The Brooklyn DA’s Vindictive Prosecution of a Hasidic Whistle Blower Is Falling Apart

In March I wrote, “Hynes delivers scalps to Hasidim, just the wrong ones.” I pointed out that he usually goes easy on Hasidic molesters, but viciously, and unjustifiably, went after Samuel Kellner, a Hasid who helped bring forward witnesses against molesters. Kellner was accused of attempting to extort Baruch (Mordechai) Lebovits’s son Meyer to pay him or otherwise his father would be falsely accused of molesting two boys. The weaknesses in the District Attorney’s case were exposed by the Jewish Week’s Hella Winston in January.

Hella Winston dropped another bombshell today. Some time back an individual approached the Office of the DA with evidence that would exonerate Kellner. The Rackets Bureau refused to hear the story. However this person was in contact the DA’s main witness against Kellner and tape recorded their interactions. From the tapes and other evidence it is clear that this young man who gave grand jury testimony against Lebovits was indeed a victim of Lebovits, he shared his story with a number of witnesses years before he pressed charges. Then he  was  intimidated and bribed by agents of Baruch Lebovits to retract his story and instead lie and testify to a grand jury that Kellner got him to fabricate charges against Lebovits.

In effect, there is a compelling case for arresting Lebovits’s son Meyer as well as the brothers Zalman and Berrel Ashkenazi for corrupting justice. I would not count on that happening because DA Charles J Hynes should probably also indict himself and the head of the Rackets Bureau, Michael Vecchione, for colluding in prosecuting a case whose only rationale was deterring Hasidim from bringing sex abuse charges to the DA.

This would be an especially bad week for the DA to blame it on Vecchione. CBS’s 48 hours is about to run Brooklyn DA, a national infomercial disguised as a news story about the Office of the DA and it features Vecchione.

Right about now the Rackets Bureau is probably sweating bullets while Samuel Kellner is relishing the thought of finally getting his day in court when he goes on trial on July 8th. The Office of the DA wishes the case would go away. If Hynes were smart he would drop the case and fire Michael Vechione. But Hynes is a stubborn man. He is also going to have a hard time denying his spectacular news conference announcing Kellner’s arrest. Besides, God only knows how much dirt Vecchione has on Hynes. Those two are probably locked in a mutual embrace and will go down together.

See also today’s Propublica for an interesting detailed account of prosecutorial misconduct by Michael Vecchione in other cases.


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