Thursday, October 2, 2008

Westchester Guardian/The Advocate.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

What Was Warner Brothers Thinking About?

Apparently it really doesn’t matter to Warner Brothers who they put up before the American viewing public as the umpteenth “Judge Judy”. Surely, they were unconcerned about their image, and had little to no idea who Jeanine Pirro truly was, or what misery she has brought into the lives of innocent individuals and their families in her self promoting Abuse Of Process.

Warner’s only concern, their only focus, involved using Pirro to fill a time slot, employing an old and tired format; one they have used, and their competitors have used, with variable success for many years. And, after all, she actually was a judge, a Westchester County Court Judge, for a couple of years before running for District Attorney in 1993. The fact is, she was an undistinguished, but reasonably fair, judge by most accounts. Unfortunately, that was the last positive note with regard to her public life that one can truthfully offer.

In 12 years as District Attorney of Westchester, Jeanine Ferris Pirro brought about more grief and sorrow in the lives of innocent men and women, and their families, than any five district attorneys combined. From the moment she was elected District Attorney, taking over the office January 1994, there began a Reign Of Terror, a tyrannical regime specifically focused on her constant self-promotion.

In the 12 years that would follow, there would be no such thing as Accidental Death, no Self-Defense, and certainly no Exoneration by reason of Actual Innocence. For her, there would be no “Search For The Truth”. She, and whatever she decided, the Prosecution’s story should be, was,
the truth.

Thus, a man who, in October 1996, saved his middle-aged father’s life from a metal bat-wielding, body-building amateur boxer, with a long rap sheet containing several arrests for violence, was not saving an innocent life but, rather, was committing a bias crime, a Second-Degree Murder, simply because the man swinging the bat happened to be Black. In Pirro’s demented calculations, Richard DiGuglielmo only shot Charles Campbell because he was Black. By Pirro’s logic, had the perpetrator been White, DiGuglielmo would have permitted him to kill his father by “crushing his head like a watermelon,” with the bat, as one of the three eyewitnesses said he was about to do; having already broken his hand and severely injured
his leg with an impact another witness said, “could be heard a block away.”

Actually, Pirro showed the kind of sick, self-serving, operation she would be running within one month of assuming office. The Balancio stabbing,
at the Strike Zone Bar in Yonkers on February 4, 1994, just thirty-five days into her first term, would prove an exemplar for all the prosecutorial misconduct and outright criminal conduct that would flow from her Office. Louis Balancio, just short of his 21st birthday, was stabbed 13 times, to
death, by Nick Djonovic, whose girlfriend he had reportedly fooled with.

Darren Mazzarella, already a homicidal felon, had held Balancio down for the stabbing, but would be Pirro’s chief Prosecution witness against Anthony DiSimone, a man who was 10 years older than Balancio, with no connection to him or motive to harm him. Within six days of the brutal killing, one of Djonovic’s relatives would turn over a confession to Pirro, and soon she would have the killer’s bloody leather jacket, but Pirro let Djonovic escape to the Yugoslav Republic because his name didn’t sound right for proving she could prosecute La Cosa Nostra, despite her
husband’s mob connections.

She would ultimately gather 52 boxes of exhibits, 376 pages, and miles of audio tape, all exculpatory to Anthony DiSimone. Nevertheless, she would persist in her colossal lie, even claiming he had run away to Sicily when, in fact, all the while, he was living with his wife and her family in plain sight in Yonkers.

The O.J. Simpson case, in 1995, would present a unique opportunity for self-promotion on a mega scale. Geraldo Rivera, a self-professed womanizing, largely discredited, television news face hooked up with Pirro, in more ways than one, using her “expert opinion” regularly, helping to build her media image as never before.

While she was busy with her production, her husband, Al, had been doing some producing of his own. He managed to father a girl by a legal secretary in Florida, Jessica Marciano, long before ever making Jeanine a mother. So jealous and resentful of that relationship, Jeanine would use
her publicly-paid investigators to stalk and harass Marciano all over the country; and, went so far as to arrange, for the woman’s arrest and detention upon reentry into the United States from a trip to Europe. Of course, Jeanine Pirro wanted to be known as a women’s advocate.
She had no problem with the fact that, for the first 16 years of her life, Al Pirro denied paternity to his first-born, Jackie Marciano. It took court-enforced DNA testing to get him to begin support payments. Jeanine was busy publicly denouncing “dead-beat dads” except for the one she lived with.

In 1997 the IRS, and United States Attorney Mary Jo White, became aware that Al and Jeanine Pirro had been engaging in a massive joint tax fraud, possibly for many more years, but only prosecutable as far back as 1988 under the 10-year statute of limitations for such offenses. Jeanine and Al had filed joint tax returns for nine of those ten years, and clearly The Innocent Spouse Statute was not applicable to her.

However, Jeanine had just won reelection in a fixed race in which her Democratic opponent spent $3,000, and she spent a million; resulting in a
Pirro victory with a two-thirds plurality. Mary Jo reasoned politically, deciding not to include Jeanine in the 67-count indictment for fear that her “popularity” might cause jurors to refuse to convict despite the fact that evidence at trial would clearly demonstrate that Jeanine was hands-on involved in the scheme, up to her eyebrows, in seven separate acts of tax fraud.

