The Folks Who Went Down With Joe Hynes

Ken Thompson’s Victory over Joe Hynes is already yesterday’s news. Joe himself is taking an overdue vacation. It is very overdue; it should have started 8-12 years ago. Apparently, he prepared himself for his demise by observing a wake for his career before he even gave his concession speech. He did not show up at the campaign gathering until after the results were in and then quickly surrendered.

According to Shmarya Rosenberg, Michael Vecchione was busy hauling boxes out of his office early this morning. Shmarya believes Vecchione was hauling out evidence of his misdeeds. I wouldn’t put that past Mike. But, the hallmark of his tenure was making it his business not to keep records. On the other hand he regularly moon lighted as a writer of fiction and movie scripts. Knowing that he is going to be fired by Thompson, Mike might just be getting a head start on his next career by removing a treasure trove of fiction plots he first generated to prosecute some of his cases.

Rumors are circulating that there might be a major shredding operation. If so, I expect Dennis Quirk, wearing one of his many hats, to get the contract. Dennis, in a final act of generosity to Joe, might even throw in a few body bags. On the other hand, he does have to find new jobs for his daughter and two son-in-laws. Maybe they can learn how to operate one of Quirk’s six Zambonis, clearing and scraping evidence.

On a serious note, I and others are worried about the loss of evidence of crimes committed by the Hynes team. I can only hope that the grownups who are now minding the shop remember that they have prosecutorial immunity for most of their misdeeds, but destroying evidence is prosecutable. Maybe someone should post signs: “Remember Enron and Arthur Andersen.” The other thing people should remember is that electronic records are exceptionally hard to purge, there are backups upon backups in vaults far from Brooklyn, and most IT systems can track who deleted an item. I do not think the IT people have any reason to worry about earlier misdeeds. However, if they collude in destroying records they will have a price to pay. Of course, Mike Vecchione has already demonstrated he can wipe his memory clear at the drop of a subpoena.

I have one last thought about Mike. Tensions are high in rackets because many of his subordinates blame the election defeat on his scandalous misconduct. I am told that some of the staff are so angry that others had to cool them down to prevent them from trying to punch him out. Perhaps Mike is clearing out early because he is afraid someone will threaten to hit him with a coffee table unless he confesses.

I sympathize with those who did their best under Mike. However, there are those like Nick Batsides who got paid too much to do what they were told without asking questions. Nick indicted Samuel Kellner with lousy evidence that came from a self-interested source, the son of convicted molester Baruch Lebovits. Obviously, he will be fired. I also hope he gets brought up on ethics charges and gets disbarred.

Press officer Jerry Schmetterer is also going to be looking for a new job. From some time in early July he stopped answering questions from serious journalists. I assume he was also in on the decision to block my blog and other blogs. He should be perfect for any other organization which needs a press officer who refuses to provide real information. Unfortunately, organizations like that are usually on a sure path to political defeat or commercial bankruptcy. I hope he gets a round of jobs in failing organizations. That would be karma.

Jerry’s Daily News megaphone, court house reporter Oren Yaniv, is in for a dry stretch. He used to have it easy with direct access to Schmetterer and Vecchione, and surprisingly good luck at just happening to connect to jurors in major cases. Unfortunately, he never cultivated enough other sources in the office of the DA. The Thompson folks are not going to take kindly to him. Schmendrik Oren may have to actually start working to get good stories.

Ronnie Jaus, head of sex crimes, is also looking for her next job. No other DA will hire someone tarnished with favoritism to orthodox Jewish molesters. Sadly, I believe she does care about sex abuse victims and does not relish the thought of defending perverts. But right now that is her most sellable skill.

Jewish Liaison and head of Kol Tzedek, Henna White, is also going to be out a job that allowed her to refer clients to her husband, attorney Asher White. She was never likable and I have no idea whether those she protected will take care of her now that she no longer can help them escape justice.

