The New York Jewish Week reports that the Brooklyn DA continues to delay the dismissal of charges against Samuel (Sam) Kellner. This is happening in spite of the DA’s views on the matter bolstered by a great deal of additional information. As I was quoted in the Jewish Week article:
“The public is owed a report on witness tampering and corruption of justice… Anything less will dash the hopes of anti-abuse advocates, victims wary of testifying, and the larger ultra-Orthodox community.”
The Jewish Week also reported the opinion of Bennett Gershman, a leading prosecutorial ethics expert and Pace University law professor
Mr. Thompson’s first priority should be to review the many tainted convictions obtained by Hynes’ office, especially wrongful convictions where an arguably innocent defendant is still incarcerated… However, even though he may soon be vindicated, Kellner’s case stands out dramatically as one of the most egregious instances of prosecutorial abuse by Hynes’ office. … Indeed, the criminal charges against Kellner bear all the hallmarks of a demagogic prosecution brought, not to serve legitimate law enforcement reasons, but in bad faith for illegitimate reasons.”
When Mr. Thompson ran for office he trashed ex-DA Hynes for continuing to employ Michael Vecchione, a man who tainted the office with false convictions. Michael Vecchione is gone but his legacy lives on in the Kellner case, one he coaxed and perpetuated to help a notorious serial molester, Baruch Lebovits. Its legacy includes prosecutorial misconduct, DA collusion with defense attorneys, criminally negligent disregard of witness tampering and bribery, and incompetence so extraordinary that it is most easily explained as intentional perversion of justice.
One legacy of the Hynes era is the distrust the office fostered among victims of abuse in the ultra orthodox community. Many victims never pressed charges because they were convinced that the DA was in the pocket of ultra orthodox leadership. To fully purge the office of Vecchione’s mischief, Thompson must fully exonerate Kellner, sanction employees culpable of negligence and worse in the Kellner and Lebovits cases, bring ethics and legal charges against attorneys involved in witness tampering and bribery, and prosecute others involved in such efforts.
Kenneth Thompson has to decide if he will finally exorcise the ghost of Vecchione.
See the full article in the Jewish Week for more valuable information about the current status of the Kellner case: Kellner Seeking Probe Of Witness Intimidation by Hella Winston.
Update 3/6/2014 7 pm- The Jewish Week has updated its article to report the DA will drop charges against Kellner tomorrow.