THE MORELAND COMMISSION EXPOSED
Commission Chairman William J. Fitzpatrick
Did Governor Cuomo’s “Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” Illegally Alter the Transcript of Witness Testimony to Protect Its Friends and Colleagues?
On December 3rd, Moreland Commissioner Joanne Mahonie made a bombshell confession to Capitol Tonight host Liz Benjamin : "I think [the Moreland Commission] is making a mockery of this whole process if we try to pretend that a group of us that's been appointed by the attorney general and the governor is investigating the attorney general or the governor."
The statement was extraordinary because the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is officially mandated to expose, investigate and prosecute corruption in every branch and at every level of New York's Government, including the Governor and the Attorney General.
If the Commission is not willing to investigate anyone and everyone about whom they receive allegations of corruption, they are violating their mandate, and the law. Whether Ms. Mahonie's confession was motivated by conscience or naiveté, it supports what many believe; that the Commission is using its vast powers to pursue only selected political targets while taking extraordinary, illicit measures to protect those with personal, professional and political ties to itself.
How else to explain the apparent “sanitization” of testimony submitted by public witnesses - essentially erasing any mention of the potentially favored parties from the official record?
“It’s About Trust”
When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the “Commission To Investigate Public Corruption” (aka “The Moreland Commission”) last July to great fanfare, he summed up his motivation succinctly: “it’s about trust… its about people’s trust of government… we want to restore the trust”.
The formation of the Commission was Governor Cuomo's direct response to the legislature’s rejection of his anti-corruption “Clean Up Albany” bill, and he vowed that the Commission would be even tougher than the bill in routing out corruption in every corner of New York Government: “I said to the legislature right up front... if you don't pass the Clean up Albany legislation...I'm going to appoint a Moreland Commission… and THEY are going to clean up Albany”
Cuomo: Government Corruption a “Double Crime”
Governor Cuomo also spoke of his particular disgust with crimes involving public corruption, even in comparison to other crimes, stating “public corruption is a double crime. It's the underlying crime and then it's the crime of breaching the public trust, because when you're an elected official…you say 'trust me, I'm here to serve you'... so breaching that trust; violating that trust to me is a separate and inexcusable offense.
Finally, the Governor stressed that the sterling integrity and efficacy of the Commission members would be a shining example to the public and politicians alike, “The Commission will vindicate good elected officials to the extent that they are now being tarnished by the implication of the wrongdoing of the few… there has never been a more credible group of law enforcement officials assembled in this state.”
Governor Cuomo could not have been more effusive in his praise of the Commission members: “I’m going to put together a group of the best and brightest law enforcement officials you have ever seen assembled, period, in the state of New York. “The blue ribbon commission …the all-stars,… a roster of who’s who in the law enforcement community. … If this government has something to hide, this group of people is going to find it and they're going to expose it and that's what this is all about”.
These Commissioners are the “Untouchables” of the New York Law Enforcement, and their integrity- perceived or actual - is the cornerstone of Cuomo's plan to clean up NY Government.
The Role of the “Public” in the “Public Hearings”
One aspect of the hearings that Governor Cuomo did not address in his speeches introducing the Commission was the role of witnesses from the public, but that role is clearly stated in paragraph IX of his executive order 106 that created the Commission: “The Commission shall conduct public hearings around the State to provide opportunities for members of the public and interested parties to comment on the issues within the scope of its work.”
At the first public hearing on Sept 17, 2013, Commission Chairman William J. Fitzpatrick also emphasized the importance of input from the public hearings in his speech, saying, “our first task is to issue a report on or about December first of this year...and the gist of this [public] hearing today is to assist us in drafting and eventually writing that report..”
The Attempt to Bar the “Public” From the “Public Hearings” of September 17, 2013.
It is now apparent that the public's role in the hearings, was and is a very low priority to the Commission. The Commission made no effort to announce and promote the hearings through media, and news outlets such as WNYC, NY1 News, The New York Post, The Daily News, The New York Times and The Village Voice all failed to mention them in advance. The Commission's website itself didn't even set up an RSVP system for registrants until nearly a week before the first hearing.
Despite the media blackout, however, word spread among the community of corruption victims around the state, who for years had failed to find redress by existing oversight agencies. Many of these victims heard about the hearings through The Center for Judicial Accountability, (CJA) which notified its list of members and followers. When the first Commission hearing was held on September 17, 2013 about a hundred people gathered at the entrance of Pace University in Lower Manhattan to testify.
