May 28, 2002
Morris Lindenbaum made a good first impression eight years ago at a Port Jefferson, N.Y., singles club, his former wife said. He was kind. He seemed honest. And when she asked him whether he was HIV-positive, he insisted he was not. "He lied and said he was negative," said the woman, 64, now of Florida, who is HIV-positive and asked not to be identified. "He knew he was positive in 1988." Lindenbaum, 49, of Glen Head, finally admitted last week in a Riverhead courtroom to having unprotected sex with his then-wife at a time that he knew he was infected with HIV when he pleaded guilty to attempted reckless endangerment for knowingly infecting her with the virus. As part of a plea deal, Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson will sentence him to 5 years probation, said Bob Clifford, spokesperson for the Suffolk County district attorney's office.
Lindenbaum was originally charged with assault, but Clifford said that knowingly infecting someone with a fatal disease does not rise to the level of an assault charge as the law is currently written. He said District Attorney Thomas Spota has asked the legislature to change that. "The district attorney would like to see a statute that would establish penalties commensurate with a violent felony," Clifford said.
His ex-wife, who has a civil suit pending against him, said she was disappointed he won't serve time in jail, but was otherwise satisfied with the deal. She credited Assistant District Attorney Ming Liu Parson with getting Lindenbaum to admit his actions. Though the woman said her health is relatively good now, it has been a struggle to keep the infection in check. She said she married Lindenbaum in 1996, two years after they met, and began to get sick shortly afterward. The following year, she found out he was HIV-positive. Until he pleaded guilty, she said Lindenbaum never told her the truth about his condition.