Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Ripple Effect

In Our Opinion...

“Why would we be concerned about Community Hospital in Dobbs Ferry?” asked Mount Vernon’s unique, and somewhat theatrical, Mayor Ernie Davis, who quickly answered his own query, “Because we are inextricably intertwined.” With those opening words the Mayor greeted more than fifty community leaders, city officials, and media who had been summoned to a midmorning press conference in his chambers last Wednesday. The specific,pressing, concern of Mount Vernon officials involved the Archway Substance Abuse Treatment Facility located at 20 East First Street.

The facility, that has been operated since 1991, originally by Yonkers General Hospital, and, in recent years by Saint John’s Riverside Hospital, is in very real jeopardy of closure because of the State Commission on Healthcare Facilities in the Twenty First Century’s report calling for the closing of Community Hospital in Dobbs Ferry, and other institutions blindly perceived as wasteful and duplicative.

Quite simply, the fate of a number of community initiatives throughout the urbanized areas of southern Westchester, underwritten by Saint John’s Riverside Healthcare, hang in the balance, should Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry, their only financially profitable operation, be compelled to shut down. Archway, servicing adjudicated adolescents, homeless persons, individuals under parole, and probation supervision, as well as persons with psychiatric disorders complicated by substance abuse, gave treatment to more than 750 Mount Vernon residents in 2006. Loss of those services would cause a tremendous additional burden to be placed upon police, judicial, healthcare, and other public agencies in the city.

Mayor Davis, obviously distressed by the implications, for his city, of the Berger Commission’s Report, as it has come to be known, declared, “Sometimes when we let bureaucrats make decisions they are not looking at the reverberative implications.”

Clearly, it has become increasingly obvious that closure of Community Hospital in Dobbs Ferry would create a catastrophic hardship in Mount Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Greenburgh, and other areas of southern Westchester.

Recognizing the clear, and present danger The Westchester Guardian, spoke out twice in The Advocate feature, once in the December 7th issue, and, again three weeks later on December 28th. We are heartened by Mayor Davis’ words, because, as we previously applauded, they demonstrate, from still another quarter of our greater Westchester Community, a coming together of forces, and an acknowledgement that, ultimately, we are all in this life, for better or worse, together.

It is our opinion that no municipality, no village, no town, indeed, no city, however, large, or small, can truly isolate itself from the concerns of the rest of the County. Whatever may do serious harm to one community, will ultimately impact all that surround it. It’s called “The Ripple Effect.”
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Doing Hard Time
Part Three

By Jeffrey Deskovic

Two weeks ago I began to describe my 16-year prison ordeal, having been wrongfully imprisoned at 17 years of age. While it is not a blow-by-blow account it is, nevertheless, of such length that it has been necessary to present it in three parts.

Visitors/Outside Contact

My mother was the only person who consistently came to visit me. But often in the course of phone calls and visits what dominated the conversation was looking for different ways and means of getting out. I had sporadic contact with aunts and uncles, often going years without seeing them. At times, though certainly not all of the time, one Aunt and Uncle had medical problems, and in addition they had their own lives to live. When I did have visits from anyone, the conversation was always of the surface level variety. This did not meet my emotional or communication needs. With many family members I had no contact at all. As a result of all of the above my family became strangers to me.

The only childhood friend who came to see me was my friend Martin, whom I lost contact with after 1994-1995, and one other man who saw me once. As a result of that I became very lonely and isolated. Once every few years I would hear news from the community.

I tried to meet pen pals through a variety of means, reasoning that I could get some meaningful human contact
that way, but almost all of my efforts went in vain. I think the fact that I was imprisoned for a sex offense played a big part in most people’s decision not to respond to my ads. I was, of course, seeking not only some general
contact with people but also hoping that I could find someone who could effectively champion my cause and
lead to my getting legal help which could help me to get cleared, as I had read many other people had successfully done.Despite many years of trying I was not successful.

However, in 2005, I met one woman from Washington who I managed to correspond with, and who tried to
help, but who despite her good intentions was in over her head. She wasn’t able to accomplish much despite my best efforts at explaining what I wanted done and how to go about it. I also corresponded with a man who believed in my innocence and who helped me, during some really difficult times, keep it together mentally and emotionally as I wrestled with many issues connected with my wrongful incarceration.

Being Cleared

As the years went on, it actually became harder and harder to cope with. In my mind I was not serving a 15-year-to Life sentence. I was simply doing a year or two until my next appeal was heard, at which time I was sure that justice would be done. I lived from appeal to appeal. I would always get happy when I received copies of legal papers pled on my behalf. I would go to the law library and read the cases which were cited by my lawyers, in order to understand the law better and to assess how good the arguments were; kind of like becoming a judge in my own mind, evaluating the arguments raised. I always came away with the sense that good work had been done on my behalf and that the law and the facts required a ruling in my favor.

Then time would drag on during the long delays of filing paperwork and waiting for court dates, opposition papers, etc. I would get excited once again when the case would be heard, but then the crash that would come every time I lost a decision was hard and loud.

I had also became a wrongful conviction buff, reading about wrongful convictions, exonerations, and ongoing injustices, with the hope of finding something, anything, that was done successfully in someone else’s case that I too could emulate.

Whenever I would read about someone being cleared it would give me hope, I’d get euphoric, imagine how they must feel at the moment of release with their friends and family waiting at the prison gate, and I would vicariously celebrate with them.

Then, later a er the euphoria wore off I would get upset and also feel frustrated because many were cleared based upon DNA, and there I was sitting in prison despite my DNA Test being negative. I felt that I should be out too, that my case should not be an exception.

It also caused me to get down and depressed.Once my appeals ran out in 1999-2000, my “legal work” consisted of sending out SOS letters, searching for anybody at all who could possibly be of any help.

I needed to get legal help to try to find some new evidence to further establish my innocence or that which, at the very least, would create another legal issue, for which I might file the paperwork afterwards.

I sent out many letters to lawyers, legal groups, various faith-based organizations, reporters, anyone and everyone who, in one way or another, could possibly be of any assistance, even if only indirectly. Almost all of the time I received no responses.

When, rarely, I did receive them from lawyers, they would tell me that they had no time to take my case pro-bono, for free, although invariably they would conclude their letter with “good luck”, as if somehow I would be alright without their even trying to help me a little bit.

They would inform me how much money it would cost should I be able to pay. After a while it became difficult even to think of someone or someplace to write that I hadn’t tried already and, of course, simply obtaining addresses was hard and could not be taken for granted.

This was the most dif-ficult period of time as I would often battle feelings of depression, and wanting to give up. Writing letters seeking help fortified me by making me feel that I was still fighting.

Whereas when I could not think of where else to write or what to do, feelings of despair would emerge and I would have to fight hard not to quit. In 2005 I read the book Chicken Soup For the Prisoners Soul, which was ananthology of 1 or 2 chapters of a variety of different books from different authors.

In the back of the book there was information about the authors, including, in some cases, contact information. Out of desperation I combed over those pages, looking for anyone who, through some angle, could help me.

One of the authors that stuck out was Tekla Miller, who had written a book entitled, The Warden Wore Pink. It was about her experiences as a warden of a men’s Maximum Security Prison. I wrote her a letter the gist of which was explaining my situation and asking her if she came across anyone throughout her career that could possibly be of any assistance to me, I asked if she could please forward my contact info to them or send me theirs.

I sent my letter to her book publishing company. But she never got the letter. The publishing company opened the letter and forwarded it to Claudia Whitman, who was involved in an organization that works to abolish the death penalty on a federal level, called National Death Row Assistance Network of CURE.

We began corresponding for the purpose of brainstorming. She tried to help me with the networking and finding someone to take my case. This went on for almost a year. Somewhere in the course of that she had recommended that I write to The Innocence Project again. I had written them previously in 1993-1994. Back then DNA was not as advanced as it is now and there was no such thing as a DNA databank. DNA exonerations were based strictly upon DNA being used as newly discovered evidence. In my case, they told me, “the DNA was not newly discovered; it was known at the time of trial by the jury,” which nonetheless convicted me. Therefore, there was nothing they could do.

Mrs. Whitman told me to write to them again. She said my writing them previously was irrelevant in light of the databank. I knew of the databank and of it’s potential to clear me, I just had thought that if I wrote again that I would get the same response, and I would not have written them again on my own.

I wrote to the Innocence Project and, this time, they sent me the questionnaire to fill out. I filled it out and sent it back to them, and forgot about it. I did it just to do it, with no expectation that anything positive might come of it. By this point in time, with every letter I wrote, I had conditioned myself not to get my hopes up. I was afraid to, because of the hurt that would follow when I was let down. I continued to brainstorm with Claudia and continued to write to different people and places, just as if I had not written to the Innocence Project. It was better not to have to wait on just one place, having a lot of time go by, and then being denied. By that method I only got to try
three or four places a years. Rather, I decided to use the ‘gangplank’ approach, whereby the more irons in
the fire the better.

