Thursday, August 30, 2007

Restoring Quality Education To Prisoners Makes Sense

By Jeffrey Deskovic

College In Prison

Having college education available to prisoners was one of the best ideas ever to be put into practice in terms
of rehabilitation. It was truly a case of a win-win scenario. Firstly, the recidivism rate of those who had a college
education was significantly lower than those who had not received one. The reason for that is obvious: It was equipping prisoners with the education that they needed in order to be gainfully employed.

It was also deepening their level of thinking, showing them alternatives to crime, thus making it less likely that
they would return to crime. It made robberies, burglaries and drug dealing less likely, dramatically reducing the number of future victims and the $40,000/yr. cost of re-incarceration. Thus, far from coddling criminals, college education was a powerful crimeprevention program. It also provided the Parole Board with a good indicator
as to which prisoners were committed to rehabilitation. After all, the road to a college degree was both long and arduous.

Only the truly committed would embark upon a journey which would take two years to get an Associates Degree, and four years to a B.A. The participating colleges also benefited. Some professors even brought
their students into the facility for a joint class in which both students behind the prison wall and those who were free were able to conduct dialogue, and enjoy an educational experience. Many teachers expressed their great personal satisfaction from teaching in prison, and often remarked that the students in prison frequently asked the most questions, indicating they were really getting into the material and thinking about it.

My Personal Experience And What I Witnessed

Back in 1993, I was still wrongfully incarcerated. Having obtained my GED a year prior to that, I decided
to avail myself of the college program. My thinking is that I wanted to learn all that I could while I was there, so as to not make my time in prison a total waste. I figured that by obtaining a college degree I could be that much further ahead when I was released, as opposed to starting college from scratch. I was able, to a certain extent, to leave the prison mentality for a few hours. Although this self-delusion did not work all the time and had varying degrees of success, it was better than nothing.

College opened up new worlds to me, broadening my horizons. In a very real sense I learned how to really think.
I picked up the trait of posing questions to myself and really digging deeply for the answers. I learned to think critically. I began to read, opening up my mind. What’s more, I saw that schooling had a similar effect on the other inmates. I could see how their thinking changed by the way they talked and acted. Many inmates went from talking about running the streets, selling drugs, and street life, to discussing school work and hopes for future careers once released and armed with a degree.

We occupied a cell block which was set aside specifically to house those who were in college. This eliminated a lot of the normal noise attendant in the prison, such as blasting radios, and yelling out of the cell bars, because many were studying, and because everyone had respect for their fellow students. Several of the normal prison dynamics were altered to some extent. For example, people who normally would not talk to each other would debate viewpoints in the classroom, and would also help tutor each other. The need to guard oneself was relaxed as learning became the primary concern rather than survival.

One still had to be alert, but it was much less pronounced. I cannot forget the mindset of some of the prisoners that I had talked to, who had not gone to college, but who had expressed to me that they felt no hope they could be able to support themselves and/or their kids, through a lawful job. After all, as they put it, “I have no education. What can I do? Who is going to give me a job which pays me good money?” But, when I saw
some of those very same people in college, their attitude had totally changed.

The civilian college personnel served as exemplars, just by coming to and from work. Many saw them and vocalized the idea that “If he can make it, so can I”- meaning make ends meet by having a career that didn’t involve crime, while remaining free. Others spoke of careers that they hoped to have upon release. In many
instances, it involved diverting people, in one way or another, from going to prison. I was happy for them. For many of those who had come from tragic backgrounds, with such conditions as one or more parents either on drugs or selling drugs, in prison, who had dropped out of school and were running the streets, and in many instances from broken homes, that was all they knew. For them to reach beyond that and see a productive, crime-free future was tremendous, and I vicariously, silently celebrated for them.

I personally did not need the college education in order to be able to lead a crime-free life. I was innocent,
and had not committed a crime in the first place. But I knew that acquiring the education that I did would prove
helpful if and when I were cleared. Now that I am cleared, I am not as far off from graduating as I would have
been if college had not been available to me. I was able to acquire 90 credits while incarcerated.

One of the ways that it has helped me is that I am able to speak and write about things that I have personally experienced and witnessed, and, I can advocate for changes, in a much more articulate way than I could otherwise.

Negative Consequences of College Removal

As I have mentioned in previous articles, when George Pataki became governor in 1995, he cut the funding
for college in prison, and as a result of that the colleges left. There were many bad effects from this. It left prisoners, such as myself, who had completed some college, unable to graduate. In addition, it really killed the motivation of many students to do their best in the classes that they were already enrolled in. Also, the level of prison violence steadily rose. An idle mind, as the saying goes, is the devil’s playground. The greater the level of education, the more clearly consequences of actions could be seen, as could alternative ways of dealing with things other than violently.

The correction officers felt that those prisoners that were in college or were college-educated were more manageable, because the prisoners did not want to get into trouble which would result in missing the college semester. Prisoners could not see where they really had a lot to lose in the short term. The positive environment, in which the prisoners were tutoring and encouraging each other to do well in school, was lost. The prisoners who were formerly housed in the same cell block, were now dispersed, so there were fewer positive people to be around.

Upgrading The Vocational Shops


There are basic vocational classes offered in prison, on a variety of different topics. Some of the classes include
plumbing, carpentry, food service, welding, and general business. The underlying reasoning is that, just as in society, not everybody will want to go to college, and will instead prefer to learn a trade; therefore training is offered to equip prisoners with the skills that they need to get a job upon release so that they have a way to earn a living without returning to crime. To be sure, these are good topics. However, when it comes down to taking the classes themselves, there are a number of problems which render them ineffective.

Firstly, the class materials are outdated. People are taught the basics of how things used to be done years earlier.
This has the effect of being useless to the prisoners once they are released and attempt to enter the workforce. For example, I completed 6 certificates in plumbing; however almost none of my training pertained to PVC pipe, which is the type of piping used today, and only a little bit about copper pipe. Instead, most of it was about metal pipe, which is not used anymore. Therefore, my “training” is useless to me out here. If I attempted to get a job as a plumber, I would have to start at the exact same place that someone else would who had not received any training at all. Therefore, the curriculum in all of the vocational shops should be updated to reflect the latest ways and means in the various trades, and the necessary upto-date equipment should be provided.

Secondly, the instructors themselves are, in general, not very much into what they are teaching. Their attitude
by and large is that they are only there to get a paycheck, and they do very little teaching. It is not uncommon
for them to come to work, and sit in their office in the shop the entire day, and maybe answer a few questions, and other than that actually do no teaching.

We should only hire and keep employed those instructors who really want to do the job they are hired to do:
instruct the prisoners. In addition, to ensure that learning is taking place in the shops, there should be oversight of
the instructors. Lastly, prisoners should be tested monthly to ensure that they are doing their part as well to learn.
Thirdly, there are people in some vocational classes who are only in the class because they were forced into it
by the committee who assigns the assignments.

Since they are not interested in learning the material, they are sometimes disruptive and a distraction to others in the class. The practice of forcing prisoners into vocational shops should end, particularly when it is considered
that there are waiting lists of prisoners waiting to be assigned to vocational classes. Instead, something else should be found for them to do, rather than have them take up space in a class which someone else who wants to learn
could occupy.

Fourthly, many vocational classes have become too prison-orientedmeaning all that the instructors and prison
administration care about is whether the prisoners are able to do tasks that the prison needs to run, rather than focusing on skills needed on the outside. For example, a food service certificate is awarded to those who are working in the kitchen and mess hall. But instead of teaching the prisoners how to prepare meals, “cooks” merely take food which has been prepared in another facility and reheat it. Does that sound as though that would give them training on how to work as a short order cook, or in a restaurant?

As another example, there was a program which was designed to teach prisoners how to clean various surfaces,
like one might if he was working at a cleaning agency. But instead of teaching how to clean a lot of different services, in everyday practice it was limited to just those surfaces found in the prison, with “projects” consisting of making areas of the prison shiny so that when the Albany big wigs showed up, it would appear as though cleanliness standards were being met, although after they left everything would go back to business as usual.

Fifthly, in a process began under the Pataki administration, some vocational shops began to be phased out through attrition. Classes such as typing and masonry simply ceased to be offered. When an instructor would retire or die, the class would close and not be offered anymore, thereby not only preventing others from receiving the training, but also leaving those who had already invested time and effort in the class learning some things, dangling in the wind, unable to complete the class, thus wasting their time and taxpayers money.

Conclusion


Providing quality education to prisoners is an example of a win-win situation for everybody. It provides the prisoners with hope for a crime free future by equipping them with skills needed to get a non-dead-end job through which they can support themselves, kids, and spouses without a return to crime. Secondly, by reducing the temptation to return to crime, it prevents further victimization. Thirdly, it saves taxpayers money: instead of having to pay $40,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner, the former prisoner instead pays taxes. Fourthly, it sets the stage for some educated minds to return to our society and add to it.

Therefore quality education in prison should be seen as a powerful crime prevention tool. Accordingly, college
education should be returned to prison as an investment in society, and the vocational classes should be overhauled to contain up-to-date curriculum taught by instructors who are motivated, who are overseen, to prisoners who want to receive the training. Vocations that were no longer offered should be reintroduced.

After all, if a former prisoner was living next to you, wouldn’t you want him or her to have all the skills
they possibly could to ensure that they could get a job, or would you want them there with minimal skills, thus making it likely that they will return to crime? We should ask ourselves which would be the safer scenario?
Our Readers Respond...

