Monday, January 8, 2018

Chaos At The D.A.'s Office; Two Different Lists Of Fired Employees

Back In Action
By Ralph Cipriano

On Friday, when the Philly D.A.'s office was closed due to frigid weather, assistant district attorneys were getting calls on their cell phones, telling them to come right down to the office.

Inside, people were lined up, waiting to be fired.

The first list of the newly fired people that went up had 28 names on it. The man on the right, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, was No. 25 on that list.

But by the end of the day, a new list of 31 names went up. And Blessington's name was nowhere to be found. Rumor had it that some last-minute lobbying had saved the job of the lead prosecutor in the case of Msgr. William J. Lynn.

Blessington, who had been targeted in the "Porngate" scandal -- unfairly, truth be told, because he supposedly never opened any of the pornographic emails sent to his cue -- had been spared in the purge by Krasner.

"District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner requests the resignations of the following," the memo from the new chief of staff said, "with the understanding that they are not to return."

Three of the names on the list were circled, highlighting the ADAs with gun permits.

So if Krasner chooses to retry the Lynn case, he still has Blessington around to prosecute. But Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg, the head of the D.A.'s law division, resigned before the purge to take a new job with the state attorney general's office. And Hugh J. Burns Jr., chief of the D.A.'s appeal unit, was No. 2  on the second list of people fired.

So the two men who worked on the appeals that kept the Lynn case going, when the monsignor's conviction was twice overturned, are gone.

Here's the first list that went up:

1. Derek Riker
2. Mike Barry
3. Andrew Notar
4. Stacy Hughes
5. Laurie Moore
6. Tom Lipscomb
7. Gwen Cudjik
8. Carlos Vega
9. John Delaney
10 Jan McDermott
11. Jen Hoffman
12. Jim Carpenter
13. Nicole Pedicinio
14. Brian Zarallo
15. Yvonne Ruiz
16. Michelle Seidner
17. Melissa Francis
18. Mark Gilson
19. Joe Whitehead
20. Tami Levin
21. Caroline Keating
22. Lauren Realberg
23. Namratha Ravikant
24. Jason Kleinman
25. Pat Blessington
26. Mark Constanzo
27. Greg Rowe
28. ADA Cavanaugh [First name missing]

Here's the second list:

1. Michael Barry
2. Hugh Burns
3. James Carpenter
4. Thomas Carter Sr.
5. E. Mark Constanzo
6. Gwen Cudjik
7. John Delaney
8. Monique Wescott
9. Melissa Francis
10. Elizabeth Graham-Rubin
11. Mark Gilson
12. Robin Godfrey
13. Jennifer Hoffman
14. Stacey Hughes
15.Salena Jones
16. Jason Kleinman
17. Bridget Kirn
18. Tami Levin
19. Laquan Lightfoot
20. Thomas Lipscomb
21. Carl Mahler
22 Carolyn McGlynn-Keating
23. Laurie Moore
24. Andrew Notaristefano
25. Nicole Pedecino
26. Namratha Ravikant
27. Lauren Realberg
28. Derek Riker
29. Greg Rowe
30. Yvonne Ruiz
31. Michelle Seidner
32. Joseph Whitehead


  1. Today found on the Marshall Project

    Charges Against Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy and His Sons Tossed from Federal Court
    Judge cites "flagrant prosecutorial misconduct" on the government's part.
    Brian Doherty|Jan. 8, 2018 4:45 pm Reason Magazine

    The federal government's long efforts to get Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and members of his family behind bars seems to have come to an end, as U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro today dismissed with prejudice all federal charges against Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and co-defendant Ryan Payne. (The "with prejudice" part means the government can't just try again on the same charges.)