Six months later, out of the blue, the Innocence Project wrote to me and told me that they were taking my case. After researching and putting together legal documents, they approached Westchester District Attorney Janet Difiore to see if she would agree to do the more advanced DNA testing that Jeanine Pirro had previously opposed. She agreed. Had she decided to fight against it we would have had to litigate the matter in court which would have resulted in the usual delays. She spared me and her office having to go down that road by agreeing to have the testing done.The first time I saw my primary lawyer, Nina Morrison, was also the only time I saw her in person in prison. Prior to that we communicated through the mail and by telephone. I was in my cell talking
to my neighbor when my cell door opened. I stepped out of it to see what the guard who opened it wanted
from me. He informed me that I had a visitor. I was surprised because I was not expecting a visit. I got
dressed and hurried up to the visiting room, wondering along the way who could be visiting me. When
I entered the room I looked around, looking for someone that I might recognized. A woman who I had never seen before waved her fingers to me. I then asked the guards at the desk where my visitor was.

They indicated that it was the woman. The Innocence Project uses law students as clerks to research case law, put together briefs etc. which are then reviewed by the lawyers. As I walked towards her I thought that maybe she was the law student who had been working on my case. She informed me that she was attorney Nina Morrison.

I was really surprised and thrown for a loop. She told me that the test results had come back. I was mostly surprised because we were not expecting the results for another month. She repeated that the results
were in. Then, really quickly, before I could say anything she said that they matched someone else
and that I was going home tomorrow.

I said, “No I am not, I am not going home.” We went back and forth three times, with her telling me that I was going home and my insisting that I was not. After the third time she yielded and said, “Okay.” She had to literally sit there and hold my hand for 3 ½ hours before I was psychologically ready to hear about what would happen the following day. My mind would simply not accept it. She kept talking to me, trying to help me mentally work
through the shock. Then, as she began going over the details of the next day, getting my clothing sizes etc., I
began to fear that something would happen, that the D.A. would change her mind between that day and
the next, and that they would do what they always did, oppose me and win.

As I left the visiting room my mind was swirling around. On a intellectual level I had accepted it, yet it had not fully hit me. I went to recreation that night and spoke with a law student that they had left at the office to give me someone to talk to. Even though Sing Sing had been informed that I was going to court and going to be released the next day, the guards still put the handcuffs on me along with a waist chain, as well as the leg irons. As I was
driven into White Plains, I looked out the windows and looked on amazed and happy with society; seeing roads and cars with people in them, grass, businesses, people walking around, familiar and not so familiar buildings, and all the while feeling the sun shining on me. It felt good to be moving around in the free world even though I was not yet free.

When I was in the holding area of the court waiting to be called up, I prayed a couple of times that nothing
would go wrong, that nothing unanticipated would happen. My stomach felt a twinge in response to the irrational fear that something would. I was given a suit which the Innocence Project had bought for me. I put it on, and this made things a little bit more real. When it was time to go upstairs to court, they put handcuffs on me. I thought, “Was that really necessary?”

When I entered the court room, I stopped to look around at the people, to see if I knew any of them. I
smiled, knowing that what I had been saying all along, that I was innocent, was now known by all. As this
thought went through my mind, I, as one newspaper put it, puffed my chest out slightly, triumphantly; I
had finally overcome the system. I sat down at the defendant’s table. Nina Morrison looked at me and introduced Barry Scheck, who told me that I was definitely going home that day. The judge came out quickly.

Following the brief proceedings, as I got up and turned to leave, I took a couple of steps and suddenly
the enormity hit me, I was going home. It froze my mind. I sat back down, with my shoulders slumped. I
was unready to leave. My mind drifted into a fog. My lawyers began speaking to me, they wanted to know
what was wrong. But, I was unable to talk momentarily. My mind almost shut down.

There reached a point in time where the court of-ficers cleared the courtroom of everybody other than
family. After about 10 minutes I got up and walked out. With each step I took I realized more and more
that it was really happening. I received a standing ovation from the crowd of law students. Then after about fifteen minutes of taking it in, I thanked all the students and staff who had helped, and went to give a press conference in which I spoke for 2, 2 ½ hours of everything I had ever wanted to say.

Editor’s Note: In an effort to help our readers fully comprehend the terrible injustice that was worked against 16-yearold Jeffrey Deskovic of Peekskill, resulting in his imprisonment, for the next 16 years of his life, for a rape and murder that Peekskill Police and Assistant DA George Bolen were well aware he was not guilty of, The Westchester Guardian, once again, turns over the pages of The Court Report to Mr. Deskovic in order that he might describe the ordeal in his own words.

– RB
Our Readers Respond...

Spano Loses Election, Community Grants Withdrawn

Dear Editor:

My office received a disturbing call from Kim Conklin of the Department of State. Last year Senator Nick
Spano awarded the town $126,000 for a generator and a music lab at the Theodore Young Community Center. In November the Senator lost his re-election campaign. What happened? We were advised that all grants that were awarded in 2006 by the Senator’s office prior to the election were withdrawn.

The town relied on receiving this grant to fund both programs. Two years ago – immediately after the Senate election was disputed – I received a call from a non profit organization in Ardsley that had received a substantial pre-election day grant from the Senator. The grant was in jeopardy. After the election was certified the grant was awarded.

This is politics at its worst. This highlights the need to reform the way Albany does business. I am hopeful that Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins office will be able to help. I am confident that she will be an important voice for government reform.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

More On Judicial Steering

Dear Editor:

Did you know about the Melvyn Kaufman v. Judith S. Kaye and A. Gail Prudent case, which is currently
before the U.S. Supreme Court? What a shock; the original problem started in the Westchester County assignment of his case. Also, I understand that the Lopez case is now also before the U.S. Supreme Court.

All New Yorkers, and especially Westchester residents, should be quite proud that our corrupt ways of the selection of judicial candidates and the biased judicial assignment of the cases themselves are before our nation’s highest court.

Kevin McKeown

Kudos For Schwartz Story

Dear Editor:

Your story on Schwartz was very accurate. I have advice for you: a good reporter will find LOTS more
– including on his buddy Tolchin.

A Concerned Westchester Resident

Reader Applauds Judge Crater Story

Dear Editor:

I just wanted to say that I picked up your January 11th issue last week at the Fleetwood A&P and enjoyed
it very much. I particularly liked the Judge Crater story.

While familiar with the name, I never knew the story. I liked the way it was tied into present day politics. Keep up the good work.

Jim Wrightsman
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Curtain Comes Down on Cavallo
Corrupt Politico A “No-Show” for 500 Guests

The long, and sleazy operations of Westchester’s most corrupt political power broker, Giulio Cavallo, have been brought to a halt as the result of the determined efforts of members of The Westchester Independence Party’s Integrity Committee, and The Citizens Against Injustice, as well as the wide-spread public exposure of his scandalous activities by The Westchester Guardian. Last Wednesday night Cavallo was scheduled to be the guest speaker at a fundraising event at New Rochelle’s Surf Club. The function, which drew some 500 guests, was organized and sponsored by Boss of Bosses, Nick Spano, long associated with Cavallo.

Reliable sources informed The Guardian that the fundraiser was originally conceived by Spano, for the purpose of raising money for Cavallo’s legal defense for, soon-to-be-revealed action by the federal government against him. Those same sources indicated that the Spano Organization was experiencing difficulty selling seats because Cavallo was the listed guest speaker. Apparently, many public figures wished to avoid contact with, or any association with, Cavallo since his recent bad press.

For the benefit of readers who are unfamiliar with Giulio Cavallo, it should be pointed out that for many years, as Chairman of the Westchester Independence Party, he has engaged in the corrupt, and self-enriching, practice of selling his party’s cross-endorsement of both Republican, and Democratic Party candidates for as much as $15-
$20,000 a pop. New York State, to our profound shame, is one of only five states, out of fifty, that permits the practice of cross-endorsement.

What has been particularly shameful, and egregious, are the huge numbers of candidates for public office, here in Westchester, as well as the entire Ninth Judicial District, in the case of State Supreme Court Judgeships, who
have been willing, over many years, to fill Cavallo’s pockets, in order to get the Independence Party Line on the ballot. Conspiring with the likes of Larry Schwartz, and Nick Spano, and with the cooperation, and protection
of Jeanine Pirro, Cavallo has operated a criminal enterprise calculated to control and subvert the electoral process.

Now that the operation has been exposed to the light of day, in all of its ugliness, politicians, and office holders throughout Westchester are fleeing from Cavallo for fear of being caught up in the ongoing investigations, by the United States Attorney’s Office, into violations of public integrity. Guilio Cavallo has become a pariah! Amen.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

US Atty Garcia Must Probe DA’s Prosecutorial Misconduct.

“Sorry” Won’t Cut It - Culpable Prosecutors and Police Must Be Identified and Punished.

“The integrity of the courtroom is so vital to the health of our legal system that no violation of that integrity, no matter what its motivation, can be condoned or ignored.”