“I’m With Paul”



Dear Editor:


I’m voting for Paul J. Feiner for Town Supervisor of Greenburgh. I don’t know of a more dedicated local champion, a tireless fighter for everything that’s good in suburban/urban life. Paul J. Feiner has been Town Supervisor of Greenburgh, New York - a two-year, elected position - since 1991. He ran twice for Congress and lost - Greenburgh and America’s loss.

I’ve always voted for Paul Feiner, but got to know him really well last year. Verizon was offering fiber optic service in Greenburgh, and needed Town Council approval to offer television service through the fiber optics. Unsurprisingly, Cablevision, which had a monopoly on cable service in this area, opposed Verizon’s request.

Feiner, with a mostly balky Town Council baying at his every point, stood up and courageously argued for
freedom of choice in television providers in Greenburgh. This might not seem like such a controversial point, but if you’ve ever been to a local Town Council meeting you’ll know that everyone on the council has an opinion, and it’s usually not in favor of getting things done.

I was in favor of giving Greenburgh residents a real option in television, I wrote a few editorials arguing for
that, but it was Paul Feiner’s determination that got this to happen.

And he has been that way on every important local issue. Do you like being woken up all too early on weekend
mornings by someone blowing leaves or mowing the lawn at decibel levels that could split your eardrums? Feiner
doesn’t like that, either, and he’s doing what he can to keep the noise down. He stays on top of utilities like Con Ed to make repairs today, not tomorrow, after storms. He’s advocating wi-fi for a major street in Hartsdale - he wants it for the whole town, every inch of it, and the Hartsdale street would be the start. Paul J. Feiner is on the right side of every issue, be it nature or high-tech, communication to the world-at-large from your laptop or just dozing on your porch on a Saturday morning.

So I’m happily voting for Paul J. Feiner for another term of Town Supervisor. I saw him in front of the A&P
last week. And I told him, hey, I not only hope you win, but give that run for Congress another shot some day.


Paul Levinson, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Communication and Media Studies
Fordham University
White Plains


Reader Responds to “Give Us The Real Deal”



Dear Editor:


Obviously you’re part of the Barry Bonds asterisk brigade that would love to see Mr. Bonds brought down in shame. Here is something to ponder before you write your next anti-Bonds editorial. IF Mr. Bonds should be astersized, wouldn’t it be reasonable to place an asterisk next to Babe Ruth’s name because he did not bat against GREAT Negro pitchers like Satchel Page! Mr. Page,one of the great major league pitchers was barred from the majors until the last 8 years of his career.

In fact not only Babe Ruth should have an asterisk next to his name, many other players would not be in the Hall of Shame..(oops I mean Hall of Fame) If Negro players were not barred from the Majors. Furthermore, batters like the GREAT Josh Gibson who hit as many as 962 dingers would have over-shadowed Babe Ruth’s 714 home runs. Finally, I’ve notice the media(print/broadcast) rolled out the Great Henry Aaron when Mr. Bonds was seriously approaching a new home run record. Prior, Mr. Aaron home run feats were never promoted nationally, e.g., national advertisements ,etc…And WHY Mr. Henry Aaron was not made Baseball Commissioner? The Commissioners position is obviously a symbolic position which is supported by many level
of support assistants. You or I could be the MLB commissioner with that level of support, don’t you think!!

This whole thing about Mr. Bonds is about who should be heroes in America and what they should look like!
Would love to hear your response,

Mario Reid, New York

Editor’s Response


Dear Mr Reid:


To some extent you are preaching to the choir as regards the Negro Leagues. Having grown up in the South Bronx, in fact the 41st Precinct, were it not for a great Black New York City Police Officer, Jim McCord, from that precinct, who took a liking to me, I would never have known the privilege of playing Pony League baseball at 14 and 15 years of age, under Coach Al Richards, who had enjoyed a great career in the Negro Leagues.

Officer McCord, or Cordie as he was so affectionately known by his neighbors in Pelham Parkway, could afford, as a New York City Police Officer, to live in middle-income public housing on Mace Avenue in the Bronx. My dad, a laundry driver at the time, wasn’t earning quite enough to qualify our family to live there.

Because of Jim McCord and Al Richards, I had the pleasure of playing baseball in cleats, on grass, as a member of the Red Wings. But, for them, I would’ve been limited to pick-up softball games in the concrete schoolyards of my neighborhood. Having said that, let me assure you that you are correct when you say, “This whole thing about Mr. Bonds is about who should be heros in America,” but you are very mistaken when you finish the sentence with, “and what they should look like.”

My objection to Barry Bonds is the same objection I lodged against Mark McGwire. The use of performance-enhancing drugs by any athlete produces a counterfeit specimen, and achievements by such athletes are clearly separate and distinct from those who were not contaminated.

In short, it’s not about the color of a man’s skin but, rather, what’s coursing through his veins.


In Our Opinion...


David Endorses Goliath

We can only wonder what Lieutenant Governor David Paterson was thinking about last week, other than obedience to Democratic Party Boss Larry Schwartz when he endorsed Ernie Davis for a fourth term as Mayor of Mount Vernon. We know that he knows little or nothing about what is really going on there, because he described that neglected, struggling, violence-scarred city as “the very model of urban development.” We
wonder, indeed, that Mr. Paterson could, in good faith, commend a mayor who in twelve years in office has shown a clear contempt for the public well-being, preferring instead to tend to his own comfort and prosperity, and that of his cronies and political connections.


We would prefer to give David Paterson the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he really doesn’t know the true Ernie Davis. The David Paterson who has always been concerned about police interaction with inner-city civilians would not have endorsed Davis had he known that for years he looked the other way as his police department routinely gathered false confessions from innocent citizens, mostly people of color, in the so-called Conference Room in the basement of Police Headquarters, totally violating their Civil Rights. Selwyn Days is doing consecutive 25-Year to Life sentences for a “Double Homicide” that was really a Murder/Suicide. And, Kareem Bryan is doing 43 years in state prison for Rape and Burglary actually committed by another perpetrator who Mount Vernon Police let slip through their fingers.

Mayor Davis was urged, on his own radio show, nearly a year and a half ago, to put an end to such unlawful practices, but did nothing! It took the independent action of newly appointed Police Commissioner David Chong, informed of the horrific and unlawful police practice by The Guardian, to investigate, and put an end to it, thus protecting the Constitutional, and Miranda Rights of all Mount Vernon citizens, and all who may come in contact with police.

If Mr. Paterson really knew Mayor Davis and his regime he could not ignore the fact that Davis has repeatedly let down the hard-working families of Mount Vernon, driving many back to the Bronx and other surrounding communities, where schools are safer, and taxes are lower. We ask, “Would Mr. Paterson raise his children in Mount Vernon, and send them to Mount Vernon Public Schools?” He would want safer, more achieving schools, and a community with more employment and recreational opportunities for his kids; a community with more hope for the future than one can expect from Ernie Davis’ performance over the past twelve years. Mount Vernon’s parents and children have the right to those same expectations.

We recently interviewed several Mount Vernon High School students. They told a tale of fear in the hallways, fear of weapons and drugs that somehow make it through side doors. They spoke of fear on school buses, and about their parents’ agonizing about whether to move, or send them to private schools, while still paying sky-high property taxes. They spoke about the Hip-Hop Museum that never was, and the total lack of safe recreation in
their city. Many said that they knew someone who’s been a victim of violence, stabbing, or gunplay. Most go directly home, and lock their doors.

Some students we spoke with wondered why there are so many boarded-up stores and littered lots throughout their city, compared with other cities and towns they visit in Westchester. Their observations certainly do not square with David Paterson’s “urban model” statement. But they live in Mount Vernon.

If Mr. Paterson believes that he owes his greatest loyalty to Andy Spano, Larry Schwartz, Reggie LaFayette, and those like them who could care less about the City of Mount Vernon, and those families struggling to exist within its troubled and neglected confines, he is sadly mistaken. By his loyalty to such compatriots he betrays the very people who look up to him, and to whom he owes the greatest allegiance, and solemn duty to be more forthcoming and honest.
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

“It’s Time For All Good Democrats...”

With primary elections less than three weeks away, and the general election looming in November, the gloves have been coming off , and the battle lines have been drawn. Problem is players have been changing parties, Republicans having afterthoughts, abandoning those who elected them numerous times. Of course, nothing to do with voter registrations; no, it’s all about “deeply personal” principles you understand, so deep they cannot
be articulated.

Westchester voters need to keep a scorecard just to know who is in which party. But, why bother, party
affiliation in Westchester does not guarantee the support that ought to be forthcoming.

In fact, it doesn’t mean a darn thing in a county that has been run by a Cabal. Dennis Robertson, Democratic
Yonkers City Councilman, does not get any support from so-called Democrat Andy Spano, nor from his puppeteer, Larry Schwartz. They are solidly behind Republican Mayor Phil Amicone, just as they were solidly behind his Republican buddy Nick Spano each time Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Tom Abinanti, both solid
Democrats, challenged him. The reason is simple. Larry and Andy did business with Nick, and they do business with Phil Amicone.

Robertson, a straight shooter, refuses to sell out the interests of the People of Yonkers to a County Government that takes too much in taxes, and delivers too little in services. He believes that County Government, particularly
under the Spano Administration, has grown far too big and costly, and that most services would be more cost-
effectively handled at state and local levels. In his words, “Amicone never questions what the County does that inflicts pain on the People of Yonkers.”

County Legislator Clinton Young, running against three-term mayoral incumbent Ernie Davis at the urging of caring rank and file Democrats who are sick and tired of Davis’ excuses and failures, does not have the support
of Spano or Schwartz either. They know, from past experience, that Young cannot be pushed around and made to sacrifice his constituents’ interests, the way Davis can be. The People of Mount Vernon are no fools. They know that there are good reasons why the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office are looking over Davis’ books. Three million dollars simply doesn’t disappear into thin air!

