Somangshu Mukherji and Herkimer’s Rogue CPS Workers

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Stephen Ames Berry

In March of 2018, in an outrageous violation of New York law, two rogue Herkimer CPS workers, Sara Riente and Lisa Bates, abused their positions and took a malicious hand in a child custody court battle in another state. They acted so brazenly, so unprofessionally and so illegally under the color of authority that we think this sort of malfeasance has long been tolerated in Herkimer County.  

“Herkimer! Protect My Precious $on!”

In January of this year, we were subjected to false allegations of child abuse by our son-in-law, Somangshu Mukherji, an Indian national, as he tried to gain sole custody of our two-year-old  grandson Avram. Custody of Avram would preclude his having to pay  child support. 

Our daughter fled to our home with our grandson to escape the alleged abuse and neglect of the two of them by Somangshu, a very glib professor of music at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Avram’s not his natural son. According to our daughter’s Ann Arbor MI family court filings, (Case 19-352-DC), in which she alleged spousal abuse and neglect, Somangshu never bought the child clothes or toys, and called him “the little bastard.”   Our daughter alleged Somangshu disposed of everything we ever sent her and Avram, and held her incommunicado, not permitting her to speak to us. Here’s our grandson Avram in our home last January, with his first-ever new clothes and toys:

Somangshu Mukherji son's first toys everHad our grandson remained here with his mother, the good professor might have ended up paying $1,000+ a month in child support until the child was 21. He seems to have done the math, as his feet barely touched the ground on his way to his attorney’s office to file for sole custody. To protect his “son”. 

“Somangshu …reported me to CPS as a pedophile and my wife as dysfunctionally  bipolar…Mukherji’s unrelenting use of the canard “pedophile” makes one wonder about his own childhood.”

Our daughter had barely filed her child support payment application before husband Somangshu reported her and us for child neglect and abuse with New York.  Herkimer Child Protection Worker Sara Riente promptly came to our house and advised us that Somangshu had reported me to CPS as a pedophile and my wife as severely bipolar. Mukherji’s frequent use of the canard “pedophile” make one wonder about his own childhood.

CPS worker Riente then spent fifteen minutes investigating our grandson’s safety, offered no criticism and left. She made one even shorter followup visit a month or so later.

In March, we received letters from from New York Child Welfare exonerating us of our son-in-law’s baseless accusations: “Unfounded” was the official finding.  Yet this was not the end of the matter.  Sara Riente and her colleague Lisa Bates then came to our son-in-law’s Somangshu’s aid in his Michigan custody case, providing him with a document that was as defamatory of our family as it was illegal:

“At this time Avram does not meet the [standards of abuse or neglect]. [However] it does appear that it would be in the child’s best interest to be in the care of the parent who can provide access to regular medical care, a stable and sufficient and living environment and age appropriate supervision and care for a young child. Based on the evidence gathered during this investigation, this Department’s decision would be that [the mother] is not providing the above-mentioned care.”

Herkimer CPS Workers Riente and Bates Go Rogue

Apparently dismayed at finding our grandchild healthy, well-fed, well-clothed and safe with family of whom they seemingly disapproved, Herkimer CPS workers Riente and Bates went rogue, colluding with our son-in-law: at his request, they wrote him an “official”Herkimer County Social Services letter, falsely stating that “it is the opinion of this Department” that our grandchild would be better off with his father. Our daughter only became aware of their poisonous letter when she received a copy of her husband’s public court filing, in which their illegal letter was offered as evidence of our daughter’s unfitness as a mother and of our home as” [not] stable and  [in]sufficient.”

Bogus Herkimer Social Services’ Letter Key Exhibit

In their venomous and illegal letter supporting our daughter’s husband, Herkimer CPS workers Riente and Bates threw aside any pretense of impartiality and professionalism. They miscast their libelous opinions as “the finding of this Department.”

Seemingly not liking the “Unfounded” decision they were required to render under NY law as child protection workers, they magically morphed into Herkimer county workers to express a different “official” finding,  malfeasantly subverting the law they were supposed to uphold. 

Our son-in-law’s attorney cited their letter as key evidence that our daughter was an unfit mother and ours “not a loving home, Your Honor.”  Their treachery  helped allegedly abusive and neglectful “dad” Somangshu Mukherji retain custody of “the little bastard.”