- United States Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

On June 21st of last year Presiding Judge Calabresi, United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals, listening to oral arguments in the Anthony DiSimone case declared, “In twelve years on this Court I have never seen such a Brady violation.” He had only seen the tip of the iceberg. Incensed by what little he was aware of, Judge Calabresi could not begin to know the depth of criminal misconduct, engaged in by the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, that lay beneath the surface.

The oral argument was in connection with an appeal by District Attorney Janet DiFiore of a writ of habeas corpus that had been granted by United States District Court Judge Charles L. Brieant to Anthony DiSimone, who had challenged the sufficiency of evidence that produced his conviction for Depraved Indifference Murder in the stabbing death of Louis Balancio in 1994.

On August 22nd The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that Mr. DiSimone’s Constitutional Right to Due Process had been violated by the Westchester District Attorney’s “failure to produce Brady material in a timely fashion.” District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s Office had withheld exculpatory information, which, had it been produced would likely have resulted in an acquittal of Mr. DiSimone.

The Second Circuit remanded the case back to the District Court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether DiSimone, or his trial attorneys knew, or should have known, about the suppressed Brady material. At that point in the proceedings, the Appellate Court was merely aware that there had been a confession by one Nick Djonovic that he had committed the crime, some six days after the incident.

However, in November, just two months ago, in Federal District Court, White Plains, before Judge Brieant, literally at the very last moment before the start of the evidentiary hearing, Assistant DA Valerie Livingston stepped forward to declare that the Westchester District Attorney’s Office was withdrawing their opposition to Anthony DiSimone’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, but was moving the Court to make the grant “conditional.”

ADA Livingston conceded that neither Mr. DiSimone, nor his trial counsel, knew, or should have known, about the suppressed Brady material, despite having argued to the contrary to the United States Second Circuit, and the State Supreme Court Appellate Division, for seven years. In addition to reversing themselves, the District Attorney’s Office ‘coughed’ up 376 pages of “new Brady material,” much of which corroborated Nick Djonovic’s confession.

Defense Counsel, in voluminous papers filed January 5th, in United States District Court, White Plains, rightly declares, “The State’s failure to produce the new Brady material was no mere oversight.” DiSimone’s Memorandum of Law continues, “The State now claims it found the new Brady material during its preparation for the remand hearing. In fact, the trial prosecutors, (Clement Patti and Steven Bender) were personally involved in thecollection of much of the suppressed Brady material. The State’s concession results instead, from the realization that its attempt to deprive Mr. DiSimone, and the jury, of the facts contained in 376 pages of Brady material would have been exposed at the remand hearing ordered by the Second Circuit.”

Incredibly, despite conceding that they have been lying to both the State and Federal Appeals Courts for some 7 years the Westchester District Attorney’s Office has the colossal nerve to cling to the notion that Anthony DiSimone, victim of their malicious prosecutorial misconduct, is entitled only to a Conditional Writ of Habeas Corpus. In other words, even after all of their criminal conduct, and malicious, intentional violation of every one of the man’s Constitutional Rights, the DA’s Office has the unconscionable gall to ask a federal judge, a man of Justice and Integrity, Charles L Brieant, to give them another opportunity to try to convict him of a crime they have known for nearly 13 years he did not commit.

How dare an Office, publicly financed, filled with such guilt, and so entrenched in trickery, corruption, and deceit, insult the Court by suggesting that Anthony DiSimone is entitled to anything less than a Grant of Unconditional Habeas Corpus, and disposal of his indictment? How dare such vile betrayers of the Public Trust, depended upon to “protect the Innocent,” once forced into conceding the truth, even suggest that there is any good reason to permit them to further torture this innocent man, much as they continue to torture other Innocents, Richard DiGuglielmo,Steven Nowicki, Selwyn Days, to name but a few?

A prosecutor’s office, which having concealed 376 pages of exculpatory information from a man who they willfully, and maliciously sent to prison for Life for a murder that they knew 13 years ago had been committed, and confessed, to by another individual, must now become the target of a federal investigation, not only into its criminal conduct in this case, but also the emerging evidence of PRACTICES AND PATTERNS over many years, calculated to do violence to the Constitutional Rights of scores, if not hundreds, of innocent citizens, many of whom still languish in prison.

Jeanine Pirro, evil and self-serving as she may have been, did not achieve her heinous criminal objectives without the willing, and intentional assistance of numerous supporting cast members. Principal amongst them, in this, the DiSimone case, and clearly needing investigation and prosecution, were Clement Patti, and Steven Bender. A prosecution that throughout a wrongful trial, and for 7 years thereafter repeatedly declared, “There is no link in the chain of evidence that connects Nick Djonovic to the commission of this homicide,” cries out for prosecution and punishment!

Counsel for Mr. DiSimone, John Bartels, Jr. and David Feureisen, as part of their Memorandum of Law submitted to Judge Brieant on January 5th, made a clear and compelling argument for the granting of an Unconditional Writ of Habeas Corpus to their client. That same statement is an equally compelling argument for the investigation, and prosecution of Jeanine Pirro, Clement Patti, and Steven Bender, as well as all other individuals, clearly aware of Mr. DiSimone’s innocence, who, nonetheless, committed acts calculated to help convict him by depriving him of his Constitutional Rights. That statement reads:

“If on the egregious facts of this record the indictment is not now dismissed, and retrial barred, the message to all prosecutors in this state is that they can intentionally violate the Brady rules with impunity, lie to the Court, and play ‘hide and seek’ without consequence. If they are not caught, no one will ever know. If caught, the only remedy will be a new trial; the prosecutor’s game clock will be rewound, reset, and the game replayed.”

The United States Attorney’s Office is surely the right agency to conduct the investigation and prosecution called for, as the crimes and violations alleged clearly involve federal issues, civil rights violations under color of law.Furthermore, the Justice Department is already very familiar with Mrs. Pirro, going back at least to 1997 and her’s and her spouse’s federal tax fraud case. Furthermore, as recently as eight months ago United States Attorney Garcia made a public appeal to citizens of Westchester, going so far as to publish a toll-free phone number to encourage individuals to bring forth information about issues of public integrity and corruption here in Westchester.

Additionally, neither the Governor, by way of appointment of a special prosecutor, nor the State Attorney General, who just ran against Jeanine Pirro, are in any better position to deal with the serious issues and offenses involved in the DiSimone case, and numerous other cases now in the appeals process, without first having to overcome arguments of “political retaliation.” Mr. Garcia is only too well-informed by now not to realize that there are numerous other cases with equally disturbing information regarding serious Civil Rights violations by Pirro, several of her ADA’s, and police agencies throughout Westchester, to ignore this call for action.

Certainly, the Justice Department is already well aware of DA Jeanine Pirro’s ‘hands on’ involvement in Nick Spano’s election fraud issues in 2000. 2002, and 2004, not to mention her own fixed elections in 1997 and 2001.And, furthermore, it is not merely a Pirro investigation that is called for, but an investigation of the unlawful activities of several individuals, in the Office “ under color of law;” ADA’s Clement Patti and Steven Bender in the DiSimone case, George Bolen in the Jefferey Deskovic case, under DA Carl Vergari,. and, numerous other individuals, police, medical examiners, etc. all of whom willingly sold out their sworn duties to insure their twice-monthly paychecks.
Our Readers Respond...

Brazil’s Ethanol Solution

To the editor:

The article is replete with technical information about Brazil’s ethanol program but its premise that the introduction of ethanol resulted in breaking the dependence on foreign oil is wrong. When ethanol was introduced in the late 1970s Brazil was processing about one million barrels per day of imported crude oil. The introduction
of ethanol reduced the demand of gasoline but did nothing to reduce Brazil’s need for aviation gasoline, kerosene, jet fuels, diesel fuels, lubricants, petrochemical feedstocks, asphalts and other miscellaneous petroleum products. To reduce the demand for foreign crude oil the Brazilian government undertook a major investment program in onshore and off shore exploration and major finds of domestic crude oil has enabled to Brazil to become self-sufficient as their crude processing increased to two million BPD of domestic crude today.

The Brazilian model of increased domestic exploration and drilling should be followed by the United States as it was successful in replacing foreign oil, ethanol was not the answer.

E. Patrick Mosman

The writer was employed by an American oil company and worked in Brazil 1980- 1983 as Manager of Resarch, Development and Technical Service, and was very involved with the ethanol program and the planned biodiesel program.

Reader Takes New Rochelle Mayor Bramson to Task

Dear Editor:

The crisis is over! Thanks to County Legislator James Maisano, Greg Pryce who for years landscaped the property in question, and the almost 300 city residents of New Rochelle who signed petitions, the one-half acre strip of land on Flandreau Avenue will not be sold to developers!

