How We Plan to Stop a No-Jail-Time Plea Bargain for Baruch Lebovits

By Yerachmiel Lopin (Frum Follies blog)
November 12, 2013

The word is all over the Brooklyn DA, the Hasidic community, legal circles, and journalistic circles: the DA will try to let Baruch (Mordechai) Lebovits plead guilty in return for no more jail time. He served a little over one year of a 10-32-year sentence for sexually abusing a minor. Then he got sprung on a technicality which voided his conviction but not his indictment. For close to two years the DA has diddled instead of retrying him. There seems to be collusion between Hynes, Michael Vecchione, Arthur Aidala (a close friend of Hynes and Lebovits’ attorney), and Lebovits’ appellate attorneys Nathan and Alan Dershowitz.

It is even suspected by some that the DA’s office left openings in the trial for an appeal. It is otherwise hard to explain why they turned over tons of paper but “missed” the three pages of police notes on Berrel Ashkenazi’s attempt to bribe the victim out of testifying. It was these three missing pages that led a four-judge panel to overturn the original trial verdict. Some people claim it was just a copy machine or faxing error. I know these things happen, but to paraphrase Bogart in Casablanca, ‘Of all the missing notes, in all the cases, it fails to show up in the Lebovits case.’

Speaking of stuff that seems to have gone missing, there is a recording of Baruch Lebovits. As part of the initial investigation, NYPD Detective Steve Litwin conducted a police supervised recording of a conversation between the alleged victim and Lebovits. In this tape, Lebovits all but admitted sexually molesting the young man. Inexplicably, while a transcript of the tape was turned over to the defense, the recording itself seems never to have been turned over. Oddly, the defense never objected at the trial or in appeals, probably because they preferred not having the tape come to light. At this point is not even clear if the tape was destroyed, “lost,” or withheld for some other reason. But I know one thing, no one in the Brooklyn DA has ever heard of another such piece of evidence being lost in another case.

Samuel Kellner appeared in court today. He should have had his case dismissed. He was accused of trying to extort Baruch Lebovits demanding money and offering to bring young men who would testify he was a molester unless he paid up. The case was concocted by Lebovits and uncritically accepted by false-convictions Rackets Division Chief Michael Vecchione. The veteran ADAs with the case from the beginning were kicked out of the Rackets Division because they intended to dismiss the case. They said as much to Kellner’s attorneys. Instead, Vecchione sent in John Holmes, an ADA clueless about the case, who told the judge the only thing he knew was that he was instructed to request an adjournment. The judge went ahead and adjourned the case till Monday, January 6th. So much for DA Hynes’ promise on the Zev Brenner show to prosecute the case this year.

Today, Samuel Kellner’s attorneys made a motion for the “missing” tape. The judge ordered it delivered in court on November 25th. At that point we will either finally find out the truth about where it went or what is on it. But that may be too late because Lebovits’ next appearance is this coming Tuesday, November 19. At that hearing the DA is expected to announce a plea bargain of no more jail time for Lebovits.

I and a number of other activists are determined to avert that outcome, a grievous offense to Lebovits’ victims including, allegedly, Motty Borger, Meir Dascalowitz (who went on to rape other boys), the three young men who gave grand jury testimony leading to his indictments, and many, many others.

The strategy is to bypass the DA and go to the judge, the Honorable Mark Dwyer. There does not seem to be any point in appealing to the DA’s conscience. To quote Gertrude Stein, “There is no there, there!” A plea bargain has to be approved by a judge. A group of us are drafting a letter which will be addressed to the judge, outlining the importance of this case and the irregularities in how it has been prosecuted. The letter will have a ton of signatures. The letter will merely ask the judge to insist on answers to the questions about the irregularities before approving any plea bargain below the going rate for these things. Judge Dwyer has a reputation as one of the smartest judges in the city. He will not be intimidated by Alan and Nathan Dershowitz, publicity hound (and chair of the Friends of Joe Hynes), Arthur Aidala, or any other high priced legal talent procured by Lebovits. I believe he can be trusted to protect the interests of justice.

If you have worked with me or other anti-abuse activists, expect requests for help and signatures, sometime today or tomorrow.

Mark Tuesday, November 19th, 9:30 a.m. in your calendar so you can show up to support justice for Lebovits’s victims.

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