Herkimer CPS Workers’ Riente and Bates Defamatory Letter In Support Of Plaintiff Somangshu Mukhjeri

Somangshu Mukherji sneering
Somangshu Mukherji Sneering

Here’s Riente and Bates’ letter to my son-in-law, Somangshu Mukherji. I’ve redacted just about all the confidential information they malfeasantly  revealed, except for their conclusion on page 2, in which they dispute the lawful conclusion New York law compelled them to reach. They falsely present their scurrilous opinion as an official finding of Herkimer County Social Services. 

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Despite our daughter’s request that the Ann Arbor Family Court disregard the Herkimer CPS’ workers letter as a violation of New York law, the court did not exclude it.

After several court appearances, our daughter lost custody of her son and he was returned to Somangshu Mukherji in Michigan–a process that was yet another instance of Herkimer County employees playing fast and loose with the law.   Mukherji later successfully moved to have the Ann Arbor Family Court strip our daughter of the right it had granted her to visit her son in Michigan, arguing she was danger to the child. The order, crafted by his attorney and hired social worker and rubber stamped by the court, bristles with an array of absurd preconditions which can only be met in Michigan.

Somagnshu Mukherji’s Craftily-Won Green Card
Mukherji Green Card Cropped

Reporting New York Child Protection Workers’ Malfeasance

New York law enforces the right to confidentiality by those investigated by social services workers. It is one of the strongest in the nation. CPS workers Riente and Bates’ letter is a violation  of confidentiality under 18 NYCRR 432.7 and Social Service Law §§422(4)(A) & 427- a(5)(d)], and the New York’s Child Protective Services Manual. It’s a Class A Misdemeanor. The only information that should have been released to the father was whether his complaint was “indicated” or “unfounded”.  Anything beyond that is a breech of confidentiality under New York law. New York has an excellent and concise guide to the procedure.

Filing Complaints About Herkimer CPS Workers’ Illegalities

If we tolerate outrageous and lawless conduct, it will continue.  Complaints about Herkimer Child Protection Workers’ actions should be sent to:

Sara Simon, Director
Syracuse Regional Office
NYS Office of Children and Family 
The Atrium, 100 S. Salina Street, Suite 350
Syracuse, NY 13202

New York Attorney General,  Bureau of Public Integrity

New York Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad St., 19th Fl., New York,
NY 10004. Telephone: 212-607-3300

Sue Them

You can also sue.  In a case like our daughter’s, where the evidence of malfeasance is low-hanging fruit, an attorney might take the case for damages on a contingency fee basis. Herkimer CPS workers are probably not worth suing. New York State is a sovereign entity and can rarely be sued. But Herkimer County can be sued.

This is New York, not Alabama. We have laws to protect us from illegal actions such as those of Herkimer’s rogue CPS workers. Make the law work for you. 

Child protection workers who engage in lawless vendettas against struggling parents and families simply because they disapprove of them should find another vocation. 

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A Herkimer Kidnapping – Somangshu Mukherji and the Herkimer Sheriff

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The author of this work hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain.

Stephen Ames Berry

“A child is not a dog. No matter whose child. It requires more to lawfully take a child than it does a dog. Even in Herkimer.”  Look no further than Herkimer, New York, USA, to see the illegal taking of a child from his family.  On 4/24/19, Herkimer County sheriff’s deputies entered our home and took our two-year-old grandson Avram from his mother. They didn’t have a warrant. They didn’t have a valid court order. They said they had “verbal permission.” 

A Herkimer Kidnapping – In The Tradition of Schindler’s List

It  was kidnapping under the color of law. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. We’ve seen Herkimer Child Protection Workers violate state law as they go the extra mile to denounce parents and families they don’t approve of. And Herkimer long shrugged off poison gas attacks on us, our pets and our home. So why not, also in the tradition of Schindler’s List, an armed, uniformed squad taking a child from his bed? They even wore brown. What made it especially heinous was their acting for an out-of-state foreign national seemingly desperate to avoid paying child support. 

Even In Herkimer A Child Is Not A Dog

It requires more to lawfully take a child than it does a dog. Even in Herkimer. No matter how inconvenient. No matter whose child. New York’s Domestic Relations Law  governs the return of  a child to a parent in another state. It incorporates the provisions of the federal Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The law requires registration of an out-of-state custody order with the local family court, due notice and a hearing. Then the custody order can be legally enforced. It only takes a few days. Apparently too cumbersome for scofflaw Herkimer.

Herkimer Family Court Involvement?

