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Friday, April 27, 2012

Former NYS Lawyer Sentenced for Making Racist Calls

Judge: Racist calls were no 'prank'
The Albany Times Union by Robert Gavin  -  April 25, 2012
Victims of ex-lawyer's phone threats describe fear, mental intimidation

ALBANY, NY — Disgraced ex-lawyer James J. Hennessey was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum 1 to 3 years in prison for tormenting his black neighbors with racist phone calls, but not before a judge blasted him for comparing the menacing calls to a "teenage prank thing" he learned from watching television.  "Your hate crimes were repeated to various victims," Judge Stephen Herrick told Hennessey, 59, of Winnie Street, moments before sentencing him for a series of threatening phone calls to victims in 2010. "You terrorized them. You terrorized aspects of your neighborhood, of the community, of the city of Albany."  The judge rejected a probation officer's report suggesting Hennessey receive a split sentence of less jail time and probation. He questioned the remorse of Hennessey, who resigned Feb. 1 from his $104,080-a-year job at the state Department of Civil Service.  The judge said Hennessey told the probation officer: "It was almost like a teenage prank thing. I saw how to do it on TV. I made a quick prank call, then a couple of weeks later I did it again. Shortly thereafter, I got carted off."  Hennessey, a Bronx native and one-time New York City police officer, initially faced 11 counts of second-degree aggravated harassment — charges changed to hate crime felonies because of their racist nature.  He pleaded guilty to two counts in February to resolve the case.  On Wednesday, Hennessey told the judge he didn't realize the impact of his calls at the time, but does now.  "I hate no one," Hennessey said, highlighting his work for an affirmative action program. "I've always considered people of any race my friend and I generally have a very open personality toward anyone. I have a lot of remorse for what was done."  Victims described how his hateful calls drove them to fear even leaving their home.

"Do you know how it feels to know that you are being watched by someone who has nothing but pure hatred for you and your family all because of the color of your skin?" stated a letter from Nancy Williams of Albany. It was read aloud in court by Assistant District Attorney Linda Griggs.  Williams stated her family had to install a six-foot stockade fence to be able to sit in the yard without fear of being stalked.  "Myself and my fiancee were harassed, intimidated, terrorized, emotionally and psychologically affected by the acts of James Hennessey," another victim, Sean Brown of Albany, told the judge.  Brown, 39, and his fiancee, Dana Henson, 28, had not been in their Pine Hills home a month when Hennessey began harassing them in July 2010.  Brown said he soon was not sure if his tormentor might toss a brick into his home or burn a cross on his property.  "The acts of James Hennessey caused mental intimidation where I didn't know if I should take action into my own hands," he said. "Should I purchase a gun? ... Can I get to the phone fast enough? Can the police get here fast enough to protect me and my family?"  Henson said she and Brown had just activated a new phone when it rang.  "I never imagined what would be on the other end when I picked up," she said, recalling the caller yelled racial and sexist slurs and made references to kidnapping, ransom and property values. He also told them to move out. "We experienced these hate-filled calls for weeks ... I felt unsafe in my own home. I didn't trust my neighbors."  Henson, who teaches at a local college, noted Hennessey's law work involved the protection of equal opportunities for all.  "He's a true coward," she said. "I think living amongst hard-working people from diverse backgrounds is far more desirable than bunking in a jail. Perhaps he didn't think of that before he started harassing us."  Between May 2010 and July 2010, Hennessey made upward of 200 phone calls to 38 recipients through a website — — which allowed him to block his phone number. At times he made it appear on victims caller ID that his calls were coming from the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas.  Prosecutors say Hennessey also phoned real estate agents warning them not to rent homes to black people in his neighborhood near St. Peter's Hospital. And they say he used a computer to alter his voice on the calls. In one of the calls, Hennessey threatened to kill a black woman in his neighborhood. In another, he told a victim that "we are going to kidnap the little black boy who plays outside and tie him up."  Albany police and FBI agents traced calls to Hennessey through documents from the website, Verizon Wireless, a Time Warner Cable account and Hennessey's Internet provider address.  Griggs called Hennessey's crimes "egregious and reprehensible." She asked for a state prison sentence.  Terence Kindlon, the defendant's attorney, suggested his client's mental health played a part in the crimes. He said after his client's arrest, Hennessey was discovered lying naked in his home with empty pill bottles around him.  Herrick was unmoved, sentencing Hennessey to the maximum.  "These acts are incredibly bad. Reprehensible. Inexcusable," the judge told Hennessey. "You have irreparably damaged the people that you harassed." • 518-434-2403 • @RobertGavinTU