In 2000, after the Pirros had unsuccessfully attempted, with motion practice, to avoid a trial, Federal Judge Barrington Parker Jr. redacted the last
29 counts of the 67-count indictment, the ones involved with Al’s and Robert Boyle’s ripoff of the Hudson Valley Hospital Center. Al was convicted on all 38 remaining felony counts in June 2000. Jeanine would vilify United States Attorney White at every opportunity; and, she would “get even” tit for tat the very next year, trying and convicting schoolteacher Marci Stein, wife of one of White’s United States Marshals, on
charges of sexually abusing three male students.

At trial ADA Laura Murphy, one of Pirro’s more willing accomplices, would lie outright to the jury and commit prosecutorial misconduct. As a
result, the conviction was ultimately overturned, but not before Stein served more than three years, lost her husband and her teaching career. In April 2002 an incident occurred in Harrison, New York, then Pirro’s hometown. A power failure at the Harrison High School caused an early dismissal that motivated about two dozen teens, mostly seniors, to hold a drinking party at the home of Pirro’s neighbors, the Porzio family. Mr. and Mrs. Porzio were away and Beth, their daughter, invited her friends in.

Amongst the youths in attendance were Robert Viscome Jr., a popular football player and student, as well as Patrick Rokaj, who lived in a house,
also, very close to the Pirros. Rokaj’s father, Joseph, had won $18 million in the New York Lottery, but had gotten into a blood feud with family members, resulting in a multiple homicide, for which he was imprisoned. Apparently, words were exchanged between Viscome and Rokaj, each in an
intoxicated condition; and, stepping out onto the concrete patio, Rokaj ‘suckerpunched’ Rob Viscome, causing him to fall backwards, head-first; rendering him unconscious, and rapidly lapsing into a comatose state. Instead of summoning emergency medical assistance, the youths called John Porzio, Jr., a student at the Rye Country Day School. Porzio arrived at the scene as did Jeanine Pirro’s daughter, Christine, also a student at the school. Porzio immediately made it clear that no calls for help would be tolerated, saying, “This didn’t happen here.” Instead, the teens busied
themselves cleaning up drug and alcohol evidence as Viscome lay dying for more than half an hour.

In short order, DA Pirro’s daughter was removed from the scene by a local political operative, and was not seen at school for several weeks. The remaining youths, some of whom brought their near-death friend, Rob, by car to United Hospital in Port Chester about 40 minutes after the incident, as well as those who were left behind, were all rounded up by Harrison Police. Statements were taken by several Harrison police officers from the youths. However, those statements were all shredded, and the teens were let go, out the back door, of Harrison Police Headquarters. A deal was cut.

None of the kids would be charged, and nobody would expose the fact that the DA’s daughter had been there. In 2003 the Jing Kelly case, of
a mother who had committed Misdemeanor Custodial Interference to protect her infant son, Tristram, from his alcoholic, abusive father; a former
Manhattan ADA, and his influential lawyer-filled family, came to trial. Pirro intentionally overcharged the mother as a felony, and succeeded in keeping her in jail as a “flight risk” for 13 months.

Incredibly, having locked up the mother, Pirro arranged for the kidnapping of her infant son, then two years old, by the aunt, attorney Gail Heiler, who had violated the original New York County Family Court Order by giving the abusive father constant, and unsupervised, access to the child.

That father died of a stomach ailment while the child and his mother remained in China for 18 months. Upon learning of the father’s death, Jing Kelly was voluntarily returning to the United States with her son when she was apprehended in Vancouver, British Columbia, enroute to New York. Found guilty after trial, only of a misdemeanor, and released after serving twice the jail time her conviction called for, Jing Kelly has never regained custody of her son. Tristram, now 7, has lived in virtual false imprisonment in California, in the home of yet another sibling of his
deceased father.

Finally, no review of Jeanine Pirro’s record as District Attorney of Westchester would be complete without stating her cruel and senseless role in
the life of Jeffrey Deskovic. In 1989 Deskovic, 16, was railroaded by Assistant DA George Bolen and Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Luis Roh
following his wrongful arrest by now-Peekskill Police Chief Eugene Tumolo, for the Rape and Murder of a Peekskill High School schoolmate, Angela Correa, 15. Despite the fact that they knew eight months before trial that his DNA and his hair follicles did not match the semen or the hair found in and on the victim, respectively.

Although that horrific prosecution, and conviction, occurred in 1990 under Carl Vergari, Pirro’s mentor and predecessor, Pirro, knowing full well that Deskovic’s DNA and his hair did not match, nevertheless, six separate times, blocked appeals and all efforts between 1999 and 2006 to get the rape kit DNA compared with New York State’s DNA Database of known offenders. Her cruel actions, over a protracted six-year period, can perhaps best be understood in light of her professed attitude; “Cage The Bastards”, as expressed in her failed book, To Punish And Protect, published in 2003.

Finally, Mrs. Pirro’s career has had a damaging impact upon the lives of literally hundreds of innocent individuals and their families over her 12-year Reign of Terror. Her administration was all about mythological image v reality; all about herself. That Warner Brothers and the CW-11 network should see fit to offer such a scandalous creature raises the question, “Who is this person who has brought, and continues to bring, so
much grief into the lives of so many innocent people, that she should be held up as a judge, as someone to be looked up to, or from whom advice should be taken?”

The answer, quite simply, is that Warner did not do their homework when it came to vetting Jeanine Pirro. They should have spoken with the people who know her best, the People of Westchester. In a poll taken by News12 last Monday, viewers were asked, “Would you want your case judged in Jeanine Pirro’s new TV courtroom?”

Only 6 percent of those viewers who responded indicated that they would trust her; 71 percent said, “No way”; and 23 percent declared, “Judge Judy rules!”



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