By All Means, Let’s Open Pandora’s Box
Last Tuesday afternoon, November 27, following the fifth day of hearings before Westchester County Court Judge Rory J. Bellantoni, into the 440.10 Application of former New York City Transit Police Officer Richard
DiGuglielmo, Debra Cohen, attorney, and wife of attorney Randolph McLaughlin, told News 12, “They are retrying this case without any reasonable showing of why that should happen.” Of course, that comment could
not have been further from the truth. But, given the fact that Debra and her husband had represented William Campbell in the civil Wrongful Death trial that yielded $460,000, based essentially on the wrongful conviction of Officer DiGuglielmo for Depraved Indifference Murder, in his self-defense shooting of Charles Campbell 11
years ago, her assessment, her spin, was to be expected.
However, she also suggested before the camera, that DiGuglielmo, who has already served 10 years of a 20-year-to-life sentence for saving his middle-aged father’s life from a bat-wielding, body-building, enraged assailant, “should not be opening Pandora’s Box.” To that remark, I would reply that, in Westchester, Pandora’s
Box is the Office of the District Attorney; and, nothing would be better for the People of Westchester than to blow the lid off of it.
Coming on the heels of Anthony DiSimone’s exoneration, and release from prison, for the killing of Louis Balancio; a 13-year dastardly lie proffered by Jeanine Pirro, the 440.10 Hearing into the circumstances surrounding the changing of eyewitnesses’ statements to the Dobbs Ferry Police, under pressure from the
Westchester District Attorney’s Office, in the Richard DiGuglielmo case, threatens to bring down the evil office and lay bare the ugly truth.
Twelve years of psychopathic confabulations and prosecutions of opportunity by a conscienceless creature, assisted by numerous equally immoral assistants, capable of the worst imaginable prosecutorial misconduct in exchange for two paychecks a month, created an “Office from Hell”, zealously preserved and camouflaged by the present DA, for whom even 376 pages and 52 boxes filled with exculpatory information, were not enough to make her do the right thing until Anthony DiSimone’s attorneys put her back to the wall with the prospect that each and every one of those exculpating items would be exposed in open Federal Court in a hearing into a Writ of Habeas Corpus.
Despite attorney Debra Cohen’s spin, the simple truth is that the first five days of Richard DiGuglielmo’s 440.10 Hearing, lengthened mostly by Assistant DA Timothy Ward’s constant filibustering, calculated to obfuscate every issue, did, nonetheless, produce some remarkable testimony.
Mr. Michael Dillon, whose account shortly after the tragic incident on the evening of October 3, 1996, and some four days later, into the wee hours of October 8; and, some three more nights in between, not to mention the circumstances by which they were extracted from him, painted a picture of a police department on a mission to produce testimony that would support the district attorney’s self-serving, totally fictional, account of what had occured in the parking lot of the Venice Deli on Ashford Ave., in Dobbs Ferry. Dillon’s comment to Channel 4
News, “You see your father getting beat with a bat; you’re going to do something about it. So it was self-defense from where I saw it,” was so self-evident and clear, no one in the courtroom, least of all Judge Bellantoni, could reasonably accept the statement Dobbs Ferry Police pulled from him after yanking him from his job four nights in a row to interrogate him over and over, for three to four hours at a time, until they got what they wanted from him.
Then there was the testimony of Assistant DA Patricia Mary Murphy, one of the worst of the worst with regard to the mindless prosecution of innocent people, literally for sport. In years of watching her ply her evil trade, never had I seen her so nervous, so red-faced, so full of crap. She, who, 11 years ago, within 20 minutes of arrival at the scene, had already decided that Richard DiGuglielmo would be charged with murder, despite the fact that at least three eyewitnesses had stated that Charles Campbell, the assailant with the bat, had struck Officer DiGuglielmo’s middle-aged father twice, hard, with a metal baseball bat and was swinging again at the moment he was shot.
Ms. Murphy would have had the Court believe that she played no affirmative role in the direction the Dobbs Ferry Police went in their harassing and repetitive efforts to produce statements that would confirm her boss,
Jeanine Pirro’s, “race card fiction.”
Then there was Detective Lieutenant Guarnieri of the Dobbs Ferry Police, who could not explain to Judge Bellantoni how it was that on October 3rd he had four witnesses, all of whom were stating that the assailant,
Charles Campbell, was swinging the bat at the moment he was shot, and yet he, and Chief Longworth, were charging Officer DiGuglielmo with murder. Guarnieri came across as a very bad liar.
