The 24-year-reign of Brooklyn DA Charles (Joe) Hynes’ Ancien Régime is developing new cracks that will widen, even if he wins reelection tomorrow in the closely contested race with candidate Kenneth Thompson. Right now there are deep divisions in the Office of the Kings County District Attorney (KCDA) about the continued prosecution of Samuel Kellner on charges of attempting to extort the family of Baruch Mordechai Lebovits in return for determining whether witnesses would be brought forward alleging he molested them. Kellner’s attorneys argue persuasively that the case is contrived to void the Lebovits conviction and protect him from further prosecution. DA Joe Hynes recently claimed that the KCDA was ready to proceed to prosecution. However, Joe’s minions kept stalling the day of reckoning. Otherwise respected ADA Joe Alexis even resorted to an ex-parte communication with a judge in violation of normal practice. He did it to further delay a DA response to a defense motion until after the election, according to Kellner’s attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui.
Only two people in the KCDA still seem to want to bring the case to trial, Joe Hynes and Michael Vecchione. Mike is the one who took the case without examining it from Arthur Aidala, the attorney for convicted molester Baruch Lebovits. He pumped it into the hands of Nicholas (Nick) Batsides, who is not corrupt, just lazy. Nick acceded to Vecchione’s directives to not check the allegations with Sex Crimes. Had Nick followed the rule that all of the KCDA is one legal entity he would have discovered that he was bringing a witness to a grand jury who claimed he was never molested by Lebovits, when Sex Crimes had a lot of evidence that this young man was molested. Moreover, Lebovits himself had at one point entered into plea bargain negotiations about his abuse of this young man.
Over time the prospects for the case imploded under the weight of contradictory affidavits and accumulating revelations about the poor quality of the evidence. Nick is no longer on the case and it was passed over to his supervisor, Joe Alexis. Nevertheless, Vecchione has become so invested in the case that he insists on carrying it forward.
If Vecchione persists, I am getting indications that he may have to prosecute it himself. Other ADAs are getting more and more scared of being sucked into ethics violations that could cost them their law license. Nick may have already crossed that line. If every other ADA in rackets refuses to prosecute this case, we are talking about a rebellion against Vecchione, a man known to be vengeful. So either Mike has gone too far, even by his severely compromised standards, or staff can smell that he is not long for this job.
This raises another question. Has Hynes finally gotten the memo that Vecchione is disastrously bad news for justice and Hynes’ reputation? This is hard to figure out because no one has ever come up with a credible explanation for Hynes’ loyalty to Mike who has caused him so much embarrassment. It seems Vecchione is already dangling in the wind. Vecchione may turn into the atonement chicken sacrificed for the sins of Joe Hynes, in which case he will get his exit papers while being swung overhead.
As we say in Jewish circles at this time of the year: “gmar chatimah tovah, Mike!”