Lawyer Sentenced to Prison for Making Racist Calls
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko  -  April 26, 2012

A lawyer who once worked for New York state was sentenced to between one and three years in prison yesterday for making what authorities said were nearly 200 harassing phone calls to 38 different residences in his Albany neighborhood. Many of the calls were racist in nature, either threatening harm against minority residents or their children, according to Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares.  James Hennesey Jr., 59, had pleaded guilty earlier this year to two felony counts of aggravated harassment as a hate crime, both Class E felonies. He resigned from his $104,080-a-year job with the Department of Civil Service just before entering his plea. He was sentenced by Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick.  Soares said Hennesey attempted to use blocking devices to disguise his voice and to route calls he placed from Albany through the Internet to make it appear they were coming from a Ku Klux Klan location in Arkansas. In one call, Hennesey threatened to kidnap the young black child of a neighborhood family and "tie him up," Soares said.


Anonymous said...

They are making an example of this jerk. Meanwhile, 99% of the administrative posts with power in OCA are the biggest racists in the world.

SFJD said...

Unknown said...

This gives the public a justifiable cause to wonder how common racist views are held by white civil service personel?

Anonymous said...

The Effects of Institutional Racism on Minority-Led Law Practices in New York City

There is a reason why minority business people rarely succeed or can sustain their successful businesses in New York City. In many cases, studies and data have shown that the following issues routinely and frequently occur, which completely renders the sustained growth, and stability, of minority-led businesses literally impossible:

1. Employees were allowed to plunder and steal company intellectual property, clients, disrespect minority business owners openly, steal from them, and directly compete with them WHILE working for them at times, with complete and total impunity and immunity, as complaints to the New York Department of Labor and the New York Disciplinary Committee to regulate Attorney Misconduct would go completely unsupported, unanswered, or ignored - in effect their behaviors were encouraged by this inaction;

2. Meanwhile if employees complained about the minority led business owner in whatever capacity, even when it was prima facie frivolous or false, that minority business owner would literally be dragged across the coals, and docket numbers and investigations were opened up against them at the drop of a hat, by the same 2 entities listed above;

3. If a client ever complained about the minority business owner, in whatever capacity, a docket number and an investigation were immediately opened, investigated, and aggressively prosecuted, and not ever vetted to see or determine if there was ever an ethics rule that was violated - it was always merely a "fishing expedition" - a terrorism fear tactic, completely immobilizing the minority business owner and his staff, instilling the fear of God into the Staff to even continue to work for the minority business owner, for fear of hurting their own professional career or jeopardizing their law license - in this manner many of that company's best and brightest and most dedicated young lawyer trainees fled those minority led companies and jumped ship, often to competing law firms which was run by a member of the racial majority in New York City (Jewish, WASP, Italian, etc) or starting their own practices to compete with it, often using the minority led business owner's cutting edge intellectual property, client lists, and strategies in direct competition with them;

4. Defamation against the minority business owner was encouraged on both the internet and in public discourse in professional lawyer groups, and rumor mongering about the minority business owner and their law firm was spread like wild-fire (eg, they charged too much, inflated their fees, was incompetent, was a mean and nasty boss, was unethical, etc);

5. Fee Disputes were ALWAYS resolved AGAINST the minority business owner by the NYCLA Fee Dispute Committee, or the New York Civil Courts, in the tens of thousands of dollars, even if the minority owned business always had properly signed, executed, and clear retainer agreement contracts, as well as a detailed hourly billing invoices, huge fat files full of productive legal work, and more often than not, successful outcomes to very difficult cases.

The list is endless. Failure is a certainty. The lesson - if you are a minority lawyer - don't even THINK about starting up a law firm in Manhattan - you will be destroyed by the heavily institutionalized racism permeating the DDC, the DOL, and any other agencies charged with safeguarding both you and your law practice from dishonest parasites and vultures.

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