“The question is whether or not individuals with influential and well connected attorneys can pervert the legal system for their own gain.”
Grievance Committee Counsel Accused Of Cover-Up Of Criminal Conduct
New York, February 9, 2005
New York Bar Counsel for the Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts in Brooklyn guardians of professional ethics and standards are being charged with knowingly participating in a criminal cover-up of a multi-million dollar real estate fraud on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in proceedings that took place before United States District Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr. in Manhattan federal court in 1998.
In documents filed on Feb. 9 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, former Belle Harbor attorney Israel Weinstock is pleading to right the alleged wrongs committed against him and many others. He alleges in federal reciprocal disbarment proceedings pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan since Dec. 8, 2004, that the New York State disbarment proceedings instituted against him in 1999 by the New York State Grievance Committee in Brooklyn were commenced only after he provided clear and convincing evidence to United States District Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr. of a multitude of federal crimes allegedly perpetrated by Emmerich Handler, his associates and attorneys on the FDIC and others.
The New York state courts disbarred Weinstock without any evidentiary hearing in 2002 after 42 years of practice with no prior record of professional misconduct. He contends in the federal reciprocal disbarment proceeding that he should retain his federal license because his New York State disbarment proceeding was both corrupt and unconstitutional. He seeks a hearing to clear his name and a court's determination that his disbarment violated his constitutional right to due process as well as his free speech and petitioning rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to report violations of the federal criminal laws without fear of retaliation or reprisals by New York bar counsel, which in this case acted with private interests and used bar proceedings as a vehicle of government oppression.
Weinstock developed the initial evidence precipitating criminal investigation into Handler's activities in 1997. The case prompted Judge Patterson to make a referral of criminal conduct by Handler and associates to then U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad for investigation and possible prosecution. Immediately following Judge Patterson's referral, the targets of the investigation instigated disciplinary proceeding complaints against Weinstock before the Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts of the State of New York, resulting in his disbarment in that court in June 2002. The allegations are presented now in federal court disbarment proceedings because the New York disbarment tribunal denied Weinstock a hearing to establish the misconduct by the New York bar counsel that prosecuted him.
Describing his allegations filed in the Manhattan federal court, Weinstock makes the extraordinary and unprecedented charge that Grievance Committee attorneys assigned to prosecute the case offered to make the disciplinary charges "go away" if Weinstock would abandon his efforts. Such efforts were allegedly to secure an indictment against Handler and to collect the more than $2 million in judgments owed him in civil litigation that was pending against Handler.
Weinstock, 69, says that on Aug. 4, 1998, in the presence of deputy bar counsel Susan Korenberg, he rejected the "go away" offer of Robert J. Saltzman, deputy counsel to the New York State Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts (the professional disciplinary apparatus that enforces attorney ethics rules in Brooklyn and Queens). Weinstock accuses Saltzman of having misused his public office to aid Emmerich Handler and his accomplices. The State of New York and the Grievance Committee allegedly ignored Weinstock's complaints against Handler, who remains an attorney in good standing with the State of New York despite the guilty findings of several courts ruling on fraudulent charges against Handler and his various associates.
Weinstock says he never got the opportunity to call Saltzman, Handler and others as adverse witnesses during his New York disbarment, and there was no hearing on the merits of the charges against him.
Weinstock has in the past challenged law enforcement authorities to allow him to appear before a grand jury and provide evidence of criminal conduct, but such challenge has been ignored. In his recent filing, Weinstock submitted more than 1,500 pages of documentary exhibits with the Manhattan federal court, establishing that the Grievance Committee that prosecuted his disbarment was fully aware of the falsity of its charges against him, and that proceedings were instituted against him in order to protect bar complainant Handler and associates by witness tampering in a federal criminal investigation and evading civil liability.
"Handler's gains from multiple acts of fraud, perjury, and subornation of perjury are far greater than the amounts involved in the vast majority of cases that are vigorously prosecuted by the same offices refusing to prosecute Handler," Weinstock said in a prepared statement.
