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April 1, 2012

More on Yonkers trial: Senator Libous denies allegations; an observer of the U.S. Attorney calls office "quite selective"

Atlantic Yards Report

During the recent corruption trial involving former Yonkers Council Member Sandy Annabi and her political mentor, Zehy Jereis, key prosecution witness Anthony Mangone, originally charged in the case but testifying in the hope of a reduced sentence, pointed the finger at powerful state Senator Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican who was close to then-Senator Nick Spano, a Yonkers powerbroker who once employed Mangone and Jereis.

Mangone testified that, at Libous's request, his former law firm had hired Libous’s son Matthew at an inflated salary, and were directed to bill a questionable consulting company to help pay him. No clarifying details emerged, and Senator Libous initially wouldn’t comment, citing the ongoing trial.

That sounded a bit odd, given that the allegations were merely mentioned in the trial, not the subject of it. Yesterday, however, Libous firmly denied the account and any wrongdoing, according to Gannett’s Press & Sun-Bulletin. “I made no promises and nothing transpired between me or my office and the firm,” he said, pointing to Mangone's record as an admitted liar.

Bharara's record, and a question of selective prosecution

Meanwhile, the Journal News, in Annabi verdict is latest win for U.S. attorney, toted up U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's record in pursuing public corruption:

  • Spano pleaded guilty on tax charges, albeit lesser charges than it was believed prosecutors once pursued
  • Vincent Leibell, Putnam County Republican state senator, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and tax-evasion charges
  • Brooklyn state Sen. Carl Kruger, a Democrat, and lobbyist Richard Lipsky pleaded guilty to a bribery and money-laundering scheme
  • Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland, a Democrat, was acquitted of corruption, but since has been indicted on new bribery charges, this time based on wiretaps
  • angone pleaded guilty

The article states:

Veteran trial attorney Murray Richman, who represented Annabi after she was first indicted, also questioned whether federal prosecutors were sometimes drawn to cases for the splashy headlines rather than digging deeper into larger public corruption.
“They go for the hangers,” said Richman, referring to a term used in billiards whereby players target balls that are perched closest to the holes and thereby are the easiest to sink.
“There’s no question that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is quite selective in the cases they bring,” he said. “They follow the evidence as they perceive it, but they pick on a particular bone and they stay at the same bone and don’t put a wide enough net out there.”

If the office is "quite selective," does that mean certain developers have gotten a pass? (See NoLandGrab's April 1 post.)

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Posted by steve at April 1, 2012 11:23 PM