WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Monday, July 27, 2015

BAKING SODA?

A Judge in Washington County, PA., was sentenced to 1 to 23 months for stealing cocaine that was in evidence in a case before him.  Judge Pozonsky not only broke the evidence seal on the drugs and  replaced the cocaine with baking soda, but he left his DNA in the process.  When the Judge realized that the police were investigating, he ordered the drugs in that case, along with evidence in sixteen other cases destroyed. 

But all is not lost for the former robe wearer. A day after arriving in prison he was approved for work release. The entire sordid details are here. 

We can't help but be reminded of a former Dade Judge, Phil Davis, who was also caught up in a drug and bribery scandal. The case in Miami was known as "Courtbroom" and it's sort of sad that there are judges on the bench, and lawyers in our courtrooms who know nothing about the earthshaking events in the REGJB that broke in the summer of 1991 if memory serves us. 

The scorecard in Courtbroom was:
Judge Harvey Shenberg - who was memorably videotaped stuffing $50,000.00 in his pants in  while remarking it was hard to send a kid to college on a judge's salary, was sentenced to 15 years and that was later reduced to 12 after appeal. 
Judge Alfonso Sepe, was acquitted of 27 counts at trial, while the jury hung on five. Sepe eventually pleaded to one count and did a year. 
Former Judge David Goodhart, aka "the bag man" was convicted and received we think about five years, but that is a guess. 
Judge Roy Gelber flipped and got about seven years. 

A gaggle of lawyers also went to trial and lost. Part of the scheme was that Gelber and Sepe and Davis were receiving kickbacks for court appointments. Sepe got partially paid in pasta, with lawyers picking up his bill at fancy italian restaurants around town. 
Say what you want, but our bad judges had flair. 

And then there was Phil Davis. Represented at trial part of the time by flamboyant defense attorney (and former federal judge in Miami who was impeached) Alcee Hastings (you can't make this stuff up), Davis was acquitted of all charges, based mostly on the best closing of Hasting's life. Hastings, BTW, is now a congressman in Florida. 

Given a second chance, Davis couldn't keep out of trouble, with a bar complaint in California from a case he handled there, to a grand theft case in Miami where Davis was charged with running a scheme to steal from a charity. Davis got veinte anos  on the theft case after losing at trial.  We covered the case here. 

All of this goes to show that when it comes to bad judges, Pennsylvania can't hold a candle to Miami. 

Have a good week. 

18 comments:

Claude Erskine - Browne said...

It was not only Alcee's closing that won the case. Davis took the stand, admitted to taking the money ( he had to it was on video) but said he was so high on cocaine he didn't know what he was doing.
When the feds raided his Chambers, they found coke in his Chambers Bathroom

Anonymous said...

Rump you magnificent bastard you told me in june to short the Shanghai and I woke up this morning to see that China was crushed yesterday. Bought the fund YANG you recommended in the 60's and 70's. Thank you thank you thank you.

A fan.

Roy T Gelber said...

Why be a hater?

Rumpole said...

Claude, you are correct but it took a perfect storm of the right judge (Gonzalez) a MIAMI jury (note that O'Sullivan and the feds tried the other defendants in Ft Lauderdale) and Alcee's closing to pull off a Davis acquittal.

Davis is such a tragic figure who had so much and really blew it. I remember appearing before him and seeing him act so erratically that I was sure he was on drugs.

Bonus trivia- name the attorney Davis ran against for the circuit seat. Hint- He was an AUSA I believe. He just didn't have a Miami name.

Anonymous said...

True Phil was great guy ...drugs are killers..sad about bobby parker...good guy.good chief...have a friend to talk to lawyers..life is short...phil got to much time...judge was wrong!!

Harvey Shenberg said...

I say we get the while gang together. Me Roy Goody and first break out Phil and then Sepe will fund us and we knock over the Miccosukkee Indians. Hit the Hard Rock on a fight night and clean it out ala oceans 11. Call it Harvey's six. You know if I had stayed a judge I would have my mitts in that Miccosukee money big time. Would have been a piece of cake on the bench.

Old timer with memory said...