The excitement was palpable among the crowd that waited behind police barricades for the opening of the hearings at 6:00 PM. But at about 5:45, Commission staffer Heather Green walked along the barricade, asking the witnesses their names. In almost every case, she then glanced at her clipboard, shook her head and announced, “I’m sorry, you’re not on the list”. No explanation was given as to why dozens of people who said they had registered, and in some case traveled hours to testify, were “not on the list”, and the witnesses' frustration gave way to anger and some near-altercations. Ominously, dozens of NYPD officers were assigned to the scene, suggesting that the Commission anticipated public outrage at being excluded from the “public hearing”.
Ultimately, of the over one hundred witnesses that had gathered outside Pace University, fewer than 20 were allowed into the hearing, and only 16 were ultimately allowed to testify. The majority of the seats in the patently undersized hearing room were filled by reporters, and the security details and staff of the invited speakers, who included Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; and Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the New York County District Attorney. When, after speaking, those luminaries left the room with their entourages, plenty of seats became available, but by that point the excluded witnesses waiting outside had long since given up and left.
The Politicians Speak; the Public Listens
Chairman Fitzpatrick opened the hearing with a speech lauding the credentials of each of the 25 Commissioners, followed by his statement of the Commission’s intent: “The public frustration and anger with corruption has reached the breaking point… We fully intend to complete [Cuomo’s] vision of restoring the trust of the people in its own government”, he declared. Vance, Bharara and other invitees also gave lengthy speeches regarding their respective efforts against corruption.
The “Public” Testifies about Judicial Corruption
After listening to the politicians speak for over two hours, the members of the public who were finally allowed to testify, were granted a mere three minutes each and were threatened with forceful removal if they spoke too long. If the Commission strove to limit the public's participation because they feared people would raise allegations of corruption among their peers, their fears were well founded. The witnesses named names, and cited specific cases of alleged government corruption that had devastated their lives, and for which they said they could find no redress from any existing oversight agencies in New York State. To the Commission's obvious displeasure, nearly all of the witnesses complained of systemic corruption in the Judiciary; the branch of Government that New York State Attorney General Schneiderman has claimed could “police itself”. Some members of the public who testified also implicated the architects of the Commission itself, Governor Cuomo, and Schneiderman:
HYPERLINK "file:///Users/willgalison/Downloads/MorelandFinalMiltonEdits-2.odt/elena%20testimony"Elena Sassower of the Center for Judicial Accountability, spoke of the CJA's HYPERLINK "file:///Users/willgalison/Downloads/eleena%20lawsuit"lawsuit against NY State charging that the recent pay raises for Judges (and District Attorneys) were illegal and unconstitutional and naming Cuomo, Schneiderman and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman as defendants, among others. She also criticized the Commission for allowing conflicts of interest among its members.
Margarita Walter detailed how she lost custody of her three children and all of her assets through “a pretextual conspiratorial scheme of case fixing in the New York Court System”. She explained that she had taken her case to every appropriate authority in New York State, including Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, but that she had been ignored.
I myself, presented evidence of corruption in the nomination and confirmation of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, including a recording of Judicial Nomination (JNC) Commissioner Fred Brewington stating that he had “shredded” evidence I submitted to the JNC. I also spoke of the cover up, by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and others, of the suspicious death of anti-corruption whistle-blower Sunny Sheu.
Several witnesses also submitted copious written documentation in support of their complaints. Ms. Sassower submitted a stack of legal briefs several inches high, documenting the Center for Judicial Accountability’s lawsuit against Cuomo, Schneiderman and Lippman among others. I submitted the HYPERLINK "http://www.jonathanlippman.com/"complaint against Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman filed with Preet Bharara, and a HYPERLINK "file:///Users/willgalison/Downloads/MorelandFinalMiltonEdits-2.odt/letter%20to%20kelly"letter to Ray Kelly from the Blackstar News, demanding an investigation into the highly suspicious death of Sunny Sheu - neither of which had been responded to.
The Commission “Disappears” The Public's Written Testimony and Evidence
The Moreland Commission’s website, in it’s “Public Comments/ Testimony section, originally included the statement: “All written testimony submitted will be included on the record of the proceedings”, but after the testimonies of September 17, every mention of that extremely important provision has been expunged from the website.