    Judge Navarro complained of "flagrant prosecutorial misconduct" in the case against the Bundys, including violating the Brady rule regarding withholding potentially exculpatory evidence from the Bundys legal team.
    This decision comes after the same judge last month declared a mistrial in the case; the government was trying to get a new trial launched. As Fox News reported, "Navarro had suspended the trial earlier and warned of a mistrial when prosecutors released information after a discovery deadline. Overall, the government was late in handing over more than 3,300 pages of documents. Further, some defense requests for information that ultimately came to light had been ridiculed by prosecutors as 'fantastical' and a 'fishing expedition.'"
    What Navarro objected to withholding most, as reported by Arizona Republic:
    • Records about surveillance at the Bundy ranch;
    • Maps about government surveillance;
    • Records about the presence of government snipers;
    • FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days leading up to standoff;
    • Law-enforcement assessments dating to 2012 that found the Bundys posed no threat;
    • Internal affairs reports about misconduct by Bureau of Land Management agents.
    "Failure to turn over such evidence violates due process," Navarro said last month. "A fair trial at this point is impossible."
    Former Acting Nevada U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, leading the prosecution, wrote all the above off as either inadvertent or insignificant error, not malfeasance, on the government's part.
    The charges against the four men were all related to actions during the 2014 standoff on Bundy's Nevada ranch over his failure to pay fees to the Bureau of Land Management they insisted he owed.
    The four men were specifically charged in 2016 with "one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, one count of conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, four counts of using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, two counts of assault on a federal officer, two counts of threatening a federal law enforcement officer, three counts of obstruction of the due administration of justice, two counts of interference with interstate commerce by extortion, and one count of interstate travel in aid of extortion. The indictment also alleges five counts of criminal forfeiture which upon conviction would require forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the crimes totaling at least $3 million, as well as the firearms and ammunition possessed and used on April 12, 2014."
    The Arizona Republic goes on to note Navarro didn't even mention other disturbing accusations against the Bundy prosecution, including:
    another document turned over to the defense in December...that raises more criticism of the BLM's conduct and use of force during the standoff.
    A federal investigator alleged in a Nov. 27 memo to the assistant U.S. attorney general that prosecutors in the Bundy ranch standoff trial covered up misconduct by law-enforcement agents who engaged in "likely policy, ethical and legal violations."
    In an 18-page memo, Special Agent Larry Wooten said he "routinely observed ... a widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct" among agents involved in the 2014 standoff.

  2. Part II Clive Bundy

    He said his investigation indicated federal agents used excessive force and committed civil-rights and policy violations.

    James Bovard, a lifelong chronicler of federal police power abuse, wrote in USA Today last week about many of the government's seemingly malicious missteps in the prosecution, including that:

    The feds charged the Bundys with conspiracy in large part because the ranchers summoned militia to defend them after they claimed that FBI snipers had surrounded their ranch. Justice Department lawyers scoffed at this claim in prior trials involving the standoff but newly-released documents confirm that snipers were in place prior to the Bundy's call for help.

    The feds also belatedly turned over multiple threat assessments which revealed that the Bundys were not violent or dangerous, including an FBI analysis that concluded that BLM was "trying to provoke a conflict" with the Bundys. As an analysis in the left-leaning Intercept observed, federal missteps in this case "fueled longstanding perceptions among the right-wing groups and militias that the federal government is an underhanded institution that will stop at nothing to crush the little guy and cover up its own misdeeds."

    The Associated Press (via Chicago Tribune) noted the larger issues raised by the prosecution, and this dismissal:

    Gregg Cawley, a University of Wyoming professor who writes about land protests in the West, said a collapse of the case would be seen by many as a victory for states' rights.

    "But it would not actually be a clean victory," Cawley said. "Conspiracy is very hard to prove. The Bundys got acquitted in Oregon. But if charges in Nevada are dropped, there's no resolution to the question.

    "It could be seen as criminals going free on a technicality, rather than an actual vindication."

    But when the "technicalities" are related to the government's apparent willingness to violate principles of justice to get people who defy them, the message seems clear nonetheless.

    The Oregonian has a detailed account of the federal prosecutors' failed attempt to excuse their behavior, including many original documents.

    The Intercept reported earlier in the year on the FBI's disturbing practice of pretending to be a documentary journalism team in order to gather info on the Bundys' supporters.

    Among the miscarriage of justice against the Bundys and their allies was federal agents' murder (and lying about it) of LaVoy Finicum, one of the occupiers of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge on the part of Bundy supporters. The feds had already failed to get convictions against many others involved in that occupation.

    Others still remain under prosecution related to the Bundy standoff. Ryan Bundy after today's dismissal called for their charges to be dropped as well, reported the Las Vegas Review Journal. "The government has acted wrongly from the get-go," Bundy said.

    Brian Doherty is a senior editor at Reason magazine and author of Ron Paul’s Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired (Broadside Books).

  3. The article on Clive Bundy shows that there are judges that do not side with the government at all times as well as showcases the fact that the FBI and prosecution do scheme and lie to gain a conviction.

