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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Judge Drops Most of Criminal Charges Against Judge-Elect

Case Against Surrogate-Elect Survives Dismissal of 8 Charges
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise - November 2, 2009

A judge has thrown out eight criminal charges against Manhattan Surrogate-elect Nora Anderson but has retained two felony charges that could send her to prison for up to four years if convicted. Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus in Manhattan on Friday dismissed four felony and four misdemeanor counts charging Ms. Anderson and her mentor/former boss, attorney Seth Rubenstein, with masking the source of $250,000 pumped into Ms. Anderson's campaign in the closing days of the 2008 Democratic primary. Ms. Anderson won that primary but was suspended without pay before she could take the bench. Justice Obus cited jurisdictional grounds for his ruling, holding that the charges should have been brought in Brooklyn, where Ms. Anderson's campaign headquarters was located in Mr. Rubinstein's office. He allowed the other two charges to stand because they involved acts in Manhattan: allegedly false filings with the New York City Board of Elections, whose headquarters is located in the borough. At the same time, Justice Obus in People v. Anderson, 5768/08, rejected the defendants' substantive claims that funneling campaign contributions through an intermediary is not a crime. Those arguments, if accepted, would have scuttled the indictment entirely.

The Manhattan Supreme Court decision appears on page 17 of the print edition of today's Law Journal. In court on Friday, Assistant District Attorney Daniel G. Cort told Justice Obus that his office would have to decide which of three options to pursue: appealing; asking Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes to pursue the eight dismissed counts; or proceeding on the two remaining counts. In the event Manhattan Disrtict Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau asks for assistance from Brooklyn, there is a possibility the case would be divided with the two counts being tried in Manhattan and the remainder in Brooklyn. Mr. Rubenstein and Ms. Anderson were charged jointly under the 10-count indictment. According to the government, Mr. Rubenstein gave Ms. Anderson $100,000 and loaned her another $150,000. Ms. Anderson was accused of then directing the contribution and loan to her campaign under her name. One count upheld by Justice Obus relates to Mr. Rubenstein's gift of $100,000 to Ms. Anderson on Aug. 12, 2008, and the other to his loan to her of $150,000 two weeks later. Ms. Anderson reported to the Board of Elections that she gave her campaign $100,000 eight days after receiving that amount from Mr. Rubenstein and loaning her campaign $170,000 on Aug. 26, the same day Mr. Rubenstein made the $150,000 loan. New York's Election Law does not limit the amounts candidates may give their own campaigns, but other donors to countywide races in Manhattan were limited to $33,122 in 2008. Loans are required to be repaid by the election date or they are considered contributions. Ms. Anderson, 57, a former chief clerk of the Manhattan Surrogate's Court, had worked with Mr. Rubenstein, 82, in Brooklyn at his 26 Court St. office for nine years before entering the Surrogate's race. The defendants agreed that Manhattan had geographic jurisdiction over the two counts involving the campaign finance filings with the city Board of Election. Instead, they moved to dismiss all 10 counts claiming the state's Election Law does not make it a crime to funnel campaign contributions through an intermediary. Justice Obus rejected those arguments, noting that Election Law §14-120(1) makes it a misdemeanor to make a contribution to a campaign in any name other than one's own. He emphasized that the law bars a donor from "directly or indirectly" concealing the true donor's name.

1977 Ruling Cited

Justice Obus, however, accepted the defendants' argument that jurisdiction in Manhattan over the other eight counts could not be sustained on the strength of the New York Court of Appeals' 1977 ruling in Steingut v. Gold, 42 N.Y. 2d 311. In Steingut, which involved former Assembly Speaker Stanley Steingut, the Court of Appeals ruled that jurisdiction could not be based on the premise that "the voters of [a] county would be called upon to vote in an election allegedly tainted by criminal activity localized in a single county." Mr. Steingut had been accused of illegal activities in Manhattan to advance the election of his son in Brooklyn to the City Council. The two pending charges accuse Ms. Anderson and Mr. Rubenstein of filing false documents (campaign financial disclosure reports) in Manhattan. Four of the dismissed charges carry the same penalty of zero to four years in prison. They relate to filing false campaign disclosure reports with the New York State Board of Elections in Albany and falsifying the reports in the first instance in Brooklyn. The others are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail: two counts of willfully evading the contribution limits in the Election Law and two counts for failing to make contributions in one's own name. Ms. Anderson won the three-way 2008 primary with 48 percent of the vote (NYLJ, Sept. 11, 2008). She raised $613,000, more than either of her two opponents: John R. Reddy, counsel to the Manhattan public administrator, who raised $600,903 and Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Milton A. Tingling, who raised $110,200. Ms. Anderson is represented by Gustave H. Newman and Richard A. Greenberg. Frederick P. Hafetz, of Hafetz & Necheles, represented Mr. Rubenstein. Messrs. Newman and Hafetz both declined to comment. Mr. Cort is the deputy chief of the Manhattan district attorney's rackets bureau. Daniel Wise can be reached at


Anonymous said...

Throw this corrupt bitch in jail.

Anonymous said...

Throw this corrupt bitch in jail.

Anonymous said...

To the above took the words right out of my mouth!! JAIL.. JAIL...JAIL!!!

Anonymous said...

and the rest of them that committ campaign/election fraud
oopsies, we no longer have any representatives
that is a shame! NOT!

Anonymous said...

don't worry while you are in jail
you are with your own kind...
bunch of prostitutes!

Anonymous said...

it proves that lawyers and judges all stick together.
The judges work for the people not other lawyers and judges. Laws need to be changed to prevent all money going to judges to run for office. ALL tranactions should not be allowed, regardles is if it is a
loan a Lexus, vacations or even dinner. Judges should not be allowed to even have fundraisers, just put your name in the hat throw in say 5,000 of your own money, make thir be a limit and that is it.
They work for the people then they should not be running thier side buisness.

Anonymous said...

It's November.

Where are the indictments?

Anonymous said...

In upstate NY there is a new federal courthouse being built....with the theme....FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE.
The only problem with that theme is that the court refuses to talk to the people involved with does that theme stand for...just a statement to convince outsiders that justice exists on the brick wall, something you will hit when you enter!

Manhattan Surrogate Victim said...

Another Whitewash Job! What do you expect from these snakes? Judges are lawyers and they all protect one another. It's them against the rest of the country!

Anonymous said...

The Petters trial has begun and the witness list already is de minus the key persons guilty most.

Paul Traub, Frank Vennes and the protected Jeffries.

The NY Supreme Court case 601805/2002 has nearly 1/2 the docket Under SEAL as Traub knows we caught them red-handed (previously) by docket record faux pas.

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