EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT
 
CLARE J. DEGNAN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

BIO

For 25 years, Ms. Degnan has served WLAS as Associate Counsel, Senior Associate Counsel, Deputy Bureau Chief, Mount Vernon Bureau Chief, Deputy Chief Counsel of Local Courts, and Acting Executive Director. In July 2015, Ms. Degnan was appointed as the first female Executive Director in WLAS’s history. She is a member of the NYS Bar Criminal Justice Section as Co-chair of the Towns, Villages, and Justice Courts Sub-committee. She is also a member of the Wrongful Convictions Sub-committee of the NYS Bar Association. Under her leadership, WLAS was awarded Offices of Indigent Legal Services grants to fund and develop the Regional Immigration Assistance Center and the Assigned Counsel Resource Center. As a member of the newly formed Chief Defender’s Association of New York, Ms. Degnan is participating in the state-wide effort to develop uniform best practices for mandated representation.

DAVID B. WEISFUSE

CHIEF COUNSEL

BIO

David has been with the Society since 1974. His experience has included handling all aspects of criminal cases from inception through appeal. He received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, and his J.D. from Syracuse University. David is admitted to practice law in New York and before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals (Second Circuit), and U.S. District Court (E.D.N.Y. and S.D.N.Y.). He is the author of the article: Motion Practice in the Appellate Courts - Criminal Appeals, New York Appellate Practice, Volume 1, C43-68, NYSBA CLE Fall 2005. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law, Fourth Edition.

KAREN R. NEEDLEMAN

CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE ASSIGNED COUNSEL PLAN OF WESTCHESTER COUNTY

BIO

Karen joined the Society in 1984 and has worked in every facet of the organization. She is a member of the New York State Defenders Association, the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Westchester County Bar Association. She presently serves on the Assigned Counsel Standards Committee for the Office of Indigent Legal Services in Albany.

LEGAL STAFF
 
DARRYL ALBERT

 

BIO

Originally from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a US Navy Veteran who has been stationed in Fallujah, Iraq where he realized that he wanted to positively impact and serve his community by attending law school. He is a 2012 graduate from CUNY Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar the same year. He joined the Society in 2014.

ROBIN J. BAUER

BIO

Robin Graduated with a BA in history from SUNY Binghamton in 1974, and graduated American University Law School in 1977,magna cum laude. She worked three years as a staff attorney for the Office of Court Administration, Ninth Judicial District Grievance Committee, before joining the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County in 1980 where she has been employed for the past 35 years. She has handled numerous trial cases and argued appeals before the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals. She currently serves on the board of Pre-Trial Services of Westchester as President and was an integral part of setting up the Mental Health Court in Westchester County.

ANNE BIANCHI

BIO

Anne Graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1980 with a BA in English Literature. She subsequently earned her JD degree from Antioch Law School in 1983. Anne is admitted to practice in Washington, DC and New York. After a brief stint working in antitrust law, Anne joined the Society in 1985. Anne is an experienced trial attorney who has also successfully argued before the New York Court of Appeals.

YVONNE BORKOWSKI

BIO

Yvonne joined the Society in 1986. She has been a panelist and presenter for Continuing Legal Education programs sponsored by the Westchester County Bar Association and the New York State Defenders Association on the topic of domestic violence. Yvonne earned her J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While in law school, she participated in a family law clinic and interned at the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. She is currently an appointed member of the Westchester County Domestic Violence Advisory Council.

DEBRA CASSIDY

BIO

After graduating from Albany Law School in 1988, Debra worked in the Bronx Family Court prosecuting child abuse and child neglect cases. It was while working there, that she became interested in defense work. She joined the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County in 1990. She has spent the majority of her career representing people in Yonkers City Court and handling the cases that originated there. She has negotiated favorable dispositions, and she has tried cases to verdict.

DINA DENLEA

BIO

Dina graduated magna cum laude from Boston College and received her JD degree from Vermont Law School. She joined the Society in 1983 and has since served in various leadership roles including Chief of the Trial Bureau. In addition to her duties at the Society, Dina has advocated for the indigent in educational and community settings.

ALLAN FOCARILE
FIRST SENIOR TRIAL COUNSEL

BIO

Allan received his BA from the City University of New York in 1971 and his JD in 1974 from the John Marshal Law School in Chicago, Illinois. In 1975 he was admitted to practice both in Illinois and in New York where he began his career with the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County. In 1978 he was a recipient of the Society’s Gideon award and entered private practice. He returned to the Society in 1982 where he remains today as First Senior Trial Counsel, having tried serious felony and homicide cases for nearly forty years.

SALVATORE A. GAETANI

SR., CHIEF OF APPEALS

BIO

Salvatore is a 1979 magna cum laude graduate from St. John’s University. Mr. Gaetani graduated Pace Law School in 1982 and began his career at the Society in 1983. Mr. Gaetani has extensive trial experience and his current focus is on appellate litigation, including arguments before the New York State Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

THERESA GUGLIOTTA

 

BIO

Theresa is a Senior Attorney in the Criminal Division. She has been with the Westchester Legal Aid Society since 1986 and has worked in all the Westchester Local Courts and the County Court. She has prepared and handled numerous felony trial cases over the years. She earned a BA from George Washington University and a JD from Jacob Fuchsberg School of Law.

ELIZABETH A. HUME

BIO

Elizabeth graduated from Fordham Law School in 2008. While at Fordham, she was a member of the International Law Journal, served in the International Justice Clinic, and received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award. She graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the College of the Holy Cross, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Russian.