    What we need are more publications that report the facts, like this blog, not distort and cover up accurate facts like the Inky.

  4. "We all know that the press is under siege these days, but we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and injustice. To tyrants, and victims, and secrets, and lies.”

    Part of Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes speech, hopefully the Inky will take note and stop the discriminatory, prejudicial and defamatory remarks of defendants with only the prosecutions "facts".

    The Time Is Up for defendants having to endure any more years of abuse by the prosecution and the media. Victims who have had to suffer publicly and privately at the hands of the government.

    Abused by powerful organizations that benefit from these victims. If reform is to happen, and its decades and decades overdue, we need the media to listen, to listen to our truths. Give defendants a voice, a chance to tell their story of abuse.

  5. Here is why I would keep Blessington .....for now, I would want to see his file on the Lynn case, see what evidence that was withheld from the defense.

    Find out what he knew and when , also find out what info went to the Inky and how is was release to them. I would want to know the frequency of how many times articles on the case were purposely run to coincide with court appearances by the defendants. How the media influenced public opinion, according to Blessington.

    I would also have Det. Walsh in on the investigation. When I was ready, I would go to the Inky and say this is how the prosecution was able to build a bogus case and lay it out for them.

    They seem to be aware but unable to print it, this way if the D.A. proves it to them, it would take the Inky off the hook, as their hands are tied now.

    Then Blessington would get the boot.

    1. Blessington is dumb and dumber. He is better off leaving to slink away in the darkness. Same to Krasner who would be better off derp sexing the Lynn case.

  6. DAILY BEAST article by Katie Zavabski

    In 1994, NYPD Brass Called Her Rape a ‘Hoax.’ In 2018, They Found Her Rapist.
    Relying on NYPD sources, future Pulitzer winner Mike McAlary wrote three columns for the Daily News denouncing her as a fraud who ‘probably will end up being arrested herself.’
    01.09.18 10:47 PM ET
    On an afternoon in late April 1994, a young woman was raped in broad daylight in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Two days later, the biggest columnist in New York City’s biggest newspaper called her a liar.
    The woman—black, a lesbian, and an activist—became the target of a vicious smear campaign by a Daily News columnist and sources within the NYPD, who charged that she had made up a “hoax” to advance a political agenda.
    “I have had the misfortune of being raped twice—once in the park and again in the media,” she told her lawyer, Martin Garbus, after the attack.
    Twenty-four years years later, her rapist was identified through DNA evidence, according to the NYPD. On Jan. 8, police told Jane Doe they had a match, with James Webb, a career criminal who’d been sentenced to prison for rape before Jane Doe’s assault. He was arrested and imprisoned again in 1995, for still more sexual assaults and is presently serving 75 years to life in prison.
    Contemporaneous articles from his 1995 arrest and court filings suggest that Webb had been released on parole from his previous term on Aug. 15, 1995, and raped his next victim just one day later. It’s not clear how he was out of prison at the time of Jane Doe’s assault.
    “We are aware of his incarceration and parole history,” the NYPD press office told The Daily Beast Tuesday evening. “He was not incarcerated at the time of the incident.”
    Jane Doe was 27 years old when she was attacked. She’d gone from her native Ohio to Yale, where she’d majored in African-American studies, and then on to New York, where she was pursuing her dream of acting.

    Then a man put her in a chokehold in Prospect Park. She blacked out momentarily, before he marched her to the top of Lookout Hill and raped her.
    The woman immediately reported the assault to the NYPD. Two days later, Mike McAlary, a reporter with the Daily News, said she’d made it all up.
    “Rape Hoax the Real Crime,” his headline stated.
    “I couldn’t believe it,” Jane Doe later told her lawyer. “It was like a sucker punch.”
    McAlary claimed the police thought they were “being lied to” and “everyone who heard the woman’s story about the alleged rape was calling it a hoax.”

    He wrote that the woman “probably will end up being arrested herself,” because she made up the crime “to promote her rally.”
    “Even though it was a long time ago, it’s one of those cases that stands out in your mind as a tragedy on so many levels,” Matt Foreman, then the executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, told The Daily Beast. “In addition to the horrible sexual assault, the behavior of the police department toward the survivor, and the leaking of information to the press to discredit the survivor, remains—breathtaking is the wrong word. Unbelievable, frankly.”
    The AVP was hosting a march in Park Slope the following weekend, the same rally for which McAlary accused Jane Doe of fabricating her assault. More than 300 lesbians participated in the march. “Violence Against Lesbians: Ain’t Gonna Take This No,” read a banner they carried. “Report it! Record it!”
    Days after McAlary’s column ran, Commissioner Bill Bratton issued a rare apology and personally called Foreman at the AVP. But the leaks continued.