As of this writing- over two months after the hearing- not one word of the written testimony has yet been published. Effectively, all the written testimony and evidence that was submitted to the Commission is being withheld from the public. Or has it simply been shredded, like the HYPERLINK "http://judgejonathanlippman.blogspot.jp/2012/09/vocaroo-voice-message.html"evidence presented to the JNC of alleged crimes by Jonathan Lippman?
What is certain is that none of the evidence of alleged corruption against Cuomo, Schneiderman and many other public officials submitted by the public witnesses was mentioned in the HYPERLINK "http://publiccorruption.moreland.ny.gov/sites/default/files/moreland_rep..." official Commission report to Governor Cuomo on December 23, 2013.
And the only official “record of the proceedings” available to the public is the stenographic transcript of the public hearings. That is why the accuracy and integrity of the stenographic transcript is crucial to any evaluation of the Commission's performance.
Did The Commission Alter the Official Record?
The suppression of the public's written testimony and evidence is violative of the Commission's mandate and would appear to constitute a deliberate cover-up of the alleged crimes and corruption reported in those documents. But even more troubling is what appears - unless the Commission provides an alternative explanation- to be the Commission's deliberate alteration of HYPERLINK "http://publiccorruption.moreland.ny.gov/sites/default/files/PUBLIC-CORRU..."the transcript of witness testimony at the September 17 hearing, which is the only public record of the Commission's hearings.
It is clearly evident that the “transcript” of the witness's testimony posted by the Commission differs substantially from the actual testimony clearly audible on the HYPERLINK "http://morelandcommssiononpubliccorruption.blogspot.com/2013/09/blog-pos..."video of the hearing, in ways that cannot be the result of mere “stenographic errors”.
Moreover, the Commission published the clearly inaccurate and apparently altered transcript on the Internet, and misrepresented it as the original, unaltered transcript of the hearings, including this signed certification attached by the stenographer, Stefanie Krut, of Precise Court Reporting:
CERTIFICATION; I, STEFANIE KRUT, a Notary Public in and for the State of New York, do hereby certify: THAT the foregoing is a true and accurate transcript of my stenographic notes.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 30th day of
STEFANIE KRUT, PRECISE COURT REPORTING
Is Stefanie Krut the Most Inaccurate Stenographer in the World?…
The sheer number of errors, including misspellings and omissions of key names and institutions in the published transcript, is shocking. But more alarming is the apparently deliberate pattern underlying the “errors”. Virtually all of the misspelled names are of people and institutions associated with complaints against the judiciary, many of whom have direct ties to the Commission. For example:
Chief Judge “Jonathan Lippman” is written “Jonathan Littman” 13 times, omitted 2 twice and never once spelled correctly.
NY Administrative Judge “Anne T. Pfau”, is written: “Anne T. Fow”, twice
Judge “Saralee Evans” is written: “Sarah Lee Evans”
Judge “Scarpino” is written: “Scarpiano”
Judge “Terrance McElrath” is written: “Terance Mukolrov”
Judge “Paula Hepner” is written: “Paula Hevner”
Attorney “Marc A Pergament” is written: “Marc A Pergamen”
Judge “Betty Elrin” (who is on the Commission) is spelled correctly in the Commissioner's portion and omitted in the Public portion.
The “Judicial Nomination Committee” is written: “The Judicial Violations Committee”The initials “JNC” are written: “JVC” three timesThe “Fund for Modern Courts” is written “The Funds for Modern Court”The “Committee on Judicial Conduct” is omitted twice.Judge “Jacqueline Silverman” is omitted“CASE fixing” is written: “fixing”-And my name, “Galison”, is spelled “Galveston” 19 times, even though it was spoken nine times by the commissioners.All of the proper names listed above (and many more) were spelled incorrectly every time they appeared in the transcript.
Over Three months after receiving HYPERLINK "file:///Users/willgalison/Downloads/MorelandFinalMiltonEdits-2.odt/%3F%3F%3F%3F"formal requests by Ms. Walter, Ms. Sassower and myself to correct the errors in our respective portions of the transcript, the Commission has refused to make corrections or to even acknowledge the errors.
….Or is Ms. Krut a Spelling Savant?
As stunning as are the number and nature of “errors” in the transcript of the public's testimony, even more incredible is the meticulous accuracy of the transcript of the testimony of the Commission members and invited guest speakers, including US Attorney Preet Bharara and District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
Whereas there are over 70 errors in the 122 lines of transcription of HYPERLINK "http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=440521259063653708#editor/target..."my testimony, there are only five in the 152 lines of Mr. Bharara’s testimony. In the nearly 500 lines of testimony of Chairman Fitzpatrick, there are zero substantive errors.
