Dirty pols walk?
By MICHAEL BENJAMIN – NYPOST.com
Last Updated: 3:40 AM, December 2, 2011
Posted: 11:10 PM, December 1, 2011
Us Attorney Preet Bharara’s case against City Councilman Larry Seabrook has become a Keystone Kops prosecution, complete with key witnesses recanting previous statements, an ex-mistress claiming dementia, a flirty female witness and other government witnesses out of central miscasting. The trial would be amusing if not for the seriousness of the charges and waste of public dollars.
But I couldn’t laugh even bitterly once I recognized the name of the attorney — William T. Martin, Esq. — representing Gloria Jones-Grant, the government witness now claiming dementia.
As a judicial delegate back in 1987, I helped make William T. Martin the youngest black man elected to the Bronx Supreme Court. I believe then-Assemblyman Seabrook made a nominating speech on behalf of his friend. Then, in 1989, Justice William T. Martin (the first president of the Bronx County Black Bar Association) was indicted on federal charges of tax evasion, perjury and cocaine trafficking. In a later deal, he pleaded guilty to several tax charges and a misdemeanor cocaine-possession charge, and the government dropped the other counts.
Martin has since rehabilitated himself, and resumed practicing law in 2001. Like Sol Wachtler, the disgraced former chief justice of the State Court of Appeals, he has become a champion of prisoner re-entry programs. Last month, he spoke at a John Jay College conference about reducing imprisonment and crime.
Bharara promised to make pursuit of political corruption a top priority. Thus far, his office has already lost one high-profile political corruption case against Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., because Bharara’s team didn’t present smoking-gun evidence. Now, his team’s been bushwhacked when two key prosecution witnesses in this case recanted their grand-jury testimony of a kickback scheme allegedly orchestrated by Seabrook.
This unending narrative of corruption comes sickeningly full circle when the attorney for a key prosecution witness was once himself a subject of prosecution. Martin, a disgraced former state judge is now representing Jones-Grant, whose claim of dementia undermines a potentially successful prosecution against his former political godfather. And the witness admits under oath that she had regular contact with the defendant as recently as days prior to the start of the trial.
I don’t have inside knowledge here — but like you, I’m left to wonder: Coincidence or sinister connection? Like the public, I ask, “Can’t anybody shoot straight?” It’s no wonder our people are mad.
I am angry because the institutions New Yorkers rely upon — politicians, government agencies, nonprofits — have broken faith with us. We want justice.
We must rid our city and state of the politicians, poverty pimps and misery vampires who setup nonprofit agencies only to loot them for their personal gain. The people in charge of prosecuting these grifters must do a better job of ensuring justice and fair trials that are not upended by a failure to safeguard witnesses.
US Attorney Bharara, New Yorkers need you to be on top of your game.
Do ‘Dirty Pols’ Walk? Is political corruption a laughing matter? Leave your comment below.