheritance, certainly we would like to attach that, your Honor.''

During the same proceeding, Majid told Brands he plans to convince the jury he had not taken part in the shooting.

''I would contest any allegations that are being made,'' he said.

Longworth said he would not be required to prove Majid's guilt during the civil trial.

''He's a cowardly assassin who has already been found guilty,'' the attorney said. ''He's serving his criminal penalty, and now we are proceeding to the civil penalty.''

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said he was grateful the Rainey and Scarangella families were finally approaching their day in court.

''The cold-blooded murder of a police officer deprives a family of a husband, father and frequently the family's primary breadwinner,'' Lynch said recently. ''Seeking financial restitution from cop killers is a morally just and legally appropriate. The New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association will seek legal judgments from cop killers whenever possible to offer financial relief to the families of murdered police officers.''

Larry Fisher-Hertz can be reached at lhertz@poughkeepsiejournal.com