Thursday, January 17, 2008
When Truth And Justice Are Overwhelmed By Celebrity Worship
In the recent evidentiary hearing into the circumstances surrounding the conviction of former New York City Transit Police Officer Richard
DiGuglielmo, the District Attorney’s recently-released “Post-Hearing Submission,” is a document clearly not written to the Court to which it
has been handed but, rather, to the Appellate Division, Second Department, who the Office obviously believes they will be appealing to, as
though a foregone conclusion.
Consistent with their approach to, and disrespectful treatment of, Judge Rory J. Bellantoni’s Court throughout the hearing, the submission is filled with arrogant assertions and assumptions regarding that Court, and its clear and unwavering determination to discover the truth with regard to the handling of Michael Dillon and other key witnesses to the tragic events at the Venice Deli on October 3, 1996, by Dobbs Ferry Police and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office. And, if the information alleged and sworn to by that witness compelled it, the admission of sworn testimony from others as well, to proceed where necessary.
The DA’s Office demonstrates its willingness, indeed, its desire, to perpetuate the confabulation and denial of truth upon which the conviction of a man, an off-duty New York City Transit Police Officer, who saved the life of an unarmed, middle-aged man who happened to be his own father, from a metal bat-wielding assailant who happened to be a Black man, was based, as well as his imprisonment for 20 Years To Life.
It is not totally surprising that the office, the top ranks of which are staffed by most of the same attorneys who engaged in the kind of egregious prosecutorial misconduct that kept 376 pages, 52 boxes and miles of exculpatory audio and videotape, concealed for 13 long years, until forced to present and acknowledge them in Federal District Court last April; thus resulting in the release of Anthony DiSimone after seven years of imprisonment for a crime they knew he was innocent of, would now, in desperation, try any device, any lie, to avoid yet
another exposure and reversal of their unlawful, malicious and cruel treatment of an innocent individual in total disregard of, and disrespect for, his Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. In point of fact, Patricia Murphy and Perry Perone, who prosecuted Officer Richard DiGuglielmo and who sent the Dobbs Ferry Police Department forward on its unlawful, mindless mission to change the original statements of the only three individuals who actually witnessed the entire tragic exchange, including the fatal shooting of Charles Campbell, hold very high rank in the Westchester DA’s Office today.
Having attended each of the eight days of hearings before Judge Rory Bellantoni, the truth of the old bromide that instructs “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” was never more evident than in the unfolding of testimony and the contortions
of the District Attorney’s Office, mostly through the filibustering and obfuscation, practiced throughout the proceedings by ADA Timothy
Ward. Patricia Murphy who, upon arrival at the scene of the tragic encounter the evening of October 3, 1996, declared within 25 minutes, in
her notebook, that it was a “Second Degree Murder” despite the statements to police by Michael Dillon, Jimmy White, and Kevin O’Donnell that what they had just witnessed was a shooting “in self-defense.” Murphy, who testified at the hearing, called as a witness by the Respondent DA’s Office had, from the very moment she stepped foot on the crime scene, learning of a bat-wielding, but Black, assailant, shot and killed by an Italian-American off-duty New York City Transit Police Of-ficer, decided it could only be Murder; and the Hell with the eyewitness accounts of the only three witnesses who had seen all 90 seconds of what had happened, the Hell with the Truth. She and her Office would do whatever was necessary to make the statements to police and the ultimate testimony line up with her charge, the charge that would have the most political benefit to her boss, Jeanine Pirro. Murphy would do whatever was necessary, even if it meant that she would put the Dobbs Ferry Police Department, its 35-year-old Chief, George Longworth, and all three of its detectives: Guarnieri, Ellman, and Gelardi, on a mission to make each of the three eyewitnesses lie, and change their statements, and ultimately their in-court testimony, both before the grand jury and at trial, to comport with her false charges.
ADA Patricia Murphy, who Jeanine Pirro had called upon to lie and prostitute herself for her so many times over the years, to put out fires as she did in the aftermath of young Rob Viscome’s death at Pirro’s next door neighbors, the Porzio’s house, was called upon at the hearing to put out the fire, and possible inferno, of witness-tampering and turning, unlawful activity by the Dobbs Ferry Police Department, perhaps at the direction of the DA’s Office, being alleged by a former key witness in the Richard DiGuglielmo case. She was, after all, the lead prosecutor; she was, after all, fully familiar with Mr. Campbell’s long criminal rap sheet and his history of physical violence. And, as is customary, she, as the prosecutor, did direct the activities of the Dobbs Ferry Police, and not the other way around.