The deputies said they had “verbal authorization” [Video, below: 1:56] from Judge John Brennan of the Herkimer Family Court to take our grandson. If so, Brennan played fast and loose with the law. New York’s family courts are notoriously packed and dysfunctional. Scooping up a kid without a warrant for an out-of-state return and whisking him to the waiting parent avoids further clogging the court calendar with the tedium of due process. Especially when the outcome appears predetermined. In an extrajudicial kidnapping like this–in legalese, “an illegal taking”– speed is of the essence: Not much a parent can do when the kid’s back in the other state. It seems a cynical practice encourage by long success. Had our daughter been known to have an attorney, and lived at a better Herkimer address, the law might have been followed.  

Anonymous Herkimer Sheriff's Officer during extrajudicial kidnapping
4/24/19 “We have verbal authority [to take the child.”] Intentionally anonymous Herkimer Sheriff’s officer during extrajudicial kidnapping. Refused repeated demands to identify himself. WHAT COUNTRY IS THIS? Herkimer, apparently.

“2:41: Nameless sheriff’s officer waves to unidentified woman in unmarked car down the street to approach closer.”

HERKIMER KIDNAPPING – VIDEO
A Herkimer Kidnapping

A Herkimer Kidnapping

Video Timeline 001-1:05 Herkimer County Sheriff’s deputies, accompanied by Herkimer police officer, arrive at our house. (Police here to protect deputies from us.)
1:06-1:14 I foolishly let them in without asking for a warrant or court order. I assumed they were acting lawfully. Never assume this in Herkimer County.
1:15-1:15 One deputy identifies himself as Sgt. George. The other merely says “Herkimer County Sheriff.” (He’s not the sheriff.)
1:20 – 1:55 Sgt. George reads the order to our daughter. It’s quickly apparent it’s a Michigan court order. George states it authorizes them to take our grandson for return to his father in Michigan. It doesn’t. I  object, citing New York law and the procedure necessary to lawfully execute an out-of-state custody order in New York. Sgt. George says they have verbal permission from Herkimer County Family Court to enforce the Michigan court order. I continue to dispute their authority. 2:41 – 2:54 Deputy(?) Nameless tells me to “go argue the order” with Herkimer County Family Court Judge John Brennan if I don’t like it. I point out that I can’t, it’s a Michigan court order. Judge Brennan is a New York judge. He has not issued an order in this matter. Nameless Deputy repeats that they have verbal authority from Judge Brennan to take our grandchild. Seems hostile.
3:14 – 3:20 “Where is the child?” they demand.
3:21 – 3:45 Little Avram taken. Nameless sheriff’s officer waves to unidentified woman in unmarked car down the street to approach closer. She hesitatingly does so.  May know we’d recently reported Herkimer CPS workers Sara Riente and Lisa Bates to NY authorities for malfeasance.
3:46 – 4:36 Avram passed to unidentified woman wearing unviewable badge driving unmarked car. 
4:37 – 4:56 Grandma gives kindly Herkimer Police Officer Holt clothes and shoes for shoeless Avram, who takes them to the sheriff’s deputies.
End: Unknown woman in unmarked car makes good her escape with our grandson. 

“Sometime after regaining our grandson, Mukherji surreptitiously placed him with a couple in Providence, Rhode Island and got on with his life back in Ann Arbor.”

A Herkimer Kidnapping Finale

A gloating email later that evening from Mukherji to our daughter saying he was at a Herkimer motel and that Avram had been returned to him. He’s refused all attempts at contact by our daughter.

Sometime after regaining our grandson, Mukherji surreptitiously placed him with a couple in Providence, Rhode Island and got on with his life back in Ann Arbor. Neither we nor our daughter have been allowed to see our grandson or speak with him since he was taken. 

A Herkimer Kidnapping – Backstory

In late January 2018, our daughter escaped with our grandson from her allegedly abusive and neglectful husband, Somangshu Mukherji, an Indian national. As she attests in her custody case court filings, he’d allowed her no contact with us for years and kept her in almost complete social and physical isolation.  Mukherji’s a nontenured assistant professor of Music at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He’s not the child’s birth father. Our daughter alleges in her custody case filings that Mukherji signed Avram’s birth certificate to enhance his status with US Immigration. 