Trivia answer Phil Davis defeated Fritz Mann to win his seat

Anonymous said...

omg how many times do we have to hear about courtbroom. so irrelevant and boring.

Anonymous said...

Remember the spin off from court broom...Lawyers billing more than 24 hours a day for court appointments? Wow, who was the judge who didn't get indicted for over billing? Hint... real nice guy, now deceased, was rather overweight and turned out to be good judge.

That's how we got the wheel. Back then, each judge appointed his buddies to handle all court appointments in both state and federal court.

Judges appointed those who never went to trial.

the trialmaster said...

How can we forget the "market connections" case with Morophonio,Chicken Noodle soup judge Goodman and some others I forgot.Represented by Max and Jerry Kogan. All found not guilty and the Daytona Beach prosecutors limped back with a defeat.

Anonymous said...

Before his indictment, Roy Gelber came to me wanting to prepare an affidavit for him to sign exonerating another lawyer. I declined this work, but the lawyer was never indicted anyway.
There were lots of people who breathed sighs of relief in that one.

the trialmaster said...

Re:11:12----Thats not completely true. When I left Government service I got appointed by Joe Durant and tried the case against a young Sharpstein. Also got appointed by Wilkie Ferguson on a rape case (not guilty) and at that time appointed counsel got paid reasonable attorney fees. Wilkie gave me 25k which was alot of money at that time. Ron Dresnick made alot of money being appointed by Judge Paul Baker. Those were the days......................................

Anonymous said...

I had lots of trials I did lots in front of Davis. He l
He liked to work late, he was always full of energy in the late afternoons and evenings. Once he sent a jury out at 11PM, Verdict at 1AM.

Anonymous said...

What the hell does this have to do with PIZZA?

Anonymous said...

Ted Mastos, reportedly billed the county $52,345 in the first month after voters unseated him from the bench in 1989 in the wake of the scandal. Asked about billing taxpayers for 30.5 hours in one 24-hour day, Mastos blamed sloppy bookkeeping.

Roy T. Gelber, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of racketeering, resigned from the bench and promised to testify against the others. He allegedly orchestrated the bribery scheme. Sentenced last month to 12 years in federal prison, Gelber said between sobs: "I obviously did something there is no justification or excuse (for). I will have to live with that forever."

The key witness: Raymond J. Takiff was once a defense lawyer for former Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega. Plagued with heart problems and tax evasion charges, Takiff volunteered to wear a microphone strapped to his chest as he handed out cash to Gelber and other judges who, it is alleged, were only too willing to fix cases involving phony defendants.

'Ray Takiff and Roy Gelber were such despicable human beings they turned the jury off,'' said Richard Sharpstein, a former state prosecutor now in private practice.

Defense lawyers, who for the most part argued that their clients were innocent victims preyed upon by evil government witnesses out to save their own skins, made sure of it. They painted Takiff as a ''pompous megalomanic'' and Gelber as a ''maggot.''

Rumpole said...

Leave ted alone. Enough is enough. That story is long dead

Court Broom said...

Local attorneys were alleged in the indictment giving kickbacks to Judge Roy Gelber or other judges in exchange for court appointments.Named in the indictment were Arthur Massey, William Castro, Arthur Luongo, Harry Boehme and Nancy Lechtner.

From October 1989 to June 8, 1991, Gelber appointed Castro to sixty-four cases and received $77,000 in kickbacks. From January 1990 to June 8, 1991, Gelber appointed Wheeler to thirty-seven cases and received $34,000 in kickbacks. Similarly, Gelber appointed Boehme to twelve cases for $13,000 in kickbacks; Lechtner to four cases for $7,000 in kickbacks; and Luongo to thirty-one cases for over $20,000 in kickbacks.

The link below goes to the 11th Circuit opinion affirming the convictions.

the trialmaster said...

One good thing that could be said about Roy Gelber. For a fat man he was a helluva handball player usually at Flamingo Park.Hrvey Shenberg is now a consultant for people going to jail. He recommends that they get a "deep cleaning" of their teeth before going in. Shenberg learned his corrupt ways in that he was a prosecutor in Morophoniois court..........