Thursday, March 12, 2009

Westchester Guardian/The Court Report/City of Mount Vernon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

‘Gerrie’ Post And Wayne Charles Go To
Prosecutor-Predicted Four Week Trial
United States District Court, White Plains
Judge Kenneth M. Karas Presiding


The fraud case of former Mount Vernon Planning, and Housing Commissioner, Constance Post, 59, better known to her friends and people around
City Hall as ‘Gerrie’, and her reputed lover, Wayne Charles, a small-time real estate speculator and developer, finally got underway last Tuesday afternoon following a weather cancellation on Monday, and the need for District Court Judge Kenneth M. Karas to deal with three of the 16
jurors who had been seated the previous Friday.


The thrust of the Government’s case against the pair involves the alleged steering of some $2.3 million in loans and city contracts by Post to Charles over several years, for which lead Prosecutor Cynthia Dunne told the jury, in her opening statement, “The evidence will show that while Charles was riding high, he gave post $30,000.”

Assistant United States Attorney Dunne, who readers will recall is also the lead prosecutor in the Paul Cote case, told the jurors, “This case is about fraud, theft, and corruption,” explaining that it was Post’s calculated intention to wrongfully enrich Wayne Charles, 56, and ultimately enter into business with him. Attempting to tie the Defendants tightly together in a common scheme, Dunne declared, “It’s about two people who lied and cheated to enrich themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Dunne said, “The most important Defendant is Constance Post. Post, and her very close friend, took advantage of funds available. Post made it
a priority to see that Mr. Charles got city contracts.”


Labeling it, “A brief overview,’ Dunne launched into the history of the company known as Micros Only, previously owned and operated by an associate of Charles, named Dante Brown. She explained how Charles, without Brown’s knowledge, set up checking accounts in the name of Micros Only Computer Concepts, Inc., thereby establishing a vehicle and depository into which funds from the City of Mount Vernon, in payment for computer technology services, ostensibly performed by Micros Only, could be deposited and disbursed under the control of Wayne Charles. Dunne explained that Charles involved his sister in the setting up and servicing of the bank accounts, thereby avoiding recognition and identification
with the flow of funds. Dunne explained that Post went far beyond steering computer technology business to Charles’ fraudulent business, declaring,
“Post took additional steps. She used HUD funds which were meant for housing and recreational uses.”


She explained further, to the jurors, “The City Council had placed specific caps on how much could be paid to Micros. When $80,000 was authorized, she [Post], in fact, released $335,000.”

Dunne indicated that in the following year Post moved more than $600,000 to Wayne Charles’ businesses, and, that when the City tightened the reins, she saw to it that her close friend obtained “A $500,000 loan by fraud as “Charles falsely swore he had no other relationship with the City.”

Dunne then pointed out to the jury that Mr. Charles had only repaid half of the loan, and that was several years later. Dunne went on to explain that there was a garage security contract for which Charles received $700,000, “even though he had no employees.” She pointed to the figure on a projection screen, to the jury, of $2,356,083.77 as the Government’s calculated “total of the funds that post arranged to be paid to Charles.”

Dunne assured the jurors that there would be abundant proof, “the testimony of many witnesses, lots of records and charts, the Defendant’s [Constance Post] very own words at public meetings.”

She concluded, telling the jury, “It’s about improper secret dealings, misuse of federal money, private benefits to the Defendants, and the abuse of trust to steer $2.3 million to Charles.”

Dunne then made the very high-minded statement, “Our system of government depends upon the absolute integrity of public servants.” Her opening statement took 38 minutes.

Defense Attorney Andrew Rubin, representing Gerrie Post, opened his comments with, “You just heard a lot of awful bad things about Ms. Post. The Government doesn’t have any evidence of any crimes Ms. Post has committed, any crimes.”

To illustrate his point Rubin said, “Wick Security [a firm put together by Wayne Charles] was a closed bid and Ms. Post had nothing to do with it.”
Rubin went on, “The Government will not be able to prove that Gerrie Post defrauded the City of Mount Vernon out of property or out of her honest services.”


Having said that, he reminded the jury, “The standard is whether the Government proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is no evidence of
a business relationship between Gerrie Post and Wayne Charles.”