Weinstock alleges that Handler has been aided in his crimes by his wife, Rita, business associate Samuel Roth, and by former Cleary Gottlieb partner George Weisz. Weinstock says that two other senior partners from Cleary Gottlieb arranged a secret meeting with him in which they offered to reimburse him for legal costs amounting to some $1 million in exchange for his release of all claims against the firm and Weisz. The deal would have left him free to pursue his claims against Handler and others. The two told him that if he rejected their offer, his life would be "turned inside-out".
"And that's precisely what happened after I rejected their offer," says Weinstock. He notes that Cleary Gottlieb enlisted former White House Counsel and acting Attorney General Bernard Nussbaum to defend against a civil racketeering damage suit (RICO) claim brought by Weinstock. According to later testimony by Handler, Nussbaum was paid a fee of $700,000, although the case concluded with the federal court declining to accept jurisdiction, and without discovery or a trial. Cleary Gottlieb reports revenues that place it ninth among all law firms in the country.
Weinstock also charges that former federal prosecutors now working in criminal defense firms have been instrumental in preventing prosecution of Handler by the offices of the U.S. Attorneys for Brooklyn and Manhattan (the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York). Altogether, 23 law firms including former white House counsel Nussbaum and former U.S. Attorney Andrew Maloney have represented Handler or persons closely associated with him, according to information compiled by Weinstock from years of litigation with Handler.
During most of the time when the firms were representing Handler, he claimed to be bereft of any assets to pay anything toward the millions owed to his creditors. A federal judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr., sitting in Manhattan became outraged at Handler's claims of near-poverty and vehemently threatened to jail him and those assisting in the "parking" of his assets.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Bohanon also stated in open court that Roth, Handler's business partner, had committed fraud in connection with the bankruptcy of a Handler business entity. The bankruptcy trustee in Handler's personal bankruptcy is suing Handler and some of his partners to force them to disgorge millions in assets to pay creditors.
In a defamation lawsuit instituted against Weinstock by Handler and Roth in 1997 as a result of Weinstock's accusations against him and their attorneys, a jury indeed determined, less then one month after Weinstock's disbarment became effective, that Weinstocks accusations were overwhelmingly true and accurate.
Weinstock said the federal disbarment proceedings will reestablish jury findings that bar complainant Handler allegedly defrauded Weinstock and many dozens of other victims using the courts as a vehicle; that Handler and his attorneys have literally gotten away with sharp practices, outright fraud, blatant perjury and essentially a systematic mocking of our administrative and judicial systems; that Handler is a one man crime wave who has submitted false and fabricated mortgage applications to various banks, succeeding in controlling litigation while insulating himself directly from the swindles he has perpetrated; and that Handler and his attorneys' schemes have not only defrauded Weinstock, but banks, the FDIC, charities, colleagues, partners, investors, tenants, cooperative owners, elderly widows, lawyers, and almost everyone else who has had the misfortune to cross his path and, in some situations, invest their life savings with him.
If Weinstock prevails in his federal proceedings, the federal court would declare the New York disbarment order void, and no reciprocal recognition would result. "The federal disbarment proceeding is not about simply retaining my right to practice law in the federal courts," Weinstock says. "My years before the so-called bar of justice have taught me that the New York City state courts are a sewer," says Weinstock. "I do not wish to go back and practice there."
"It is about restoring my name, my reputation, the legacy to my children and grandchildren," adds Weinstock. "But, it is also about the entire court system being on trial. The question is whether or not individuals with influential and well connected attorneys can pervert the legal system for their own gain."
Press Release submitted February 9, 2005 by Israel Weinstock (firstname.lastname@example.org). Image courtesy of The Empire Journal, New York (http://www.theempirejournal.com).
Note 1: Weinstock's dispute with rival lawyer Emmerich Handler dates back to 1984 over an alleged conspiracy to swindle him out of Brooklyn real estate worth $3.8 million. See: Brad Hamilton, "Lawyer Pursuing Justice is Disbarred; Disbarred lawyer sues judges," New York Post, February 19, 2003.
Note 2: The protection of whistleblowing lawyers has become an issue of such concern that one group of lawyers is calling for the passage of federal legislation, "The Weinstock Act," that seeks to prevent retaliation against attorneys who raise evidence of judicial corruption. See: National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (http://www.njcdlp.org).
Note 3: Israel Weinstock died September 3, 2007.