A Brooklyn businessman with a felonious past has a series of suspicious fires in his clothing factory. He collects $9 million dollars in various insurance payouts before an alert fire inspector cracks the case. The Feds put the Businessman on trial but the evidence is overwhelming and the businessman is convicted. At sentencing, the businessman tells the judge, “I am here because I am a Jew.” The enraged US Attorney responded, “The reason he is here is because he is a thief, because he is an arsonist, and because he is a money launderer.”
The fires endangered fire fighters and almost killed one of them.
Still, various big name Jewish leaders wrote the judge asking for leniency in sentencing. One, Ehud Olmert, then Israel's Vice Premier, wrote on official Israeli government stationary ans asked the judge to show, ""mercy, compassion, and understanding."
Another less well-known but still influential man also made a plea for leniency. But this man was at the time a sitting Federal judge. Constrained by law from expressing his desires about a case he was not judging unless asked by the presiding judge, the man made his wishes clear by having the businessman's attorneys tell the judge in open court that this sitting Federal judge would be happy to express his opinion for leniency if the presiding judge would only ask him.
The Brooklyn businessman is Satmar hasid "Naftuli" Nat Schlesinger.
The sitting Federal judge who went to bat for him?
If I were Moshe or Sholom Rubashkin, say, or Aaron Rubashkin and the other Sholom Rubashkin or any of the other targets of the Justice Department's investigation into price fixing in the kosher meat business, I'd be very happy to have Mukasey as AG. Other than a complete Bush crony, Mukasey is the best Rubashkin could have hoped for.
Should Mukasey be confirmed as Attorney General? I don't think so.
To be clear, it should be noted that one minor question of judgment should not automatically disqualify a person from holding higher office and Mukasey did nothing illegal here.
Still, the idea that a convicted arsonist and fraudster would get an endorsement of sorts from a sitting federal judge, and said arsonist and judge are both Orthodox Jews, creates the appearance of favoritism. At a time when the Department of Justice has further cases pending against high profile Orthodox Jews, this particular appearance of favoritism is, I think, unacceptable. It is corrosive at a time when public trust in the impartiality of the Department of Justice has already been dramatically weakened. I think this is both bad for America and bad for Jews.
Nonetheless, Mukasey will be confirmed, adding what can be seen as more corruption to an already corrupt and inept administration.
[Hat Tip: Michelle.]