“They also know ...”that it’s time for a change, a breath of fresh air around City Hall. For almost 12 years now, they know that the Mayor’s Office has been all about the Mayor, and nobody else, least of all the City’s youth. They know that Davis has failed their children miserably, and failed them, as well, in the process. They know that he merely talks a good game. And, they realize that politicians like Spano and Schwartz, are behind him because
they don’t really care what happens in Mount Vernon.

Paul Feiner, one of the most highly regarded public servants in all of downstate New York, does not have the support of Spanocrats Andy and Larry, because he is not only a dedicated public servant, one who goes
out and asks his constituents how he may be of assistance to them, but also he is a man of his word. He is constantly protecting the People of Greenburgh from abuse by the County Executive’s Office, specifi-cally the schemes of Larry Schwartz.

Feiner cannot be bought o with money or favor, a fact that Schwartz will never understand. When Schwartz thought he could sneak by Feiner, and violate the contract between the Town of Greenburgh and the County of Westchester regarding the placement of homeless shelters, by proposing to build one behind the County Police
Headquarters in Hawthorne, Paul stepped up to the plate, and pointed out the fact that it would be a quarter mile too close to already existing facilities under the contract.

Foolishly miscalculating Feiner’s integrity and his determination to honor and protect the interests of Greenburgh citizens, Andy Spano made a statement, publicly, that he would “work something out” with Supervisor Feiner. When Paul stood firm, announcing that he would not go against the spirit, or the letter, of the agreement binding
the County, thus diminishing the Town’s position in all future contract negotiations, he did so, fully recognizing that Larry would encourage and finance anyone, yes anyone, he could get to run against him.

Supervisor Paul Feiner, County Legislator Clinton Young, and Yonkers City Councilman Dennis Robertson, true Democrats all, are running on their records and on their platforms. They will not be dictated to by the likes of Larry Schwartz and his ilk. Each of these men will be recognized as true Democrats, public servants uncompromised by fear or favor.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

United States Attorney Garcia And State Attorney General Cuomo Announce Indictment Of 15 For Major Theft And Fraud
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York


MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and ANDREW CUOMO, the Attorney General of the State of New York, announced last Monday, August 20, the unsealing of an Indictment charging 15 individuals with crimes including producing fake identification documents, using those documents to commit various fraud crimes, and selling and transporting stolen vehicles. As alleged in the sixteen-count Indictment returned by the grand jury in Manhattan federal court:

The defendants and their co-conspirators produced false identification documents purporting to have been issued by state and federal government authorities, including driver’s licenses, resident alien cards, social security cards, and tax identification documents. The false identification documents were produced in the names of fraudulent identities, to which the defendants referred as “chickens.”

In order to build financial credit for these fake identities, the defendants, among other things, fraudulently established bank accounts, credit card accounts, apartment leases, and telephone and utility accounts in the names of the “chickens.” The defendants also applied for and obtained lucrative bank loans, home mortgage
loans, increased credit card limits, and other financial benefits in the names of the “chicken” identities or in the names of sham businesses supposedly operated by those fraudulent identities. The defendants and their co-conspirators then defaulted on the loans and credit card debt, causing at least $10 million in losses to numerous financial institutions.

In the course of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators designated certain physical addresses as the mailing addresses for the “chicken” credit card accounts, and regularly monitored the mail at those addresses for incoming credit cards and account statements in the false names. They then used these cards to pay bills, make purchases, and obtain cash advances, often charging the maximum (or above the maximum) amount allowed on the cards and then defaulting on the bill.

Additionally, four of the defendants -- TAHIR ALI KHAN, SYED HASSAN, FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ, AND BASHARAL JARRAL – are charged with stolen vehicle offenses involving luxury cars such as Hummers and a Porsche Cayenne.

TAHIR ALI KHAN is 30 years old, and resides in Alabama.
FAYYAZ AHMED is 40 years old, and is currently held at Riker’s Island, NY.
ARIE BENSHIMON is 35 years old and resides in Monsey, NY.
NAVEED ALI BHINDAR is 43 years old resides in Valley Stream, NY.
SYED HASSAN is 33 years old and resides in Staten Island, NY.
MUHAMMAD ISHAQ is 34 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
BASHARAT JARRAL is 49 years old and resides in Elmhurst, NY.
NADEEM KHAN is 24 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
GHULAM MEHMOOD is 40 years old and resides in Cartaret, NJ.
SHAHEEN MUKHTAR is 53 years old and resides in Voorhees, NJ.
QAISER QURESHI is 53 years old and resides in Queens, NY.
FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ is 21 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
SYED SHAH is 23 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
OSCAR SANCHEZ is 37 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
PRADIPT SHARMA is 31 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.


The filing of these charges is the culmination of a 16-month investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office with the New York City Police Department, New York State Police, the Hoover, Alabama Police Department, and the New York State Banking Department. Valuable assistance was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the New York City Department of Probation, the Social Security Administration, and the United States Secret Service.

Mr. GARCIA praised the Attorney General’s Office and the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for their outstanding work in the investigation. Mr. GARCIA stated: “Through the cooperation of federal and state prosecutors, and the investigative work of federal, state and local agencies, we have dismantled a fraud ring of 15 defendants who used false identities to obtain at least $10 million through a wide variety of scams.”

“These defendants are charged with creating a comprehensive system of fraud for ripping off businesses to satisfy their own greed. One of these individuals is even charged with attempting to purchase $10,000 worth of Lowe’s gift cards using a credit card obtained through a false identity,” said Mr. CUOMO. “Our investigators spent over a year monitoring the conspirators and tirelessly compiling evidence to expose these illegal activities. I applaud their hard work, which was a critical part of this investigation and essential in uncovering these crimes.”

Assistant United States Attorneys LISA ZORNBERG and ELIE HONIG, and Assistant Attorney General MERYL LUTSKY -- who is designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this case -- are in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Vinnie Restiano Tells Phil Amicone: “Return the stolen newspaper boxes. Reimburse the City out of your Campaign Account.”

Upon learning of the un-Constitutional seizure under the orders of Mayor Phil Amicone of 56 Westchester Guardian Newspaper distribution boxes, that had been in place for more than a year throughout the City of Yonkers, Republican Mayoral candidate Vincenza Restiano called upon Amicone to do the right thing. The following is a press release put out last week:

Press Release

YONKERS-Republican Mayoral candidate Vincenza Restiano called on Mayor Phil Amicone to accept responsibility for the removal and the by city workers of 56 Guardian news racks and to immediately return them to the owner. She also demanded that the Mayor foot the cost of litigation over this matter out of his Campaign Account.

“Removal of the news racks violated the First Amendment rights of every Yonkers citizen,” said Restiano. “And the owner and publisher of The Westchester Guardian is rightly livid about the the of the newspaper’s boxes. Clearly, someone ordered DPW employees to remove news racks that contained copies of The Westchester Guardian. And it is equally clear that it was done because Mayor Amicone did not like the editorial content of the newspaper, since news racks containing other publications were not confisscated.”

The owner of The Westchester Guardian has sued the City for $40 million and Amicone’s spokesperson defended the the of the Guardian’s boxes by claiming that it wasn’t a newspaper.

“The Mayor’s campaign should pay for the return of stolen property and for the time that it took the city employees to confiscate the news boxes,” continued Restiano. “ The Mayor should also reimburse the
city for the cost of the litigation, since it is now clear that the reason the boxes were removed is because the Mayor did not like what was being said about him.”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Our Readers Respond...

Push Polling Is Disgraceful


Dear Editor:

It’s no wonder that people are sick and tired of the Greenburgh Town Council. Dirty politics seems to be their stock and trade. First they meet secretly with a developer to try to cut a deal for themselves, now they are
lying about their opponents. I received a telephone “poll” last week and was asked that if I knew that candidate Kevin Morgan supported the policies of President Bush would I be less likely to vote for him for Town Council?

Why would Democratic primary candidates attack their fellow Democrats in such an unfair way? I know Kevin Morgan and I know that he does not support the policies of George Bush - not to mention the fact that national
policies have nothing to do with Greenburgh government.

What is the purpose for these divisive tactics? How will Democrats address such unethical behavior from supposedly Democratic candidates who are really a blight on the party? They are making it up, just like
the last election.

Two years ago the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee found that Frances Sheehan and Diane Juettner lied when they stated Kevin Morgan didn’t support a woman’s right to choose.

Guess what, they are lying again. I’m voting for Kevin Morgan for Town Council. It looks like the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee is going to have its work cut out for it again. Greenburgh needs a fair election with fair protection for true Democrats.

Garrett Cronin, White Plains


Fair Campaign Practices Committee Contact Info

Dear Editor:


The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee will be in operation for the 16th straight year, affording candidates an opportunity to bring charges of unfair campaign practices before our committee for a hearing and ruling. We need your help in alerting candidates about our service.

If you need additional information, please contact Stephanie Sarnoff, chair, at 914-276-0760.

Judy Hamilton


More On Push Polling And Dirty Tricks

Dear Editor:


Kevin Morgan, candidate for Greenburgh Town Council, said that Democrats in Greenburgh are being called by an anonymous “pollster”, whose real purpose is campaigning for his opponents. The poll asks voters what they think about Supervisor Feiner, Morgan, and his running mate Sonja Brown and Clerk candidate Judith Beville.

The poll, which asks a number of questions about each candidate, is actually designed to discourage voters from voting for Morgan and his running mates by fabricating stories about their record and views. Karl Rove would be proud.