By Tuesday afternoon Judge Bellantoni had witnessed so much “notcredible” testimony, so many inconsistent and contradictory statements, that Michael Dillon’s testimony, despite his “malliable” persona, as described
by the Judge, was sufficiently compelling to convince him that he now needed to hear sworn testimony from James White, and, if possible, from Kevin O’Donnell, each of whom had originally testified to a self-defense
With the suggestion that he was now considering bringing White and O’Donnell to Court, all Hell began to break loose at the DA’s table. One could almost smell the fear between ADAs Robert Sauer and Timothy
Ward as they now both began to take the strongest possible position with the Judge in opposition to his suggestion.
Finally, in desperation, they refused to call their next witness, DA Investigator Ed Murphy, who had been in the room at the Office of the Westchester District Attorney on August 11, 2007 when Michael Dillon, who
was called in, was told, amongst other things, by ADA Ward, “In 1996 it was a race issue,” and he, Dillon, “would be opening himself up again.” The truth is, the incident was about race only in the evil mind of Jeanine
Pirro; it would play better for her politically if she made up such a fiction. Within days of the incident Pirro would go to the media and press, claiming that she had 13 witnesses who had heard racial epithets. At trial, she couldn’t produce one.
It was never about race, it was about rage; Charles Campbell’s rage; the rage one of his former employers, who liked him, was referring to when he told me, several years later, “Charlie was funny like that; he’d pick a fight
with anyone at any time.” Charles Campbell would’ve met the same fate if he was Caucasian and beating Officer DiGuglielmo’s father with a metal baseball bat.
Wednesday morning showed Mr. Ward in his most arrogant and disrespectful mode. A session intended to iron out the details and scheduling of James White’s appearance, as well as possibly including the testimony of
DA Investigator Ed Murphy, previously withheld by ADA Ward on Tuesday as if in retaliation for the possibility that Judge Bellantoni would now be bringing Mr. White to Court to testify, was instead turned into a misguided
Nobody in the courtroom was quite prepared for what Mr. Ward immediately launched into. He opened with, “I’ve been in the DAs Office for 22 years, and I have never brought a motion such as I am now bringing. The
proceedings have gone forward in a manner inconsistent with the statutory requirements of 440.10.”
Ward then went on and on, based upon a conversation he claimed he had had with Debra Cohen, essentially hearsay, in an effort to attack the integrity, judicial knowledge, and motives of Judge Bellantoni; accusing him of having had ex parte communication with Cohen, and improperly attempting to involve her in an amicus curiæ correspondence with the Court.
Using phrases such as, “deeply disturbing,” and “frustrating,” Ward, without benefit of deposition or signed affidavit, went completely ‘over the top’, ostensibly describing every detail of what he had been told by Cohen,
had transpired between herself and the Judge, as if he, Ward, had been in chambers with them.
Ward went further, “It would seem to suggest an appearance of impropriety and that Ms. Cohen would walk this conversation out to the (Campbell) family.”
Bellantoni, having given Ward enough rope to hang himself, attempted to reassure him and save him from himself, commenting, “If the purported events were true; but they are not.” But Ward, who was too far into his
accusatory mode, now pulled out every beef he had from the start of the hearing. Ward was willing to make a damned fool of himself, showing his true colors and his utter disrespect for both the Court and Due Process.
Tolerating about as much of Ward’s tirade as he could stand, attorney Schapiro now broke in with, “If I may be heard briefly, Your Honor, it’s been my experience throughout these proceedings that you have ruled against us as often as for us. If you had wanted to rule for us, we gave you ample opportunity.”
Then, addressing another serious allegation Ward had levelled, Schapiro said, “The Court didn’t ask ‘how do I get around Policano,’ but rather you asked me ‘how do you get around Policano?’”
Bellantoni now explained, “I was concerned about a family, the Campbells, that has gone unheard and who might have had the opportunity to express their thoughts.”
Neither Debra Cohen nor Randolph McLaughlin, her husband, were in the courtroom for the morning session. Bellantoni adjourned for lunch, reserving his decision on ADA Ward’s motion asking him to recuse himself,
until reconvening at 2pm.
Following lunch, Bellantoni announced, “I’ve considered the application during the break and the outrageous assertions.” The Judge then proceeded to give a comprehensive, text-book definition, of amicus curiæ including
several citations to leading authorities. Pausing, he then said, “I find Mr. Ward’s allegations shocking and unethical, based solely upon information provided by Ms. Cohen. He then formally denied Ward’s motion.
Debra Cohen’s, and Tim Ward’s, cheap scheme had failed miserably as well it should have. Justice would not be derailed, nor denied. James White was scheduled to appear Monday morning, December 3rd.