The trigger for our daughter’s flight to Herkimer was Mukherji’s announcing the three of them were going on a trip with him to Turkey, along with his equally abusive mother. The US State Department advises against travel to Turkey: “terrorism, kidnappings and arbitrary detentions.” Anything could happen, especially to a toddler. Sounded like it might be a one-way trip for the “son” our daughter alleges Somangshu calls “the little bastard.” Somangshu’s vigilance slipped for a moment and our daughter and grandchild bolted for here. Penniless, she took a cab across several states, paying with the Uber account Somangshu kept on her phone for his convenience. 

Somangshu Mukherji – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Somangshu Mukherji raiding
Somangshu Mukherji sneering at me as he trespasses on our porch.

Somangshu Mukherji’s Green Card and his well-paid professorship were made possible by his marriage to our severely bipolar American-born daughter.

And we took a hand, too, having earlier and foolishly helped him stay in the US. In 2003, we sponsored Mukherji after Harvard dropped their sponsorship of him as  grad student, alleging “academic dishonesty,” according to our daughter’s court filings. (Mukherji had earlier been a research assistant to Harvard evolutionary biologist Marc Hauser, who was found guilty of scientific misconduct and served a sentence on federal charges.)

At our daughter’s pleading, we posted a $40k bond for Mukherji with the U.S. Department of State so that he could remain in the US. (17% of our total assets at the time.)  Mukherji’s repaid us by allegedly exploiting and abusing our daughter, misusing his medical guardianship of her and denying our grandchild clothes, shoes and toys. “Never a dime,” alleges our daughter in her Ann Arbor MI Family Court custody defense filings. (Case 19-352-DC )

“Professor Mukherji argued that his wife was psychotic and a threat to his son. He offered as one proof of her insanity the fact that she had left him.”

Somangshu Mukherji in Pursuit

Upon their arrival at our home, I texted Mukherji that his missing wife and her two-year old son were safe with us in Herkimer. No reply, but his feet must not have touched the ground as he raced to his attorney’s office to file for sole custody of the son he’d always allegedly neglected—the son of his wife and another man–and for the child’s immediate return to him in Ann Arbor. Doing the math he may have suddenly realized his love for the boy and wanted him back: child support would cost him over $1,000 a month.

After a long court battle in Ann Arbor, Somangshu Mukherji was awarded sole custody. (He had a lawyer, our daughter didn’t. Ann Arbor Legal Aid, which is partially supported by U. Mich Law School, wouldn’t represent her.) My summary of his lengthy case and filings: Professor Mukherji argued that his wife was psychotic and a threat to his son. He offered as one proof of her insanity the fact that she had left him.

Here’s our daughter’s Michigan court filings in the case. It’s the sad and probably all too common tale of how an unscrupulous foreign national can exploit a mentally ill American to jump the Green Card queue and secure a good job.  And then escaped unscathed by taking advantage of America’s patchwork of child custody laws and fragmented family court structure. 

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Somangshu Mukherji Schmoozes the Sheriff

Mukherji apparently established a cordial relationship with Herkimer  County Sheriff’s personnel during his 4/11/19 trip to Herkimer, likely through then Herkimer Undersheriff Scott Scherer. His Michigan court approved visitation of that date seemed to me a transparent attempt to nab our grandson on the cheap. He may have convinced the sheriff’s staff that his “son” was in grave danger from the psychotic mother, loony grandmother and pedophile grandfather. (From his slanderous Child Protection reports, since dismissed.)  The day before the kidnapping, Mukherji won sole custody of Avram in an Ann Arbor court.  Victorious at last, he immediately flew to Herkimer to take possession.

Michigan court order in hand, Somangshu was but one step from obtaining a lawful custody order, one issued by a New York court, which the Herkimer county sheriff could legally enforce. He needed only to register his Michigan order with the Herkimer Family Court, which could, after a hearing for all parties, issue a New York order mandating the return of the child to Michigan, all  required by New York law. Of course, it would have cost Mukherji more money. Instead, Herkimer County cut him a break him by skipping past New York law and sending its deputies right over to take Avram from his nap. I’ve known Somangshu since 2003–he can be very charming when he wants something.

Preventing A Herkimer Kidnapping: “Get A Warrant”

I suspect the  Herkimer Family Court and the Herkimer County Sheriff get away with this all the time, possibly by saying that the parent voluntarily consented to accept service of the out-of-state custody order. As the video of this illegal taking shows, our daughter did not do that. The Herkimer sheriff’s officers presented her with the Michigan court order, which without a New York order had all the validity of a Post-It-Note. I contested their authority and cited the UCCJEA and applicable New York law. They didn’t care. Told me to “get a lawyer.” [video-2:41] “We will now take the child” said they. And they did. This extrajudicial kidnapping spared Professor Mukherji the bother and expense of obtaining a legal New York custody order.