JOANNA I. KARLITZ

BIO

Joanna graduated magna cum laude from Pace University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Following graduation, she worked as an associate in an Insurance Defense Law Firm, where she practiced cyber and employment law. While in law school, Joanna participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic, representing clients in the Bronx Criminal Court. She also served as an intern in the U.S. District Court, Southern District. Joanna holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Muhlenberg College.

HARVEY LOEB

Deputy Chief Counsel/Chief of Major Crimes

BIO

Harvey has been with the Society since 1983. Harvey has tried numerous felony cases including several homicides and some of the highest profile cases the Society has handled. Harvey previously was an attorney for the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Games. He graduated from Vermont Law School and received his B.A. from SUNY/Buffalo.

MARYPAT LONG

BIO

Mary originally started her career in criminal law as a member of the Westchester County District Attorney’s office. She joined the society in 1989. She is a graduate of St. Johns University School of Law.

ADA D. MEDINA

BIO

Ada received her JD from Northeastern University School of Law in 2002. As part of her law school curriculum, Ada interned with the Office of the Appellate Defender in NYC where she argued appeals before the Appellate Division, 1st Department. Ada joined the Society in September 2002. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University with a BS in Political Science and minors in History, Business Administration and Latino, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Ada is also bilingual in Spanish.

VANESSA MELLY

BIO

Vanessa graduated from Hofstra University School of Law. While in law school, Venessa participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic. Venessa holds a B.A. in Sociology from Fordham University and is fluent in Spanish.

MEGHAN STELZER

BIO

Meghan received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law in 2009.  During her time at Syracuse, she was awarded the Overall Best Trial Advocate Award by the New York State Bar Association and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy.  She previously worked for six years as an Assistant District Attorney for the Orange County (NY) District Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted countless misdemeanor and felony cases. She has extensive litigation experience on both the misdemeanor and felony level.

SHERALYN PULVER

BIO

Sheralyn graduated from Syracuse University College of Law and following a stint in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, joined the Society in 1986. Sheralyn serves on the Board of Directors of the Youth Shelter of Westchester, an alternative to incarceration program for young men and she speaks about and advocates for the need to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York. She has also been an adjunct faculty member of the School of Criminal Justice of Monroe College and has collaborated with the Pace Criminal Justice Institute to develop programs of interest to law students and lawyers involved in public service.

DAVID L. RICH

BIO

David graduated from Texas A&M University in 1978 with a BA in drama. He subsequently earned a dual JD/MBA degree from Pace University School of Law and Graduate School of Business. Dave was a solo practitioner specializing in criminal defense for twenty years. He joined the Society as a Senior Trial Lawyer in 2012.

REBECCA SCHENK

DEPUTY CHIEF COUNSEL OF ATTORNEY TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

BIO

Rebecca is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she was the first woman elected as president of the Student Body. She then graduated from Boston University Law School. She commenced her career of trying felony cases in a special law student program, which career continued for 39 years after graduation.

NETIKKA D. SEWARD

BIO

Netikka started as a legal extern at the Society during the Fall of 1998, while she was in law school and became a full time staff member in 1999. She received her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Criminology from Hampton University in 1995. While at Hampton, she interned at the Hampton Commonwealth Attorney's Office as a Victim Resource Counselor. During the summer months of her college years she interned with several County and Supreme Court Judges in Westchester County, New York. She received her JD in 1999 from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School where she was a member of Who's Who American Law Students, The Criminal Law Society, the Black Law Students Association and the Public Interest Law Society. She is licensed to practice law in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New York and the Supreme Court of the United States.

LYNETTE V. SPAULDING

BIO

Lynette graduated from Syracuse University School of Law with a JD. She started working at the Society right after graduating Law School and has been employed at the Society ever since.

NICHOLAS SPERANZA

BIO

Nicholas graduated magna cum laude from the Honors Program at Iona College, receiving his B.A. in Political Science and his minor in Pre-Law. He received his J.D. from Pace University School of Law. During law school, Nicholas clerked at the Corporate Counsel’s Office of the City of Yonkers, gaining hands on experience in all areas of litigation and trial. Nicholas also spent one year as a high school criminal law teacher for the Yonkers Board of Education. He joined the Society in 2005 as Associate Counsel.

 
SOCIAL WORKERS
KRISTEL RATAS

BIO

Kristel graduated from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in 2008. She joined the Society first as a social work intern in 2006, and became a full time employee in 2008. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from SUNY Purchase College and has worked at Four Winds Hospital in Katonah, NY as a member of a multidisciplinary team. She is fluent in Estonian.

AMANDA WESTFALL

BIO

Amanda earned her M.S.W. from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work in 2012. During her time there, she interned as a psychiatric social worker at New York Presbyterian Hospital and at the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County. Since earning M.S.W. Amanda has worked at the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County as a Forensic Social Worker. Prior to attending New York University, Amanda earned her BS in Criminal Justice, majoring in Forensic Psychology from Kaplan University in 2007. Additionally, Amanda is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and in 2013 she earned a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee Certification.

YAIRELIS BURGOS

BIO

Yairelis earned her MSW from the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work.  During her studies, Yairelis interned with USC Telehealth where she specialized in providing psychotherapeutic services virtually to varying populations. 

Prior to earning her MSW, she served 8 years in the Army and has been mobilized twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (2011-2013).  During this time, she was able to achieve her BS in Justice Studies from Grand Canyon University.