Mary Hughes, best friend of Joe’s wife, Pat, will have to find another job. Right now she is head of Crime Prevention. Her husband, Harvey Greenberg, Hynes’ former chief of staff, did very well for himself, selling off the assets of Judge Phillips. I suppose she will do a lot for crime prevention by not being in a position to aid and abet it.

I hear Arthur Aidala looks crushed.  All these years he was able to smirk and intimidate KCDA employees by reminding them he was a close friend of Joe. Arthur was trying to build up a specialty in defending ultra-orthodox perverts. The Munkatcher Rebbe gave him referrals such as Baruch Lebovits and Menachem Deutsch because of that connection. Arthur is now back to being just another attorney. He will not be able to command premium prices or deliver exceptional results. His partner in the Lebovits case, famed constitutional pontificator, Alan Dershowitz, was also angling for that market, hoping to use his success in acquitting Lebovits and indicting Kellner, to make him the go-to appellate lawyer.

The Munkatcher Rebbe, the titan of pidyon shvuyim (prisoner redeeming) will probably be renamed the Munchkin Rebbe, because he has lost his ability to deliver results. Thompson has already declared that he will not give special treatment to any group. However, the Munchkin Rebbe will be especially remembered for his campaign poster for Hynes with the slogan, “He has helped us, he helps us, and he will help us.” The poster all but declared, “Hynes fixes cases for our criminals.” Even if Thompson was inclined to let bygones be bygones, he could not afford to allow others to believe he has entered into a corrupt partnership.

Another looser is City Councilman David Greenfield who accused Thompson of targeting Jews, and went one better, falsely accusing Thompson of putting out a campaign poster calling for the ritual kapporos slaughter of Hynes. Greenfield tried to insist he was the winner because he got about three-quarters of the voters in his district to support Hynes. He conveniently ignores the fact that turnout was very low according to Hynes campaign chair, George Arzt. It is a safe bet that Thompson will turn to Dov Hikind when he wants to work with a politician representing ultra- orthodox Jews.

In the orthodox community, Satmar took the worst hit of all. Both factions united to back Hynes. Yet this election overturned the old saw that the ultra orthodox block vote can determine primary election results in Brooklyn. Thompson has absolutely no reason or inclination to give them special treatment. Most ethnic groups would be quite happy just to be treated fairly. But Satmar has cultivated an attitude of being above the law. They better get ready for some serious attitude adjustments. Internally, their hold on their constituents will weaken if they cannot control outside law enforcement.

I have enjoyed lashing out at the culprits. Now, I want to speak directly to the honorable staff of KCDA. I know many of you have done your best to preserve your integrity in a problematic environment. I know some of you love being public servants and would rather not become defense attorneys. Yet, you are now faced with uncertainty about your employment prospects. I know it will be hard to maintain morale during the interregnum between now and January. I respect and appreciate each of you who will keep on doing your jobs to the best of your ability. I cannot speak of Ken Thompson’s plans. But his history is one of working in orderly environments and I cannot believe he plans to purge the office, apart from the top echelon and those known to have engaged in misconduct. It is not like he can close shop for three months to retool the place. That is especially difficult at KCDA where written records are often incomplete. He needs your institutional memory to keep cases going. Naturally there will be changes, some for the better and others that some of you will not like. But I think it is a safe bet that most of you will keep your jobs and may even find yourself empowered to finally do them the way you always wanted to.

In the meantime, consider the prospect of working in an office where you won’t be pressured to campaign for your boss or terrified of retaliation for doing your job the way it should be done.

A number of you helped me and other reporters uncover some of the dirt in the office. I thank you and hope to keep telling as much of the truth as you share. I am inclined to hope for the best from Ken Thompson. He starts out with a honeymoon period and the benefit of the doubt. But I am always mindful of the Jewish advice, kabdeihu v’chashdeihu, “respect and suspect.” If Thompson falls short of his campaign claims, I promise you, I will be just as merciless to him.

