Thursday, June 7, 2007

Janet Difiore.

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo Never Had A Chance

Must those still suffering under Pirro-Justice, both in and out of prison, continue to suffer until Jeanine Pirro’s Federal Indictment is announced?

When Charles Campbell, a man about whom a former employer once said affectionately, “Charlie was crazy like that; he would pick a fight with anyone over anything;” decided to pull into the parking lot of the Venice Deli late that afternoon in early October 1996, to run across the street to a pizza shop, that was really a front for a drug operation, the die was cast for a double tragedy. The first tragedy would occur within minutes. Campbell would be dead, the result of three bullets having pierced his heart.

Those “three shots to center mass,” as called for in the New York City Police Department Training Manual, had been fired by New York City Transit Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo, in response to Campbell’s beating of the officer’s unarmed father with a metal baseball bat, ironically using the service revolver of his grandfather, his father’s father, a Pleasantville Police Officer who had died in the line of duty more than fifty years earlier. The weapon, licensed to the elder DiGuglielmo, was kept under the deli counter for protection in the event of a robbery.

Campbell had insisted upon putting his latemodel Corvette directly in front of the deli, despite Officer DiGuglielmo’s middle-aged father’s request, because of a scarcity of spaces in front of the deli, that he park it in an open area of the lot while he did business across the street. The elder DiGuglielmo could not have imagined just how out of control Charles Campbell, an amateur boxer, and body builder, would become once he placed a “No Parking” sticker on the window of his Corvette, as he had been advised to do in such situations by the Dobbs Ferry Police.

Campbell, prompted by the pizza shop operator, came running across the street, fists flying, at the elder DiGuglielmo, a man with a serious heart condition. Not that it would likely have mattered; he was unaware that the older man’s son Richard, a police officer, and his son-in-law Bobby, a construction worker, were both inside the store, each having stopped by to lend a hand to the father, who was recovering from a recent hospitalization
for his heart. Richard ran out of the deli and, stepping between Campbell and his father, took several blows before he, his father and his brother-inlaw managed to wrestle the incredibly strong assailant to the ground.
Having subdued him and released him, the two younger men went back into the store to clean up, trusting that the incident was over and that Campbell would get in his car and drive off, leaving Richard’s father in the parking lot. As the elder man attempted to hand Campbell his cell phone that had been dropped in the scuffle, Campbell,
still enraged, went to the trunk of the Corvette and, removing a metal baseball bat, began swinging at Richard’s father. Looking back and seeing Campbell striking his father with the bat, and realizing the immediate danger of fatal injury his father faced, Officer DiGuglielmo reached for the gun kept beneath the counter and discharged his
sworn duty to save an innocent life.

No one could know, in that tragic moment, what is now known about DA Jeanine Pirro who, more than two years earlier, had let the confessed murderer of Louis Balancio, Nick Djonovic, escape from the country so that she could invent a more satisfactory, more Organized Crime-sounding perpetrator. No one could imagine that Pirro was about to play the “race card” and send a New York City Police Officer to prison for saving his father’s life from a bat wielding, enraged, body builder with an extensive criminal record.

No one could imagine she would succeed, given the fact that the killing was totally justifiable under two separate New York State statutes. First and foremost, DiGuglielmo was a police officer with a sworn duty to use deadly force to stop a perpetrator using deadly force against an unarmed innocent person. Secondly, even if he had been a civilian, he had the right under the Statute of Self-Defense, Defense of Others, to use deadly force against an assailant using deadly force against an innocent unarmed individual.

Perhaps that was why the jury that tried him, in the trial that never should have occurred, in fact, acquitted him of Intentional Murder, and acquitted him, his father, and his brother-in-law of Assault. But that didn’t stop DA Pirro, a district attorney who would ultimately conceal 376 pages and 52 boxes of exhibits, and numerous tape recordings, all exculpatory to Anthony DiSimone, all Brady material, in the Balancio murder case in order to achieve her self-promotional ends; from obtaining a murder conviction, even one for which there was no evidence, under the ‘turn-about’ theory of Depraved Indifference Murder.

After all, she had spent one whole year in a calculated effort to poison the jury pool, first claiming almost immediately that she had “thirteen witnesses who had heard racial epithets,” even though at trial she couldn’t produce one. To strengthen her lie, she brought in Al Sharpton, who, together with bused-in, paid demonstrators, picketed the DiGuglielmo’s deli every weekend for 52 weeks. Pirro wasn’t going to let a little thing like the truth
stand in her way when she could curry favor with minority voters right up to her fixed re-election bid in November 1997.

