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Shenkman unlikely to be freed in near future

By Karen Florin

Publication: The Day

Published July 16. 2009 4:00AM
cloe poisson, the hartford courant/ap
Richard Shenkman, right, stands beside his attorney, Hugh Keefe, as he is arraigned at Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday. Keefe said Wednesday that there are no immediate plans to post bond for Shenkman, who is accused of kidnapping his ex-wife, holding her hostage and burning down their South Windsor home last week.
Attorney: $12.5M bond will not be posted 'at present'

The New London state's attorney has filed a motion to revoke Richard Shenkman's bonds in his arson and domestic violence cases, while Shenkman's lawyer said there are no immediate plans to post the $12.5 million bond that is holding his client in jail on kidnapping and other charges.

Defense attorney Hugh F. Keefe said Wednesday that there would be no attempt "at present" to post the bonds. He said he is not at liberty to further discuss the bail, but confirmed that he would be meeting Wednesday night with Miami attorney Joel Hirschhorn, who represents Shenkman's brother, Mark Shenkman. The brother, a wealthy businessman, has been financing Shenkman's legal proceedings.

Nancy P. Tyler said she is terrified for her safety and the safety of her children if her ex-husband makes bond.

"I have worked in the system my whole life," the Hartford attorney said. "I have faith in the system and I hope it doesn't fail me now."

Shenkman posted a $550,000 bond when he was charged two years ago with burning down Tyler's home in Crescent Beach, Niantic. He has posted more than $100,000 in additional bonds in criminal cases involving the couple's divorce.

Shenkman is being held at MacDougall-Walker state prison on charges he held Tyler hostage for 12 hours after kidnapping her at gunpoint in a Hartford parking garage last week. Tyler said he took her to his South Windsor house, told her the house was wired with explosives and tormented her throughout the day. Shortly after she escaped from the house by unscrewing a bolt that attached her cuffed hand to a wall, the house caught fire. Shenkman surrendered later that night and the house burned to the ground.

New London state's attorney Michael L. Regan has filed a motion to revoke Shenkman's bonds in his New London County-based arson and domestic violence cases in light of the new charges Shenkman faces. If it is not possible to revoke the bond, Regan is asking Judge Susan B. Handy that it be increased.

Shenkman will appear in court in New London on Tuesday on Regan's motion.

"He violated the conditions of his release," Regan said Wednesday. Among those conditions were the requirements that Shenkman have no contact with Tyler and that he obey all laws.

Regan has filed several motions for bond increases over the past couple of years. Judge Handy has increased the bond, though she remarked at one hearing that it would be "academic" since Shenkman continually made bail.

Defendants are entitled to "reasonable bail" under state and federal law. In setting bond amounts, judges assess several variables, including whether the person is a flight risk, has a criminal history or poses a threat to public safety. Bond is not intended to be punitive, but rather to assure that the person shows up for his or her court appearances.

To post the $12.5 million bond, Shenkman would likely have to come up with more than $1 million in cash or offer valuable property as collateral.

Following Shenkman's court appearance Tuesday in Hartford, Judge David Gold issued new protective orders that prohibit Shenkman from having any contact with Tyler. Shenkman's next appearance in Hartford is scheduled for Wednesday.

Hirschhorn, the Miami attorney, said in a cell phone conversation from Florida Wednesday that he was on his way to the airport and would be meeting with Keefe over dinner. Hirschhorn said he is a University of Connecticut graduate and has known the Shenkman family for years. Mark Shenkman, president and founder of a multibillion-dollar investment firm, Shenkman Capital Management, is a University of Connecticut benefactor and a source of funding for the university's Shenkman Training Center. He has not returned several phone calls from The Day.

Hirschhorn said he followed last week's events and is concerned for the Shenkman family.

"Mark was my fraternal little brother," he said. "I knew Richard when he was a kid, in his teens, and I'm very fond of Mark's parents, who are elderly and very troubled by this."

Hirschhorn said he could not comment on the bail issue. "I'm really not in a position to answer this question except to tell you that Richard Shenkman will be appropriately represented. And frankly, who pays for it is not anyone's business," he said.

Hirschhorn said anyone who thinks Shenkman is a sociopath is wrong. Shenkman is psychiatrically disturbed, he said.

"The story really is about a troubled, clearly spectacularly disturbed person," he said.

Tyler, who finds herself in possession of two properties that have burned to the ground, said Keefe's office informed her Wednesday that the cleanup of the South Windsor site would be held up in case investigators wanted to examine the rubble.

Tyler learned last week that Shenkman had allowed the property's insurance coverage to lapse. Rebuilding the Niantic site also been delayed because of insurance issues.

k.florin@theday.com

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