Sentencing for former New Hartford psychiatrist delayed
By Jolene Cleaver
April 11, 2019

Psychiatrist Surendra Johri

Psychiatrist Surendra Johri

UTICA — Sentencing for a former New Hartford psychiatrist convicted of sexual abuse charges has been delayed as his attorney plans to file motions in Utica City Court for a potential appeal.

Surendra Johri, 61, was found guilty in February on three of six sexual misconduct charges after a bench trial. His attorney, Christopher Pelli, moved Thursday to file a 330 motion, which is generally used to argue for the court to set aside a verdict if the defense feels that aspects of the case — such as new evidence — might lead to the verdict’s reversal following a successful appeal.

During Thursday’s court appearance, Pelli said Johri retained a Syracuse appeals attorney. He later declined to discuss what he plans to argue with the motion paperwork, which will be filed April 29.

Once the motion paperwork is filed, a decision is expected by mid-May.

The claims against Johri during his trial centered on forcible touching and sexual abuse related to an April 15, 2017, incident involving a former patient, and a second count of sexual abuse related to a Nov. 11, 2017, incident involving a second patient. The incidents occurred during psychiatric patient sessions at Community Health and Behavioral Services in Utica, where Johri once practiced.

Most recently, Johri was ordered in late March by the state to surrender his medical license to the state Board for Professional Medical Conduct.

The court Thursday also considered whether Johri, who has family in India, could be considered a flight risk.

Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Maria Murad Blais suggested an ankle monitoring bracelet. She believes Johri losing his job and his privilege to practice medicine in New York could be reasons to flee, she said.

Blas said that given his convictions, per state sentencing guidelines, Johri could face up to a year in jail. Pelli, however, said Johri’s sentencing recommendation does not include jail time.

“This defendant has been coming back and forth to court for a year,” Pelli said, arguing that further restrictions are not necessary.

After the back and forth, City Court Judge Christopher Giruzzi ordered Johri to surrender his passport and placed the defendant on county release under supervision, meaning a member of the probation department will keep tabs on Johri.