Gary Cronin, a registered Democrat in Greenburgh and the recipient of the “poll”, said that he was angered when the “pollster” asked if he would think differently about Morgan if he knew that Morgan supported George Bush’s
policies. “I know Kevin, know that he is not a George Bush supporter and was offended that they would lie about him. This is dirty politics at its worst.”

Morgan attributed his 2005 loss to Francis Sheehan to last-minute mailings claiming that Morgan was not pro choice. The mailings were sent shortly before primary day so that Morgan wouldn’t have a chance to respond. Morgan has always been pro choice. Polly Rothstein, founder of Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion, verified Morgan’s pro choice views, and even told Sheehan not to go forward with his accusations because they weren’t true. Truth, of course, was not what Sheehan was interested in. After the election the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee found that Francis Sheehan and Diana Juettner sent out unfair campaign literature. Morgan said, “I don’t want to lose the election again because my opponents are saying things about me that just aren’t true.”

Friends of Kevin Morgan


Former Correction Officer Expresses Concern for Richard DiGuglielmo

Dear Editor:


I would like to start by thanking you for a phenomenal newspaper, which prints an uncensored description of corruption within Westchester County.

I was reading the article in your August 9, 2007 paper regarding Richard DiGuglielmo (The Wheels
of Justice Finally Turn), and would like to give some insight. In 1996 I was employed by the Westchester County Department of Corrections. I clearly remember the incident which took place, and have been very upset with the unjust prosecutorial misconduct brought upon Mr. DiGuglielmo by our former DA, Jeanine Pirro. I remember
watching Richard walk down the long corridor, being escorted by a sergeant, to his housing unit within the institution. ere was a frightened, despondent look on Richard’s face as he approached me. I commented
to him, “Stay strong, my brother, we are here for you.” He glanced up at me and I could see a tear starting to fill his eye.

One day later, I was working the visitation room when Richard entered, only to see his mother and beaten father sitting at a table waiting to greet and console their son. I couldn’t help but notice the casted hand of his father, along with the massive dark bruise on his thigh area because he was wearing shorts.

At this point, I said to myself, “what is this man doing in a cage?” He did not only do what he was trained to as a police officer, but was expected by every son to do to protect their father from a bat-wielding, violent assaulter.
Not only did our DA at the time maliciously prosecute him in order to uphold her 98 percent conviction rate, she sent him to prison. As I understand it, there might be another Constitutional violation which Richard’s defense is concerned about. is is very troubling to the citizens of Westchester County who placed their trust and faith
in the hands of our former DA. She abused her power, not only once with the denial of Jeffrey Deskovic’s
plea for DNA comparison, but with Brady violations involving the DiSimone case. How many other violations did her office commit?

How many other people did she maliciously prosecute and convict? Ninety-eight percent is a big ratio.
Even the New York Yankees can’t win every game.

Mr. Garcia, isn’t it about time you step up to the plate and indict this criminal who instructed her ADAs
to follow her lead like a chorus line, violating the trust and faith of every citizen within this county? Please,
don’t be intimidated by her $400 snake skin shoes or her $200 haircuts ($1.5 million joint tax return).

After all, how would she feel wearing an orange jumpsuit! It was also stated that she had a confidential
hook within your department. You surely have a lot of work ahead of you, Mr. Garcia.

From a concerned law enforcement officer

What A Coinkadink


We would prefer to give everyone, within reason, the benefit of the doubt. And so, we would prefer to think that the reason Mayor Amicone’s payroll swelled by $1.2 million after he accepted Nicky Spano’s endorsement
has nothing to do with the fact that Nicky’s State Senate payroll, before he lost to Andrea Stewart-Cousins, had been, you guessed it, $1.2 million. We would prefer to think that it’s only a coincidence.

Yes, it’s true that there are Nicky People all over Yonkers City Hall, and they’ve been there for many months, some weaving baskets, still others twiddling their thumbs, since about the time of the endorsement. But, We would prefer to think that everyone of those 30 or more new Yonkers City employees were really qualified and very needed to fill the particular essential jobs they now perform. After all, there are certain Civil Service rules and regulations that govern the hiring of public employees you know; something to do with being chosen off a competitive performance list.

Imagine some observers have been going around suggesting that Nicky’s former staff were actually given preferential treatment, in fact, hired to do little, if anything, at their old pay scale. Once again, We prefer to believe that it’s all just a coincidence.

Then again, suppose, just suppose, those observers are on to something, that it’s not merely a coincidence that all those new hires from Spanoville just happen to be costing what they were costing when they worked in the office of the State Senator from the 35th Senatorial District. Why, if that is the case, then the unimaginable might be true, and We would prefer not to think of Phil Amicone and Nick Spano in that light. If that really is the case, then Mr. Amicone would be paying off Nick Spano for his worthless, oops, endorsement with more than a million dollars-worth of jobs for Nicky’s flunkies, with money from the public treasury.

We ask ourselves, “Is Phil Amicone the sort of person who would do such a corrupt and underhanded thing? Would he cut a deal with a tired ‘has-been’ who’s unemployed only because he couldn’t steal another election?”

We consider the Mayor’s conduct in office in weighing our conclusion. Phil Amicone has done absolutely nothing to quell the frightening proclivity for violence of the Yonkers Police Department, a department known for its brutality even amongst other police departments. Phil Amicone is capable of lying about having performed a life-saving maneuver just to make himself look heroic. Phil Amicone cannot tolerate fair, and truthful scrutiny and criticism, as evidenced by his confiscation of 56 distribution boxes of The Westchester Guardian, and the arrest of Guardian employees in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, as well as applicable New York State statutes.

In light of all of the above We must, reluctantly, but reasonably, conclude that yes, Mayor Phil Amicone is quite capable of cutting such a cynical deal with the likes of Nick Spano, and paying it off with taxpayers’ money.
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Chief David Hall And Captain Anthony Marriccini: Two Rogue Cops With Dirty Hands

Harrison Police Chief David Hall and Captain Anthony Marriccini are two police officers unworthy of command or respect. Acting in concert for many years now, they have engaged in, and covered up numerous unlawful acts, their own, and those of others, including former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, conspiring and executing schemes calculated to deprive decent fellow police officers, innocent citizens, and taxpayers of every stripe, of their Constitutionallyguaranteed right to Due Process and Equal Protection Under Law.

For the most part their crimes against the community are federal in nature, and deserve the utmost attention of federal authorities. Their connivance and lies have known no limit, extending across the boundaries of reasonableness and common decency. In April of 2002 they willingly responded to the dictates of Jeanine Pirro who unlawfully demanded that they destroy their investigation, some four hours in progress, into the assault upon, and willful neglect of a severely injured Harrison High School student, Robert Viscome, Jr. resulting in death from
serious head trauma, and failure to receive immediate emergency attention.

Despite having elicited inculpating statements, and having prepared criminal histories, and arrest reports, from several youths, including John Porzio, Jr., all materials were ordered destroyed, to protect Porzio, at whose house the assault had occurred, a house known to police as a drug “safe-house,” and other youths including Christine Pirro, daughter of Jeanine and Al Pirro.

At Hall’s and Marriccini’s command, lieutenants confiscated the reports and paperwork that had been generated by responding officers, shredding them after releasing nearly two dozen youths through the back door of Police Headquarters. Hall, whose principal function has been to serve as Marriccini’s public spokesperson, then proceeded to disseminate false information to the family and friends of Rob Viscome, and to the media and press, putting in place a huge lie, that to this day has seriously damaged not only every one of the two dozen youths involved, but also the morale, and integrity of the entire Harrison Police Department.

In the five years since the tragic incident, guilt and recrimination have added still further acrimony and tyranny to the environment of a police department already torn by the multi-faceted criminal agenda, and secrecy imposed
by Marriccini and Hall, aided and abetted by the District Attorney’s Office, and local Town Justice John Voetsch.

At times their criminal conduct has commenced upon their own initiative, as with David Hall’s forging and converting of a $2,500 check written as a con-tribution by a local country club to the Harrison Police PBA, but altered and deposited to one of Hall’s membership organizations. Of course, the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit found nothing in those facts to bring before a grand jury, nothing to prosecute.

More recently, within the last few weeks, Marriccini and Hall have, once again, been reassured of continuing support of their unlawful activities by the Westchester DA’s Office in the form of affirmative activity to bolster their malicious, and calculated harassment of Harrison Police Officer Ralph Tancredi, 42, a ten-year veteran of the force, and president of the PBA, as well as Police Officer Steven Heisler, 28, a life-long Harrison resident.

In Tancredi’s case, an incident involving the officer in his civilian capacity, in which a young man in his twenties threatened him on the street with a sawedoff baseball bat and placed his hand on the officer’s chest, as if to shove him, while in the company of Tancredi’s former girlfriend, was released by Harrison police brass, despite the fact that the responding police officer had approached the assailant, having taken his bat away, and reported no criminal conduct by Tancredi.

Tancredi, the victim, by any account, including that of the young woman present, incredibly, was detained, arrested, and suspended from work. Additionally, although that young woman insisted to Harrison police that Officer Tancredi did not act hostile, or harass either herself or her companion, and refused to sign any false statement, or complaint against him, the Harrison Police, under orders from Captain Marriccini, without her consent, obtained an Order Of Protection from the District Attorney’s Office against Tancredi.

