Thursday, March 6, 2008

Janet Difiore.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

United States Attorney And The Federal Courts In Westchester Must Not Sacrifice Our Civil Rights On The Altar Of Collegiality

There comes a point beyond which, giving the benefit of the doubt, and practicing collegiality, in dealings with New York State’s Courts,
and regulatory and enforcement agencies, by Federal Prosecutors and Federal Courts, not only becomes contra-indicated but co- conspiratorial. If after nearly two years of enlisting the affirmative participation of Westchester residents and business people with a toll-free “1-877- END-GRAFT” tip line, and bringing forth an enormous response, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Courts that are signing warrants and listening to testimony, haven’t gotten the notion yet that many of the County’s courts, the Westchester District Attorney’s Of-fice, and literally scores of public officials, are tied together in an incestuous network of self service and corruption, then, truth be told, the Federal Constitution is a myth and those of us with law degrees preach a gospel of fiction and lies.

There is simply no escaping the fact that, for twelve years, District Attorney Jeanine Pirro operated a horrific Office whose prime directive was to approach any and all incidents brought to the Complaint Room in the manner most politically beneficial to the District Attorney. Neither truth, nor justice, were ever issues of particular consequence once the “party line” had been settled upon; and facts that supported
contrary conclusions were, and still are, either ignored, hidden or actively undermined to insure the desired outcome.

Those Assistant District Attorneys with any semblance of conscience and a moral compass, who didn’t have the stomach for it, ultimately went elsewhere, unwilling to send innocent, decent individuals to prison while leaving actual perps, some of them murderers, to continue plying their trade. Still others, many more, the George Bolins, the Patricia and Laura Murphys, the Perry Perones, Steven Benders and Clement Pattis, to name but a few, willingly sent innocent, decent human beings “upstate” in exchange for two paychecks a month, a pension, and health insurance. We are not talking mistakes or bad calls here. We are talking about prosecutorial misconduct; brazen, essentially criminal, conduct, calculated to purposefully convict and incarcerate “targets of opportunity” while protecting actual perpetrators, often closely connected to the District At-torney. That was the case under District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, and it remains
the case today.

Two cases that clearly demonstrate the point come immediately to mind: the Dennis Wedra case, prosecuted and finally brought to trial in February 2002 by the Pirro regime, and the Ralph Tancredi case, currently in pretrial hearings under the current regime. The Wedra trial was the ultimate example of all that was wrong under Pirro.

In 2000 State Senator Nick Spano, a close ally and frequent co-conspirator of Pirro’s, was locked in a tough race, attempting
to win his eighth term, against a very determined Democratic opponent, Tom Abinanti, of Greenburgh. Spano’s wunderkind campaign director, Anthony Mangone; a disgrace to the legal profession, everywhere but in Westchester, in fact, had committed massive election fraud, signing, by forgery, 166 Green Party Primary Nominating ballots for Nick. Dennis Wedra was a natural enemy and target of Pirro in her perception, as he was a Democratic operative in the City of Yonkers. Knowing full well that Mangone had personally forged all the ballots, Pirro, nevertheless, granted him full immunity and made him the chief Prosecution witness against Wedra, a man who was
clearly innocent of the fraud.

At trial, the jury saw through the empty prosecution, and, not only quickly acquitted Wedra, but also waited outside the courthouse to hug
and reassure him. Despite his failure to implicate Wedra, DA Pirro, nevertheless, rewarded Anthony Mangone, who was forced to admit under cross-examination that he was the guilty party, by getting him a six-figure position in her husband, Al’s, former law firm with Mike Santangelo. Currently, the Westchester District Attorney’s Office has been engaged in a misguided effort, for many months, to aid and abet the retaliatory mischief of Harrison Police Chief Dave Hall and Captain Anthony Marriccini against 10-year-veteran Police Officer and former President of the Harrison P.B.A., Ralph Tancredi. In doing so, it is going down the same path as the previous administration. Hall and Marriccini were outspoken supporters of the current DA in her campaign in 2005. The election was no ordinary election, by any stretch of the imagination.

