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Syracuse doctor who chaired federation campaign charged in wife’s murder

NEW YORK (JTA) — A prominent physician active in the Syracuse, N.Y., Jewish community was indicted in the September 2012 murder of his wife.

Robert Neulander, 62, was indicted on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said at a news conference Monday.

Neulander, an obstetrician, was arraigned in county court Monday morning and pleaded not guilty. He was freed on $100,000 cash bail; a trial was scheduled for January.

In April 2013, CNY Central, a Syracuse news site, first reported that police were investigating Neulander in the death of his 61-year-old wife, Leslie, whose body was found in a shower in the family’s home. The county medical examiner had ruled initially that Leslie Neulander’s death was an accident.

Officials did not offer a possible motive at the news conference, saying only that forensic information gathered during the investigation, as well as an anonymous letter, led them to consider Neulander as the suspect, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported.

Neulander’s lawyer, Edward Menkin, said the indictment “appears to be an entirely circumstantial case,” the news site syracuse.com reported.

“While I obviously am not privy to everything the district attorney knows or thinks he knows, I do know there is no confession, no admission and no eyewitness,” Menkin said, according to syracuse.com.

Fitzpatrick said at the news conference that the couple was in the process of divorcing at the time of Leslie Neulander’s death. The couple’s daughter, Jenna, reported the death in 2012. She could not testify before the grand jury last week because she reportedly was in Israel, the district attorney said.

Leslie Neulander chaired fundraising events at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School in DeWitt, N.Y., which the Neulanders’ four children attended, and the couple chaired the Jewish Federation of Central New York’s annual campaign in 2012, the Post-Standard reported. In addition, Robert Neulander played a key role in the expansion of the local Jewish community center and the creation of its Neulander Sports and Fitness Center.

Last year, the Neulanders’ four children released a statement of support for their father.

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