In the meantime, I hope more of you will feel safe commenting on Frum Follies. I am absolutely committed to protecting the identities of my sources and those who comment on my blog. I know some of you were afraid of the higher powers of KCDA. Rest assured, the most culpable of them are too busy saving their skins or retooling their careers to worry about your comments.

To my Jewish readers and others inclined to accept these wishes on the eve of Yom Kippur, gmar chatimah tovah, may your destiny for the coming year be sealed for the good!

Hat Tip to the Malach who suggested this post

11 thoughts on “The Folks Who Went Down With Joe Hynes

  1. Man, Lopin, I’ll say this for you: you’re very entertaining. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog, but, obviously, not for any truth or enlightenment. It’s like playing a video game – pointless, but, inexplicably, enjoyable.

    In every office, especially the largest one of its kind in the country, there wiill be some disgruntled and/or unintelligent employees. Anyone who has worked in any large office environment knows the type. Ever watch The Office? If so, I’m referring to the Dwights and the Michael Scotts. The guys who have an axe to grind for some stupid reason or none at all; the types whose diatribes are jibberish disguised as semi-articulate rants. These are the true sources you rely on when you say that ADA’s in Brooklyn haven’t been able to do their jobs they way they want, or that they’re pressured to act unethically, etc. These statements of yours just aren’t true. I really hope that some of your readers have the ability to see that.

    This doesn’t mean there aren’t mistakes made, or in rare cases, misconduct. And it doesn’t mean that Hynes did a good job in recent years of keeping tabs on hiis people. But it certainly doesn’t mean that there is institutional corruption in the office, or an environment of fear and reprisals. To suggest this so disgracefully impugns the long and historic career of a great man who did more for his borough, and more for the furtherance of criminal justice, than any other DA in the country. The irony in this election is that Hynes was labeled the old, corrupt machine-politics candidate who was out of touch with minorities: in truth, he’s the guy who never had the party’s support until this very election (indicting and convicting the party chairman had something to do with this, but he was the outsider candidate before that happened), and he dedicated his career to creating previously-unheard-of programs to divert the many thousands of black and Hispanic kids out of the jail system and in to a rehabilitation and education regime, which resulted in staggeringly low recidivism rates and a huge drop in street crime. But, on these pages, he’s just a corrupt criminal. Disgusting.

    I was a proud ADA for many years under Hynes, as were hundreds of my friends and colleagues. What you’re saying about him just isn’t true. Nobody’s perfect, and after 23 years he deserves criticism for mistakes, but control yourself. This Borough is what it is because of him. Just look at what it was like in 1990, and how the criminal justice system handled its affairs back then as compared to now.

    Vecchione: good riddance.

    Nick Batsidis is an honorable and devoted prosecutor who follows the evidence. He indicted that case because that’s what the evidence demanded. Whether the case falls apart now or not is irrelevant. Don’t lump him in with Vecchione.

    Ronnie Jaus is the most true-believing crusader for sexual assault victims that could ever be. It’s literally impossible that she would ever give a molester a pass, as you allege. Her big problem is on the other end of the spectrum: she is so obsessed with her cause that she can’t spot an innocent defendant when one presents himself. G-d forbid you ever get wrongfully accused of a sex crime – you definitely don’t want her in charge of making the decision whether or not to prosecute, because she will subjectively credit the witnesses more than the evidence will suggest is warranted.

    Henna White, Mary Hughes: who cares???

    Arthur Aidala: if he looks sad, it’s because his mentor and legal idol was thrown out of office on the heels of almost entirely unfair criticism and mythical allegations. No one in the DA’s Office was EVER intimidated by his relationship to the DA! He’s regarded as a good attorney who is a bit of a clown. No one did ever or could ever suffer because of anything he said to the DA. Another myth, faithfully perpetuated.

    By the way, I love the corruption allegations from the Thompson camp – the same group who cuddled up with the disgraced King of Brooklyn corruption, convicted felon and former party boss Clarence Norman. Funniest moment of the election: Clarence saying that with Hynes’ loss, now there will ” finally be justice in Brooklyn.” Let’s ask the Son of Sam if justice came to the city after his DA left office! He’s a credible source too, huh guys?