He informed the jurors that Post had worked for Mount Vernon for 27 years, under Mayors Sharpe, Blackwood, and Davis. He did “admit”, however, that there had been some sloppy record keeping on his client’s watch. He then turned stern and declared, “The Government will not be able to prove that she knew of Wayne Charles’ ownership of Micros Only.”

Then turning to the $500,000 loan that Charles had received, Attorney Rubin said, “Thirty three building owners received grants. Eleven loans were given out, and four loans were lost. The City of Mount Vernon got the benefit of the bargain for what it paid.”

Attempting to put his client’s position in perspective, Rubin told the jurors, “She presented hundreds of proposals over a 15-year period. This case is based upon innuendo and speculation.” His remarks on behalf of Gerrie Post took all of 22 minutes.

Attorney Richard Levitt, speaking on behalf of Wayne Charles, immediately acknowledged that his client, “doesn’t dot every ‘i’ or cross every ‘t’.”

He quickly shifted his comments to his client’s project on Third Street, the building improvement for which he had reportedly borrowed the $500,000. He emphasized to the jurors, “The Third Street corridor was dirty and dangerous,” by way of putting his client into a favorable light for having attempted, and succeeded, in rehabilitating the small, multi-family dwelling at a rat-infested, filthy site.

Levitt told the jury of his client’s trips to China in 1997 and 1998, accompanied by Mayor Davis and Gerrie Post. He explained that it was during those trips that his client got to know Gerrie Post.

He attempted to clarify the charges against Charles: two frauds, the $500,000 loan, and the Micros Only contract, plus a charge of having made false statements to government agents when he was questioned.

Levitt concluded, telling the jurors, “This case is not about the Charles/Post relationship.” He assured them that his client “Didn’t intend to defraud, and did not conspire to deny Mount Vernon Ms. Post’s honest services.”

Analysis:

It would appear up-front that this case is going to be a typical Cynthia Dunne prosecution. By that I mean it is obvious, upon examining the three-count, 13-page indictment against Gerrie Post and Wayne Charles, given the Prosecution’s promise of 40 witnesses, that what will be brought
out will read like a badly redacted, cut-and-pasted soap opera, wherein a substantial cast of supporting actors will be covered up as the story line jumps from one scene to another, in a concerted effort to not reveal the actionable activities of co-conspirators-turned-Government-witnesses;
maybe even Ernie Davis, himself.


It is simply Attorney Dunne’s style to leave on the cutting room floor so much truth as is necessary to more convincingly project the confabulation she believes works best for her in terms of getting a conviction of those she chooses to destroy.

For example, in the Paul Cote case, the Prosecutor who just told this jury, “Our system of government depends upon the absolute integrity of public servants,” chose to prosecute the man she knew damned well was not responsible for inmate Zorn Teodorovic’s ultimate death by using the man, John Mark Reimer, who was responsible, as her key witness. ‘Where is public servant Cynthia Dunne’s integrity?’

After all, if what Dunne was eliciting from Reimer even remotely resembled the truth, why did it require 17 hours of rehearsal, with her, for Reimer to get his story straight at trial?

So much for the Prosecution’s case.

As for Defense strategy, it would appear that both Andy Rubin, for Post, and Richard Levitt, for Charles, hope to convince the jurors that what transpired between their clients, as well as between them and numerous so-called public servants in the City of Mount Vernon Municipal Administration for some eight years, until 2005, was so common around City Hall as to be hardly worthy of mention, much less federal
prosecution.


If, aside from a trash hauler with an established problem with the law, and a sanitation supervisor with whom he did business with the City, Gerrie Post and her boyfriend, Wayne Charles, are all that Michael Garcia & Co. could pull out of Mount Vernon after three-plus years of intensive investigation, with high public participation, then we have a sense something isn’t quite right about that investigation and the present prosecution.

After all, if what Dunne was eliciting from Reimer even remotely resembled the truth, why did it require 17 hours of rehearsal, with her, for Reimer to get his story straight at trial?


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

This rag of a 'newspaper' is consistent if nothing else in always being against the Prosecution as being dishonest and the Defendant attorneys are always caped crusaders fighting for truth and justice.
Try a bit of 'fair and balanced' reporting once in a while instead of the yellow journalism you espouse. It will be refreshing.
Shame on you!

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