Anthony DiCinthio, an Eastchester attorney, who was running for District Attorney on the Right-To-Life ticket, went to the FBI to report an attempt to bribe him off the ballot, as was reported in e New York Times. However, the FBI did not follow through, a fact that does not bode well in the minds of those who are expecting the Federal Government to clean up Westchester corruption. To make matters worse, the Chief Administrative Judge, Frank Nicolai, responded favorably to a request from the Republican candidate seeking, three days in advance of the election, to impound the voting machines; a clear, tell-tale act, given that when a candidate seeks to get a court-ordered impound of voting machines, they must allege some irregularity, some impropriety in the conduct of the election, clearly not possible three days before
the contest is run.

The point is, Dave Hall and Anthony Marriccini, as well as another corrupt police chief, George Longworth of Dobbs Ferry, each, together with some 200 other police brass from across the County, came out to a rally at the Polish Center in Yonkers, covered and broadcast by News12, in which they promoted the current District Attorney. The Yonkers Police Department went on record as endorsing her, and were the sole “keepers of the gate” over 330 machines impounded in the City of Yonkers at the warehouse facility on Saw Mill River Road. No conflict of interest there; of course not!

This reporter covered the recount as a representative of the press. On Election Day, Nick Spano’s henchmen were all over the City of Yonkers. Two of them, toughs in their late 20s, had stopped and threatened one of 30 attorneys working on behalf of Tony Castro, who had been called to the polling place at the Middle School/High School, near Rumsey Road, where a campaign poster for Phil Gille was 43 feet into the no post zone. The same two punks came a er this reporter. I told them, “What are you going to do, boys; beat up your grandfather? If you do, you better kill me because you know I’m a reporter.” They stopped, got back in their cars, and sped off .

One of them - the stocky one with the electric blue 3000GT sports car - showed up for the recanvass nearly a week later. He had no legitimate reason to be present at the recount.

Last year, Harrison Police Officer Ralph Tancredi and a dozen or so other members of the Harrison PBA, reported to the DA’s Office, the the and conversion, by forgery, by Chief Hall, of a $2500 check sent to the PBA by a local country club as the proceeds from a fundraiser run by the organization.

The DA’s Office refused to act upon the solid evidence that Hall had intercepted the check, forged changes on the face of it, and deposited it into the account of a police chiefs’ organization to which he belongs. Because of the DA’s refusal to apply the law properly to a political ally, Chief Hall, the PBA membership was compelled to hire counsel and to bring their complaint in United States District Court in White Plains, together with a complaint regarding civil rights violations by Hall and Marriccini for the installation of secret audio and video spying equipment in the locker room at Police Headquarters.

Following the federal filing, an all-out retaliatory effort by Hall and Marriccini against Officer Tancredi, charging him with harassment and stalking of his former girlfriend, was aided and abetted by the DA’s office, specifically ADA Barbara Egenhauser, engaging in the Subornation Of Perjury from the alleged victim. That young woman has filed a civil rights suit in Federal Court against the Westchester DA’s Office and, ADA Egenhauser has been removed from the case.

Now, anyone who is even moderately familiar with the election process in Westchester County, over the last 15 years, particularly, knows that there has been a lot of election fraud before, during, and after balloting. The two instances above cited each implicate the election process; in the first instance, directly, and in the present instance, indirectly.

While it is true that the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Justice Department, recently, aggressively, and successfully tried the Port Chester At-Large Election System case, we are not aware of any current effort by those agencies to look into instances of election fraud, clearly an area of particular relevance to federal prosecutors. Those close to the election process in Yonkers know only too well that, had it not been for the presence of federal monitors at the polls in 2006, the outcome of the election for State Senate in the 35th District, might very well have resembled what happened in 2004, which saw the longest post-election dispute in state history; more than three months of judicial manipulation and fraud to produce the cynical 18-vote victory for Nick Spano from a 355-vote defeat.

What Federal Prosecutors and the Federal Courts must realize is that conditions in Westchester, particularly in the City of Yonkers, are every bit as corrupt and unlawful as they appear upon casual scrutiny. Police brutality has been legendary in that city for decades, and election fraud has been a way-of-life.

Nearly two years into their investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the FBI, surely must recognize the pervasiveness and harmfulness of the corrupt regime that has controlled the DA’s Office, County Government, and State Courts at every level. All things considered, it is reasonable to anticipate the commencement of a long procession of grand jury hearings, indictments, and prosecutions in the very near future. Amen!

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