  7. Part II
    In a follow-up column, McAlary compared Jane Doe to Tawana Brawley, a black woman whose false report of a vicious sexual assault in 1987 electrified New York City. Later, McAlary would deny public reports, including in his own paper, that a rape kit had found traces of semen in Jane Doe.
    “That just added to the apparent injustice, the overlay of race and sexual orientation,” Foreman said. “It was just all... appalling.”
    Foreman offered “kudos to whomever got the case reopened and got resources freed up to look for a match,” but said that “from the top, however, the NYPD should be publicly and profusely apologizing to the survivor and the five other women who were subsequently raped because they refused to actually investigate this crime.”
    Jane Doe, who lived in a Park Slope house with other gay men and women, wanted to escape the media attention but as McAlary continued to contradict public police updates and insist she’d faked her assault, she contacted Garbus, the attorney, and sued McAlary for libel.
    “[McAlary] had, so far as I could determine, virtually no foundation on which to build his story,” Garbus wrote in his memoir. “It was, pure and simple, a product of his own imagination.”
    But a judge found that Jane Doe had made herself a public figure through her activist work—despite the fact that her true identity was still obscured.
    “It is uncontested that the plaintiff has engaged in social activism, projecting herself into the public debate on issues she cares about,” Judge Charles Ramos wrote. “In essence, she has chosen, in exercising her right, beyond the level of private discourse, to cross over from being a private to a public figure.”
    Ramos later found that McAlary accurately conveyed the inaccurate statements he’d received from top NYPD sources. The libel suit was dismissed. Garbus wrote that Jane Doe felt vindicated by the judge’s findings that she was telling the truth, even if she lost the libel suit. He wrote that she wanted to drop the appeal and move on.
    Four years after the rape, McAlary both won a Pulitzer Prize and died in 1998; he was just 41 years old. His vicious, false allegations against Jane Doe were reduced to a footnote in McAlary’s obituaries, a warning about an otherwise upright bravado gone too far. His larger-than-life persona was memorialized in two plays: Dan Klores’ The Wood, and later as the title character in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy. The world portrayed in those dramas doesn’t exist anymore.
    Violence had just started to decline in New York City in 1994, but police still clocked more than 1500 homicides that year. (In contrast, fewer than 300 were recorded in 2017.) Rape and other types of violent crime were similarly prevalent. And the gay and lesbian community had a complicated, sometimes fraught, relationship with the NYPD.
    “There were lots of good relationships with many precinct commanders, and then very contentious relationships with others,” Foreman said. Some crime victims were treated insensitively, but the department was also creating a bias crimes unit, and putting together sensitivity training materials for the academy, he said.
    “They just branded the survivor a liar. That felt like a very homophobic response,” Foreman said. “It was clear to us that the leaks were coming from within 1 Police Plaza, and that makes it even more egregious.”
    Garbus, the attorney, declined to comment on whether the NYPD had kept him updated on the ongoing investigation but credited them with continuing to pursue the case.
    “The Daily News should issue an apology. The damage done to Jane Doe by the media was in addition to the damage done by the rape,” he said in a statement. “The police have gone to great lengths in the last few years to confirm that she was raped, that she was telling the truth, and they have located the man who did it. Jane Doe has suffered, as do all other rape victims, through what happened to her, and from the refusal of the media and the police.”
    The Daily News didn’t immediately return a request for comment Tuesday evening.


    The Innocence Project, along with the law firms Covington & Burling LLP and Jones Walker LLP, filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of exoneree Robert Jones against the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office for the damages Jones suffered following his arrest, wrongful convictions, and over 23 years of wrongful imprisonment for crimes he didn’t commit.
    The lawsuit highlights the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office’s long history of failing to honor its constitutional obligation to disclose evidence favorable to defendants in cases like Jones’s, including its failure to adequately train and supervise its prosecutors to disclose favorable evidence, despite repeated court findings of disclosure violations in other cases.


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