Thursday, April 16, 2009
In Our Opinion...
Perhaps A D.O.J. We Can Feel Good About
We are particularly pleased with the signals now coming from the Justice Department with respect to that Department’s prior handling of
former United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election in a close race last November, had been convicted days earlier, Oct. 27, 2008, on seven felony counts, and to that point, had been the longest-serving Republican in Senate history.
Particularly significant and reassuring is the fact that Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. had become personally involved upon learning of the extensive prosecutorial misconduct, withholding of Brady material that had gone into Stevens’ conviction. Holder became involved upon learning of the actions of federal prosecutors from Alaska as well as those from the Public Integrity Unit of the Department of Justice in Washington.
The big question that remains primarily unanswered involves just how much of the concealment of exculpatory information from the Defense
resulted from procedural bungling and poor judgment, “cutting corners” under time constraints; and, how much resulted from deliberate, calculated Constitutional and ethics violations intended to improve the chances of achieving Stevens’ conviction.
We are not merely encouraged that Eric Holder acted swiftly and decisively to remedy the Unconstitutional injury to Stevens, but also, as importantly, that he has brought the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility into the case to determine what, if any, sanctions should be applied to those prosecutors involved. We have long argued for federal legislation that would impose both financial and incarcerative penalties on federal and state prosecutors who willfully and knowingly engage in misconduct.
Additionally, We understand that the Justice Department is examining whether supervisory staff overseeing those prosecutors involved in the case might have been too lax or somehow missed signals that should have tipped them off. The failure of upper-level staff to reign in and more tightly control their otherwise “highly-regarded” prosecutors, lawyers with significant experience in public integrity cases, particularly in light of the trial judge’s strong criticism of the Prosecution well into the trial.
Senator Stevens ironically was convicted on seven counts of failing to disclose nearly a quarter of a million dollars in goods and services received from special interest constituents. Nevertheless, the government in interviewing one such constituent, whom they had intended to be a chief prosecution witness, uncovered information that would have been very helpful to the Defense on at least two critical issues, but failed to turn it over to them.
That failure by Prosecutors to comply with their Constitutional obligation to Defendant Stevens only came to light in February, nearly four months after Stevens had been convicted. And, unlike other instances of prosecutorial misconduct, withholding of Brady, discovered in the course of the trial and dealt with by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, this discovery came too late for any remedy short of overturning the conviction.
Our Readers Respond...
A Westchester Taxpayer Speaks Up For Most)
My name is Kurt Colucci, a lifelong resident of New Rochelle, current homeowner and a fed-up Westchester resident. With all our political/economic systems failing, I feel truly angry that my home property taxes have risen to the astronomical levels they currently are and rising. The city/county offers no tax relief for individuals struggling. I need guidance from my elected officials, what do I do?
My tax cost is nearly $16,000 per year. I make $100k in salary (it seems like a lot, but trust me it’s not). I am not married, I take care of my mother and 90-year-old great uncle (nursing home is not an option, he deserves love and caring from those that he looked after).
I am 32, hard-working and a college graduate. I’ve even taught college for four years, so I am not foolish or lazy. Up until recently I couldn’t even afford my own health insurance or various other necessities, but never complain. I just work and pay the bills, no fancy living, just the essentials.
This winter I was forced to make a critical decision, pay my property taxes or pay for home heating oil. Since death and taxes are the only two guarantees in life, you can guess what check was cut, the quarter $4k to City of New Rochelle Tax Collector, as I always do.
I would like to ask other residents and our “politicians”, what would you do? Should I let my family freeze? Maybe I should take a chance and let my home pipes freeze.
I work nearly 70 hours a week as it is, should I work the graveyard shift at the North Avenue Mobil Station for an extra $125 a week to pay our over-inflated, useless County government salaries, or perhaps I should contribute to their retirement pensions? Oh, wait, I already do, in the form of County tax. God knows I don’t even have a retirement savings, nor does my poor mother who raised two kids on her own without additionally funded support. I’m sure I seem like a cranky, bitter person; I assure you, I am not.
I am scared to seek advice from my elected officials, whom I cast my vote for, however I’ve been left out in the bitter cold chasing my tail for answers. I’m tired and dizzy! Well, I have news for them, soon they will be dizzy, because come April 25th they won’t know what hit them, a hell of a lot of angry, over-taxed, hard-working Westchester residents will speak out against these insidious vipers!!
I don’t mind doing my part for the community, but this is asking way too much of a single individual given the current circumstances!
Kurt Colucci, New Rochelle
Reprinted with permission from the Idaho Observer:
“All the truth, nothing but the truth, so help us God” This was the motto of the paper I published in Middletown, New York. The name of the paper was The Wallkill Journal, and I, Anthony Russo, the publisher, spent years relentlessly exposing government officials and public servants for their treasons against “We the People.”
On many occasions over the years I was offered positions of prominence by the aforementioned traitors, always turning them down. Why would I want to be counted among the miscreants? I care too much for “the People” and too much for the truth. I had been threatened over the years and suffered greatly in my pursuit of the injustices and crimes against the people they were charged with protecting. In an effort
to deter me, I was motivated even more to bring out the truths. I have fought against the powers of darkness with all the resources of God,
and now I will tell you how they tried to silence me...
