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Top Stories of 2011: Scarsdale Grad Gets Life Term

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – A Scarsdale High School graduate accused of kidnapping and murder in connection with a 2009 drug deal in Connecticut was found guilty and sentenced in November to life in prison.

Andrew Zayac was a standout soccer player at Scarsdale High School before graduating in 1998. He was arrested in 2009 along with Heriberto Gonzalez, 31, of the Bronx, for killing another Bronx man, Edward Rivera, during a robbery of $150,000 worth of marijuana.

While Gonzalez received 10 years in prison for his part in the crime, Zayac was hit with a mandatory life sentence after being found guilty of murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Here is how The Daily Scarsdale reported the story:

Andrew Zayac, 31, of Scarsdale, was sentenced Monday to life in federal prison for the Feb. 2009 robbery, kidnapping and murder of Edward Rivera, 37, of the Bronx, N.Y.

"Justice has been served by this sentence, and I want to commend the members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Danbury Police Department and United States Marshals Service who expertly investigated this matter," said U.S. Attorney for Connecticut David B. Fein, who announced the sentence.

Zayac, a 1998 Scarsdale High School graduate, was sentenced by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport.

On Nov. 3, Zayac's associate, Heriberto Gonzalez, 31, of the Bronx, was sentenced to 10 years for his part in the crimes.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, in early 2009, Zayac negotiated the purchase of 68 pounds of marijuana from Edward Rivera and the two arranged to meet on Feb. 8 to complete the transaction. On that date, prosecutors said Zayac kidnapped Rivera from the Bronx, intending to rob him of the marijuana but during the course of the kidnapping and robbery, Rivera was shot twice and died. Zayac and Gonzalez then dumped Rivera's body in Danbury, Conn., drove back to the Bronx and burned Zayac's car, according to prosecutors.

Investigators reportedly used a search warrant at Zayac's residence in Feb. 2009, and seized approximately 61 pounds of marijuana, resulting in Zayac's arrest.

On July 22, 2011, a federal jury found Zayac guilty of one count of kidnapping resulting in death, one count of murder during the commission of a robbery, one count of interference with commerce through the use of violence, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of conspiracy to use or possess a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence and a narcotics trafficking offense, three counts of destruction/concealment of evidence, and one count of conspiracy to destroy/conceal evidence. The jury found Zayac not guilty of one count of premeditated murder.

On June 21, 2011, after a separate trial, a jury found Gonzalez guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, three counts of destruction/concealment of evidence, and one count of conspiracy to destroy/conceal evidence.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J. Gustafson and Brian P. Leaming.

Tomorrow, The Daily Scarsdale looks back at Scarsdale's reaction to the passage of a state tax levy cap and the resignation of Scarsdale High School's longtime principal.

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