Thursday, March 5, 2009
In Our Opinion...
“The Brothers Alessandro”: Was It Merely A Bloodletting?
It came as no shock when the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, last Monday, February 23, made public their decision to strip both Judge Joseph S. Alessandro, 63, sitting on the State Supreme Court in Orange County, and his older brother, Francis M. Alessandro, 70, a Civil Court Judge in The Bronx, from their positions. Readers may remember Joe as a County Court Judge in Westchester who ran in 2003, though he actually resided in the Morris Park section of The Bronx.
His overabundance of campaign signs, at the time, laughably proclaimed, “Experience Counts,” though he had never been elected a judge before, and never even attended law school. It was obvious from the start that he was buying his way onto the County Court and, furthermore, that he wasn’t from Westchester. Not immediately known, however, was that he was doing it with a quarter of a million of his campaign treasurer’s
dollars. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be long before she was hauling him into State Court, charging him with fraud and failure to repay his debt. That was back in 2004.
As it turned out, Joe and his brother managed to get around Barbara Battista’s lien against their mother’s house in Valhalla which had been put up as collateral, and then refinanced. The Commission, in their investigation, discovered, additionally, that both brothers had, in August 2003, signed a promissory note to Battista that specified repayment in 30 days, but that there was a verbal understanding that Joe could take until July of 2004 to repay the loan. However, the Commission also discovered that in November of 2003, just prior to his election, Joe rewrote the mortgage note, giving himself 15 years to repay the then-71-year-old Battista.
It would be classic British understatement to say that Joe was an undistinguished County Judge, lacking both judicial temperament and fundamental knowledge of criminal law. His lifelong area of “practice” had been real estate, and he wasn’t especially handy with on-the-job training. He clearly demonstrated his incompetence in his handling of one particular 440.10 Motion that involved a wrongfully charged and convicted individual who
had been indicted both for Intentional, and Depraved Indifference Murder, and acquitted of Intentional, but convicted of Depraved after having fired “three rounds to center mass” at close range into the chest of a batwielding assailant who was beating an unarmed civilian. After filing his denial of the motion, Joe came to a reporter and said, “It was Intentional,” as if to justify his blunder.
Both Francis and Joe were found to have knowingly filed incomplete financial disclosure statements, and to have made not-credible statements before the Commission. However, despite Joe Alessandro’s sleight-of-hand tactics with Barbara Battista in 2003, and his obvious incompetence
on the bench, to the shame of the entire State Judiciary, and the 9th Judicial District, in particular, a blatant and basically fraudulent scheme to install Jonathan Lippman on the State Supreme Court, was finagled between Republicans and Democrats. Under Administrative Judge Francis Nicolai, an old hand at rigged elections, Joseph Alessandro, of all possible horrific judges, was chosen to cross-endorse Lippman for State Supreme Court. And, following a series of hops, skips, and jumps, Lippman, obligated and committed to the worst of the worst, the likes of Nick Spano and Larry Schwartz, is now Chief Judge of New York State.
In the final analysis, while the investigation and recommendations of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, with respect to Judges Joseph and Francis Alessandro, was certainly appropriate, the issue of broader concern for the People of New York State, is the pervasiveness of misconduct throughout the Unified Court System and, the culpability that reaches to the very top. Viewed from that truthful perspective, the stripping of the Alessandro Brothers from the bench is but a mere bloodletting.
After all, the Alessandro/Battista Affair was certainly known as far back as 2004 as high up as in the chambers of then-Chief Judge Judith Kaye, but was not acted upon for nearly five years. How can the People of New York expect that this long-overdue, statutorily-mandated action by the Commission represents a more broadly-based decision to clean up the State Courts when the man who has now been maneuvered to the position of Chief Judge, Jonathan Lippman, got there by cross-endorsing Joseph Alessandro, someone who had been deemed “unfit” by the Bar Association, and who had engaged in fraudulent practices, to begin with, as Judith Kaye was very well aware. How can a judge such as Lippman preside over the cleanup of our State Courts?
Jonathan Lippman would have us believe that he is “Kosher for Passover”. We think not!
Our Reader's Respond...
Re: Paul Cote
I write to you today with regard to the case of Paul Cote. Paul and his partner were involved in an unfortunate incident at the County Jail in their positions as correction officers. The inmate involved eventually passed away. His partner made the initial contact with the inmate and Paul went to assist him. Paul, and only Paul, was charged and sentenced. He served time for this incident. Now he has lost his freedom again for the same incident, but this time in federal court! How can this be?
Paul has already served his time. This tragic incident must be put in the past. Paul and his family deserve the right to move forward with their lives.
They deserve true justice. Nothing more is asked.
Dorothy MacMoran, White Plains
Re: Paul Cote
I’ve been following your articles on the former Westchester Correction Offi-cer Paul Cote. I almost cannot believe the events surrounding this story; so much so that it belongs on TV.
There are so many conflicting thoughts, and many eye-raising questions. I am completely puzzled as to how immunity was granted to the officer who was first involved in the altercation with the inmate, and Cote brought to trial. Is it any wonder that folks like me get turned off with local politicians and public officials? Are they really looking out for the little guy? Something just doesn’t add up in this story. From all that I have
read, it seems crystal clear that, for some reason, the cards were stacked against Cote right from the start. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe Cote wasn’t with the “in-crowd”; on the team at the Department of Corruption.