What country is this?

Avram Mukherji's first toys everReporting Malfeasance by New York Public Officers 

New York Attorney General, Bureau of Public Integrity

Reporting Civil Rights Violations in New York

New York Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
125 Broad St., 19th Fl.
New York,  NY 10004.
Telephone: 212-607-3300

“Unlawful discrimination that reflects a policy or practice of discrimination:”
The Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office

Is a judge involved? Allegedly involved?

New York – Reporting Judicial Misconduct

New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct Corning Tower, Suite 2301 Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12223 If you videoed the incident, as we did in A Herkimer Kidnapping, either upload it to the agencies or send it in with your complaint on a thumb-drive.  Publish it on social media. It’s New York.  It’s your right. Use it or lose it.

How to Report Immigration Marriage Fraud

Anti-Copyright Notice

The author of this work hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and
moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, distorted or destroyed in any manner whatsoever without further attribution or notice to the creator.

Herkimer Malicious Trespassing – More Ball Games [VIDEOS]

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Herkimer Malicious Trespassing
In Herkimer, group vandalism helps build team spirit and fill pockets.


Herkimer, Where Criminal Trespass is a Team Sport

Just when you thought it was safe to go out in your driveway again, the team sport of Herkimer malicious trespassing takes the field again.
If you read my previous post about The Ball, you’ll know that earlier this summer my neighbors called the police on me when I refused to return a ball deliberately kicked at me with great precision from across the street. It was kicked by a beefy teen, striking me on the back of my legs.
The responding Herkimer Village Police Officer, the pseudonymous Officer Heist, threatened to arrest me for Petit Larceny, duped by this very old scam. He accused me of intending to steal the worthless ball used to assault me, the one I’d already tossed into the neighborhood’s adjacent playing area. It was outrageous!

Ball Harassment Continues
Malicious trespassing in Herkimer is  a popular team sport. The innocent children whose ball the Herkimer Police leaped to defend have taken to vandalizing our car under the pretext of retrieving their (new) ball. The ball rolls into our driveway frequently, although the street is perpendicular to the driveway. A baller retrieves the ball, off camera. During his or her stay, our car is scratched or sprayed with acid. Repeat. Repeat. Obviously it’s at their parents’ instigation. These kids are probably paid in cash or drugs. The State Police appear to have clamped down on their parents following their abusive mob interaction with us in the street. (Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue is a quietly sanctioned haven of drug trafficking, its workers flush with drug money.  There are signs that things far more heinous go on here, also involving children. )
I ordered one girl from my driveway the other day, telling her she was trespassing and not to return. She screamed “Don’t you ever talk to me that way!” As you’ll note from the video clip of her departure, she was quite indignant and circled her hand about her head, indicating that any defiance to her outrageous behavior was insane.  Politeness and respect are obviously strangers in her family. Sadly there is an arrogant expectation that my home is a public way to be used however and whenever my neighbors see fit.
Additional cameras have been brought on line. More are coming. We live as I did in Cote D’Ivoire West Africa, where each home’s a fortress, and anarchy prevails.

What I’ve Learned from Herkimer’s Officer Heist and the Pleasant Avenue Ball Harassment
Shrugging our shoulders in helplessness because, Hey! It’s just Pleasant Avenue, ill-serves us all. There are two underlying problems here. The most important is attitude. As a community, we must provide basic services, or we’re not a community. If we can’t do this alone, we have to ask for help. To be a successful community rather than one in name only, we have to change to an “I think I can and I will try” attitude. Too often when problems are discussed here, even the best of Herkimer’s people sigh, shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s Herkimer.” (At some point, perhaps the citizens of Gomorrah probably did the same.)

Herkimer is crime-ridden and  plagued by poverty. Many of the children on our street are very intelligent, but they are not engaging intellectually – their education is pathetically inadequate. Some are reading grade levels below what they should.  It’s obvious the school system treats them as pariahs and tracks them as such. At least one middle school student didn’t know what the Atlantic Ocean is. One doesn’t know what an ocean is. A very bright and likable neighboring 9th grader  is periodically made campfires from his homework assignments.  He correctly determined that Herkimer considers him social junk that his school’s job is keep him off the streets during the day. Like many kids in Herkimer, he’s filled with rage and hopelessness.

We can do better than this, Herkimer. If not now, when?

Linda Kaidan