Having observed Patricia Murphy through numerous trials over the years, those where her performance had been praiseworthy and was so acknowledged, and those where she had no problem carrying out a malicious prosecution of a clearly innocent individual, each with the same force and authority, the Patricia Murphy who appeared before Judge Rory Bellantoni, was unlike any previously observed. She was markedly red-faced, and conspicuously nervous; not at all her usual confident, take-charge self. If ADAs Tim Ward and Robert Sauer thought that Murphy would somehow come in and put out the fire, offer testimony that would weaken or somehow impeach what Michael Dillon had testified to, or Jimmy White shared under oath, they were both sadly mistaken.
In light of what the Court had already heard, not to mention the obstruct and delay strategy Mr. Ward engaged in, her attempt to minimize the role of her Office, and specifically herself, in the development of the case, and the manipulation of the three chief witnesses, was simply not credible, particularly coming from someone with her record and reputation for forcefully taking charge! She was unconvincing, and she knew it, as she sat uncomfortably in the witness chair, hoping that the Judge wouldn’t scrutinize her misrepresentations, particularly regarding the extent of her involvement between October 3rd and 12th of 1996.
Murphy had to deal with the “tangled web” of her own creation. She had to take the same “not credible” position, in plain language, she had to lie, commit perjury before Judge Bellantoni with regard to whether Michael Dillon, Kevin O’Donnell and Jimmy White had, in fact, been interrogated two or three times by Dobbs Ferry Police between their October 3rd statements and their October 8th statements, their so-called first and second statements. She had to tell the same story, the same lie, that Detective Lieutenant Guarnieri told, sitting in the same “hot seat”.
What an awkward position Patricia Murphy found herself in, attempting to portray herself as uninvolved, almost ‘laid-back’, during those first critical nine days following the shooting; denying any personal involvement, particularly with Michael Dillon, until at least October 12th. How despicable of her to attempt to make it appear that neither she, nor anyone from the DA’s Office, was calling the shots as the Dobbs Ferry Police Department’s entire Detective Division, not to mention Chief Longworth himself, were so totally consumed, night after night, attempting to make three eyewitnesses lie, by altering their statements to no longer support the self defense that required Officer DiGuglielmo to shoot Charles Campbell; but to, instead, make it appear that the shots were fired at a man who was really so afraid of a middle-aged man whose hand he had just broken and whose leg he had just savaged with a metal baseball bat. Campbell had to be so afraid that he was “backing up defensively”, not swinging for the man’s head as the “three rounds to center mass” dropped him in the act
of swinging, as all three witnesses had originally described.
Of course, although she would be espousing the same fiction as Detective Guarnieri that neither Dillon, O’Donnell or White were ever repeatedly interrogated, taken from their jobs, and brought to Dobbs Ferry Police Headquarters between October 3rd and October 8th, knowingly committing the same perjury, ADA Murphy was, by the same token, tossing the Dobbs Ferry Police to the wolves. After all, none of the three witnesses, Dillon and White in particular, who testified before Judge Bellantoni, ever implicated any department
other than the Dobbs Ferry Police in their harassment and treatment as though they were suspects.
By denying any connection, either by herself or any member of the DA’s Office with what was done to produce altered, false statements and testimony, Patricia Murphy made it appear that if, indeed, such repeated long interrogations were conducted by the Dobbs Ferry Police, they did it on their own hook; they engaged in unlawful activity for their own purposes and not because the DA needed them to.
Let this sordid tale be a lesson to all of the 44 police departments in Westchester. No matter what promises or authority the Westchester DA’s Office offered you in the past, or may offer you in the future, to get you to violate the rights of innocent citizens; when the truth finally emerges, as it has in the DiGuglielmo case, it becomes “everyone for themselves.” They will not care how badly, having done their dirty work, will make you look, or what happens to your career, so long as it’s your butt in a sling, and not theirs. Imagine the celebrity worship and the promise it took to turn the detectives and the Chief of the Dobbs Ferry Police “dirty”, against another innocent
police officer whose shoes they could have been standing in.