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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New York Times: Garcia made Corruption a Top Priority

In New York, Prosecutor Defends Spitzer Decision
The New York Times by BENJAMIN WEISER - November 18, 2008

Of all the important cases handled by Michael J. Garcia, who for three years has held arguably the most prestigious United States attorney’s post in the country, perhaps the one that drew the most attention is the case he did not file. In a wide-ranging interview on Monday, hours before he formally announced his resignation as federal attorney in Manhattan, Mr. Garcia defended his decision not to file criminal charges against Eliot Spitzer, who stepped down as governor in March after he became caught in a prostitution ring. “I think at the end of the day that decision is the right decision,” said Mr. Garcia, who made a name pursuing corrupt officials at the state and city level. “And it’s justice in that case,” he added. “And I stand by it.” Mr. Garcia, 47, said he would leave office on Dec. 1 and would be succeeded, at least temporarily, by his deputy, Lev L. Dassin, 43, a veteran prosecutor who will serve until President-elect Barack Obama chooses a new United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. In the interview, Mr. Garcia said that although there was evidence that Mr. Spitzer had violated the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, there were none of the other factors that traditionally weighed in favor of bringing charges, like the use of juvenile prostitutes, or commercial or other exploitation of them.

Mr. Garcia, disputing criticism in some quarters that Mr. Spitzer was selected for prosecution by Republican administration officials, reiterated what he said when he announced that he would not bring charges: His office began its investigation after learning of payments made in a questionable manner by Mr. Spitzer to a bank account in the name of a front company for the prostitution ring. “That’s how it came up,” Mr. Garcia said. “That is how it started.” The case was one of a number of public corruption investigations Mr. Garcia oversaw as United States attorney. When he took office in 2005, he said in the interview, he made corruption a top priority. “I just had a sense that we weren’t looking hard for those problems,” he said. His office has prosecuted several state politicians and city officials; former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik; and Norman Hsu, the Democratic political fund-raiser. Most of those cases are still pending, with the defendants pleading not guilty. The office also brought a prosecution in connection with corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food program. Mr. Garcia said that a number of the cases exposed the need for greater transparency in how discretionary money is distributed by politicians, which he called “a vulnerability in the system.”

Mr. Garcia said the scandal over the dismissals in 2006 of United States attorneys, including some who were removed for political reasons, was extremely harmful because it could affect “the public perception of the reasons we do cases.” “It focused a light on that political process of appointing U.S. attorneys, and that was very unfortunate,” said Mr. Garcia, who was not himself one of those selected for dismissal. “Not only is it bad generally,” he added, “but it particularly undermines the message you’re sending out in public corruption cases.” Although Mr. Garcia would not discuss the details of how he decided not to charge Mr. Spitzer, he said he had made the final decision and was comfortable with it. “In making that decision,” he said, “and every decision, you try to think about the equities of the case, what would the charge be, can you make that charge, and how is that consistent with what the office does.” He added, “You try at the end of the day to do justice.” He said he disagreed with critics who suggested that the decision “gives a free pass to human trafficking.” He said that criticism was “not accurate if you look at the history of the cases we’ve done,” citing as examples cases in which the office had charged people in Mann Act cases, and in which extra factors weighed in favor of that, as with juvenile prostitutes. As a prosecutor in the 1990s, Mr. Garcia handled a series of major terrorism cases, including the 1996 trial in a foiled plot to blow up passenger jets over the Pacific Ocean. One man who was indicted but not arrested in that case was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the former senior aide to Osama bin Laden who has said he was the principal planner of the 9/11 plot.

Since there are questions about the government’s treatment of Mr. Mohammed and the future of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, where he is being held, some have suggested trying him in federal court solely for his role in the 1990s airliner plot. Mr. Garcia said that it was impossible to predict how the legal issues would play out in such a case, but he said his office could prosecute Mr. Mohammad if that became necessary. “We make that decision that we had sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury all the elements of those crimes,” Mr. Garcia said. “We’re prepared to do that. The indictment’s still out there.” As for the current financial crisis, Mr. Garcia, whose office has major investigations under way, said the meltdown exposed a variety of schemes, like predatory lending and fraud. “The swamp is draining, and we are seeing some strange things on the bottom,” he said. Mr. Garcia, who will be joining the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, expressed concern that some people in government had raised expectations that broad indictments would necessarily follow. “This is a very serious time,” he said. “People are very nervous about the market, about the economy, about their livelihood and families. And the worst thing we could do is be alarmist on either side.” “We do what we always do,” he said. “We’ll look hard. If there are violations of the law, we’ll charge them.”


