Thursday, February 14, 2008

Janet Difiore.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Have they No Sense Of Decency?

Witnessing Assistant District Attorney Steven Bender rise in Supreme Court Justice Les Adler’s Court, last Wednesday morning, at the
Trial Readiness Hearing, in the George Bubaris case, to say, “I have to protect the honor and integrity of our Office,” brought to mind the exchange in June 1954 between demagogic Senator Joseph McCarthy and Attorney Joseph Welch during the so-called Army-McCarthy Hearings, when Welch turned to McCarthy and rebuking him, asked, “Have you no sense of decency, Sir, at long last? Have you le- no sense of decency?”

ADA Bender was seated at the Prosecution table, sandwiched between ADAs Perry Perrone, of the Homicide Bureau, and Mike Hughes, for many years the Head of the Public Integrity Unit. Off to their right, in a jury box seat, was Jim McCarty, as it turned out, there to rescue them if, by chance, they needed to field a tough question. Just such a question would be forthcoming.

Then there was Attorney Edward Hayes, representing accused and suspended Mount Kisco Police Officer George Bubaris, charged with Manslaughter in the death, 10 months ago, of homeless Guatemalan immigrant Rene Perez; in Court on a Motion and Affirmation calling upon Supreme Court Justice Les Adler to compel the District Attorney’s Office to come clean, and turn over all Brady material, all information in its possession, in any way relevant and useful to the Defense as prescribed by law.

Ironically, two of the cases Hayes was citing for purposes of reinforcing his argument that the Westchester District Attorney’s Office
had a deplorable record in terms of prosecutorial misconduct, and, more specifically, the withholding of exculpatory information, were the Anthony DiSimone and Richard DiGuglielmo cases. Steven Bender was the second seat Prosecutor in the DiSimone trial in 2000, and Perry Perone was the second seat Prosecutor in the DiGuglielmo trial in 1997.

In the case of Anthony DiSimone, Steven Bender, together with Clement Patti, under strict orders from Jeanine Pirro, intentionally and
maliciously prosecuted DiSimone for the multiple stabbing and murder of Louis Balancio, 20, outside the Strike Zone Bar on Central Avenue
in Yonkers on February 4, 1994, despite their knowledge that the crime had been confessed to, within six days, by Nick Djonovic and, despite their possession of 376 pages and 52 boxes of materials exculpatory to DiSimone, as well as information from the United States Attorney’s Of-fice that they were pursuing the wrong person.

Over a 13-year period, until Mr. DiSimone’s release by a Federal Court on a writ of habeus corpus, Mr. Bender, and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, perpetuated the lie, not only sending DiSimone to prison, but also sending William Brown and many others who were present, but who refused to lie for Pirro, to prison on other trumped up charges. How does Mr. Bender summon the gall to use the words “honor and integrity” in any sentence describing the Westchester District Attorney’s Office?

Perry Perrone, seated to the left of Bender, in Adler’s court, was a key player in the conspiracy between the District Attorney’s Office and the Dobbs Ferry Police Department, in October of 1996, to get three eyewitnesses, the only eyewitnesses to the 90-second struggle that ended with the self-defense shooting of Charles Campbell by off-duty New York City Transit Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo in an effort to save his father’s life, to change their initial accounts to comport with a Murder charge.

Perrone, together with Assistant DA Patricia Murphy, did everything in their power to get then-Police Chief George Longworth, and the entire three-man Dobbs Ferry Detective Bureau, to coerce altered statements from Kevin O’Donnell, Michael Dillon and Jimmy White, all three of whom had reported to police, as well as the media, shortly a- er the tragic incident, that the shooting was “clearly self-defense”.

The witnesses, in their initial accounts, had gone so far as to say that Campbell’s swings with a metal baseball bat, that had already broken the middle-aged father’s hand and savaged his leg, “could be heard a block away,” and that he was swinging for his head and would have “crushed it like a watermelon,” at the moment he was shot. The prosecutorial misconduct, the lies and malicious deceit that sent Officer DiGuglielmo to prison, so far serving more than 10 years, were finally exposed recently in an eight-day evidentiary hearing before Judge Rory Bellantoni, in response to a 440.10 Appeal.

Seated to ADA Bender’s right at the same table, last Wednesday in Adler’s court, was Michael Hughes, long-time head of the DA’s oxymoronically titled “Public Integrity Unit”. It was Mr. Hughes who wrote to Attorney Jim McKerrick several years ago, telling him that “it didn’t matter” if the Westchester DA’s Office knew that his brother, former New Rochelle Police Officer Matthew McKerrick, was, in fact, innocent when they knowingly, falsely charged, prosecuted, and convicted him of an Assault and Robbery in the Village of Mamaroneck for which he served six years in prison.

Judge Adler asked Perrone about the series of memoranda from the Mount Kisco Acting Police Chief, to his officers; one of which had
said that failure to appear before, and cooperate with, ADA Hughes and the DA’s Office would be viewed as “insubordination”. Turning to
Perrone, Adler asked, “Are you saying you didn’t have those materials, or, that you had them but didn’t think you should turn them over to
the Defense?” At that point Perrone, looking somewhat dumbfounded and obviously afraid to speak, turned to his right, summoning ADA
McCarty to the table, essentially to be told whether or not to admit the truth. Apparently, to his credit, McCarty advised him correctly, and
Perrone, in a rare moment of truthfulness, admitted that the DA’s of-fice had the materials but, “didn’t believe” they had to share it with the
Defense. Upon that admission, Judge Adler adjourned the Hearing For Determination Of Readiness to March 6th.

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