I am not a Johnny Come Lately to this neighborhood having lived here for several decades, probably longer than any other resident. It consists of well kept, ethnically diverse one family homes: A model neighborhood in many respects and one that the City of New Rochelle should be duly proud of. Instead, City Council led by Mayor
Bramson’s tie-breaking vote, was ready to renege on a deal made with Westchester County to purchase this small plot of land for the City of New Rochellle for $1. The proposed plan was to sell it to a developer to erect several structures on it. Such a plan is laughable and would have been very much out of scale in this well-established neighborhood.

My property is .77 acres and other home owner plots are of comparable size. But right prevailed, no thanks to Noam Bramson who was willing to sell us down the river to County Government. This is not the first time that New Rochelle’s mayor has sided with developers instead of with his own constituents. I actually spoke directly to him by telephone about this issue. It is developers like Louis Cappelli that have, with Mr. Bramson’s compliance, conspired to change the very character of our city with skyscrapers requiring additional infrastructure, more police and fire manpower, as well as additional fire equipment to provide an adequate level of safety.

When it comes to development, bigger is not always better, especially when it entails construction that lowers our quality of life with excessive street construction, higher school taxes to accommodate students residing in new skyscraper apartments, as well as other additional city expenditures to service the many residential structures now being erected.

Many people now believe that New Rochelle with its rapid de-velopment is beginning to look like the Bronx. Let’s not denigrate our city long known as Queen City of the Sound. Instead let’s put a moratorium on high
density development. For his allowing developers ready access to our city, Mayor Bramson should have received only fat lumps of coal in his Christmas stocking.

June Carletti Sambol,
New Rochelle

More on Westchester’s “Dysfunctional” Matrimonial Court

To the Editor:

I recently started reading your publication and am not surprised at all with the info printed in your article, page 5 of Dec 14th issues nor with the article page 3 of Jan 4th issue. I long have suspected this on my own. It was
confirmed by an attorney whom I consulted with 3 years ago who stated that given who my attorney was, my ex’s attorney and the judge; there was no chance that I would have ever gotten a fair settlement.

In my case, I had been abused and eventually ended up having back surgery. I have 2 children whom suffer from post traumatic stress from the physical and emotional abuse that they have endured in addition to neglect. Yet, they are still made to see their father, whom they don’t want to see.

Isn’t it interesting that all the child abuse cases have been dropped against my ex? In one instance, my child was violently shaken by his father causing neck trauma, causing him to be medicated for anxiety and eventually resulting in my then 8 year old to become suicidal requiring further medication.

CPS dropped all charges against my ex, saying the shaking incident didn’t happen but charged me for not taking my child to the pediatrican quickly enough ( less than 24 hours after returning from his dad’s)( not to mention I’m a pediatric I was evaluating my child til he could be seen). so I was charged for not taking my child to the Dr. for an injury that never happened???????

My children and I are being held hostage by my ex and the NY courts. I have a learning impaired child, one who’s suicidal and after 3 months of returning to work fulltime as I needed health care coverage and my alimony is soon to run out... I lost my job because I needed so much time off to take my children to appts with specialists and therapists. Yet I’m not allowed to relocate to my home state where I could significantly cut my cost of living expenses, I have a network of family and friends ( we have no one here). Did I mention, I’m disabled from doing the work I was trained to do?

As soon as the divorce papers were signed, my ex stopped going to therapy re: the children; and in 18
months time missed 32 out of 39 weekday visits and 1/3 of his over night visits. My ex’s family whom all live
within an hour away almost never see the children. My ex is in arrears to me for thousands of $ for therapy visits for the children. I didn’t get a COLA clause in my divorce and inspite of the rising costs of everything from milk to gas and heating oil....I’ve had to make due, going deeper in debt. I had to sell our home ( I got 1/2 of the house). My ex stole monetary yearly gift funds from our children and cheated the children and me out of a portion of a million$ stock portfolio that I didn’t know about( I knew about the account but didn’t know it was worth 5 times more than the amount I knew about) that contained some of his paychecks, childrens’ money, wedding gift
monies, gifted monies to me, etc. He recently purchased a $1.1 million dollar townhouse, drives a new
car and still abuses and neglects the children.

All of these things were ignored by the courts, including my ex’s repeated comment to me, “ I’ll do whatever it takes to make your life as miserable as possible and to make you suffer as much as possible!” I am guilty only of being a good wife and mother. The children are always well cared for and their needs met to 100+%, I always had a home cooked meal on the table waiting for my ex on the table. I ran the house( that he never allowed
me to buy furniture or decorate) and the family fiances. He worked in the city and only watched TV and went running at home. ( We now know that he has significant psychological problems....court ignored those too).

I am currently faced with no job, a learning disabled child, a suicidal child, myself disabled, my alimony running out and no local support network. My ex rushed the divorce through the courts so that it was signed just 3 months short of the 10 year mark for me being able to file against his social security! My ex with his new townhouse,new car and a six figure income and a six figure stock portfolio annual income and the benifactor of his families’ wills. Did I mention he comes from a very wealthy family......

oh yes, he’s also an attorney! I’m not looking for a free ride but the children are suffering.... I thought NY wants
“what’s in the best interest of the children”......doesn’t appear so to me! I agree, the corruption needs to end and a major overhaul is long overdue.


Vicki Mayfield Article Rings True

Dear Editor:

I have read the article in The Westchester Guardian about the Mount Vernon Public Library (Reading is Fundamental, Even in Mount Vernon, Mayor Davis, Jan. 4) and I want to say it is so true to what was said.

I have lived in Mount Vernon for the past five years and I work at the Library and see what goes on. It is sad and I feel that my prayers have been answered that someone is finally seeing what I have been seeing for the past five years.

I can understand why most people don’t say anything because things happen and they can’t afford to lose what they are making; I seen that in action as well. But I made it my choice to make a difference and to speak anyhow.

I have seen much of the wrong that is being displayed and it is unfair to the children of this city. As a matter of fact we are being left behind in a scene of trying to help the children of this city. I am more than happy to be a part of this group, Concerned Patrons of the Mount Vernon Public Library, and give my suggestions where I can’t apply to a place of learning.

I am grateful to have met Vicki Mayfield and I have read almost all of her articles in The Westchester Guardian which I find to be uplifting and encouraging to push others to go forth in this world. Again an article which is more than overdue, but I feel my prayers have been answered. Thanks, Vicki!

Concerned Worker of MVPL

Vicki Mayfield is Right on the Money

Dear Editor:

You article was right on the money about what is going on at the Mount Vernon Public Library. I’m glad that you have attended those meetings to see first-hand how the Director and the Board are doing at the library. The Board, for one, never questions Mr. Lee and I have not seen one Board Member in the Library since they came aboard.

The Board are supposed to be monitors of the Library and protect the Patrons of Mount Vernon from poor and non-concerned leadership. However, they have not done anything to make the situation better at the Library. It would be wise and forthcoming if the Board would come to speak with staff on a one-on-one basis and discover that the leadership of Mr. Lee over the number of years he has been here has run this Library to the ground and has caused it to be shut on a number of occasions because of his management.

It’s about time someone such as yourself has made the public aware of how this Library is heading into the hole. Thank you for your insight and I am with you in your desire to make the Mount Vernon Public Library a good library once again.

Concerned Resident

In Our Opinion...

Chief Longworth: Another Pirro Henchman Flees

The citizens of Westchester, and particularly the Village of Dobbs Ferry, are surely planning the celebrations that will accompany the upcoming retirement of Police Chief George Longworth, a coward who lacked the moral fiber and courage to stand up to a tyrannical DA bent on prosecuting a New York City Transit Police Officer whose justifiable killing of a bat-wielding assailant saved his father’s life. For this George Longworth has earned the contempt and disrespect of police officers everywhere.

Longworth, only 45, was quoted last week in The Journal News saying, “It’s the right time in my life to make a change, and the right time for the department also, with a lull in activity, no major open cases, no litigation pending.” The reality is, George Longworth can’t wait to get off the hot-seat. His statement that it’s the right time for the department, the Dobbs Ferry Police Department, is, patently untrue, given the fact that several witnesses have now come forward to contradict the Department’s recent claims regarding the use of recording devices
during the collection of witness statements over the years, most notably in the horrifically handled investigation of the Richard DiGuglielmo case.

Worse yet, a number of witnesses, to the DiGuglielmo/Campbell tragedy, have charged, in sworn depositions, that their original statements to detectives from the Dobbs Ferry Police Department, in which they had stated
that Officer DiGuglielmo’s shooting of Charles Campbell was in “self defense,” were gone over, and gone over, by the detectives until they altered their accounts to conform with “what the police wanted them to say.”

Longworth’s handling of the DiGuglielmo case is not the only instance in which his department, under his direction, engaged in wrongful, and Unconstitutional behavior, working hand-in-hand with corrupt ADA’s under the control of Jeanine Pirro, whose self-promotional, unlawful tactics have been increasingly coming to light. There are far too many questions that have begun to surface now that Pirro’s Reign of Terror has ended, questions involving the Nowicki and DeRosario cases, and the official and private activities of certain detectives formerly with the Dobbs Ferry Police Department.