Police Officer Steven Heisler, on the other hand, has been suspended, and is the subject of disciplinary charges brought by David Hall for supposedly failing to report promptly enough about an earlier incident in which Officer Tancredi, again in his civilian capacity, was wrongfully accosted by a drunken patron at a local bar, who later apologized for his inappropriate conduct. Having been dispatched in response to a call from the bar, Officer Heisler, in fact, proceeded to deal appropriately, and effectively with the rowdy patron, preventing matters
from escalating, and reporting back to his superiors as quickly as possible. The charges against Officer Heisler are as meritless as those against Tancredi, and constitute harassment, and Unconstitutional violations of Due Process.

Perhaps of more urgent concern to Harrison residents and taxpayers is the squandering of enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars by the Harrison Police Department at the direction of Captain Marriccini. For openers, the Captain, the Chief, six Lieutenants, four canine officers, and one Police Academy officer, thirteen individuals in all, take taxpayer-paid-for police vehicles, filled with taxpayerpaid-for gas, home every night, and every weekend, to places as far away from Harrison as Carmel, New York. However, as serious as this taxpayer abuse may be, perhaps involving several hundred thousand dollars each year, it is minor when compared with the $4 million wasted on overtime, and other unnecessary expenses incurred in the so-called Fugasi Gambling Investigation.

The investigation was bogus, intended as a method by which Captain Marriccini could pay out enormous amounts of overtime to four or five executives of the PBA and some 15 other PBA members in his effort to bribe, and win over their support following the filing of a federal lawsuit by some twelve Harrison Police Officers who had been unlawfully subjected to the taping and recording of their locker room activities, in March of last year.

The involvement of some twenty officers in the bogus operation caused normal tours to frequently run short of manpower. Where six officers had normally been on the road three or four were compelled to cover, clearly an unwarranted safety risk for Harrison residents. After many months, and the squandering of four million dollars, only one Harrison resident was arrested. There was one gun arrest, and a number of misdemeanor gambling charges; pitifully little. Furthermore, the huge investment netted less than $800,000 in gambling proceeds.

Seeking to help Hall and Mariccini justify their unwarranted, wasteful scheme, once again the Westchester District Attorney’s Office stepped in seeking to lay blame on Officers Mike and Arty Marinelli, claiming they had somehow tipped off the operators of the gambling operation.

Captain Marriccini has instituted a RICO-type enterprise. In an effort to directly and indirectly support his homebuilding, and other enterprises, by obligating certain businesses, in and around Harrison, he has instructed officers on road patrols to issue thousands of dollars in truck violations to certain companies, routinely passing through Harrison. Town Attorneys Jonathan Kraut, and Frank Allegretti reportedly are each being paid $10,000 annual stipends in addition to their salaries, to handle the negotiations with these firms over their commercial vehicle violations.

Chief Hall is fully aware of all of the above unlawful, and taxpayer-abusive, conduct. In truth he serves at the pleasure of Captain Marriccini and his connections. He is little more than a corrupt front man. Almost laughably, Marriccini is the Internal Affairs Officer. Talk about the ‘fox in the henhouse’!

Having been informed of the unlawful goings-on, the State Investigation Commission has done nothing, as usual. Given that fact, as well as the conspicuous collusion between Hall and Marriccini, and the District Attorney’s Office, the above issues, by all accounts a small fraction of what is known, cry out for the immediate attention of the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office.

As Chief Hall and his partner in crime, Captain Marriccini will soon discover, the truth speaks for itself, once stated, it stands on its own. But a lie, especially a BIG LIE, such as was told about the conduct of some two dozen young adults, including the daughter of the DA, who made a very bad decision that may very well have cost the life of their friend; that kind of lie needs constant propping and support forever. But still the ugly truth emerges.

Does the Captain and his official mouthpiece, Chief Hall, really believe that there are any intelligent Harrison residents who do not realize what happened to Rob Viscome, five years ago, and what’s happening to Officers Tancredi and Heisler right now? How stupid do they think people are?

They’re not so stupid as to think that a man obtains yachts, ultra-expensive cars, and McMansion homes on an honest policeman’s salary, not even an over-paid Captain’s. They know there have been many lies, and that beneath the silent surface induced by intimidation, rests a willingness everywhere to come forward with the truth, if only to lay down one’s heavy burden, and finally relieve one’s conscience. Many already have begun, and the truth is percolating to the surface everywhere throughout Westchester, including Harrison. People are waking up and smelling the coffee as Hall and Marriccini will soon discover.

At Officer Tancredi's arraignment in Harrison Town Court Friday, Aug. 17, his attorney, Jonathan Lovett, requested a change of venue, as well as the removal of temporary Orders Of Protection from his client. He indicated that he will be going into Federal Court with the matter to address serious violations of his client's Constitutional rights.

Judge Mark Lust adjourned the proceeding until Friday, Aug. 24th and, over the objections of the District Attorney’s Office, refused to continue the Orders of Protection beyond one more week. It was clear to those present in Court that Of-ficer Tancredi has an enormous base of support amongst rank and file police officers and that Captain Marriccini and Chief Hall will not be getting away with it this time.
The Court Report

By Richard Blassberg


Judge Who Should Have Recused Herself Bounces Independence Party Mayoral Hopeful
State Supreme Court, White Plains
Judge Mary H. Smith Presiding



Last Wednesday, following two full days of testimony and under a Court imposed deadline, Supreme Court Justice Mary H. Smith effectively removed Nader Sayegh, Independent candidate for Mayor of Yonkers from the Independence Party Primary Election. Finding for Phil Amicone and three politically insignificant additional
parties, against Sayegh and the Westchester Board of Elections, Judge Smith concluded, “…this Court must find by clear and convincing evidence that respondent Sayegh had engaged in fraud in the procurement of signatures for his designating petition requiring that his petition be invalidated.”

Smith was referring specifi-cally to testimony from two constituents, a young Ms. Said and a middle-aged Mr. Hasow, signers amongst more than 750 who signed petitions to place Sayegh on the Independence Primary ballot. Despite the fact that more than 130 of the signatures collected personally by the candidate, and by his family, came from members of his immediate and extended family, Smith found that he “personally and knowingly
had participated in fraud with respect to the collecting and witnessing of signatures on his designating petition”. She refused, however, to affirm Petitioner’s claim, as presented by Attorney John Ciampoloi, that Sayegh’s
petition was “permeated with fraud.”

Analysis

There are several troubling aspects to Judge Smith’s handling of this case. For one thing, Smith, who had declined to preside over another, concurrent election case involving the Independence Party, specifically
Giulio Cavallo, and parties in opposition to, as well as in litigation against, him, and his political allies, in fact, recusing herself from that matter, should clearly have recused from this matter as well. Most troubling, from this reporter’s standpoint, was that a judge with whom prior contacts had always produced favorable performance reviews, now saw fit, before the commencement of proceedings on Friday August 10th, to call into her chambers counsel for both sides, including the County Attorney, for more than twenty minutes, in the absence of Mr. Sayegh, to apparently reveal, out of the presence of press and interested observers, her several conflicting relationships and circumstances, in spite of which she believed she could fairly fact find, and adjudicate the case.`

The fact is, Judge Smith has, in the past been a substantial contributor to the Independence Party, and Club, reportedly giving as much as $10,000 to Mr. Cavallo’s favorite charity. She is presently under subpoena from Publisher of The Westchester Guardian, Sam Zherka, as are numerous other judges, and Westchester County
politicians who have contributed substantial sums to Mr. Cavallo, apparently in exchange for his “party’s” cross-endorsement. Mr. Zherka is a member of the Integrity Committee, and a known supporter of Nader Sayegh, and was present in Smith’s Court throughout the proceedings.

Judge Smith, a Republican, whose judicial future lies virtually in the hands of the Republican State Committee who dispatch and underwrite the fees of John Ciampoli, legal counsel to Republican Mayor Phil Amicone in the instant case, and to Giulio Cavallo, Zehy Jereis, and other undesirable political operatives a week earlier in their unsuccessful action against Republican City Councilman John Murtagh, before Judge Joan Lefkowitz. Judge Smith knows better than most that even the appearance of impropriety may be fatal to the career of a judge.

As regards the evidence that formed the basis of Smith’s decision, her reliance upon testimony of self-proclaimed handwriting expert Roger Rubin was a stretch at best. The sum total of his education in the field of his so-called expertise, consisted, by his own admission, of having read a book on the subject. Respondent’s expert, Joseph P. Mc Nally, Jr., who is essentially criticized by Smith for having “failed to refute the specific findings of petitioner’s expert,” avoided doing so for the very same reason he criticized Rubin for making comparisons.


McNally, preferring to be known as a Document Authenticator, and possessing vastly more credentials and experience than Rubin, was strongly opposed to the making of signature comparisons from the designating petitions, with a “single exemplar,” voter registration cards, many of which he pointed out to the Court were fifteen and twenty years old.

Finally, legally savvy observers present, including this reporter, understood that Mr. Ciampoli had not made out
a very compelling case. And, realizing this toward the end of his presentation, as a kind of “Hail Mary Pass” raised an old election law case Haas v. Costigan that he had exhumed from 1961, one that even Judge Smith
acknowledged had many “red flags.” The purpose of the citation was to suggest that if Mr. Sayegh avoided testifying, for whatever reason, Haas stood for the proposition that it would impose a negative inference.

Before breaking for lunch Smith insisted that Attorney Harry Kessler produce Nader Sayegh in her Court for the afternoon session. No such requirement was imposed upon Phil Amicone or any other opposing party. And, while his testimony contradicted the testimony relied upon by the Judge, given the circumstances under which signatures were collected and the large numbers of individuals who signed, Sayegh’s responses to cross-examination did not seem “incredible” as claimed by Smith in her decision, but rather left room for reasonable doubt. In any case there was no evidence that would compel a reasonable trier of fact, under the totality of the circumstances, to conclude that there had been an affirmative fraudulent intent on the part of the respondent.

