Details emerge in alleged Schenectady contract killing

Prosecutor says suspect checked on life insurance policy
Investigators examine where police found the body of Charles Dembrosky, 49, dead of a gunshot wound to the head in Schenectady.
Investigators examine where police found the body of Charles Dembrosky, 49, dead of a gunshot wound to the head in Schenectady.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

The city man accused of hiring a hitman to gun down Charles Dembrosky last November spent the days and weeks leading up to the killing making sure the insurance policy on Dembrosky’s life still existed — and contacting the accused hitman by phone, prosecutors say.

Tarchand Lall faces a first-degree murder charge in the Nov. 19 killing of Dembrosky outside his 2436 Campbell Ave. residence. 

Lall, 52, is accused of hiring Delaware ex-con Joevany Luna to kill Dembrosky to collect on a $150,000 life insurance policy. Prosecutors say Lall was facing significant personal financial problems.

In the weeks leading up to Dembrosky’s death, Lall repeatedly inquired of the insurance agent whether the policy remained active, according to prosecutors.

Lall also had “repeated and continued contact” with Luna, prosecutors said. Luna also faces a first-degree murder count.

Peter Willis, of the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, outlined parts of the case at a Thursday bail hearing held a week after Lall’s initial court appearance on the murder count. No media attended. The Gazette received a transcript of the proceedings Tuesday.

“Mr. Lall, the defendant, had a very significant financial motive, he kept tabs on that motive. He had contact with the person that eventually killed Mr. Dembrosky,” Willis told the court, “and I would submit that the case against him is exceedingly strong.”

Lall, through his attorney, asked Judge Matthew Sypniewski to set bail in the case. Lall’s attorney, Adam Parisi, cited Luna’s ties to the area. Sypniewski denied the request and ordered him held.

Lall owns 834 Congress St., has two adult children in Schenectady and works as a contractor. His activities include serving as president of the Schenectady Premier Softball Cricket League.

Lall was born in Guyana, but is a United States citizen and gave up his Guyanese citizenship, Parisi wrote in Lall’s bail application. 

Police spoke with Lall the day after Dembrosky’s murder, Parisi wrote. He again voluntarily met with police May 26, when police arrested him.

Willis, however, called Lall a “very serious flight risk” should he be released pending trial. He has strong ties to New York City and to Guyana, Willis said.

Dembrosky, 49, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head early on the morning of Nov. 19. A passerby called police to report a man’s body outside the home

Willis said investigators have evidence of contact between the two suspects in the weeks leading up to the killing and 10 or 15 minutes afterward.

Luna and associates stopped at Lall’s 834 Congress St. residence about a half-hour to 45 minutes prior to Dembrosky’s death, apparently caught on street cameras. 

Luna and associates then drove to the Bellevue neighborhood, police said. Street cameras captured the car blocks away from Dembrosky’s home. The car then returned briefly to 834 Congress St. and then headed to Interstate 890, Willis said.

Investigators were able to track Luna’s car from Delaware and back the same day as the killing. 

“Calls from Mr. Lall have been reported that evening, throughout that evening, as well as right after the likely time Mr. Dembrosky was killed,” Willis said.

Investigators also tracked money, Willis said. They found a payment to Luna two days before the killing, they believe, for expenses. Willis did not indicate how Lall knew Luna.

Willis told the court that investigators found evidence that indicated Lall was under a “tremendous amount of financial stress.”

His debts, Willis said, likely far exceeded the value of his Congress Street property.

Lall took out the life insurance policy on Dembrosky’s life in May 2016, representing that he wanted to ensure his friend had a proper burial. 

Willis did not detail the connection between Lall and Dembrosky further, but police have said Dembrosky did work for Lall.

Lall paid the premiums, had all of the email sent to an associate’s email address and investigators found a copy of the policy in Lall’s home, Willis said.

“There’s actually no indication from anyone that Mr. Dembrosky even knew the insurance policy had been approved,” Willis said.

After Dembrosky was killed, Willis said, Lall made no move to pay for burial expenses. But, he did meet with the insurance agent two days after Dembrosky was killed to start paperwork on the claim. Dembrosky died on a Saturday.

In an application for a life insurance policy on Dembrosky, Lall gave a false description of his relationship with Dembrosky, Willis said. Lall later admitted to the insurance agent that it wasn’t true, the prosecutor said.

Both Lall and Luna remain in custody without bail. If convicted, they face up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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