Appellate Courts, federal investigators, and the public at large, are increasingly coming to the realization that law enforcement in Westchester, for a dozen years under Pirro, routinely violated the Constitutional Rights of innocent citizens, enlisting, and getting, the cooperation of police departments under the control of unscrupulous, unprincipled, cowards such as George Longworth.

However, with her demise and fall from power, Pirro has left many of her coconspirators, police chiefs and assistant DA’s, alike, high and dry, and very worried about the inevitable exposure of their unlawful activities in her behalf. George Longworth is clearly one such individual, beating a hasty retreat, much like former ADA George Bolen, who rushed into retirement just days before Jeffrey Deskovic emerged from prison, after 16 years of hard time served for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old Peekskill High schoolmate that Police Lt. Eugene Tumolo, now Peekskill Police Chief, and George Bolen, knew very well he had not committed.

Robert Taggart, former Yonkers Police Commissioner, also made the sudden decision, just a couple of months ago, that it was time to step down, just six days after The Westchester Guardian exposed the mishandled, and unpunished, case of a 72-year-old mother and her 49-year-old daughter who had been the victims of Yonkers Police brutality. And, make no mistake about it, there will be many more unexpected retirements by top-level assistant district attorneys, and high ranking police as the truth about law enforcement in Westchester, particularly under Jeanine Pirro, continues to rear its ugly head.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Doing Hard Time
Part Two

By Jeffrey Deskovic

Last week I began to describe my 16-year prison ordeal, having been wrongfully imprisoned at 17 years of age. While it is not a blow-by-blow account it is, nevertheless, of such length that it is necessary to present it in three parts.


I was determined not to turn my time in prison into a total waste of time. I would take advantage of the educational opportunities that were there. I obtained my GED, got an A.S. Degree, and completed one year of study towards my bachelors degree, majoring in Psychology, before Gov. Pataki took office and all but eliminated educational funding for prisoners. As a result, I could not graduate or advance my learning, whereas prior to that I could have not only gotten my B.A. and therefore been that much further along in my education, but I also could have obtained my Masters Degree, which had been available in the system.

When they took away opportunities for formal education, I continued my education informally. I read a lot
of nonfiction books, concentrating primarily on self-help and relationship books, both in the area of psychology. I also read presidential history/political and governmental abuse exposes.

I received training on how to tutor adults and was a teacher’s aid, working on the GED level and also on the
Adult Basic Education level, helping prisoners to read and write. I completed vocational trades in the fields of typing, general business (everyday business applications of the computer), plumbing, computer repair, and became qualified as a painter’s helper. The problem is that all of what I did sounds a lot better than it really is because the classes merely taught me the basics of how things used to be five years ago. To give a concrete example, in plumbing class a lot of work consisted of working with metal pipe whereas today pvc pipe is commonly used.

I also obtained a certificate in Food Service and became what in the ‘free’ world would be the equivalent of
a manager, generating paperwork from the computer for the civilians, maintaining written and computer records
and being able to produce them on a moment’s notice. I was trained to take care of any discrepancies in the workers pay, making sure that everybody received their raises on time. The pay grades were .16, .22, .25. .32, .35. .38 an hour. There were four .42 positions and one .45 position, all of which were higher than the normal “pay” of other programs. Although even these amounts were small, getting raises on time was very important to the inmates, since their primary purpose for “working” there was to be able to eat and make a little bit more money.


(It is customary, according to Islamic teachings, to say “peace be upon him” whenever Prophet Muhammad’s name was mentioned. at is the reason for that phrase being in parentheses) Six months after being in prison I was introduced to Islam. I was very depressed and was not very far from taking my own life. I saw a man from a distance who had a look of peace on his face, despite the fact that his identification number indicated that he had 11 years in prison. I wanted that kind of peace for myself, so I struck up a conversation with him. He gave me some study materials and invited me to the prison mosque as a guest. He also read some sections of The Quran, which he explained was revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I can say, without a doubt, that Islam saved my life because, firstly, I would have killed myself otherwise. And, secondly, it was the reason that I didn’t lose my mind.

There are five prayers a day at specific times which are to be said, which are considered to be obligatory. When it was prayer time I was able to leave the prison mentally for a few minutes before, during, and after prayers, and get a kind of spiritual recharge. Despite this, however, let no one be mistaken; it was extremely hard for me mentally and emotionally being in prison. For a long time, as I was growing up in prison, the Islamic community gave me people to interact with who were safe, and a few people who looked after me and gave me advice, and whose general presence warded off the riff-raff. But by no means was it a panacea. It simply detected some problems.

I also had to overcome the stereotype that inmates, in general, had about white Muslims, that I “was a Muslim
for protection”. The idea that I would do so, out of genuine religious convictions, seemed to some to be farfetched. There were a few times in prison when my religious beliefs cost me. I could not bring myself to simply
watch and do nothing as people who prayed with me, fasted during the month of Ramadan as I did, and who
I talked with and ate with, were assaulted right in front of me. I therefore provided assistance in warding off attackers, and had to endure the penalties which came with “fighting.”

Islam is a universal religion, which has members of all races and nationalities. In prison, however, the majority
of Muslims were black and there were not very many whites. Some of the whites in prison, out of ignorance,
thought of me as a race traitor and therefore disliked me. is was true also of some of the guards and
a number of them would make comments. They did not know that many whites worldwide claim Islam as their
religion, including Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Over time, however, the guards got used to me
and I gained their respect because of my sincerity.

Over the course of approximately fifteen and a half years I built up my own personal Islamic library because
I wanted to know as much about the faith as possible, For a time, when my mother was able to afford it, I took
classes from an Islamic school via correspondence. I taught religious classes to some other Muslim prisoners
and occasionally gave sermons during services on Friday afternoons, which is called Jumuah.

There is an informal leadership structure in the Muslim communities in various prisons, and I held various positions of responsibility, including, 1) being in charge of teaching non-Muslims about Islam when they came to the mosques in order to broaden their horizons. At one point I held a position equivalent to being Secretary of Education and School Principle all in one. The highest position I attained would be what in the outside world would be equivalent to being a Vice President.

In general, within the Islamic community in prison I was accepted and well respected. However, there was also a subtle form of racism, when it was time to select the spiritual leader of the community- called an Imam. The selection process was supposed to be about who knew the most about the religion, in terms of memorization
of the Quran and also the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as who embodied those teachings. Instead of qualifications being the criteria that people would use, it often turned into a popularity contest in which race was an outwardly unmentioned but definite factor. For many of them I could be their brother in faith, but only to a certain point after which, in their mind, I became the ‘white guy.’ Based upon the racism and oppression that blacks have historically endured, and, in other forms, continue to endure from some whites, they were not comfortable with putting someone who was white in a position of responsibility for their affairs.

While in some ways this is understandable, the reality was that all of that baggage is supposed to be
checked at the door, and strictly religious criteria applied. The person who is the most qualified is supposed
to be selected regardless of anything. Either he stacks up against the others or he doesn’t. But very few were thinking along those lines. Thus I experienced reverse discrimination in a small microcosm and realized what it must be like for some black politicians.

The experience was frustrating to me over the years as the reason for my failure to win or ever garner more than 10 percent of votes, losing to newcomers who had less than a quarter of the public service that I had became more and more obvious. Over time it became apparent than no matter what I did I would not be able to overcome this. I felt like a second class citizen, so I walked away from the prison congregation, while still maintaining my beliefs and practices.

I returned to the congregation twice upon promises that racism would be combatted through teaching, but was disappointed both times. Additionally, at the end, the power structure started running things like it was a gang, rather than a congregation of religious worshippers. I became a political dissident, and was seen as a threat by the leadership because of my knowledge of the religion and my speaking out against corruption, practices such as people being banned from coming to services at all, officially sanctioned violence against community members, and misappropriation of resources from fundraisers.

I left each time so as to not get caught up in violence and jail house politics, and to keep focused on my goal, which was to go home. There was never an official community policy not to talk to me, but that didn’t influence those members who were not in power and whose hatred of me ran deep. I lived that way for years, and I always kept my personal faith in Allah (God) and in the religion of Islam, and it provided meaning for me.

Correction Officers

There were some officers who were good people and were friendly. Then there were some who were not friendly, but who did their job and who could be talked to. There were also those who were indifferent, who merely wanted to come in, do their 8 hours and go home. For the most part they were lazy, and didn’t care what went on in the prison. The problem was that if a fight occurred or someone got cut, they would turn their backs, walk away, and pretend they didn’t see anything, because they could avoid having to fill out paperwork.

Then there were the officers who were really bad. They brought their problems at home to work with them and took it out on the inmates. They used abusive language and had bad attitudes, and my main goal every time they were on duty was to avoid being noticed by them. Finally there were those correction officers who were even worse, officers who even their fellow of-ficers disliked because they realized they represented a threat to them insofar as they might start violence or a riot, which other officers could get sucked into. Nonetheless neither fellow officers nor supervisors would reel them in. When any of this worse type was on duty, I had to walk on eggshells, the main focus of my day being to somehow make it through his shift without getting a report written on me.

