BELOW: Exclusive point-counterpoint interview with attorney Jay Abt  and Sneiderman friend Steffi Miller on verdict and sentencing.

SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

Andrea Sneiderman was sentenced to 5 years in prison on Tuesday (Aug. 20) after a jury found her guilty on nine of 13 felony counts linked to the death of her husband, Rusty, by her former boss Hemy Neuman.

Andrea Sneiderman

Andrea Sneiderman

In an emotional trial that captured the attention of Atlanta’s Jewish community last year, Neuman was found guilty of fatally shooting Rusty Sneiderman outside a day care center in Dunwoody.

DeKalb County prosecutors later charged Andrea Sneiderman with murder also, along with multiple counts of perjury and providing false statements to law enforcement. But a few weeks before her trial began in early August, the murder charges were dropped.

Sneiderman spent most of the trial in recent weeks taking notes and focusing on the testimony of witnesses detailing what appeared to be an affair between her and Neuman. But it was a tense and, at times, frightened-looking Sneiderman who listened quietly as the six-man, six-woman panel on Monday (Aug. 19) convicted  her on all but three perjury counts and one count of providing false statements to law enforcement.

One juror, interviewed by a WXIA-TV, said testimony made it clear that Sneiderman had, in fact, been involved with Neuman and that during the course of the investigation into her husband’s death she had lied to authorities.

“The state just did a better job,” another juror, who refused to give his name, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He added that jurors were swayed by Sneiderman’s 2012 testimony during Neuman’s trial and the volume of emails exchanged between her and her former supervisor that seem to indicate the two were romantically involved.

Neuman was sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury found him guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt but mentally ill.” The “mentally ill” designation means that Neuman will receive health treatment in prison.

The case first exploded across the media in November of 2010, when it was learned a young father, dropping one of his sons off at a day care center in the quiet suburban community of  Dunwoody, was shot and killed.

Many in the Jewish community either knew the Sneiderman’s, had children attending the same day care center, or were friends with someone close to the family.

Police reports and court testimony during the Neuman trial detailed the murder, showing that as Sneiderman was returning to his car, a man in a fake beard approached him with a handgun and shot him several times at close range. The assailant then jumped in a silver van with no license plates and fled the scene.

Sneiderman was pronounced dead at the Atlanta Medical Center soon after. He was 36.

During Neuman’s murder trial, prosecutors portrayed him as a man smitten by Andrea Sneiderman. Testimony showed the two often traveled together on business and, according to witnesses, were seen dancing and kissing. For her part, Sneiderman denied having an affair with Neuman.

Testimony also showed that Neuman rented a car around the time Sneiderman was murdered and, wearing a disguise, approached Sneiderman outside the day care center in Dunwoody where Sneiderman was shot.

Dekalb County Judge Gregory Adams, who sentenced Neuman, called the murder “a planned execution.”

The Sneidermans had two young children and several friends said the couple seemed happy. Now Rusty Sneiderman is dead, Andrea Sneiderman is headed for prison and the youngsters are living with Andrea’s parents in Johns Creek.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Attorney Jay Abt; ‘A Fair and Just Verdict’

BY JEFF ZELL / AJT //

Jay Abt has been very involved in the Andrea Sneiderman case as the attorney for Shayna Citron, Sneiderman’s former close friend and a key prosecution witness. Abt believes in Sneiderman’s guilt and spoke with the AJT about the verdict and sentencing in this case.

Atlanta Jewish Times: What did you think of the verdict, guilty on nine of 13 counts?

Jay Abt: I thought it was a fair and just verdict of a well-minded jury that realized that Andrea Sneiderman had committed a very serious crime. At that point, I felt that my client (Shayna Citron) and the community had been vindicated.

AJT: What did you think of the sentencing? Five years concurrent, given credit for time served in house arrest.

Abt: I thought it was very light. I was expecting Ms Sneiderman to get a more significant sentence, given the fact that she hindered a murder investigation, that she perjured herself in a murder trial, and that you know had a material effect on the district attorney office to prosecute. More importantly, I think that, when someone perjures themselves it’s a serious crime because it’s the very bedrock of our judicial system – that people come into court and tell the truth. When we have people that are willing to lie on the stand, it erodes our ability to bring justice.

AJT: What did you think of Andrea’s words at the sentencing hearing?

Abt: I think that she failed to apologize for her bad conduct, that she made excuses and used her children as a shield for the bad conduct, and that she begged for mercy because she wanted to be with her kids. I didn’t hear her once say that she as sorry for what she’d done.

AJT: The sentencing kind of makes me think that the judge believed Andrea Sneiderman, because the prosecution won the case. They asked for 20 years and she got five with credit for time served under house arrest. Does the sentence makes you think that the judge somewhat believed what she was saying?

Abt: No. I think what – and I’m guessing because I don’t have access inside Judge Adams’ mind – but he’s a former juvenile court judge. So he takes issues involving children very, very seriously and I think he felt that those children who had already lost their father didn’t need to have their mother taken away forever also. I think that probably weighed heavily on him and that’s why he gave such a light sentence.

AJT: What did you think about Rusty Sneiderman’s parents not going to the press conference because of the short sentence?

Abt: I think that they’re distraught, and rightfully so. I think that they’re shocked. I think that they have been let down by the judicial system in Georgia almost at every turn. In terms of having visitation of their grandchildren, in terms of pursuing justice for Rusty against Andrea, and they feel let down. I can’t imagine how they feel given that the D.A. dropped the murder charges and that the judge only gave a five year sentence with credit for one year. The reality is that, based on the paroled guidelines in Georgia, Andrea Sneiderman will probably be out of prison in less than a year.

AJT: Did Andrea’s attorneys err by not having her testify?

