Grand jury raises charges in case tied to The Colonial owners
This story contains descriptions of sexual assault. Support for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence from RAINN, or the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network hotline, can be found at 800-656-HOPE. The National Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.
A grand jury charged brothers Yaron and Leor Kweller with rape in the first degree, a more serious felony charge than the one they were given upon arrest.
Rape in the first degree relates to forcible compulsion without someone's consent, said Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak. His office is prosecuting the case.
The indictment is a Class B felony and can result in up to 25 years in jail. Both men were arrested for rape in the third degree, with is a Class E and may result in up to four years in jail.
“The rape in the third degree was basically just without consent at that point in time,” Korchak explained.
The DA said it’s not uncommon for a grand jury to raise the degree of the alleged crimes presented to them.
Yaron Kweller was also charged with one count of a criminal sexual act in the first degree, another Class B felony. Leor Kweller was additionally indicted on one count of sexual abuse in the first degree, a Class D felony that can result in up to seven years jail time.
The prosecution also requested a DNA sample from Leor Kweller.
The DA’s office said all charges relate to an incident that occurred near The Colonial in downtown Binghamton on Nov. 27, 2021.
Both men pleaded not guilty on all charges, as did Jordan Rindgen, the third man arrested in connection to the investigation. Both Rindgen and Yaron Kweller are part of The Colonial’s ownership group, which also oversees Dos Rios Cantina and Stone Fox.
After accusations surfaced late last year, Kweller and Rindgen were removed from the restaurant’s business operations. The group’s remaining partners are “actively exploring” options for their removal.
Rindgen was indicted on eight counts, including two felony charges for the sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.
He was also charged with two counts of criminal facilitation in the fourth degree and unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree, all Class A misdemeanors.
According to the prosecution, all three men must comply with six-month orders of protection in which they cannot contact two victims in the case. The judge presiding over the case may consider extending that order.
The district attorney said he could not share any information about the victims’ identities.
“There are privacy issues involved where I wouldn't want to say anything that could reveal the people involved or anything of that nature,” Korchak said. “Again, all persons are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, as in any criminal case.”
Juda Engelmayer, a spokesperson for the attorneys of all three defendants, said they eagerly await their day in court.
“The story being told is not true. Jordan Rindgen, Yaron Kweller and Leor Kweller are innocent of all charges,” Engelmayer wrote in a statement Thursday.
Their attorneys will meet with the judge next month to determine what needs to be done pre-trial.