Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gov. Spitzer, Mr. Eggs and Lawyers

Mr. Eggs

"With women assuming a major presence in other fields of law, it is likely Ms. Kedia will in the not-too-distant future be joined by a fairly substantial sisterhood representing organized-crime clients. Susan Necheles has represented Venero Mangano, an imprisoned mobster known as Benny Eggs."

Susan Necheles now represents Peter "Hatchet Man" Pope, a key player in Governor Spitzer's Dirty Tricks scandal now engulfing his administration. The New York Times reported her mobbed-up client in the 1999 story "Gotti's Newest, Youngest Lawyer: 'An Angel' but Also 'a Lioness.'"

Mr. Eggs is a member of the Genovese Crime Family. He was released from prison in 2006 after serving 15 years for extortion.

In addition to this experience Ms. Necheles also boasts of her "great success in representing individuals charged with sexual misconduct, including rape."

Pope's attorney is not the only private lawyer for Governor Spitzer's senior aides with a colorful background. The attorneys representing Governor Spitzer's chief of staff Richard Baum, his counsel David Nocenti and his former communications director Darren Dopp also have interesting career highlights.

"He specializes in representing clients charged with civil or criminal frauds in a wide range of industries, as well as clients embroiled in complex commercial disputes."

The specialty belongs to Steven Reich, Baum's private counsel.

"In the Matter of William Bonnani: Successfully represented police officer in an extensive arbitration in which the government employer was seeking to terminate his employment."

The "matter" is one of the "significant representations" Michael L. Koenig highlights in his biography. Mr. Koenig represents Dopp. Mr. Bonnani is a controversial Albany police officer suspended for four years, with pay, for beating a college student.

"New York's Personal Injury Lawyer" is how Peter Moschetti describes himself. Mr. Moschetti is the attorney for Counselor Nocenti. Yes, the Governor's lawyer has a lawyer. And he's an ambulance chaser.

So if you're a wise guy on the verge of being charged or a pedestrian who slipped on the ice in front of a small business or a police officer facing a brutality complaint, Governor Spitzer's top aides can give you a referral.

No, I don't want to repeal the Sixth Amendment or Miranda rights. The accused or soon-to-be-accused must have competent and qualified defense counsel.

I'm talking about a higher standard. The standard Governor Spitzer promised. In his Inaugural he said:

"I have no doubt that we can move on to better things in this state - that we will find ourselves on the winning side of history once more. But to be number one again, we must be one New York again. And so in order to return to policies of opportunity and prosperity, we must change the ethics of Albany and end the politics of cynicism and division in our state."

I was inspired by Governor Spitzer's campaign, his energy, his Inaugural and many other traits I believed he possessed that would finally begin New York's return to greatness. Despite a few doubts, I even told one of the aides mentioned in this post that I'd work for his boss in the same capacity as I once did for Governor Pataki.

Governor Spitzer certainly did "change the ethics of Albany." He single-handedly made it worse. Much worse. It's a stunning personal and political collapse for a man who showed so much promise and threw it all away.