It was a waste of time to file complaints because nothing would happen to the officers and they would find out about it and take further retaliation. So whatever verbal abuse happened the best course of action was to bear it and be quiet.


The recreation schedule in Elmira, where I spent a total of 13 ½ years, was as follows: recreation was every
other night from 7 P.M. to 9:45 P.M. However, the way that it actually worked out was that the rec bell would ring at 7, but they would not start letting the prisoners out until 7:15, gallery by gallery, sometimes taking 2-3 minutes per gallery, starting at the top.

There are 8 galleries per housing block, so the further one was from the top floor the more recreation time
would be lost. Additionally, sometimes they would purposely slow down the speed at which the prisoners
were let out. Sometimes they would even wait until 7:30 or 8 o clock before beginning recreation.

Often as I was waiting for them to run recreation, once it was time for it to have begun I would wonder what was going on and if we were going to have it all that night. Often when recreation was cancelled they didn’t bother to inform the inmates, and we would just be left wondering until several hours later when it became obvious. So, although in theory we had 2 hours and 45 minutes, it did not work out that way.

Considering that recreation was a time period in which the inmates could shower, use the telephone, exercise, or play sports, any delays or cancellation of recreation was most distressing. On those days when there was no evening recreation, we had it for one hour from 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon. But, once again, it did not always work out that way. Going to recreation from the cell block rather than from program assignments, as I did for
the last several years, resulted in getting to recreation very late. The officers were often slow to open the cells, and along the way we would be slowed down so that by the time we got to the recreation area so much time had elapsed that the general announcement of “last call to the showers” was made. In actuality I only received 20 minutes of recreation on those days.

It’s important to note the process of going to recreation itself was fraught with peril because I, along
with the other inmates, was subject to a random pat frisk after going through the metal detector, which meant that guards would grope your body.

The Library

Going to the library was also done during the recreational period at night during the week. The way it worked was that I would have an opportunity to go twice one week, one time the next. But at the slightest excuse the library would close. If it was the week when we only had the library one time, closing it would mean I would have to wait a whole week before the next opportunity. Of course, on paper, we were supposed to get 30 minutes in the library. The way it actually worked out we only got 10-15 minutes, because of how slowly the escort officer would get us there, and, because of his frequently arriving back to get us a little early.

Books were kept behind the counter, and could not be accessed without a clerk. Given that the ratio of prisoners wanting books to clerks was 15 to 4, and sometimes 15 to 2, that created even greater time pressure. Additionally, only a small number of books were in plain view and the rest required telling a clerk what subject or author one wanted, adding to the time constraints.

There was a variety of newspapers and magazines that the library would have subscriptions for, but
again, given the small allotment of time, not much reading could be done. There reached a point where I started running out of books that I had not read before regarding my favorite subjects. That placed me in the dilemma of taking out books other than on those subjects I was most interested in to at least secure something to do while I
was in the cell. Otherwise, I would have to fill out an interlibrary loan request form which would take about the whole time and still most likely not get the book anyway. In time I hardly ever put them in.

Editor’s Note: In an effort to help our readers fully comprehend the terrible injustice that was worked against 16-yearold Jeffrey Deskovic of Peekskill, resulting in his imprisonment, for the next 16 years of his life, for a rape and murder that Peekskill Police and Assistant DA George Bolen were well aware he was not guilty of, The Westchester Guardian, once again, turns over the pages of The Court Report to Mr. Deskovic in order that he might describe the ordeal in his own words. We will continue to present his story in upcoming issues.

– RB

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Will He Deliver?

Spitzer Promises: “Government That Places People’s Interest, Openness and Integrity First.” Question Is... Will He Deliver?

Invited by Andrew Cuomo to attend his inaugural, and the reception that followed, The Advocate opted to take up a position amongst several hundred honored guests at the New Year’s Day inaugural ceremonies, rather than covering the proceedings from the press platform. The rain had subsided before 11am and dozens of State maintenance workers were busy removing any trace of water from the enormous blue platform that now occupied the plaza in front of the State House, as well as from more than a thousand seats set out for honored guests and the People. The ceremony had been moved up one hour to 1pm.

The weather remained grey, and quite chilly, with enough of a breeze to wave the half dozen, or so, flags displayedby a well-rehearsed military color guard. Thoughts of William Henry Harrison, the president who caught pneumonia at his inaugural, and died within a month, emerged as Eliot Spitzer appeared for more than an hour without a coat. Granted, it was milder than anyone could reasonably have expected on New Year’s Day in the Capital District, but there was no sunshine, and everyone else, including his Lieutenant Governor David Patterson, and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, were cloaked in fulllength winter coats.

Much like John Fitzgerald Kennedy who broke with tradition 45 years earlier, coming to his inauguration without a hat, Spitzer came off as the young, brave hearted, crusader. In fact, at one point he nearly paraphrased Kennedy’s “ask not” statement telling those assembled, “ New Yorkers, from now on, ought not ask What’s in it for me? But rather, What’s in it for us?”

One could only wonder how George Pataki, who kept his back facing the throngs, as he repeatedly ran his fingers over his head to maintain his ‘comb-over’ in the breeze, must have felt when Spitzer said, “Like Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, New York State has slept through much of the last ten years as the World passed us by.” The new governor would then go on to quote Abraham Lincoln, telling his fellow New Yorkers, “We mustlisten to the better angels of our nature.” Albeit “Day One” rhetoric, Governor Eliot Spitzer was certainly telling the People what they needed to hear.

However, the big question is, “will he deliver?” Looking around it was clear that there was no shortage of party regulars, many seeking favors, and/or employment; the traditional ‘spoils system.’ Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have an exclusive on patronage. Both Eliot Spitzer, and Andrew Cuomo, must find the way to strike a workable balance, in the staffing of their offices, to not only satisfy the demands of those who ostensibly helped get them there, but also to bring on board the energy, experience, and talent that will get the job done.
Surely, his predecessor will not be a hard act to follow. And, unlike George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer does not need to grow rich in public office. He comes to the job a relatively wealthy man. We must take him at his word when says, “I pledge to toil each and every day so as not to disappoint our hard working citizens.” Let us hope that we will notbe disappointed!

Given the major problems confronting New York State, Governor Spitzer will need to “toil each and every day.” Most thinking New Yorkers are only too well aware of the issues that went too long neglected and mishandled under George Pataki, and that demand immediate attention. The short list includes:

• Public School Financing: Spitzer must devise a more honest and workable method by which to finance our public schools. The current system is broken.

• The Unified Court System: The Criminal, and the Matrimonial Parts are in desperate need of overhaul, as are the Family Courts. Currently there are two systems, one for the wealthy and influential, and another for the rest of us.

• Medicaid and Health Insurance: At $45 Billion Medicaid is a problem of alarming magnitude. At the same time affordable health insurance is increasingly difficult for working families to obtain.

• Affordable Housing: Providing ample, affordable housing, and the maintenance of fair returns to owners of residential development are a difficult, but necessary balance that must be achieved by state government.
Eliot Spitzer takes office under the weight of great expectation, given the high profile institutions, theStock Market, the Mutual Fund Industry, the Commercial Insurance Industry, that he successfully took on as Attorney General. Citizens must bear in mind that as Attorney General Mr. Spitzer carried the ‘big stick’ ofpossible prosecution, which was, no doubt, very persuasive in furthering the interests of the People. As governor he will need to employ far more persuasion, and far less intimidation. Of course, now that the governor and the attorney general are on the same team perhaps resolution of these daunting issues may be enhanced by a ‘tag-team’ approach. Time will tell.
Our Readers Respond...

Dear Editor,

I need help. I’m a US citizen, an immigrant and a former CEO. Currently I work for Morgan Stanley. One year ago I filed for divorce and petitioned for the custody of my 5-year old son. Since then my life has turned into a nightmare. I was able to see my son no more than 10 times and spent no more than 35 hours with him for the entire year. I was prohibited from using my own savings to fund my defense. Instead, I was ordered to pay significant amounts to my wife’s “pro bono” attorney, for different programs, forensic evaluations, etc.

My wife claimed in sworn affidavits (taught to her by My Sister’s Place and her “pro bono” lawyers) that I
raped her at least twice, that I tried to assassinate her at least 3 times, etc. Some of her perjuries have been proved false. She claims that I transferred $180,000 offshore in order to evade taxation and that I hid a one-milion-dollar financial portfolio, and $477,000 in AMD stock, etc. When I first read her affidavits I couldn’t believe them! I thought it was only a matter of time before I would take custody of my son, since his mother had
turned crazy!

Unfortunately I learned very soon that monstrous perjury is merely one of the tools in divorce litigation. I filed a complaint with the Westchester DA’s Office and, after wasting my time for more than 6 months they refused to investigate. I believe that the only reason the Westchester DA refuses to prosecute perjury is that it would eventually curtail the “divorce industry”.