    As I’ve said before, I’m going to enjoy watching Thompson flail under the impossible burden of prosecuting Haredi sex cases. Soon, they’ll fall apart on him, too. Ah, who will we blame? Perhaps the ghost of Joe Hynes.

    I encourage you all to read Ron Kuby’s article in the Daily News about Hynes. It was printed on Wednesday. Coming from the most leftist liberal on Earth, it tells you something about how Hynes was truly a DA for the people.

    • Hey Truther you sound a lot like KH. Since when do xxxxx [Irish gentiles- edited because of bigoted language] spell God “G-d”? Was this in honor of the Jewish day of atonement posting?

      In all seriousness whoever you are; Some of Hynes’ innovative programs are laudable and while I will refrain from proving Godwin’s law I do have to point out that the many atrocities committed by Hynes and his Goon Squad are not mitigated by a few innovative programs.

      Innocent people are still languishing in prison, innocent children had been subjected to horrors, political opponents have been imprisoned or even impoverished and left to die terrible deaths: all so that your hero Joe Hynes and his Goon Squad could keep their jobs.

      As for Vecchione: absent Hynes he would likely be a junior soldier in the mafia or with a little luck he’d be living in a studio apartment in Hollywood writing mob movie scripts in his dirty boxers. Instead the Boss anointed Vecchione Capo Bastone and then supported and defended him as he turned the Office into a national disgrace.

  2. Fed Up – the term “Micks” is derogatory to people of Gaelic descent. Anonymity in posting isn’t a reason to use such racist language. Should I begin discussing your (presumed) racial and/or ethnic background in derogatory terms, I’m sure I’d be blocked by the moderator. But then, perhaps he permits you latitude since you apparently both espouse the same opinions. Discussion of matters of public interest should remain civil, in my humble opinion.

    • “mulierracionabilem,”

      Your point about bigoted language is valid. I have edited the entries by “Fed Up” in keeping with my commenting policy. Thank you for raising the issue. mulierracionabilem, we may disagree about other things, but not about the need to avoid bigoted usages.

      This is awkward, but I am leaving your comment up with its usage to preserve the record and your point. If you ask me to, I will remove your comment and my reply.

  3. So, guys you like are entitled to rational explanations, but guys you don’t are not?

    This really is pointless, but I’ll say it anyway: there isn’t one person (child or otherwise) who has suffered because of any pass given to an abuser by Joe Hynes. Those passes were all given by the victims’ families, advisors, “representatives” (i.e. rabbis), or the victims themselves. This myth you’ve created that Joe went easy on abusers for votes has taken on a life of it’s own, so, congrats on that, but it’s not true. People can lie and say their cases were viable but the DA dumped it without their consent, but in the dark lonely corners of their minds, they know their horrible truth.

    What Joe deserves fault for is letting plea offers go up (in jail time) because of the media. Now the sex crime ADA’s won’t offer less than institutional time no matter the circumstances. It’s wrong in some cases – every one needs to be evaluated individually. I’m sure Thompson will continue this draconian trend. Hopefully you won’t know someone who deserves leniency for one reason or another but can’t get it because of political headwinds.

    Joe also deserves fault for not firing Vecchione years ago, and believing that the guy never crossed the line. Maybe he did, and that indeed is on Joe. But you’ll see very soon that there is nothing to the allegations that there are many other innocent people in prison. It’s just not so, at least not any more so than in any other jurisdiction over the last 2 decades.

    Best of all, though, will be watching Thompson deal with all the same problems and do the same or worse job with them. Reality has a pesky way of creeping in to life on e job. Your theories, which are based on secondhand soures and wild hyperbole, are just those: theories.