If the transcript was not altered, Ms. Krut is – occasionally- a speller with a nearly paranormal ability to discern between the various spellings of names that sound identical. For example, Ms. Krut recorded the name of the law firmHYPERLINK "http://www.vladeck.com/" Vladeck, Waldman, Elias and Engelhard with perfect spelling, despite the rare variations in the names’ spellings. According to a search the Whitepages.com website, there are at least four different spellings of the name pronounced “vladuk”, including “Vladic”, “Vladick”, and “Vladich”, and the spelling “Vladeck” occurs in only one case in ten. How could Ms. Krut know which was the correct spelling?
-Likewise, the name “Engelhard” is seven times less common than its homonym “Engelhardt”, but Ms. Krut made the distinction.
-The name that sounds like “Chamberlain” in the video is 20 times more likely to be spelled “Chamberlain” than “Chamberland”, but Ms. Krut nailed it.
- The name “Deringer”, as in HYPERLINK "http://www.chambersandpartners.com/firm/147/2" “Freshfields, Bruckhaus & Deringer”, is three times more likely to be spelled with two “r”s than one, but Ms. Krut can apparently hear the difference.
In fact, Ms. Krut spelled perfectly every single proper name - approximately 50 different ones - uttered by Commission Chairman Mr. Fitzpatrick in his introductory remarks.
Intentional Alteration? “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”
But does the discrepancy between the impeccable accuracy of the transcript of the government officials' testimony and the butchering of the public witnesses' testimony conclusively prove that the transcript was intentionally altered? Could it not be that after two and a half hours of flawlessly recording the politician’s speeches, Stenographer Krut simply became too exhausted to accurately transcribe?
This is a critical question because, if true, the allegation that some member or members of the Commission tampered with the transcripts would mean that the “most credible, blue ribbon, who's who of New York law enforcement” may itself be guilty of corruption, crimes and conspiracy. As Carl Sagan put it; “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
The Extraordinary Evidence:
As it turns out, there is at least one feature of the transcript that the Commission cannot c claim was a mere “stenographer's error”. It occurred during Chairman Fitzpatrick's introduction of the Commission members and their accomplishments, as he introduced Commissioner Makau Mutua.
Here is what Fitzpatrick clearly says on the video at 7 minutes and 47 seconds:
“Dean Makau Mutua is the Dean of the SUNY Buffalo Law School. He is also the SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Floyd Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo. Dean Mutua came to us from Nairobi where he attended the University of Dar-es-Salaam, and Nairobi's loss, believe me, was America's gain. He is also a graduate of Harvard Law School”.
The transcript is subtly different however. At line 4 of page 7 Fitzpatrick states:
4 Dean Makau Mutua is the Dean of the SUNY Buffalo Law
5 School. He is also the SUNY Distinguished Professor and the
6 Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo. Dean Mutua
7 came to us from Nairobi where he attended the University of
8 Dar-es-Salaam, and Nairobi's loss, believe me, was America's
9 gain. He is also a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Notice the differences? For one thing, Ms. Krut's transcription leaves out the name “Floyd”, from the phrase “Floyd Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar”- which is spoken on the video. Of course, even the best stenographers occasionally miss a word or two, and the omission of “Floyd” from “Floyd Hilda Hurst” may seem like a trivial error.
But look closer; Ms. Krut also added something to the transcript that was not spoken by Fitzpatrick at all. The transcript says “Hilda L. Hurst”, and Fitzpatrick never uttered the initial “L” or anything that sounded like it.
Could Ms. Krut have heard, between Fitzpatrick's words “Hilda” and “Hurst”, some random noise in the room that sounded to her like the initial “L”? If she did, it would be one of the most amazing coincidences in history, because Dean Mutua Makuta is, in fact, the “Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo”.
A stenographer may omit and misspell words that are spoken at a tribunal, but she cannot record information that she has no way of knowing, if it is not spoken at all.
