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News Story

Worlds Colliding for N.Y. Fed Prosecutor — Thanks to Dad and Bernie Madoff

In the Seinfeldian world, George Costanza complained of “worlds colliding” when his girlfriend started hanging out with Elaine. In N.Y., Richard Zabel, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has seen worlds collide with his father over a case tied to Bernie Madoff.  It has created a sticky situation for his office. Here’s the details.

George Costanza complained about "worlds colliding". Prosecutor Richard Zabel has the same problem.

George Costanza complained about “worlds colliding”. Prosecutor Richard Zabel has the same problem.

By Mary Jacoby
Main Justice
WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago Richard Zabel, the new criminal chief of the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s office, recused himself from the Bernard Madoff investigation because his father represented an investor accused of being the biggest beneficiary of the $65 billion fraud.

On Sunday, William D. Zabel’s client was found dead at the bottom of his pool at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. The Palm Beach Police Department said it was conducting an investigation of the death of investor Jeffry Picower, who was 67, as is “standard operating procedure in any drowning.”

The sudden death of this alleged key figure in the Madoff scheme underscores some potentially thorny management issues for the new U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara. Bharara named Zabel his criminal chief on Oct. 6, calling the former Akin Gump criminal defense attorney a “legal All-Star.” Zabel also served eight years as an SDNY prosecutor in the 1990s.

Although Bharara’s pick for criminal chief quickly recused himself from all Madoff-related matters, line prosecutors now may have little choice but to attempt to seek information from his father, insofar as attorney-client privilege allows.

For Full Story

Bernie Kerik to Stay Behind Bars For Now

Bernie Kerik/facebook

Bernie Kerik/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One-time national hero Bernie Kerik, the former N.Y. City Police commissioner, will remain behind bars in the Westchester County Jail for now.

A 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge in New York denied his request “to stay the revocation of his bail on pending trial in corruption charges, but granted an expedited hearing on the merits of the former NY Police Commissioner’s appeal,” Courthouse News Service reported. The hearing is set for this Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson of White Plains tossed Kerik in the can last week after revoking his $500,000 bond and calling him a “toxic combination of self-minded focus and arrogance.” He is now known as inmate 210717.

The judge declared that Kerik had violated a court order by sending confidential information to a fund raiser for his defense fund.

Kerik, who became a national hero after 9/11 as the N.Y. police chief, faces three trials on a host of charges including conspiracy, tax fraud and corruption.

His first trial was set to begin today, but has been postponed.

Madoff Investor Found Dead in Palm Beach Pool

palm-beach-map

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The Bernie Madoff story has no happy ending. In fact, at this point it has no ending.

The latest twist came Sunday when philanthropist Jeffry M. Picower, 67, who is accused of earning about $7 billion from Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, was found dead in his Palm Beach mansion pool, the New York Times reported.

The Palm Beach Police, which posted no press release on the matter on its website, said the cause of death had yet to be determined, the Times reported. He had a history of cardiac issues and Parkinson’s disease.

Last December, Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, a French investment manager who had big bucks invested with Madoff, was found sitting at his desk with both wrists slashed.

To read more click here.

Accused Spy For Israel Had Been Busted for Overbilling NASA

No question Stewart D. Nozette was a smart scientist. But a smart criminal? He pleaded guilty in January to overbilling NASA. You’d think once you’re on the government’s radar you’d avoid — or least be careful — about doing foolish things. You’d think.

Stewart Nozette/nasa photo

Stewart Nozette/nasa photo

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Stewart D. Nozette, the Chevy Chase scientist accused last week of attempted espionage, pleaded guilty in January to overbilling NASA and the Defense Department more than $265,000 for contracting work, according to court records unsealed Friday.

Nozette, 52, was arrested last week by federal authorities and accused of selling sensitive government secrets for $11,000 to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence operative. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted of attempted espionage.

For Full Story

Ex-U.S. Atty. Christie’s Crime Buster Image Being Tarnished in NJ Gov Race

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In New Jersey, a landscape flush with plenty corruption, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie entered the gubernatorial race as a crime buster out to rescue the state.

But in the past few months, his Democratic opponent Jon Corzine and the media have done plenty to try and tarnish that image, accusing the Republican Christie of ethical breaches while he worked as the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney in Newark from 2002 to 2008.

The latest question mark comes from the Newark Star-Ledger, which reported on Sunday that Christie, just before he quit, hired the son of a mentor and friend  over the objections of fellow federal prosecutors.

“Christie hired Samuel Stern over objections from nearly every assistant U.S. attorney who interviewed him, according to three federal law enforcement officials with knowledge of the hiring process,” the Star-Ledger reported. Samuel Stern is the son of  Herbert J. Stern.

“They contended Stern, who at the time was two years out of law school, lacked the experience to become a federal prosecutor, the officials said,” according to the Star-Ledger.

To read the full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI, IRS Try to Tackle $60 Billion a Year Healthcare Fraud

Weekend Series on History of Crime: FBI Agent Penetrated NY Gambino Crime Family and Almost Became Made Man

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBxsJwLyL10

*Story First Aired in 2008 on 60 Minutes

Ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh Gets Italian Citizenship

Louis J. Freeh at embassy ceremony/embassy photo

Louis J. Freeh at embassy ceremony/embassy photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Ex-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, the tough American G-Man ,  is going Italian —  all the way.

In a ceremony at the Italian Embassy in Washington, Freeh was given Italian citizenship, according to the embassy website.

Freeh, who headed the FBI for eight years, “acquired his Italian citizenship in an official ceremony in which he swore allegiance to the Constitution before Italy’s Ambassador to the USA Giulio Terzi”, the website said.

Terzi cited Freeh’s fight against organized crime and “open cooperation with Italy’s major law enforcement agencies.”  Italy allows dual citizenship.

The site said Freeh’s “Italian ancestry traces back to his maternal grandfather who came to the United States in 1870 from the province of Avellino.”