Nader Sayegh had told The Guardian prior to the proceedings, “The opposition, Giulio Cavallo and his team, including Phil Amicone, have brought an action against the Westchester Board of Elections for having validated petitions containing 768 signatures. They are pursuing a strategy of intimidation and harassment of voters. They feel they can use their money and influence to get their way.”

Contacted following release of Smith’s decision, Sayegh told The Guardian that he fully intends to appeal the decision to the Appellate Division, and, if necessary to the Court of Appeals.
Cross-Endorsement Should Be Abolished in New York



By Mike Edelman

New York is one of only five states in the United States that permits one party to cross-endorse another. The policy is wrong because it allows minor parties with relatively low numbers of enrolled voters to accumulate power and leverage far beyond the number of people actually enrolled in that party. The consequences of cross-endorsement open the door to political extortion and, depending upon which party relies on cross-endorsements, in fact, ends up ultimately emasculating that party which becomes the proverbial dog being wagged by the
cross-endorsement tail.

Here in Westchester we have ex-perienced in recent years the cross-endorsement phenomenon between the
Republican and Conservative Parties, and prior to that experience New York Democrats had the same problem
with the Liberal Party, which they have since rejected out of self-preservation, and because association with Liberalism has, for years, been anathema. Westchester, which used to be a bastion of Republican strength, so
much so that naming a candidate virtually assured his election, has unfortunately succumbed to the bondage of cross-endorsement. First, it was just the Conservative Party at the controls, a Party which for years touted fiscally conservative principles and insisted that the candidates it supported subscribe to those same principles. Initially, this did not present much of a problem to Republicans because they too, were basically more conservative on financial, tax, and foreign policy issues. However, the Republican Party came to rely on
Conservative cross-endorsement year after year in order to elect and re-elect Republican candidates. But, then the dynamic changed drastically. Republican registrations, here in Westchester, began to tumble year after year.


The Conservative Party adopted the socially-conservative anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-gay positions of the Evangelical Right. And, to add to the mix, there emerged another minor party called the Independence
Party. Being outnumbered, Republicans felt the need to seek not only Conservative Party support, but
also support from the Independence Party as well. This empowered the leaders of those minor parties to not
simply support the candidate chosen by the Republican Party, because he or she happened to be closest to their
own political viewpoint, but more importantly, to dictate to the Republican Party just which candidates it should choose. Those dictates were not based on political philosophy, but rather upon the self-interest of the minor party. Simply put, the minor parties were empowered to literally extort, from the Republican Party, jobs, political contributions, and the very selection of who would run for office.

Witness the last gubernatorial election where Mike Long, Chairman of the State Conservative Party, dictated the Republican Party choice for both Governor and United States Senator. Long announced, early on, that he would not support any candidate for the Senate unless that candidate was pro-life. When Jeanine Pirro announced for the Senate, her nomination was dead on arrival, even before she lost the now-famous page ten at her initial press conference, because Mike Long would not accept her. The same was true for the Republican candidate for Governor.

Little-known former Assemblyman and lobbyist John Faso was prolife, whereas William Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts, was pro-choice. With the blessings of Mike Long, Faso prevailed, receiving the nomination, and, thus the meltdown of the State Republican Organization was etched in stone. Closer to home, the same thing was happening, only it involved the local Independence Party. Down over 100,000 in registration, as compared with the Democrats, the Republican Party needed to cobble together a coalition of minor parties in order to even have a chance of winning. They felt obligated to do business not only with the Conservative Party, but also with the Independence Party, now under the control of Giulio Cavallo.

The Independence Party is a party with relatively slight enrollment, which, because it uses the name Independence, tends to draw substantially more votes on its line than its registration. Why? Because many people who are non-party registered voters, upon seeing the word ‘Independence’ believe that it means Independent. However, it means just the opposite. The Independence Party is a party which began with a Ross Perot candidacy for President in the late 1980s and evolved into a ‘splinter group’ whose sole purpose for many
years has been to benefit themselves, and their friends, by leveraging their disproportionate electoral strength
in order to secure jobs.


Giulio Cavallo, himself, worked in a Republican State Senator’s of-fice on Long Island, raising money to influence the choice of candidates by cross-endorsing Republicans of his liking. The long-term effect of allowing
the cross-endorsement policy has been to diminish the ability of the Westchester Republican Party, as well as the State Republican Party, to select candidates of their own choosing, Republicans who could win the votes of Democrats and non-party registered voters, Republicans who are not beholden to the interests of minor parties as regards philosophy or the distribution of jobs.

It has been very sad to watch Republicans, who, in the bluest of Blue States, can win state-wide, become
the dog wagged by the minor party tail. But, that is precisely what has happened; and the sooner the Republican
Party regains the ability to choose its own candidates, the sooner it will be able to win both statewide, and here in Westchester County.

Realistically, it may take a few election cycles for Republicans to once again be a stand-alone party.
And, and it may require a few more hard losses, but, in the end, it will all be worth it if they take the steps
needed and are no longer dependent upon cross-endorsement. When that day arrives, the parties that cross-endorsed will have withered away. Naturally, it would be helpful if a legislator with the gravitas and insight to recognize the problem, would introduce a bill to ban cross-endorsement. But legislators, I fear, tend to be more concerned about their next election than about the health of the Two Party system. Despite that fact, cross-endorsement must be ended in New York State.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

One Day In The Life Of a Prisoner

By Jeffrey Deskovic

As many are well aware, I was incarcerated from December, 1990 until September, 2006 - a total of 16 years -
for a rape and murder of which I would go on to be proven innocent through DNA. In the course of imprisonment, I would both experience, and witness, the indifference, at best, and inhumanity and abuse, at worst; treatment that the correction officers, civilian staff, and the prison administration doled out to inmates. As I see it, talking respectfully, treating humanely, and recognizing basic human rights, could and should be a part of operating a prison while making sure that inmates do not escape. After all, prisoners are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. Yet, that is not the way it works out.

I would like to share an experience One Day In The Life Of a Prisoner which, to this day, bothers me whenever
I think about it, because it was so unnecessary.

In 1996 word reached me that my grandmother was on her deathbed. The chaplain who informed me of the fact
advised me that I could request to go see her. I had two choices: I could either go to the funeral, or I could ask for a deathbed visit, but not both. Once I decided, he would then fill out the request form and submit it to the superintendent, who would then decide if he was willing to allow me to go.

It was a quandary deciding which to do. I could elect to see her in the hospital while she was in a coma, and
therefore unaware that I was there, but nonetheless, still alive. Or, I could go to the church service to be held for her upon her death, thus also seeing family members who I had not seen or heard from in years, and in many cases had not seen at all in the 6 years I had already been in prison.

The thought crossed my mind that this could be my only opportunity to see them. After all, I was serving a life
sentence, and although I always had hope I would be cleared, it was far from certain that that would ever happen. At the same time, I knew that, barring a miracle, those who I had not had any contact with during those six years were not going to come and visit me.

I remember thinking, “Why do I have to make a choice? Would it really kill them to let me go to both events?” It
would be so simple, yet such human consideration was seen as unwarranted. After all, I was a prisoner, not a human being.

Despite the implications of the choice either way, I had to decide pretty quickly, before the decision was taken
from me by her passing away. In the end, I decided that I would rather see her alive one last time.

The day I went to see her did not start out well. It would take about 4 to 4 ½ hours to get from Elmira Prison to
the hospital in Peekskill where she lay in a coma. And so, therefore, we would be leaving in the morning, before the population was served breakfast. The procedure was that the officers were given money to purchase meals for themselves and for me. We stopped at a delicatessen, and they purchased breakfast for themselves, purchasing only coffee for me, however. I am prone to motion sickness, and one of the procedures to prevent yourself from get-ting sick is to eat. The absence of food led to my getting sick in the car. Two or three times they had to stop because I was about to throw up. Yet, it was like dry heaves because there was nothing
in my stomach. In addition, while I was out of the car to throw up, I was left in chains, handcuffs, and leg irons.
I was unable to move my hands more than a inch or two. Considering that if they did take the handcuffs off
that I would still have the leg irons on, and that both officers carried side arms, where could I possibly have gone? What was the security risk?

The car itself was way too hot and stuffy. The windows were not rolled down even an inch, nor was the air conditioner turned on. The air conditioner was turned on in the front of the car but, because there was plexiglass separating the back from the front, none of it reached me. The sun was out, and was beaming through the windows. All of it had the combined effect of making me nauseous for the entire 4 ½ hour ride.

I was used to not being treated humanely by the correction officers, so I did not say anything to them. I knew
from past experience that expressing discomfort could lead to being treated even worse.

When we arrived at the hospital, instead of the officers parking the car near the sidewalk in front of the hospital,
they parked far away. When they got out of the car and opened my door, I looked at them expectantly, waiting for them to take the handcuffs, chain, and leg irons off of me, so I could go into the hospital with some dignity.

However, they did not do that. They did not even throw the thin jacket they had over the cuffs so as to disguise that I had them on, thus giving me some modicum of dignity. Instead, I was paraded through the parking
lot, and the hospital corridors, like some kind of an animal.

The desk attendant did a double-take at the sight of me. Then there was a woman in the hospital who was in the waiting area with her daughter, who could not have been more than 3 or 4 years old. When the child started running in my general direction, the mother quickly grabbed her, bringing her close, as though I might be some kind of monster who would suddenly commit a spontaneous violent act right there on the spot.

