The recent exoneration of David Ranta for the murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger is just one case where a Hasid was murdered and Charles Hynes sprang into action and delivered a guilty verdict, the facts be damned. The collateral damage in this case included 23 years in jail for an innocent man and a real murderer who will never be found. But this does not matter to Hynes. The important thing is that twenty-three years ago the Hasidic community of Williamsburg got the feeling that Hynes apprehended the murderer of their beloved shames (sexton).
When Rabbi Abraham Pollock was murdered 18 years ago, Hynes, with his his buddy and henchman, Michael Vecchione, again delivered a conviction of the wrong man, Jabbar Collins, who was exonerated in 2010. Collins is now suing Hynes in federal court for operating an office with no proper controls to prevent this sort of thing.
The Satmar power broker, Moshe (Gabbai) Friedman got upset with Samuel Kellner for helping bring witnesses of sex abuse against his cousin, Baruch Mordechai Lebovits and others. So together with Lebovits’ son and others he cooked up an allegation of extortion against Kellner. Hynes’ henchman and head of Rackets, Michael Vecchione, obliged and arrested Kellner, even at the risk of weakening the prosecution case against Lebovits. At this point the DA knows he has a weak case against Kellner and his offered Kellner a Mickey Mouse plea bargain. But Kellner is a stubborn man and will settle for nothing less than exoneration. Meanwhile Lebovits secured a second trial because the prosecution failed to turn over relevant information about Lebovits’ witness, Rabbi Berel Ashkenazi. At the first Lebovits trial Ashkenazi was supposed to discredit the prosecution witness. Instead he was revealed as a molester and perjurer who tried to bribe the witness not to testify.
The interesting thing is that Ashkenazi was never charged with sex abuse, obstruction of justice, or perjury. But this is less of a mystery when you know that Berel’s brother, Henoch Ashkenazi, is the son-in-law of Aron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe (Kiryas Joel). Aron’s faction controls 30-40 percent of Satmar votes in Brooklyn. That makes Ashkenazi untouchable. However, Spinka Hasidim, facing sentencing of their Rebbe in a federal court on money laundering and tax fraud charges, needed to look good. So they fired Berrel Ashkenazi right after the Lebovits trial.
Some of you are wondering how to reconcile my portrait of Hynes as prosecutor run amok with the Hynes whose prosecution of Weberman I lauded. After all, you say, why would he anger the Hasidim whose votes he is courting when the Weberman prosecution was so unpopular? The answer again is politics. Hynes is caught between the ultra orthodox pressure to go easy on their sex offenders and the New York Times which shined a spotlight on his kowtowing to Haredim on sex abuse. Hynes was even publicly criticized by Mayor Bloomberg and ex-Mayor, Koch. So the Weberman trial was his tribute to those tracking his lax prosecution record, just as his earlier creation of Kol Tzedek was his attempt to show he was serious about Haredi abusers in the aftermath of the outcry over the sweetheart deal he gave Rabbi Yehuda Kolko who got off without going to jail or even appearing on a sex offender registry.
The one thing we have never yet seen from Hynes is the railroading of a Haredi on false charges as a sex abuser. There is just no political capital in that sort of a fabrication.
In short, justice from Charles Hynes is an accidental feature of a DA’s office governed by political considerations Sometimes the wrong person goes to jail. Sometimes a real criminal gets off the hook. Most cases get handled properly. But justice is always in jeopardy if it conflicts with Hynes’ political interests.
That, my friend, is the state of justice in Brooklyn.