Abt: Absolutely not. Andrea’s attorneys are some of the finest in the state. They did a tremendous job of getting murder charges dismissed for their client in a nationally profiled case. That is unheard of. Their tremendous victory of having the murder charges dismissed cannot be overlooked and it is a credit to John Petry and J. Tom Morgan that they did such a good job that their client will probably walk out of prison within a year from now.

AJT: Shayna Citron’ss credibility, what does the verdict do for it?

Abt: I think Shayna Citron is a wonderful businesswoman, mother and wife. She wants nothing more than to return to her private life. She knows that she told the truth. She knows that she did right by society, by getting up there and having to admit that Andrea did things that were wrong. It destroyed their friendship. They were best friends.

AJT: Do you think there is any way murder charges would ever be brought against her in the coming years since Double Jeopardy has not attached on those charges, and, with the verdict, do you now think it was a clear mistake to dismiss the murder charges?

Abt: I’ve said before and I’ll say it again that I think it was a mistake that they dismissed the murder charges. I think it should have been left up to a jury. Three separate grand juries indicted Andrea Sneiderman for murder. There was enough evidence to proceed to a jury and possibly prevail. I think that’s what the final trial jury might have done. Clearly this jury thought Andrea was guilty. I think they could have found her guilty of murder and then she would have spent the rest of her life in prison, rather than one year.

AJT: Since Double Jeopardy has not attached is there any way murder charges could be brought against Andrea Sneiderman in the future?

Abt: Extraordinarily unlikely, unless there’s new evidence that gets uncovered, which I would be as shocked as anyone. I highly doubt she will ever be tried for murder.

 

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Insider Steffi Miller; ‘It Was Harsh’

BY JEFF ZELL / AJT //

Steffi Miller has been very involved in the Andrea Sneiderman case as a friend and public supporter of Sneiderman. She has been interviewed by many national and local media outlets concerning the case. Miller believes in Sneiderman’s innocence and spoke with the AJT about the verdict and sentencing.

Atlanta Jewish Times: What did you think of the verdict, guilty on nine of 13 counts?

Steffi Miller: I had the opportunity to speak to one of the jurors as he was leaving, and his take on all this was that they agreed in order to come up with a resolution. So he did say that they argued things over and over again, and what they looked at the most was the Hemy Neuman trial, over and over again.

AJT: What did you think of the sentencing? Five years concurrent, given credit for time served in house arrest.

SM: Frankly, given the way the judge was ruling throughout the trial, I was surprised that he was not harsher. However – since I don’t believe she deserves any of this – it was harsh. My friends and I broke the news to her children last night and if you’d seen Sofia’s face [Andrea’s 7-year-old daughter] glistening with quiet tears, her being inconsolable for some time after that, you would know why I feel that way.

AJT: What did you think of Andrea’s words at the sentencing hearing?

SM: I thought that they were true. Hemmy robbed her of her husband.

AJT: Did Andrea’s attorneys err by not having her testify?

SM: I heard her plea today on a national radio show and not minutes after she stopped speaking, the people who were on TV were blatantly laughing at her, laughing over a mother who has been separated from her husband and now is unfortunately having to remove herself from her children. I can’t understand the kind of hatred or the kind of gloating that I’m seeing.

AJT: Why do you think there’s so much venom for her in the public?

SM: I don’t know, but consider this. The Sneidermans, her in-laws, said that she and Rusty were happy and loving. He, Donald Sneiderman, said that in his testimony. He knew that he was the one that not only knew about but found the money that was in trust for Andrea and her children. Yet when they were vilifying her, when they were maligning her for being a greedy murderer, he didn’t stand up and say, ‘She didn’t know about that money, I found that money.’ It starts with them. Why, if they were a loving couple, if Rusty and Andrea – and they acknowledge that she was a good mother – why would they not back her up. So I think that the fact that they started out this way has inflamed…I mean, obviously there are several attorneys who stand to gain from helping the Snediermans out and they have become very visible on TV networks lately.

AJT: What did you think about Rusty Sneiderman’s parents not going to the press conference because of the short sentence?

SM: I think that the entire posse of corruption that stood behind the DA is probably upset because the longer they can keep an innocent woman down, especially a smart one, the longer they don’t they don’t have to worry about their consciences.

AJT: The sentencing kind of makes me think that the judge believed Andrea, because the prosecution won the case. They asked for 20 years and she got five with credit for time served under house arrest. What do you think about that?

SM: I know she wasn’t guilty. Being in the same city when you’re at a training conference does not mean you’re having an affair with your co-worker. I know she wasn’t guilty and I know the things that they’re accusing her of are ridiculous, given her conservative background, her conservative, Mid-Western goody-goody two shoes background. I know who she is, I know who her parents are. It’s an absolutely ridiculous scenario. This man manipulated her and used her and tried to get in with her. He was absolutely a psychopath and she didn’t recognize it. But not recognizing it and not pointing the finger at him does not a murder make, nor does an accomplice make – nor does it make an her an adulterer.

AJT: One of the things that really worked against Andrea was the testimony of Shayna Citron. What do you think of Shayna Citron’s behavior and testimony during this entire procedure?

SM: Truthfully? I have no words for Shayna Citron. She has gotten all the publicity that she’s wanted and I don’t want to add to her drama 

AJT: Since Double Jeopardy is not attached, is there any way murder charges could be brought against Andrea Sneiderman in the future?

SM: I don’t have a crystal ball, but since the hatred against Andrea has built and built, and the gloating was so outrageous, of Andrea being separated from her children and being taken to jail. I don’t know. I don’t understand this society of judgment. I don’t understand how people who don’t know this tiny woman feel that they can convict her, that they can say things about her that just are not so. The Jury was wrong. And you know, I hate to say that but they’re wrong.