In sharp contrast, I was arrested and jailed for Christmas shopping (my wife spotted me on two occasions
2 and 3 weeks before Christmas of 2005 in the White Plains Galleria Mall and City Center). For more than one year I’ve been refused jury trial on this ridiculous charge. Instead I’m directed to attend a Leftist-Marxist idiocy called “Domestic Violence Program for Men” at taxpayer’s and my own great expense.

Peter Petrov

In Our Opinion...

If We can say nothing else about Governor Eliot Spitzer that will surely distinguish him from George Pataki, it is that he does not need to grow wealthy in office. That fact alone should give great comfort to those who have despaired over the past twelve years witnessing the most blatant rape of the State Treasury by a governor and his cronies, in memory. It wasn’t as though Pataki didn’t signal his intentions early on, repeatedly declaring
that Al Pirro, and Robert Boyle, a convicted felon, and a disgraced former public official, respectively, were his “best friends and fundraisers.”

Over the three terms her husband occupied the Governor’s Office, Libby Pataki managed to eke out more than $4 million in bogus, no-show wages, holding down at least two consulting positions at a time, with corporations
such as Estée Lauder, and not-for-profit charitable organizations, the like of which Matilda Cuomo had lent her time, and endorsement to, gratis. The number of Pataki appointees named to six-figure chairmanships, amongst the more than seven hundred state authorities, who ended up indicted, and convicted of various forms of stealing, are too numerous to list in this space. One such appointee, whose story, typical of many, was Jack Gaffney, former Republican Supervisor of the Town of Cortlandt, a Pataki buddy, and father-in-law of his long-time political strategist and campaign director, Kieran Mahoney. Appointed Chairman of the Bridge Authority, Gaffney was indicted by the Ulster County District Attorney for stealing more than $188,000 in taxpayer funds, but got away with pleading to a misdemeanor for supposedly over-billing the State for $16,000 in travel expenses, when then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer inexplicably took over the case.

There are many who have come to believe that it is best to nominate, and elect, only the very wealthy to high public office, as they are less likely to be corrupted, or distracted from their public duties, in the pursuit of personal gain. They cite New Jersey Governor John Corzine, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as current examples. Still others argue that they merely bought their way into public office, and that having huge amounts of money to fund one’s own campaign ought not be a barrier to otherwise more qualified candidates.
Eliot Spitzer’s wealth, although significant, pales by comparison to two former New York Governors’ within the past fifty years. W. Averell Harriman served one term from ’54 to ’58, and Nelson Rockefeller who defeated
Harriman in 1959, went on to re-election three more times, before appointment as Vice President by President Gerald Ford in late 1973.

We believe that one should not need to come from great wealth to be elected to high office, either statewide, or nationally. The time is clearly at hand, particularly here in New York State, when legislation needs to be passed that will require all holders of public office to file annual public statements of personal financial worth. Such legislation would not only create transparency, but it would also discourage those who might seek public office for less than honorable reasons.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Doing Hard Time
Part One

By Jeffrey Deskovic

What was being wrongfully in prison at 17 years of age really like? In my last column I spoke about my wrongful arrest and conviction. Over the next several weeks I will discuss what it was like for me in prison. It will not be a
blow-by-blow account of my entire experience, as that would take a book. Rather, it will be a summary.

The Guilty Verdict

I was stunned when the jury returned the verdict of, “Guilty.” The courtroom began spinning and time stood still, and I felt, that I was in Fantasyland. As my lawyer went with Assistant District Attorney George Bolen and Judge Colabella into his chambers, my family, seated directly behind me, wanted me to sit with them, doubtless to provide support, comfort, and to help me deal with the shock and disbelief that was on my face.

One of the court officers asked Judge Colabella if it was all right for me to sit a mere four steps from where I was
seated. Giving short shrift to the question, and looking annoyed at even having been asked, he said, “No” without even considering it and continued to his chambers.

Given that there were court officers all around who had sidearms, I don’t see what there was to fear from
such a request being allowed. Shortly afterward, when the Judge and the attorneys re-entered, I scarcely heard
the words from Colabella, “ The defendant is remanded to the County Jail for sentencing,” even though I am sure he spoke in a normal tone. I was escorted into a room with a brown door with bars, not much bigger than a closet, with only a bench.

I sat in shock and disbelief. A court officer walked by and sensed that I was going through something mentally.
Yet, there was nothing he could do. He paused as he walked by, unsure of what to do, or even what his superiors would allow. I asked him, “What will happen to me now?” He told me that I would be taken downstairs and searched because it was a different department. He wanted to know if there was anything that I wanted to give to my family. I quickly decided that I wanted my family to have my wallet, tie clip, and watch, as mementos to remember me by. I was silently bidding them farewell, unsure if I would ever see them again.

The County Jail

There is a vigilante-type attitude in both county jails and prisons, towards prisoners who are incarcerated for
sexual offenses. is is maintained both by the prisoners and by the guards. Tactics utilized include beatings, stabbings, cuttings, name calling, and social isolation. The guards themselves typically refrained from directly
participating in the violence, instead directly and indirectly putting the inmates up to it. Therefore, no matter what I might be doing at any particular moment, this risk was always on my mind.

The price of getting a visit, at either the county jail and prison, was that at the conclusion of the visit you would be strip-searched. The reason, or course, is to prevent contraband and drugs from being smuggled into the facility. is same objective could be accomplished by less invasive methods utilizing devices similar to those used at airports, at the same time preserving basic human dignity.

The food in general was not very good. The choice always came down to forcing yourself to eat or going hungry. There was one particular entrée that was referred to by both staff and inmates as “mystery meat.” To this day I still do not know what kind of meat it was.

The Downstate Classification Center

Sitting in the bus just outside of the gate waiting to go into “Downstate”, which is a reception center where all prisoners must go to be processed before being sent to various prisons, I was frightened. e prison walls loomed very large and daunting, and the barbed wire seemed especially mean-looking. Along with the other prisoners, I was marched through various lines in order to complete the many procedures, and also to be issued prison supplies. They would not tell us what place to stop at or what to do. is resulted in mistakes and verbal use being thrown at us as punishment.

The guards knew that being in a new environment for the first time made the prisoners feel fearful, shellshocked
and disoriented, and therefore easily alarmed. They purposely yelled a lot and acted menacingly, playing
off of our fears, knowing what effect this would have. One guard refused to allow me to sit down in a chair while I was being interviewed by a civilian, even though I was hopping around on one foot having sprained one of my ankles. He snapped, “You are a piece of shit.” I could see the look of shock on the interviewer’s face, yet she did not intervene. He then whispered to me, “if you didn’t have rights I would kill you.” She overheard his remarks but, again, she did not intervene nor report it.

The non-intervention, not-wanting-to-get-involved, at times even indiference, of both guards and prison
staff, including those whose jobs consisted of oversight regarding things that were done to prisoners by their coworkers, was something that over the years I would observe and experience over and over again.

With respect to phone calls home, I received an initial call home for five minutes. The opportunities to call
home were, in general, few and far between, and lasted only for five minutes.

Every morning we were made to wake up around 6am to the sound of a bullhorn-type instrument yelling,
“WAKE UP TIME.” at alarm meant that we had to quickly scramble and dress and be near our cell doors,
standing silently as correction officers made their rounds to be sure nobody had escaped and that everybody was still alive. Why this couldn’t be accomplished by another method still escapes me, as did the constant hanging of the threat of being ‘keep-locked’ held over our heads. (Note: ‘keep-locked’ meant that one would be kept in his cell for 23 hours a day, fed less food, not allowed showers as often, not allowed to call one’s family, or go to the library, and would receive only one hour of recreation, generally in a small area, with little more than a chinning bar in it.)

Often the guards walked extremely quickly, so as to try purposely to catch someone unprepared. I am not a morning person and I was not used to getting up early. And, as a heavy sleeper, I was afraid each night that I might not hear the bullhorn in the morning, or get up on time.

Sleeping days away was a way of escaping the cell as well as a sign of depression. Yet even this unhealthy
coping device was not entirely available, and was done at one’s own risk since there would be three
or four such body counts throughout the day. We had to wait quite a while, after arriving at Downstate prior
to being able to get any books, so passing the time away by reading was not an option.

I was afraid of the other prisoners, since I knew that although there were other innocent victims of
injustice there, there were a good number of guilty as well. There were men in prison for assault and murder,
who were grown adults with huge muscles; and I was small and only 17 years old. It took little to imagine
what the outcome of any altercation between any of them and me.

I was depressed much of the time in Downstate and was therefore put on suicide watch. When was I taken off of suicide watch and was allowed to go to the mess hall, I discovered that prisoners were forbidden to talk in the underground tunnels on the way to meals. Even if one recognized another prisoner it was forbidden to say hello.