To be sure, she had help with her mindless, self-promotional agenda, not merely from corrupted high-level assistants like ADAs Patricia Murphy, Perry Perrone, Clem Patti, and Dobbs Ferry Police Chief George Longworth, but also from Judge Peter Leavitt, whose judicial incompetence was matched only by his obedience to Pirro’s dictates. Leavitt refused a Defense motion for change of venue despite 52 weeks of constant Prosecution media propaganda and jury pool poisoning. He insisted upon using the standard voir dire questionnaire despite the special circumstances attached to a defendant who was a police officer, not to mention a full year of publicity. He delivered a totally flawed instruction to the jury with regard to Justifiable Homicide under the Statute of Self-Defense, Defense of Others. He would not permit the introduction of any evidence regarding Charles Campbell’s long history of arrests, several of which were for violent crimes.

However, despite all of the restrictions and handicaps he imposed on the Defense, Leavitt permitted the Prosecution, once realizing they would not get an Intentional Murder conviction, to change direction 180 degrees,
very late, and argue for Depraved Indifference Murder. What was indifferent about three shots through the heart at close range?

Truth be told, it was never about race. That was a Pirro lie like so many of her lies. Mr. and Mrs. Balancio will both go to their graves insisting that their son Louis was killed by Anthony DiSimone despite a mountain of
evidence that it was Nick Djonovic. Jing Kelly has been kept from her son Tristram, now seven years old, for five years because of Pirro lies. Jeffrey Deskovic spent nearly seven more years in prison than necessary because
of repeated Pirro lies and cruelty.

Richard DiGuglielmo, former New York City Transit Police Officer, has lived in general population, in the State Prison System for more than 10 years, by choice. His fellow inmates, most of whom are people of color,
know who he is. They know he is no racist. For twelve years on the job as a police officer, he was, and still is, a ‘regular guy.’

If Charles Campbell had been White, and was assailing Richard’s father, having broken his hand and severely injured his leg with a metal baseball bat, and was swinging for his head, as originally described by three eyewitnesses, he would be just as dead, only Officer Richard DiGuglielmo would not be in prison for these last ten years. He would never have been charged with Murder in the first place.

The only racist in the equation was Jeanine Pirro who, not only played the “race card”, but years later, in her failed book, spoke of Campbell’s “swagger” and “entitlement,” as though she was present at the incident, as
she continued to defame Officer DiGuglielmo and his family for having saved his father’s life.

What other choice did Officer DiGuglielmo have under the circumstances? Should he have permitted Charles Campbell to “crush his father’s head like a watermelon” as one eyewitness originally stated he was trying to
do? Given the fury with which he had already broken his father’s hand and severely injured his leg with a swing the impact of which another eyewitness had said “could be heard a block away,” should Richard DiGuglielmo
have allowed Campbell to kill his father?

The simple truth is that Richard DiGuglielmo has already done ten years in state prison, and is facing another ten before he can even be considered for parole because he did the right thing! He did the thing he had a sworn duty to do, the only thing any right-minded individual would do under the same circumstances. That was why, immediately following the shooting, eyewitnesses declared, “It was self-defense.” Those eyewitnesses were right, too right for DA Pirro and her self-serving need to turn the incident, already tragic enough, into something it wasn’t.

For many days following the shooting, witnesses, whose original statements did not please the District Attorney, were hounded and harassed, at home and on the job, at all hours, by the Dobbs Ferry Police, who, ultimately
wore them down, and pushed them into signing statements more in keeping with what Jeanine Pirro wanted.

She had done the same to more than two dozen witnesses in the Balancio case for years, as we now know from the incredibly vast amount of Brady material her office kept hidden for 13 years. In the process, she succeeded
in convicting Anthony DiSimone, keeping him in prison for seven of those years for a crime she and her top ADAs knew, very well, had been committed, and confessed to, by Nick Djonovic.

Must those still suffering under Pirro-Justice, both in and out of prison, continue to suffer until Jeanine Pirro’s Federal Indictment is finally announced? How long must it take before State and Federal Courts in New
York open their eyes to the fact that what she did to Anthony DiSimone, she also did to Richard DiGuglielmo, Jing Kelly, Steven Nowicki, Marci Stein, Selwyn Days, and countless other victims of her self-promotional
prosecutorial misconduct? Surely, justice delayed has been justice denied; and that’s the second tragedy.

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