I remember feeling both embarrassed, and also thinking how ironic that it was that I would be in all of these
manacles, with 2 guards, and have a child pulled close to her mother out of fear, and yet I was innocent. As we walked by a pay phone, I remarked to one of the officers that I was glad that there was a phone in our path to my grandmothers room, because if my mother was not visiting her, I could call her collect and tell her that I was there, so she could come and see me. However, I was informed that I was not allowed to use the phone
even though if there was someone visiting my grandmother I would be able to talk with them. Fortunately for me, a family friend had briefly stopped to see my grandmother a few minutes before I got there, and called my mother for me enabling me to see her. If he had not, I would have missed an opportunity to see her without her having to travel the 4 ½ hours it took to get from Peekskill to Elmira.

When I reached my grandmother’s room, they left the chain and handcuffs on me for a good 10 minutes, which
resulted in my having the chain on the side of the bed. Finally, they removed them.

After one hour they made me leave. That ridiculous time allotment - doubtlessly arrived at arbitrarily by the rule
makers, meant that we would travel for 9 hours total in order to visit with someone for one hour. Once again they
dressed me up in all of the manacles and paraded me through the hospital and parking lot. I was mortified. On the way back, unlike “breakfast” which had consisted of a cup of coffee, I actually got to eat something. But once again I had to deal with the uncomfortableness of the hot and stuffy car. Since the windows had not been rolled down even a little while I was in the hospital, the car had become even more heated standing in the sun.

During those 10 hours out of the prison, I had adjusted to being in a different environment. It actually had felt
physically different, like freedom was a sensation, and the air somehow was different, and I had adjusted. It felt strange being in prison again, like it was some alternate world I was suddenly in.

In many ways, mentally, I stepped back from all of the routines, expectations, and concepts that the prisoners
and staff buy into which go into everyday life in prison, in just those ten hours away. That night in my cell, as I heard the normal sounds of the prison - the prisoners making noise, yelling, radios blasting, cell doors shutting as prisoners went into their cells and slammed the door which the rules obligated them to do, and I heard the oversized keys jingle, the ones used to open and close the lockboxes containing the levers that open the cells, and I saw guard making their rounds and looking into the cells. It was somewhat reminiscent of people looking at caged animals in a zoo. It struck me, for the first time in a long while, just how bizarre the reality in prison was, and that I did not belong in that strange world; and yet, nonetheless, I was in it because although I was innocent, I had been found guilty and had been unable, to that point, to get any court to side with me, despite having gone through some litigation in the appellate process.
Our Readers Respond...


All For Lodging A Complaint Against Yonkers Police

Dear Editor:

How many people find it strange that in a city such as Yonkers, there are a large number of defendants choosing
JAIL over parole with no jail. Am I missing something? Does jail offer more perks that I imagine?

No. The issue is that Yonkers quickly finds violations on the parolees and that person can end up in jail for SEVEN years if found in violation. Does this mean the alleged “criminal” is guilty of a parole violation? No. I see this with TASC.

After being accused of “making a face” (by the same officer I reported to the DA and which they then sent to Internal Affairs), I was told I was in violation of TASC. I was told that I did not call TASC in the first 48 hours after my arrest for my “face”. Luckily I called for the appointment in FRONT of my then attorney. Even though my attorney wrote an affidavit that I called, a Ms. Torres, stated in court I was not compliant and did not call.

When my attorney said on the record that I had an appointment for that coming Friday with her, she said it was not good for her and she made a different appointment in court. I went to the second appointment. I went all the way to White Plains, even though I was ill, only to find that the entire TASC was closed for a seminar. I received no notification. Again, TASC announced in court…NON-compliant. This was another false accusation. The DA and Porcari wanted bail…for what? The court would not accept my attorney’s af-fidavit showing I WAS compliant to this day……..

TASC and the DA are continually bringing me into court trying to get $10,000 bail, or put me in jail….they called a counselor I am forced to see…………….he was out of the country….the DA forced me into court trying to say “noncompliant” again. But, how could they confirm this or not?

The man was not in the country…Rather than wait to “see” if I was compliant or not, the DA forced me to go to court where the judge said it could not be determined if I was compliant since the counselor was out of the country. But in court the DA demanded ANOTHER FULL years’ Order of Protection with no hearing allowed just as no hearing was allowed for the first Order of Protection and no trial was allowed either…..
1 ½ years until MAYBE a trial for allegedly making a face. Of course with me, this was to keep me out of my home in a property dispute. Yonkers gets to retaliate against me for suing regarding my property in 2001 in Federal Court.

As long as I am forced to go to TASC, I can be arrested on any day on an allegation of non-compliance. The forensic did not order me to counseling….The DA did……..the forensic never gave any bad report but TASC
without speaking to me and without ever even ordering anything….continually claims non-compliance and
counseling needs to be for extended time…..My trial will not be soon and since the judges are biased……I
highly doubt it will take place or else it will be adjourned even longer. Jail? I would have been out of jail by now if I chose Jail instead of TASC.

Dr. Sherry Bobrowsky


Concerned About New Rochelle Development

Dear Editor:


In White Plains Cappelli accepted brownfield government money for his construction, but in New Rochelle when United Water “demanded” that Cappelli pay for the needed water main improvements for the Trump Plaza development, Cappelli claimed the $2.47 million cost would be “onerous.” Instead he offered to pay $87,000 because Avalon paid $466,000 for its two buildings.

Consequently, United Water led a petition with the Public Service Commission because they did not want their customers to pay for infrastructure improvements which were essential for Trump Plaza. This is not the only problem New Rochelle residents will be having with high rise construction. Peggy Godfrey elaborated on a similar situation with Con Edison and their request to raise gas and electricity rates because of demands for power for new, larger projects. Con Edison told the Public Service Commission they were “strapped” and needed to charge more because of projects such as Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic yards in Brooklyn. A rate
increase will force its customers to subsidize this project.

It’s hard to believe that the taxpayers of New Rochelle would willingly pay more for their utilities because of large scale, dense development in downtown. I have consistently supported a referendum for city-wide council representation to return to a city united instead of divided.

As a taxpayer we should have the right to vote for all our council people and mayor not just the one in our district
because that is what is dividing the city.Whether we live north, east, south or west we should not be strapped to voting in only one district. We all live in the city and we all pay taxes for all the council representatives and we
should have the right to vote for all of our council representatives. This is unfair to the voters and taxpayers and the council members. Peggy Godfrey’s concern for the future of our city and the people who live here is unsurpassed and I would like to vote for her but can’t under the present system. I urge all people in District two to vote for Dr. Peggy Godfrey because she can teach a lot of the present council people the things they don’t understand or don’t want to understand.

Isabella Camillone,
New Rochelle

In Our Opinion...

Westchester’s Politics Of Fix, Force, and Fraud

Word last week that campaign signs and posters of incumbent Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, and his Democratic running mates, Kevin Morgan, Sonja Brown, and Judith Beville, had been stolen, removed, and defaced came as no great shock to those familiar with the level of rancor, and criminality all too common in the conduct of election campaigns in Westchester for many years now. And, unlike similar problems on the national scene, it really isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats.

In Westchester it’s about the “Cabal”, the ruling clique, made up of so-called Democrat, Republican, and Independence Party, candidates and operatives versus the People’s Constitutional Right to Choose. That truth is evidenced by the fact that the Greenburgh incidents involve the upcoming Democratic Primary, while in the same
moment the failed, frivolous court challenge brought against Yonkers Republican City Councilman John Murtagh, by Jodi Mosiello, prompted and financed by Nick Spano, Giulio Cavallo, and Zehy Jereis, involved the upcoming Republican Primary.

But then again Nick, and his enforcers, have been involved in so much election fraud over the past several years, much of that time aided and protected by former District Attorney and co-conspirator, Jeanine Pirro. Perhaps, the reality that she is in really desperate straits herself, and can no longer protect them, hasn’t registered with them as yet. Of course, they cannot allow themselves to imagine that, even now, she may be rolling over on them to the United States Attorney in an effort to lessen her own prison time. And so, they simply continue down the same wellworn path in their “do or die” effort to retain control. Often it has been the case that corrupt, thieving politicians and operatives who have been getting away with election fraud, and race fixing, continue to do so, despite the risk of discovery and prosecution, because they simply cannot function any other way.

Nick Spano is a wonderful example of that phenomenon. In the election of 2000 his campaign director, and “legal wunderkind,” Anthony Mangone, incidently, still practicing law, admitted forging 166 Green Party Primary Ballots for Nick. He admitted his crime against the People while under cross-examination by attorney Geoffrey Orlando, representing Dennis Wedra, a Yonkers Democratic operative, maliciously accused of Election Fraud by DA Jeanine Pirro in one of her many abuses of power to settle a personal political score. Mangone, the chief prosecution witness, not only was granted full immunity by Pirro, but also a full-time position in Al Pirro’s former law firm.

And, who can forget the Countywide elections of 2001? While other journalists, such as Phil Reisman for The Journal News, have preferred, over the years, to ‘soft pedal’ what occurred, referring to it as the “non-aggression pact,” We have consistently identi-fied the race fixing, and election fraud that determined the outcome, returning all three incumbents, Andy Spano, Jeanine Pirro, and Leonard Spano to office.