As far as when we were in the mess hall itself, we were informed that we could talk, but that we had a small amount of time to eat and so if we wasted it talking that was not the correction officers’ concern. Once, when an inmate informed an officer that we were not getting enough time to eat, his solution was not to speak to his superior but instead to recommend that the inmate try to get to the front of the line. Since not everyone could
be at the front of the line simultaneously, this was like being told “tough”.

I became conditioned to eating fast. Everybody has his own limits of what they are able to force down.
At the same time there was a general level of hunger. In combination these factors sometimes resulted in
‘tray-watching’ and the constant asking of the question, “Are you eating that?”

When it was finally time to leave Downstate and go to a permanent prison, I was taken along with
the other prisoners. We were awakened quite early, 5am, and marched through a series of long lines that
seemed to go on forever, and again strip-searched. We were then put into a cold bullpen for several hours.
None of us had any idea how long it would be before the bus that was to transport us would arrive. None
of the guards would tell us, so it was at once unpleasantly suspenseful and monotonous.

Since there were no phones around, I couldn’t see how giving us this information would have run counter to Department of Corrections’ legitimate interests. It was a psychological tactic in line with the general practice of treating prisoners like non-human beings. I was so fearful that I might go to Attica or Clinton, two of New York’s worst prisons because of the reputation of their guards being particularly abusive towards inmates.

Prison Violence

There was plenty of violence in prison. Fights were common, as were stabbings and cuttings with
homemade weapons. There are also a lot of gangs in prison. A tactic commonly employed was to cut another
inmate’s face, thereby leaving a permanent scar. Another common tactic involved slashing from behind
so as to be able to run and get away. Victims were obliged not to report incidents. If one did it was seen as a sign of weakness, thereby setting oneself up to be a victim again in the future, and also possibly to be labeled a snitch. The label of a snitch would, of course, permanently put one at risk of being assaulted at any time by anyone.

At the time of any disagreement, often the first thing to pop into many prisoners’ minds were threats and violence. It was commonplace for two to four acts of violence to take place every day. As a result I had to remain alert to who was around me and what they were doing at all times. Additionally, I needed to understand the personality of other inmates, what their threat levels were, and what things to look out for.

I hated living in an environment in which violence, and the threat of it, was part of the fabric of everyday life. It often sickened me to see all of that going on around me, watching people being beaten and bleeding, etc. Yet, at the same time, I had to mind my own business and hide what I really felt, lest I, too, might become a target.

I was always aware that while my mentality was to avoid trouble so as to be in good position for when I might go to the parole board, as well as to not get another charge in addition to the rape and murder of which I was innocent but for which I was doing time, there were some prisoners who did not think that way, and didn’t care.

It was not simply that they had nothing to lose, although some didn’t, it was that some let the frustration get the best of them. When an inmate has to defend himself, the incident is handled much the same way as a schoolyard
fight is. Both parties get into trouble for “fighting”. Any such incident, in addition to receiving the penalty of being ‘keep-locked’, would also be a black mark on one’s disciplinary record that would have to be explained to the Parole Board. Yet avoiding things for this purpose remained my mentality. This thinking was not shared by all, and that fact made it all the more difficult for me. There were several times when I had to defend myself and got into trouble for it.

Editor’s Note: In an effort to help our readers fully comprehend the terrible injustice that was worked against 16-
year-old Jeffrey Deskovic of Peekskill, resulting in his imprisonment for 16 years for a rape and murder that Peekskill Police and Assistant DA George Bolen were well aware he was not guilty of, e Westchester Guardian, once again, turns over the pages of The Court Report to Mr. Deskovic in order that he might describe the ordeal in his own words. We will continue to present his story in upcoming issues.

– RB

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Giulio Cavallo:

Axis of Corruption

In Our Opinion...

It’s beginning to look more and more as though Giulio Cavallo’s political pimping days are over, and he will soon be trading in his Armanis for Federal Prison Stripes. We believe what he has been engaged in for several years, in his capacity with the Westchester County Independence Party, comes under the heading of ELECTION FRAUD. He has been the Axis of Corruption in Westchester.

The People of New York State, one of only five states in the Union to permit cross-endorsement, are just beginning to open their eyes to the scandal that has been state, and local government. Under cross-endorsement, parties such as the Independence Party do not have to field their own candidates for public office. They are permitted to ‘sell’ their endorsement, together with the votes of most of those registered to them, to the highest bidder. In Westchester, those votes, often more than 17,000 countywide, can, and have, decided far too many elections.

Cavallo, who for years held a six-figure, Pataki appointed, position with the State Health Department, most recently has been “employed” by a state senator from Queens, courtesy of former Republican ‘Boss of Bosses,’ Nick Spano. But Cavallo has worked both sides of the street, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the gutter with snipes such as Larry Schwartz, particularly in the effort to elect Jeanine Pirro District Attorney in 2001, and numerous other candidates in “fixed” elections.

It is well known that for fifteen to twenty–thousand dollars, or more, Cavallo has put the Independence Party’s seal of approval on scores of candidates, including numerous individuals now sitting as County, and State Supreme Court Judges. All those elected officials who paid the toll to the Axis of Corruption are beholden to Cavallo, and are, therefore, suspect and untrustworthy. In reality, Cavallo is nothing more than a political pimp, and those who have paid him are simply prostitutes.

There can be little doubt that United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael Garcia, and the federal attorneys and investigators working with him, have had Cavallo, Dhyalma Vazquez, his girlfriend and co-conspirator, as well as Mario Castaldo in the crosshairs of their sights, as well as Larry Schwartz, David Hebert, Nick Spano, and other co-conspirators too numerous to detail, for some time now. After all, if the Justice Department is to fulfill the mandate set out by President Bush, “to clean up the corruption in the suburbs north of New York City,” surely they must focus first on all of the election fraud that has been synonymous with Westchester politics for years. Quite simply, if the Right of Free and Unfettered Elections is not guaranteed, no other Constitutional Right can be guaranteed.

The Westchester Guardian is gratified by the actions of Nader Sayegh, and numerous genuine and honest card-carrying Independence Party members, who, over this past year have stood up to Cavallo and his henchmen, opposing them in intra- party elections, and challenging their unlawful antics in State Supreme Court.Judge Denis Donovan, while perhaps leaving something to be desired in much of his activity in the Matrimonial Part, nevertheless, must be recognized, and applauded, for his right-minded actions in presiding over the petition brought by Michael J. Lehrer, et al, as “Petitioners against Giulio Cavallo, Dhyalma Vazquez, Mario Castaldo, and the Westchester County Committee of the Independence Party, and the Westchester County Board of Elections, and New York State Board of Elections.”

It is clear, both from Judge Donovan’s Findings Of Fact and Conclusions Of Law, that he is onto Cavallo’s game, and is not about to compromise the interests of honest Independence Party members or Westchester voters. We are confident, going forward, that not only will Guilio Cavallo, and those who have done unlawful business with him, be apprehended, and carted off to prison, but also that decent well-meant citizens will come forward to fill the ranks of the Independence Party.
Our Readers Respond...

Dear Editor:

Hello! My issue is that I’ve repeatedly asked Mr. Beltran & Mr. Gibbling to handle this matter between Jazmin
Wilson (supervisor) and myself. Now there is another issue going on at the Grassland Shelter, Valhalla about Ms. Jazmin having sexually relationships with a client that used to reside at this facility (which is true) he has been removed due to his violent behavior.

Well Jazmin Wilson is very negative towards me due to the fact that she tried to flaunt herself in front of my signifi-cant other, which he did not act on her sexual gestures, so I’m paying for it because my significant other was just being a real man to me. I shouldn’t have to go through this aggravation with a Supervisor that’s acting whorish towards male clients, I’ve tried to go about this the positive way but I’m not getting any results from Jazmin’s superiors.

I think it is very unprofessional the way she acts as if she is really into her job but, really is sexually indulging with
clients. I’m trying to deal with this but it is just so much a person can take from another person. I went through the proper channels and still nothing has been done.

I would appreciate your attention on this matter due to the fact I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells because this
individual (Jazmin Wilson, Supervisor) wants to have male clients attracted to her, which she is not attractive at all.

Linda Foster

Dear Editor:

The article, The Decline of Rational Thought in America, by Jon Booth (Thurs., Dec. 21), addresses a serious problem in our country now. On the big issue, Iraq, it would appear that “just war theory” was not complied with, as was argued by many secular and religious leaders, including the Pope, apparently at least in part because there was no “imminent” danger, and because such a thing as an alleged inquiry by Iraq about yellow uranium does not appear a proportionate cause for bombing and invading Iraq. Still, the voters had previously made their choice, preferring Bush over his adversary.

Mr. Booth seems to like the philosopher Descartes (“I think, therefore I am”). He also might find he would like
the similarly Catholic philosopher, Schelling, and the late Pope John Paul II. Fervor is not enough, as Mr. Booth would agree. Thought also is needed, but good thought.

Michael Gask, Esq.
The Bronx

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