While Daniel Banyai’s legal issues in Vermont are dragging as he awaits a ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court on his challenge to an Environmental Court decision, New York’s criminal court could be moving toward a resolution.
Banyai, of West Pawlet, has an Environmental Court ruling against him over failure to obtain permits. He has been ordered to cease using the shooting facility he calls Slate Ridge at 541 Briar Hill Road, pay $46,600 in fines and deconstruct all unpermitted enhancements, which he has said are valued at $1.6 million.
Banyai has challenged that decision in the state Supreme Court where his attorney has argued the town issued a permit only to later rescind it and questioned whether Banyai even needed permits for much of the work he has done.
But that’s in Vermont. In New York, Banyai’s is facing three different criminal charges, the most serious of which is criminal possession of a weapon.
Melissa Pasquale, the assistant district attorney in Dutchess County, said Banyai’s case is still pending, with a conference between attorneys scheduled for Nov. 4 to set a date for trial.
“I would expect [the trial] by December, if not sooner,” Pasquale said.
The court will deal with Banyai’s guilty plea to a charge of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a class D felony in New York.
The plea was part of an agreement that negated another felony for possession of a loaded firearm, a class C armed violent felony, according to court records.
According to his indictment in the Dutchess County Court, Banyai was indicted by a grand jury July 9, 2019. The charge is related to Banyai’s possession of a Beretta PX4 Storm .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun on April 30, 2018 in Hyde Park, New York.
Pasquale said the case has been slowed for a variety of reasons.
She said the pandemic caused a big delay as the courts shut down and then were backed up once trials resumed.
The process was also delayed as Banyai has repeatedly fought to get rid of his public defenders, and finally was given a court-appointed private attorney, his fourth since the process began.
Pasquale said Banyai originally pleaded guilty to one count of the two, and then “made a motion to get his plea back.”
Banyai made allegations about his first attorney and then was also not satisfied with two others.
Pasquale said she couldn’t reconcile that Banyai qualified for a public defender while claiming he has put $1.6 million worth of improvements into his Slate Ridge property in West Pawlet.
“That’s a great question,” Pasquale said.
She said while she has heard about his issues in Vermont, New York is not interested in that situation.
“Through the grapevine, I’ve heard about his Vermont issues,” Pasquale said. “It doesn’t really affect our case here. If we can help in any way, we’d be helpful.”
Banyai is also facing two other criminal cases in New York.
He is facing a charge of aggravated harassment in the second degree after he threatened a dean at Pace University. Banyai lost his New York pistol permit while the case is adjudicated. That trial is still pending.
In another case, Banyai is facing a charge of criminal contempt in the second degree.
Pasquale could not provide information about that case.
A voice message left Oct. 15 on Banyai’s cellphone was not returned.