Anonymous said...

All evil needs to succeed is for those with the power to stop it to do nothing. He knew the NY courts were corrupt; he had a hot-line; he did nothing. May God give him what he deserves.

Anonymous said...

from some of the prior comments on this website it sounds like his whole office should be investigated until the person or persons come forward who Knew about Garcia laughing at how his Corruption Hotline was a fraud and/or just to keep the public at bay - maybe these should be part of hearings down in the House or Senate so everyone who knew that the Hotline was a fraud is forced to come forward?

Garcia's office did absolutely nothing or next to nothing to change the dysfunction and blatant corruption in the NY Court system and his relationship with Chief Judge Kaye remains an issue

he came up to the State Capitol city of Albany speaking to all the lawyers and others about Corruption but really did nothing afterward

and as the article points out even the major ones he did or most of them are still pending - will these fall through the cracks during transition?

perhaps his successor will take the Torch and Carry it strong but that remains to be seen

Garcia left the NY public with far too many unanswered questions surrounding Governor Spitzer and also Senator Bruno who merely retired from state office to a huge private sector job after three years of investigating

by all the time that will probably be lost or eaten up from all of the transitioning going on in the office it will probably be two or three more years for anything real to come from anything that may have been in the works already

time will tell it seems

Anonymous said...

When NYT says "Make Corruption a priority" he means cover up and create corruption.

Anonymous said...

I've read several polls that asked if Spitzer should have been prosecuted and those polls ranged from 70-80%of Citizens believing, that he should have been.

While unknown to many upstate and elsewhere in the state, Garcia feels comfortable that he made the correct decision for us.

This is truly a stupid, out of touch lawyer, to not have known or realized the pulse of America and NY STATE, was a desire to have Spitzer answer to the law, as we would have, for far less. But in an isolated move, he freed the freak of NY STATE..Spitzer...for most likely, some politicl favor or position!

Garcia did not free Spitzer because of any approprite decision or lack of evidence or legal determination...he has obviously been bribed, and time will prove what he was given. He is a Kaye attachment, and that indicates corruption by the nature of his closeness to her and his awareness of her and this blatant conduct.

A hot line for corruption is funny for a downstate area...since upstate doesn't even try to attempt to address corruption with such hilarious fake attempts...upstate just particiaptes in corruption and flaunts the issue...with catch me if you can..because I will never be held accountability at any level!

With all that I must worry about, per Garcia... finances, war, depression etc, I certainly do not need any lawyer, judge or government official, tell me what other drama I need to have them determine to eliminate from my concerns.

So I will decide what I want to worry about Garcia, and that includes terrorism and their members tried here or anywhere, airplane safety and wiretapping and spying on innocent citizens by the judicial heirachy, included.

Stop thinking for me...NY STATE GOVERNEMENT PEOPLE...whom I know have several personal and professional defects!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the 'top priority' was to protect Garcia's former boss, Judith Kaye.

Anonymous said...

so show me the proof, where is the evidence of all of his work,, where are the results? I don't see them, because there are none! Don't talk to me about Eliot Spitzer, someone ekse did and paid for all the work and then handed that matter to SDNY all wrapped up in a box with a nice ribbon and Mike Garcia ran with it and took the bows. Another phony lawyer who now is going to make a killing selling himself.

Anonymous said...

right on Green Hornet! wondering where all the work is myself? was told we would all be dancing in the streets and that all of these justice dept employees were putting their careers and reputations on the line for something big before the end of the year.

well, still some time left but it is almost thanksgiving and then of course the holiday shopping season begins and then of course the holidays and then of course time to prepare for New Years.

so remains to be seen if this holds true but that statement was posted on this blog so curious to see if the justice dept folks mentioned come through

Anonymous said...

Who would hire a firm that hires such trash???

Anonymous said...

OCA...would! Garbage day is hiring time for them!

Anonymous said...

It's called the Kaye connection. Garcia connects to Kaye, Kaye connects to ...(you don't want to know), and throw in a dash of Mukasey and what do you get...a pattern of frauds, deceits, and misrepresenations that run so wide and so deep that it tears at the very fabic of what we call due process in this country.

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