It is simply not possible that Ms. Krut could have heard and typed the initial “L” when it was never uttered at the hearing. Therefore, the “L” in “Hilda L. Hurst” must have been placed in the transcript after the hearing, and that seemingly trivial fact has enormous ramifications. All else aside, the alteration of the transcript from her original notes would mean that Ms. Krut’s “certification” is fraudulent; the published transcript is not a “true and accurate transcript of [Krut’s] stenographic notes”. It also means that the transcript was altered after the hearing and before the Moreland Commission posted it as the official record of the September 17 hearing weeks later. Moreover, if errors in transcript were corrected “after the fact”, it is possible that correct spellings recorded in the witness’ testimony could have been altered to be incorrect.
Could the Transcript Have Been Altered Legally?
The protocol for making corrections in the transcript is strict and well established. According to Harriet Brenner Gettleman, President of the New York Association of Court Reporters (NYACR); if the entity that ordered the transcript (in this case the Moreland Commission) wants corrections made in the transcript, it must send the desired corrections to the stenographic company (in this case Precise Court Reporting) that reported the hearing.
If there is an electronic record (audio or audiovisual) of the hearing, the original stenographer may check the transcript against the record, and if the correction is warranted, may attach the corrections as an erratum to the original transcript. She cannot legally amend the original certified transcript.
But according to Florence Seth, the owner of Precise Court Reporting, to her knowledge the Moreland Commission never contacted Precise Court Reporting or Ms Krut to request any changes in the transcripts. Ms. Krut’s supervisor, Kelly Iacobella, emphatically confirmed this to me, saying: “I can tell you straight up that they have not [requested corrections]”.
And according to Ms. Seth, the Commission could not have altered the transcript either legally or technically; “The Moreland Commission cannot change [the transcript] on their own…you just can’t change things like that, this is a legal document that’s already been established…they don’t have the software to change the transcript” she said.
NYACR President Harriet Brenner Gettleman, concurred: “The Court Reporter shouldn't have put the initial [“L”] in if it wasn't said... she would have written whatever was said verbatim.. corrections would not have been made except through the agency... they could not have [legally] sent [the corrections] directly to the stenographer”. Since the transcript was never sent to Precise Court Reporters for corrections, and since the Commission does not have the software to alter the transcript, it appears that Ms. Krut created the transcript not solely from her stenographic notes, as affirmed in her oath of certification, but with input from an outside source.
This would be strictly illegal. To knowingly alter a transcript that will be used in an official procedure is not only a violation of Court Reporter’s ethics; it is a felony under HYPERLINK "http://law.onecle.com/new-york/penal/PEN0215.35_215.35.html"NY Penal Code S 215.35 and to sign a false certification is perjury.
Why Would the Commission Alter the Transcript Secretly and Illegally?
The Commissioners could have corrected the spelling mistakes easily and legally by simply asking Precise Court Reporting to make the requested changes, so why didn't they do that?
Perhaps because if the Commissioners had admitted to reviewing and correcting the transcript legally, they would be hard pressed to explain the dozens of uncorrected errors in the public testimony portion that still remain on the same transcript. For example, how could they explain that they had not noticed the misspelling of Chief Judge Lippman's name as “Littman” 13 times?
If, on the other hand, someone on the Commission saw to it that the transcripts were altered secretly, illegally, and selectively, that would allow them to introduce other changes that might suit their agenda, such as the removal of their colleagues' names from the record through selective misspellings and omissions.
How an Altered Transcript Reversed the Conviction of a Child Molester
Altering transcripts is not merely an "academic" matter. The potentially dire consequences of an altered transcript is illustrated by HYPERLINK "http://www.omaha.com/article/20120611/NEWS97/706119953/1694"the case of convicted serial child molester Charles Kay. On June 11, 2012, the Omaha World-Herald reported that Kay, despite having been found guilty unanimously by all 12 jurors, would get a new trial due entirely to stenographic errors. According to that article, the stenographer submitted an official record that listed thirteen jurors instead of twelve and misrepresented the names of the defense and prosecution attorneys. According to the article: “[This] has led court officials to question whether [the stenographer] was taking down the exchanges as they occurred, or whether she waited till later to insert jurors' names from a court list”; precisely the question raised by the apparent alterations on the transcript of the September 17 Commission hearing. If a faulty transcript can overturn the conviction of a serial child molester, it can surely derail the prosecution of corrupt public officials, so it is remarkable that the Moreland Commission refuses to correct or even acknowledge the scores of clear “errors” in its transcript.
Intentional Alteration of the Transcripts Would Represent Felony Crimes.