Schemed, and executed by Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz, then State Senator Nick Spano - there’s that name again - and former Pirro spokesperson, and strategist, David Hebert, aided and abetted by such other players as Giulio Cavallo, Zehy Jereis, current Supreme Court Justice William Giacomo, Mount Vernon City Clerk Lisa Copeland, Election Commissioner Reggie Lafayette, and disgraced, recently resigned Supreme Court Justice Larry Horowitz; the fix of 2001 was but one of many criminal conspiracies- that determined election outcomes in Westchester in recent years. They involved federal crimes that We believe ought to be high on United States Attorney Michael Garcia’s list of investigations.
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Give Us The Real Deal!

“To my way of thinking the use of performance enhancing drugs, compounds that enlarge, and/or strengthen, an athlete’s body, merely produces a counterfeit specimen. And, like all counterfeits, ought to be discarded.”

Barry Bonds is no hero. If anything he is the anti-hero. What is his accomplishment in breaking and surpassing Hank Aaron’s lifetime 755 homerun record if he accomplished any part of it on anabolic steroids? It says something about our changing values, and our culture as it has evolved over recent decades that we even
consider ranking Bonds’ ‘achievement,’ albeit with an asterisk, on the same page with that of Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Ruth’s record of 714 homeruns lifetime stood for several decades before Aaron, without the benefit of performance-enhancing, muscle-building drugs broke it, and surpassed it.

Babe Ruth was a true hero, at least in the world of baseball. Sure he was overweight, ate, drank, and smoked cigars like a sailor, but he hit 714 homeruns with a baseball many claim was not as lively as today’s, and in
ballparks most of which, including Yankee Stadium, had deeper outfields than today. Hank Aaron played in many of those same ballparks.

I am old enough to remember, as a little kid, hearing that Babe Ruth had died. He was all of 53. In fact, he died, 59 years ago today, August 16, 1948. I was 7 ½, and accompanied my Dad and several of his friends who
joined tens of thousands of mourners a few days later at Yankee Stadium, The House That Ruth Built. In my South Bronx neighborhood the Babe was so highly regarded, that his passing was an event comparable to the
death of President Roosevelt, a few years earlier.

I was small for my age, but very athletic, and fast, at thirteen, when in Give Us The Real Deal! May of 1954 an English track star, Roger Bannister, accomplished something nobody had ever achieved before, breaking the four-minute-mile barrier. I went on to James Monroe High School the following year, and, inspired by Bannister’s achievement, joined the track team. As it happened, I was a sprinter, like a quarter horse, very fast over a short distance, a hundred yards in under eleven seconds.

My freshman teammate Bruce Wasserman would run for miles, but my limit at any sort of a clip was a half mile. Bruce was like the Slowik brothers on our team, one a junior, the other a senior, both of whom were definitely
inspired by Bannister. My hero was another teammate, Billy Morganroth, a sprinter like myself, a muscular, well developed senior however, who also played varsity football; unstoppable from the line of scrimmage. But I
digress.

To my way of thinking, the use of performance enhancing drugs, compounds that enlarge, and/or strengthen, an
athlete’s body, merely produces a counterfeit specimen. And, like all counterfeits, ought to be discarded. If Major League Baseball, and the San Francisco Giants Organization have no problem accepting Bonds’ overgrown hulk, and swollen head, so typical of anabolic steroid use, given all the cash he brings through the turnstiles, so be it. As for me, and many like me, who grew up admiring and following natural, uncontaminated, real athletes, GIVE US THE REAL DEAL!
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Spano, Cavallo, Jereis Scheme Foiled In Court
State Supreme Court, White Plains
Judge Joan B. Lefkowitz Presiding


Last Wednesday August 8th was clearly not one of election attorney John Ciampoli’s better days in court. Ciampoli, who has been a hired gun closely connected to the Republican State Senate political machine in Albany, and, locally, most notably, the hired gun in election disputes for Nick Spano and all of his many puppets and protégés, particularly Giulio Cavallo and Zehy Jereis, appeared to be shooting himself in both feet as he presented two hostile witnesses.

Having gotten stuck in traffic due to flooding in Queens, Ciampoli, arriving more than four hours late, at 1:45pm appeared without his alleged client Jodi Mosiello. Mosiello, challenging incumbent Yonkers Republican City Councilman John Murtagh in the upcoming Republican Primary for the 5th District City Council seat, was the named party in the court action that was questioning the validity of some of Murtagh’s nominating petitions.

Prior to entering the courtroom, Murtagh had told The Guardian, “I don’t mind someone challenging me in a primary. But, I can’t imagine what my opponent is thinking about hanging out with the likes of Giulio Cavallo and Zehy Jereis.” Mr. Murtagh had rejected any deals from Cavallo, and had publicly called for the resignation of Jereis, a convicted drug dealer and admitted election fraudster, from his position as Chairman of the Yonkers Republican Committee. He viewed Mosiello’s candidacy, and the court challenge, as a transparent retribution
for his rejection of the corrupt elements in Yonkers politics.

Despite the hardship Ciampoli’s lateness had worked upon the Court, candidate Murtagh and his attorneys, as well as some fifteen citizens who had been subpoenaed, Judge Lefkowitz displayed deference to, and indulgence of, his situation.

At 11;00am, when all in attendance had been awaiting his arrival for an hour and a half, Lefkowitz, who had retired to chambers, reappeared and declared, “Let the record reflect that it was 9:15 when I first heard from Mr. Ciampoli. He asked if he could have an adjournment. I said there are fifteen people who have been
subpoenaed, and I intend to go forward.”

After relating information Ciampoli had passed along to her about court commitments in other counties before other judges that she had helped postpone, in light of the urgency of the election issue before her, Lefkowitz then said, “I will wait until 11:55, and I will entertain any motions from the other side at that time.”

However, at 11:35 the Judge reappeared to indicate that she had just heard once again from Mr. Ciampoli, who had told her that, “he was still tied up on the Van Wyck Expressway.” With that news, she recessed the Court until 1:30pm. At 1:45pm John Ciampoli entered the courtroom. After glancing over Mr. Murtagh’s answer to his client, Jodi Mosiello’s alleged assertions for a few minutes, he then told the Court, “It is our position that the law in New York State provides that any section in which fraud is found in the gathering of election petitions renders the entire petition invalid regardless of how many valid signatures are offered.”

At that point Murtagh’s attorney, Ezra B. Glaser, addressed the Court, exclaiming. “Their investigation didn’t begin until last night. Mr. Murtagh was actually in the witnesses’ apartments and gathered the signatures.” He went on, “This is a case, Your Honor, where sanctions and court costs must be imposed. Nobody on those pages were contacted until last night. His clients are not here though they are only blocks away.”

Judge Lefkowitz responded by asking Mr. Ciampoli to call his first witness. Prior to examining Anthony and Mary Romeo, an elderly married couple who are residents of Yonkers Council District Five, Ciampoli asked the Court for, and was granted, a few minutes opportunity to prep his witnesses outside the courtroom.

Putting Mr. Romeo on the stand, Mr. Ciampoli launched into, “Did there come a time when you signed a petition?”

Mr. Romeo responded, “For John (Murtagh), for Amicone, and for someone else.”

Ciampoli came back with, “Who handed you the petition?”

The witness responded, “John Murtagh.”

Ciampoli, clearly dissatisfied with his witness’ response, attempted to ask the same question worded a little differently. Mr. Romeo, feeling somewhat pressured, again responded, “John came to the house and I signed the petition.”

Ciampoli tried twice more to get Mr. Romeo to indicate that someone other than Murtagh, a woman, had approached him, as alleged in the complaint filed ostensibly by Jodi Mosiello. But, each attempt was rebuffed by what was rapidly becoming a hostile witness. Mr. Romeo, in a firm tone, finally replied, “It had to be John, because he was the only one that came to the house.” To bolster his account, the witness went on to mention his having shown Murtagh a special room in the house, his “Custer Room,” a mini-museum of sorts, containing artifacts from the Battle Of Little Big Horn.

At this point, Ciampoli, sweat noticeably streaming down the back of his neck, must have felt enormous empathy for the great, but misguided, General Custer. Murtagh’s attorney, Mr. Glaser, then took the opportunity to reinforce his opponent’s witness’ testimony, asking in cross-examination, “When John Murtagh was present, you knew who you were signing for?” The witness responded, “I was signing for John.” Then, hammering in the final nail, Glaser inquired. “How long do you know John Murtagh?” Romeo quickly answered, “I know him thirty
years.”

At this point, one would have thought Mr. Ciampoli would have had the sense not to call upon Mrs. Romeo in an effort to trap her somehow into contradicting her husband of many years. However, unaccustomed as he is to losing election law court battles, no matter how unscrupulous and corrupt the interests he may be representing,
Ciampoli charged forward all the same, calling Mary Romeo to the stand. Predictably, Mrs. Romeo’s testimony mirrored that of her husband, who had made a point during his testimony of asserting what loyal and devoted Republicans they both were.

Mr. Ciampoli’s complaint had collapsed in little more than a half hour. It was now 2:25pm and Glaser was calling for sanctions and court costs once again. Following a brief sidebar, Mr. Ciampoli, in an attempted face-saving statement, addressed the Court with, “We will withdraw or claims against the petition, and Mr. Murtagh will withdraw his motion for sanctions and expenses.”

Analysis

The real significance of what took place last Wednesday in Judge Lefkowitz’ Court lies in the fact that the formerly all-powerful Yonkers Political Machine of Nick Spano, Giulio Cavallo, and Zehy Jereis, had once again been dealt a major setback in their corrupt agenda to contaminate and control the outcome of contests for public office in Yonkers and throughout Westchester. They are so accustomed to being in control by whatever means that they will continue to harass and attack legitimate candidates from the Republican, Democratic, and Independence Parties, until they are not only repeatedly defeated in court, but also apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted of their criminal activities over many years.

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