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Norman's Second Trial

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Posted by Brooklyn Eagle on 18:56:26 11/01/05

Judge Narrows Scope of

Upcoming Norman Larceny Trial

Rules Out Prior Bad Acts from Earlier Trial

By Charles Sweeney

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

JAY STREET-- Former assemblyman Clarence Norman’s defense scored a partial victory yesterday when Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus narrowed the scope of the prosecution’s case in the disgraced pol’s upcoming larceny trial.

At issue in the contentious hearing were charges that Norman engaged in a pattern of actions similar to the larceny charges against him. Prosecutors wanted to use those acts as part of their current case against Norman, who stands accused of illegally steering a $5,000 check into his own bank account.

Marcus refused to allow any evidence of certain ‘past bad acts,’ including an incident similar to the one at the center of the upcoming trial.

In that prior incident, Norman improperly re-routed a check, “for which he wasn’t the payee,” into his re-election committee’s account, according to prosecutor Monique Ferrell.

That prior instance, in which Norman endorsed a check made out to the Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club, then re-routed it to his re-election committee, was allowed as evidence at his previous trial for campaign violations.

Norman’s subsequent fumbling attempts at explaining the transaction on the stand contributed to his ultimate conviction, according to jurors interviewed after the trial.

Harsh Words, Leak Accusations

The hearing opened with Rappaport asking for a “lengthy adjournment,” for what he called “leaks to the press” concerning the substance of meetings between himself, prosecutors Michael Vecchione, Kevin Richardson, Monique Ferrell, and Heights attorney Barry Kamins.

That meeting, held on Wednesday October 19th at the DA’s office on Jay Street, during which prosecutors sought Norman’s cooperation in a judicial corruption probe, became the subject of accusations of leaks and outright misconduct from both sides yesterday.

Rappaort accused prosecutors of leaking the details of the meeting to the press, which he said, “poisoned the jury pool, at least for now.”

Rappaport said he refused to get into a “spitting match,” with Vecchione, adding, “If you get in a fight with a skunk you come up smelling.”

Vecchione strenuously denied leaking stories of the meeting to the press, at one point leveling his own accusations at Rappaport.

“He’s the skunk, rather than the DA’s office,” Vecchione said, accusing Rappaport of leaking details of the meeting surrounding Norman’s negotiations with prosecutors, a tactic Vecchione said was designed to delay the start of the trial.

Marcus shot back that he “was not going to argue this,” promising that any press coverage would not affect jury selection. “The first trial there was just as much publicity,” Marcus said. “To assume that there’s going to be a problem (now) has no basis.”

Rappaport, still visibly upset after the hearing, called the leaks “outrageous.” Addressing a throng of reporters outside the courtroom he added, “Something has got to be done about the press.”

###




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