At 4 a.m. on December 24, 2004, I was returning from the corner store when I pulled into my driveway. I looked in the rearview mirror and
saw, parked diagonally behind me, a police car with its lights on. It is safe to say that I was very concerned for I had not broken any of the traffic laws that morning. I rolled down the window to see what the officer wanted and to my utter astonishment Officer Darrel Agarin of the Wallkill Police Department yelled at me, “Mr. Russo, give me the gun you have in the car now!” To say I was shocked would be the understatement of the year. I didn’t have a gun in the car. I realize now that was the set up.
As I was sitting in the car, my back was still facing the officer and suddenly, without provocation, my life was changed forever. Officer Algarin started shooting at my car. I felt a thud in the middle of my back; bullets were smashing all around me. I was terrified! I went into a state of total shock and turned into the gun- fire. I was shot a total of six times, twice in the shoulder, twice in the forearm, and once in the hand. This shooting was the long awaited assassination, the retaliation I was warned of. I realize now that had I not turned towards the gun fire, the two bullets that hit my shoulder would have hit my head! That’s about all I remember before it all went black...
What I am about to tell you I heard from concerned neighbors and officials that were at the scene. They all later testified at my trial. What they said is that Officer Algarin pulled me out of the car after shooting me. He then dragged me to the back of the car, which was facing the street. I now think he did this to make it look as though he shot me while I was outside the car, I don’t know. It was witnessed that he kicked me in the side and that is how my ribs were cracked. This was told specifically to me by Everett Moore, an eyewitness that Officer Algarin
regrets having there. Moore saw the whole thing. Algarin then bent down over me and declared, “He is dead; call the coroner!”
He then placed a black tarp over me, letting me expire. All of the gunfire drew more witnesses, one of which was Dan McDunne. Mc-Dunne is a paramedic by trade. He was one of the first response teams called to the Oklahoma City bombing because of his well-known expertise.
He also tried to attend to me after the shooting. His heroic efforts will never be forgotten. When he tried to come to my aid, Officer Algarin would not let him near me.
He told McDunne, “Step away from him! We are waiting for the coroner to get here.”
McDunne told me later that he heard Officer Algarin tell dispatch there was no need to send paramedics because I was already dead. Algarin’s ruse did not work. When the ambulance got there, they pushed their way over to me and shot something into me, and declared, “This man is not dead!” They put me on the gurney and proceeded to begin taking four of the six bullets that were most life threatening out of my body.
These .45-caliber bullets were fired at me from no more than 15 feet away. Then it was off to the hospital for another harrowing experience.
It seems that Officer Algarin had a strong ally in renegade New York County Judge Jeffrey Berry, who was against me from the start. Officer Algarin, Jan B. Golding of The New York State Police Department, and Judge Jeffrey Berry all conspired against me to cover-up the failed assassination of Publisher Anthony Russo. It was only a er being released from jail that I discovered these atrocities.
On my first face-to-face meeting with Judge Berry, my attorney, Mr. Hirsch, asked the judge to lower my bail from $300,000 to an attainable
amount. Judge Berry refused initially citing that it was “not the nature of the crime but the man.” The charges themselves were reduced from attempted murder to criminal possession of a weapon. The amped up original charge of attempted murder of a police officer, the grand jury
would not indict me on. When the attorney informed the judge, “Your Honor last week in the town of Deer Park a man charged with a similar
charge was given a bail of only $1,000, much less than the amount you are asking here.”
The Judge replied, “Its different ‘scopes’ for different folks.” Bail was reduced to $200,000, an amount just as ridiculous and showed Judge Berry’s prejudice and bias. At the trial, police officers testified on my behalf. The testimony of the police would have been enough to dismiss the entire case from the court but Judge Berry ignored the testimony. The nightmare has not ended. There is not enough space to
write all that I have endured.
For more information regarding this case, please contact me at Bare Hill Correctional Facility, my DIN #05A5228, Caller Box 20, 181 Brand
Road, Malone, New York 12953.
Note: Russo, 68, swears that the above “affidavit” is true and correct. For the “crime” of being an unarmed man shot by a cop, in his own driveway, without legitimate cause, in an apparently botched murder attempt, Russo was sentenced to 14 years in prison in October, 2005.
The earliest possible release date noted by the State of New York is October, 2009.
Re: Paul Cote
As a priest and family friend, I find it totally unconscionable that Paul Cote be incarcerated. As a priest I recognize that in my world it has to be less about justice and restitution and more about mercy and forgiveness. Nonetheless the decision the Court has taken in reference to this good man does nothing to dissipate the notion among many whom I serve as a priest that true justice is too o en sacrificed to technicalities, the preconceived notions of the judge, and the “artistry” of the prosecutor.
As a family friend I know the quality of character and integrity with which Paul was educated and which he imparts to his children. I pray that this good family will draw some consolation, even if little, from the conviction that truth will triumph in the end.
In the meantime I want to declare my condolences for this family, my belief in Paul Cote’s innocence, my solidarity with the many other
letters written in his defense, and my outrage at the conviction and sentencing of Paul Cote.
Rev. Timothy C. Ploch, SDB