If indeed the transcript was altered by Ms. Krut at the request of an individual or individuals on the Commission, this scenario would represent much more than a violation of Commission Rules; it could constitute commission of a number of of felonies under state and federal law by a member or members of the Commission, including:1) HYPERLINK "http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/PEN/THREE/L/215/215.40"S 215.40 Tampering with physical evidence; both for the suppression of witness testimony and for the alteration of the transcript, which constitutes physical evidence under NY law.2) HYPERLINK "http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/PEN/THREE/L/215/215.50"S 215.50 Criminal contempt in the second degree for “Knowingly publishing a false or grossly inaccurate report of a court's proceedings”3)HYPERLINK "http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/PEN/THREE/L/215/215.00" S 215.00 Bribing a witness, (if Ms. Krut was influenced to alter the transcript): “A person is guilty of bribing a witness when he confers, or offers or agrees to confer, any benefit upon a witness or a person about to be called as a witness in any action or proceeding upon an agreement or understanding that (a) the testimony of such witness will thereby be influenced”4) HYPERLINK "http://civilrights.uslegal.com/provisions-against-conspiracies-to-depriv..."Federal law 18 U.S.C. § 2541 for conspiracy to deprive the 14th Amendment rights of the witnesses, for redress of grievances, among other things.5) HYPERLINK "http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/color_of_law"Crimes under Color of Law, for all of the above in the responsible parties' official capacities as deputized Attorney Generals.6) HYPERLINK "http://www.jcope.ny.gov/about/ethc/PUBLIC%20OFFICERS%20LAW%2074.pdf"NYS Public Officers law §74, for using “his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others”
Who Would Be Guilty?
If indeed the transcript was altered, certainly any Commission members, advisors, or staff who were involved should be prosecuted by federal law enforcement. Ms. Krut would certainly be exposed to criminal charges if she intentionally altered the transcript.
Altered Transcript and Conflicts of Interest
If members of the Commission ordered the alteration of the transcripts to protect their friends and colleagues from investigation, that would be essentially an issue of “conflict of interest” which is defined by Nolo's Legal Dictionary as: “a real or apparent conflict between one's professional or official duties and one's private interests”.
In this case, the commissioners' “official duty” is to investigate any crime brought to their attention, and their “private interest”, real or apparent, is to protect their friends, associates and employers from criminal liability.
The significant conflicts of interests of the commissioners are too numerous to address in this article and will be he subject of separate article, but several were directly addressed in the Center for Judicial Accountability’s August 5, 2013 letter to the Commission: The letter, which has never been responded to, asks the Commission to identify it’s protocol for dealing with obvious and potential conflicts of interest of Commission members, special advisors, or staff:
“[Commission staffers] Kelly Donovan and John Amodeo are part of Attorney General Schneiderman's senior staff... How then will they be handling complaints against Attorney General Schneiderman and the Attorney General's office for corrupting their duty to safeguard government integrity and constitutional governance?”
Likewise, how will Commission Special Advisor, outgoing New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly handle the complaints already submitted against corruption in his NYPD? How will Chairman Milton Williams handle the numerous complaints against his old friend Judge Lippman, who Williams’ “Fund For Modern Courts” effectively put into power?
Moreover, how would any of Commissioners, as “Deputy Attorney Generals”, handle complaints against the man who convened the Commission in the first place, Governor Cuomo? The fact that the Commissioners are being asked to investigate their friends, colleagues, employers (and potentially themselves) is the very situation for which conflict of interest rules and laws exist.
The Moreland Commission has refused to divulge its protocol involving matters of conflicts of interest- if they have one. The HYPERLINK "hhttp://www.judgewatch.org/correspondence-nys/2013-corruption-commission/..."Center For Judicial Accountability's August 5th letter requesting this protocol was ignored by the Commission. When this reporter HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIOJW8olQag"asked Executive Director Regina Calcaterra about the issue, she directed a State Trooper to detain him while she drove off in her car.
Whatever the Commission's protocol may be, it is certainly bound by NY Public Officer's law §74 and by Executive Order 106. Any commissioner who is presented with evidence implicating his friend, colleague or employer, must disclose that potential conflict of interest and recuse himself from any investigation regarding anyone or any matter with which he has a potential conflict of interest. But that would require every member of the commission to recuse themselves regarding complaints against Schneiderman or Cuomo.
Simpler Solution: Alter the Transcript?
