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Hevesi to Testify at Norman Trial

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Posted by Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 13:43:50 11/08/05

DA: Comptroller Alan Hevesi among Pols who’ll Testify t

At Norman’s Second Trial

Jury Selection Behind Closed Doors

By Charles Sweeney

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

JAY STREET—The list of Brooklyn pols-- past, former and current-- with a relationship to Clarence Norman is a long one indeed, and yesterday it was revealed in court that State Comptroller Alan Hevesi will be among those called to testify at Norman’s latest criminal trial, the result of his indirect dealings with the former party boss during his 2001 mayoral bid.

Prosecutor Michael Vecchione told Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus at the start of jury selection for Norman’s larceny trial yesterday that Hevesi would testify for the prosecution, presumably about his 2001 mayoral primary campaign’s contributions to a Norman-controlled political club, monies that are at the center of the defense’s strategy.

Norman’s attorney Edward Rappaport said that in the run up to the 2001 democratic mayoral primary, Hevesi’s campaign had promised Assembly member Diane Gordon’s re-election committee money for ‘street operations.’

When the money from Hevesi’s campaign didn’t arrive on time, Rappaport said Norman then promised Gordon’s committee $5,000 cash from the Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club to help pay for election day expenses.

When Norman couldn’t locate the club’s treasurer, he ‘lent’ Gordon $5,000 out of his own pocket, planning all along to get recoup the money once Hevesi’s campaign came through on their ‘promise,’ according to Rappaport.

Rappaport said that Norman paid himself back for his loan to Gordon with a $5,000 check from the club ‘mistakenly’ written out to his re-election committee, instead of to Norman personally. “It was a mistake,” he said, “stupidity, not a crime.”

Who’s on Trial Here?

The scenario Rappaport described drew the attention of prosecutors and observers of the case, since essentially he’d sketched out the mechanics of a scheme by Gordon to skirt campaign contribution regulations.

In fact, Gordon did not testify on Norman’s behalf at the Grand Jury hearing back in 2003 precisely because of the potentially damaging revelations.

If Gordon were to have testified to accepting $5,000 from Norman, as the defense claims, she would be admitting to a violation of campaign finance regulations, the same laws that Norman himself was convicted of breaking last month.

Since 2001 was an off-year election for state assembly members and Gordon was not involved in a race that year, by accepting money from Norman, even though it was ‘a loan’ according to Rappaport, she would be in violation of state regulations.

One long-time observer of Brooklyn politics familiar with the case said of Gordon, “From what I understand she didn’t testify at the grand jury on behalf of Norman because she would’ve put herself in jeopardy.”

Gordon’s testimony could’ve conceivably been seen as exculpatory in the eyes of the grand jury that at the time was considering larceny charges against Norman, but, the source said, “In order to testify she would’ve had to sign a waiver of immunity.”

As things turned out, Gordon did not testify, and her apparent decision to now take the stand in defense of the disgraced pol could be risky, according to one lawyer familiar with the case.

“She’s made the decision to testify,” the source told the Eagle. “She knows the risks, but maybe she’s counting on them (the DA) not coming after her.

Press Lockout

Marcus ordered the jury selection process closed yesterday, as interviews with potential jurors took place in a closed room, without access for the press.

Marcus’s decision was based partly on the leak allegations swirling around the start of the trial. Those accusations surfaced again yesterday, when Marcus made reference to an article in yesterday’s Daily News in which prosecutor Michael Vecchione is quoted commenting on Norman’s knowledge of judicial corruption.

Marcus seemed incredulous that Vecchione would talk to the press about the case, and Vecchione defended himself by telling Marcus he believed the interview to be a profile of him and his office’s anti-corruption efforts, and that he was unaware that the story would be published yesterday.

Jury selection was put off until tomorrow, in observance of Election Day.

(Published 11/8/05)


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