The signs of corruption and malfeasance were everywhere, but a series New York's attorneys general and US Attorneys did nothing as minorities served long prison sentences for crimes they did not commit and little Jewish kids had their civil rights – and their innocence – stolen.
Above: The arguably corrupt former DA Charles J. Hynes
The New York Daily News editorial board writes:
Two cheers for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for empaneling a grand jury to probe former Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes, and for Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch for opening a parallel criminal investigation.
They lose one cheer for taking on Hynes only after he lost his bid for a seventh term.
Still, now that they are on the scent, we humbly offer Schneiderman and Lynch a few of this page’s editorials from the past 12 years sketching some of the many unresolved issues involving their erstwhile colleague:
● “Golden parachute,” Jan. 5, 2001: The DA created a new six-figure job (plus car and driver) for outgoing Brooklyn borough president and long-time political ally Howard Golden.
● “Justice betrayed is justice denied,” Feb. 8, 2002: Hynes’ friendship with Golden — who, as the borough’s political boss, had effectively picked many of its judges — may explain why he never cracked several cases alleging bribe-taking and other wrongdoing by Brooklyn judges.
● “Derail Hynes’ gravy train,” July 16, 2002: A decade before Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters issued his report about the office’s spending, we flagged Hynes’ “apparently improper use of millions in federal asset seizures.”
● “The crime of voting,” March 6, 2003: The politically motivated prosecution of gadfly lawyer John O’Hara, tried three times for registering to vote from his girlfriend’s Brooklyn apartment.
● “The law is the law,” May 16, 2012, and “The case against Hynes,” June 4, 2014: For years, Hynes used a parallel, politically adjusted justice standard for suspects and defendants from the ultra-Orthodox community — a community that also provided him with crucial political support. [Most of the details of this favortism shown haredim, including the deal with Augudah that allowed haredi rabbis to decide which cases of abuse would be referred to Hynes and which cases haredim would cover up was first reported by FailedMessiah.com or Hella Winston writing in the Jewish Week. – FM editor]
● “Probe warranted,” June 21, 2010, “Investigate the DA,” Nov. 24, 2012 and “Probe Hynes,” April 15, 2014: For years, Hynes’ office unconstitutionally kept prisoner Jabbar Collins from seeing documents that would have helped him show that ADA and longtime Hynes lieutenant Michael Vecchione had threatened and coerced witnesses to make the bad murder case against him.
Hynes kept Collins in jail even after he was personally convinced of his innocence, finally letting him out only when Vecchione would otherwise have been forced to testify under oath about his actions. Two federal judges have called Collins’ treatment “shameful” and a “disgrace.”
The bottom line, as we wrote this year in “The shameful DA,” is that “the misuse of money and potential criminal liability” that Lynch is reportedly looking into “is the least of Hynes’ crimes.”
The sad fact is that financial crimes that can be relatively easily traced through printed or electronic records and amount to significant amounts of money (or are linked to other crimes that do) make up a huge part of what most US Attorneys prosecute, because these types of crimes are usually easy to handle.
But crimes against people – especially weak and vulnerable people and children – appear to be prosecuted much less frequently, in part because they often take more work and are less high profile. Rip off a major bank and the US Attorney likely will be all over you. But rip off poor people or hurt them in other ways that are not especially lurid and media worthy?
Absent a large amount of media attention, you gotta work a lot harder to get some US Attorneys – like, for example, Lynch, who has arguably ignored most haredi crime since she took office and arguably under-prosecuted many of the few cases she's handled – to touch them.
Run a decades long housing scam out of Satmar's UTA office with clear evidence Satmar itself was involved? Give one scammer a slap on the wrist and the other an even lighter one and leave Satmar alone. Be based in Brooklyn and kidnap and torture get-refusing husbands? Ignore the civil rights violations and the trips across the border to New Jersey and do nothing.
(Eventually, when Chris Christie left as New Jersey's US Attorney and a career prosecutor, Paul Fishman, who is not a politician got his job, that get extortion ring was busted wide open. But not because Lynch did anything to make that happen.)
And so on and so on and so on.
Lynch and her predecessors ignored the open civil rights violations against haredi kids, black men and other minorities screwed by Hynes and his thug prosecutors, even as the evidence of these crimes were increasingly exposed by the media.
It wasn't until after the New York City government's report on Hynes' alleged theft of government money was released to the media and got wide coverage and more exposures game out in dribs and drabs afterward that Lynch, finally, chose to act.
Schneiderman also could have acted earlier but did not, and his predecessors did not act, either.
So the inaction of these top law enforcement officials allowed Hynes & Company to run roughshod over the law and roughshod over peoples' lives, stealing years and sometimes stealing the lives themselves as Lynch and Schneiderman and the others did nothing.
In just and fair world, which this clearly is not, Lynch and Schneiderman and the others would at the least be facing serious inquiries into their failures.
But this is New York State and Brooklyn, and such serious inquires do not exist, and the Department of Justice is unlikely to act against Lynch for doing exactly what so many other US Attorneys do – goldbrick while protecting the rich and the government from crimes against them and doing little to protect anyone or anything else.