Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Another quashed prosecution

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Yesterday we saw the heavy hand of JP Morgan quashing a case (through its representative on the Federal Reserve). Now we see the NJ governor quashing a case against a sheriff (who supported Christie). These examples of corruption and naked power are starting to add up, don’t you think? This story is in the NY Times, by Michael Powell:

Prosecutors sent tremors through rural Hunterdon County when they announced a sweeping indictment of the local Republican sheriff and her two deputies in 2010.

The 43-count grand jury indictment read like a primer in small-town abuse of power. It accused Sheriff Deborah Trout of hiring deputies without conducting proper background checks, and making employees sign loyalty oaths. Her deputies, the indictment charged, threatened one of their critics and manufactured fake police badges for a prominent donor to Gov. Chris Christie.

When the charges became public, the indicted undersheriff, Michael Russo, shrugged it off. Governor Christie, he assured an aide, would “have this whole thing thrown out,” according to The Hunterdon County Democrat. That sounded like bluster. Then the state killed the case.

On the day the indictment was unsealed, the state attorney general, a Christie appointee, took over the Hunterdon prosecutor’s office. Within a few months, three of its most respected veterans lost their jobs there, including the one who led the case.

Not long after, a deputy attorney general walked into a local courtroom and handed in papers that, with little explanation, declared that the indictments were littered with “legal and factual deficiencies.”

A judge dismissed the indictments. Soon after, officials took the unusual step of shipping all evidence to the capital, Trenton.

The killing of an indictment is a rare event in New Jersey, and all the more surprising as it came during Governor Christie’s first months in office. The new governor was elected on the strength of his record as a United States attorney prosecuting corrupt officials.

There is no evidence that Mr. Christie ordered the dismissal of the charges against Sheriff Trout. But his attorney general, Paula T. Dow, who had served as his counsel at the United States attorney’s office, supervised the quashing of the indictment and the ouster of the respected prosecutors.

Sheriff Trout had political ties to the administration. She led an association of county law enforcement officials that backed the candidacy of Mr. Christie and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who had previously served as sheriff in Monmouth County.

Ms. Guadagno and Ms. Trout exchanged chatty e-mails, according to court records. After the election, Ms. Guadagno thanked Sheriff Trout for sending her deputies to work on the campaign.

Ms. Trout left office in 2010. But the case and the Christie administration’s role in killing it have surfaced again because one of the dismissed prosecutors, Bennett A. Barlyn, has filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that the attorney general killed the indictment to protect prominent supporters of the governor. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2013 at 10:29 am

Posted in Government, Law, Politics

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