    • Truther,

      I completely agree there are reasons for being flexible on plea bargains, and even going quite low in some cases. But the Menachem Deutsch 6 month deal was an obscenity. Vic was ready to testify. The Yehudah Kolko deal of no jail, no registry, no felony was an obscenity and the KCDA lied when it said witnesses preferred it. They, like Deutsch victim had gone the distance, and wanted to testify. It is crucial to go the distance when victims are willing to testify precisely because so many other victims in the orthodox community are intimidated out of testifying. In the two cases I mentioned, it was the KCDA that was intimidated, not the victims.

      Truther, if you prefer believing Joe wanted to do the right thing, at least consider the possibility that Henna White was the culprit. However you cut it, bad things happened in sex crimes. Yeah, Thompson will not have it easy but if he eliminates unforced fails, he will improve the record somewhat. Moreover, if victims, however much they are harassed in the community, know the the KCDA is leaning-in, they will be emboldened. The culture is already inching to a healthier place. Thompson may succeed is catylizing accellerated progress. however, I do agree that even a full four years will not do enough. My thinking is that the desert generation of cover up artists will have to die before things are totally transformed.

      Truther, there was a time when black-on-black violent crime was ignored by white dominated criminal justice organizations because officials held the erroneous belief that, “Those people will never testify against their own.” We now know better. The same change can happen in regard to Hasidic-on-Hasidic sex crimes.

      • Mr. Lopin – I will agree completely that if the Deutsch and Kolko cases were dumped, even with fully cooperative witness AND viable evidence, then those would be travesties. We just disagree on those facts. I find it impossible to believe, based on personal experience with cases of this nature from inside and outside the office.

        And yes, as time goes on and activists like you continue your work in the community, there should be an increase in cooperation by Chasidic victims and witnesses. We can only hope.

        • Truther, I understand your reluctance to believe what I am reporting, because cases involving other groups are usually prosecuted correctly. We both agree that Ronnie Jaus and others want to do the right thing. I contend, that under political pressure, often channeled through Mrs. Henna White, the office backed down, reluctantly I am sure, from doing the right thing. The fact is that the ultra orthodox leaders whose support was courted and secured by Charles Hynes, definitively (and shamefully in our view) were lobbying powerfully for “special treatment” of ultra orthodox molesters.

          This is a very busy day, or I would get into more details on the two cases. You have posed a serious question that deserves a serious detailed answer. But I will return to this conversation.

    • Truther, you’ve been drinking Joe’s Kool Aid way too long…
      “I’ll say it anyway: there isn’t one person (child or otherwise) who has suffered because of any pass given to an abuser by Joe Hynes. ”

      Here’s one: 13 year old Shai Fhima Reuven.

      Shai was kidnapped by a rabbi, Shlomo Helbrans. His kidnapper was detained by NYPD Captain William Plackenmeyer. Then Hynes stepped in to protect the kidnapper, as the NYT reported, “Within 24 hours of the arrest, the captain said, two assistant district attorneys paid him a visit. They were apologetically emphatic: Your case might be strong, they told him, but our boss, Mr. Hynes, wants you to void the arrest. Are you saying, Mr. Plackenmeyer asked, that I don’t have probable cause? We’re not saying that, they replied.
      The prosecutors soon released the rabbi. Mr. Plackenmeyer and the boy’s mother, Hana Fhima, drove down to the district attorney’s office, seeking a meeting. They sat there for hours but never got past reception. “I was a division commander,” Plackenmeyer recalled. “I’m there with a woman willing to testify about this rabbi who kidnapped her son, and no one wants to speak to me.

      Soon enough, the F.B.I. took a look at it, along with federal prosecutors. They had a meeting, there was a fair amount of yelling, and, with help from federal officials, the district attorney felt the urge to prosecute.

      That was not the end of it. In March 1994, Mr. Hynes’s office agreed to let Rabbi Helbrans plead guilty to kidnapping in exchange for five years of community service. Mrs. Fhima was furious, and complained bitterly to the judge of swinging-door justice.

      A State Supreme Court justice, in an unusual move, agreed with her. He overturned the plea bargain. The family, he said, had given him the sense “that this is a political ploy, because Joe Hynes is running for” state attorney general, according to newspaper accounts.

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