Thanks for allowing me to vent my two cents, and thanks for the great coverage. I really like the paper.
Brunetta Lee Brown, Yonkers
Re: Paul Cote
I’m writing this letter in support of, in my opinion, the wrongly imprisoned correction officer, Paul Cote. It has been eight years of hell since this travesty of justice was imposed upon this man and his family. Paul was stripped of his livelihood and future, while another individual, who was more involved with the altercation, was granted immunity for testifying against his fellow officer. Is this how the Justice System works?
Paul is obviously the sacrificial lamb of the Correction Department and prosecutor’s office. I hope and pray that justice will prevail.
Joseph Mastroianni, Airmont
Re: Paul Cote
A few weeks ago I visited my sister in Mount Vernon, and she gave me the edition of your newspaper to read. When I saw Paul Cote shown
on your front page, it was the most surreal reaction I could’ve had! This is someone I knew as a young boy who grew up to be the man he is today. This is a wonderful husband, father and son anyone could ever wish for.
What happened to Paul is what he’s always done; coming to the assistance of someone who is in need of help, something Paul has done throughout his life. To be penalized for doing what he’s supposed to be doing is totally unjust! With all the dishonest injustices that Paul has endured, I’m hoping that true facts and honesty can be applied in giving Paul the justice he deserves, and allowing him to be with his family where he belongs.
There just aren’t enough words.
Long Beach, New York
A Reader Voices Opposition To Legal Abortion
In July 1862 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves in the Confederate states, and in December 1865
the 13th Amendment, which forbade slavery, was ratified by the states. Now it is time for Governor David Paterson to issue an Emancipation Proclamation to guarantee that all pre-born babies in this great, progressive state are persons from the moment of conception, and entitled
to the human rights of life and liberty.
The New York State Constitution’s preamble states, “We the People of the State of New York, grateful to the Almighty God for our Freedom,
in order to secure its blessings, do establish this Constitution.” The “Almighty God”, not the state or the courts, sanctifies life and gives each
pre-born infant these rights, which are being taken away from them by pro-abortion politicians, judges, doctors, Planned Parenthood and other non-profits. The state not only allows the atrocious killing of pre-born infants up to the ninth month but abortions are done using taxpayer dollars in spite of citizen’s moral and religious opposition.
In order to assure that an amendment to the State Constitution is passed by the Legislature and approved by the voters, pro-life priests, ministers, rabbis, and leaders of other faiths must use all the methods of communication available to them, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines,
and the internet to send the message of life and liberty for the pre-born. The next Cardinal for the New York archdiocese must be an outspoken advocate for the pro-life crusade, and not be ambiguous in the media or with politicians.
He should start by boycotting the Al Smith Dinner where all the pro-abortion politicians congregated for the blessings from the politically-correct
Cardinals of the past. When it comes to the killing of pre-born babies, “Silence is not golden.” The amendment should also protect the right of medical personnel not to participate in any way with the taking of innocent, pre-born life, including the dispensing of drugs. Public school education should include the reading of the Preamble to the State Constitution, and then discussing its implications regarding pre-born babies,
objective morality, free will, and the dignity and respect due sacred, human life from conception to natural death. The amendment should also state that pre-born infants’ lives cannot be taken away by the state or the courts, and that taxpayer money cannot be used in any way to support abortions by surgery or by drugs.
Pro-life candidates must be proactive and aggressive in their campaigns by participating in debates conducted by the League of Women Voters or any other organization, answering the League’s questionnaire, participating in media interviews, setting up an interactive website, shaking hands while handing out “palm cards” at train and bus stations, walking the neighborhoods, and writing a blog and letters/commentaries to daily and weekly newspapers. Candidates should also discuss the pro-life amendment during each media event, in questionnaires, in debates, and on the website. Pro-life citizens should write letters or e-mails to Governor Paterson, their state senators and assembly members, their religious leaders,
and newspapers to express their support for a pro-life amendment which will emancipate pre-born infants and declare them to be “persons” as conception, entitled to life and liberty as citizens of the State of New York.
Charles Roda, Mount Vernon
Senior Taxpayer Sounds Still Another Charge Against Over-Taxation
I represent a group of property owners who call ourselves the Passive Property Owners of New York State, or PPONYS. Our concerns are with the manner in which our properties are assessed. At the heart of this problem is the practice of assessing real property on the basis of purchases of so-called “comparables” which purchases are, as we have lately learned, to our sorrow, contracted using minimal cash investment and enormous mortgage debt. This assessment forms the basis for the taxes imposed on our properties though they bear no relation to the frenzied “MARKET” of recent memory which has been exposed for the scam that it was. The utilization of the obsolete of assessing property on this basis has its roots in the 19th century when property was conveyed once or possibly twice in a lifetime; it has no place in the 21st century where the average tenancy is said to be seven years.
The indifference of the taxing authorities toward the pain inflicted upon those property owners, many of whom have ancestral ties and deep roots in Westchester County rivals the misdeeds of the infamous “Bernie Madoff” as we confront the ever-present spectre of foreclosure for taxes which we simply cannot pay. The matter demands redress in the courts, if it is not addressed in the legislatures.
Perhaps The Guardian can be effective in restoring proper sovereignty over our property to its titled owners.
Marguerite E. Nichols, Pelham