Might a simpler solution, and the one the Commission appears to have chosen, be to illegally alter the names on the transcript, so that friends and colleagues are no longer even mentioned in the record? Then, any favored officials or institution’s names would be invisible in an electronic search of the transcript, and technically stricken from the official record. How can the Commission be expected to investigate allegations against Chief Judge Jonathan “Littman” or Administrative Judge Anne “Fow”, when no such people exist? How can they pursue a complaint by the mysterious “Will Galveston”, who also does not exist?
The Commission Must Act on Every Crime of Which it Obtains Evidence
According to ¶ IV of Executive Order 106: “If in the course of its inquiry the Commission obtains evidence of a violation of existing laws, such evidence shall promptly be communicated to the Office of the Attorney General and other appropriate law enforcement authorities, and the Commission shall take steps to facilitate jurisdictional referrals where appropriate.” In other words, the Commission is mandated by law to investigate violations of law by anyone; including their friends, colleagues, employers and fellow commissioners.
Of course, the Commission did indeed obtain evidence of violations of existing laws by Chief Judge Lippman, and various judges and attorneys with connections to the commissioners, but in violation of ¶IV, they have failed to communicate such evidence to the appropriate authorities. If indeed the transcript was deliberately altered, it would appear a member or some members of the Commission expunged the names of people against whom criminal allegations had been brought, through intentional misspellings and omissions. Rather, they appear to have expunged these alleged criminals' names from the record through intentional misspellings and omissions.
Whistle-bower: ADA Mark Sacha Alleges Corruption in the Moreland Commission
In fact, the Moreland Commission appears to have violated ¶IV in regard to evidence against one of its own members. In his testimony at the September 24th hearing in Albany, veteran Assistant District Attorney Mark Sacha made allegations and cited evidence of criminal acts and corruption by Moreland Commissioner Frank Sedita III. Mr. Sasha was fired after serving as an ADA for 25 years, because, he alleges, he exposed involvement in egregious campaign corruption by Sedita.
According to Mr. Sacha, not only was his September 24th testimony completely ignored; his 8- page follow up letter to the Commission, which details and documents his complaint, has also gone unanswered and unacknowledged for nearly two months. And ominously, it was immediately after Mr. Sasha's testimony that the Commission banned testimony from non-invited guests entirely and permanently.
Corruption in the Moreland Commission Would Be A Triple Crime
If, as Governor Cuomo stated, official corruption is a “double crime”, then corruption within a commission created for the sole purpose of fighting public corruption would constitute a “triple crime”.; the underlying crime, the betrayal of the public trust, and ultimately, the mechanism by which public corruption may be perpetuated and proliferated.
If some members of the Moreland Commission have violated its mandate, the people's trust and the law by altering the transcript, they must be held to account to the full extent of the law. Otherwise, the Commission's lofty motto, “Restoring Trust In Government” will backfire in the extreme
- Over the past three months, The Blackstar News has reached out to the Moreland Commission on numerous occasions, requesting responses to the questions raised in this article. Simple “yes or no” answers to our questions could have put to rest any appearance of impropriety by the Commission, but as of this printing, the Moreland Commission has refused to reply to or acknowledge our correspondence.
- On December 2, 2013, the Moreland Commission made its “preliminary report” to Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman. None of the public witnesses' testimony is mentioned in that report. None of the evidence submitted by the public witnesses is in that report.
- On December 4th, 2013, Commissioner Joan Mahonie stated in an interview: "I think [the Moreland Commission} is making a mockery of this whole process if we try to pretend that a group of us that's been appointed by the attorney general and the governor is investigating the attorney general or the governor." As noted above, Commissioner Mahonie's confession is in utter contradiction to the mandate of the Commission, and if true, means that the Commission is intentionally and maliciously breaking the law. Over the weeks following her statement, Ms. Mahonie has refused to answer any press inquiries about what she said.
--The Commission has refused to correct or even acknowledge the “errors” in the official transcript, despite correspondence enumerating these inaccuracies and requesting their correction.
-The “official record” presented to the Governor and the Attorney General is the wildly inaccurate and illegally altered transcript.
-The entirety of the written testimony of the public witnesses is still being suppressed by the Commission, in violation of Commission rules.
-Not one witness that testified has been notified by the Commission to follow up on their allegations and evidence of public corruption.
-The Commission continues to ignore all inquiries by witnesses and media regarding its protocol for dealing with conflicts of interest.