By Will Galison
1) Illegally limiting the scope of their investigation to the issue of Election Law, at the expense of all other matters of public corruption
3) Illegally altering and suppressing the official record of existent public testimony, so as to remove references of corruption by favored parties and institutions.
Part one of this series will address the last of these strategies, the “sanitization” and suppression of testimony submitted by public witnesses at the Commission's public hearing of September 17th 2013.
(Editors Note: On 10/3013 and again on 11/21/13, the Moreland Commission was asked to explain and correct the alterations of the transcript as described below. They have declined to respond)
Part 1: How Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, illegally tampered with witness testimony transcripts to protect their friends, colleagues, employers and themselves from criminal prosecution.
The Commission was Governor Cuomo's direct response to the legislature’s rejection of his anti-corruption “Clean Up Albany” bill, and he vowed that it would be even tougher than the bill in routing out corruption in every corner of New York Government: “I said to the legislature right up front... if you don't pass the Clean up Albany legislation...I'm going to appoint a Moreland Commission… and THEY are going to clean up Albany”
Government Corruption a “Double Crime”
Finally, the Governor stressed that the sterling integrity and efficacy of the Commission members would be a shining example to the public and politicians alike. As he spoke, the official motto of the Commission was emblazoned on an enormous banner behind him: “Restoring Public Trust in Government”: “ [the Commission will vindicate good elected officials to the extent that they are now being tarnished by the implication of the wrongdoing of the few… I believe there has never been a more credible group of law enforcement officials assembled in this state.”
“The Best and the Brightest”
Governor Cuomo could not have been more effusive in his praise of the Commission members; “I’m going to put together a group of the best and brightest law enforcements officials you have ever seen assembled, period, in the state of New York. “The blue ribbon commission …the all stars,… a roster of who’s who in the law enforcement community. … If this government has something to hide this group of people is going to find it and they're going to expose it and that's what this is all about”. These are the “Untouchables” of the New York Law Enforcement, and their integrity, perceived and actual, is the cornerstone of Cuomo's plan to clean up NY Government.
One aspect of the hearings that Governor Cuomo did not address in his speeches introducing the Commission was the role of witnesses from the public, but that role is clearly stated in paragraph IX of his executive order106 that created the Commission: “The Commission shall conduct public hearings around the State to provide opportunities for members of the public and interested parties to comment on the issues within the scope of its work.”
The Attempt to Bar the “Public” From the “Public Hearing” of September 17th, 2013.
Despite the media blackout, however, word spread among the community of corruption victims who had been denied redress by existing oversight agencies for years. Many heard about the hearings through , which notified its list of members and followers. When the first Commission hearing was held on September 17th about a hundred people gathered at the entrance of Pace University to testify.
Chairman William Fitzpatrick opened the hearing by lauding the credentials of each of the 25 Commissioners, followed by his statement of the Commission’s intent: “The public frustration and anger with corruption has reached the breaking point… We fully intend to complete [Cuomo’s] vision of restoring the trust of the people in its own government”, he declared. Fitzpatrick’s rambling presentation was followed by equally longwinded speeches by Vance, Bharara and other invitees.
The “Public” Speaks Truth to Power
After the politicians had “run the clock” for over two hours, the members of the public were finally allowed to speak, but were granted a mere three minutes each to testify. If the Commission strove to limit the public's participation because they feared it could expose corruption among their peers, their fears were well founded. The witnesses named names, and cited specific cases of government corruption that had devastated their lives, and for which they could find no redress from any existing oversight agencies in New York State. To the Commission's obvious displeasure, nearly all of the witnesses complained of systemic corruption in the Judiciary; the branch of Government that Attorney General Schneiderman claimed could “police itself”. Some complaints also implicated the architects of the Commission itself, Governor Cuomo, and AG Schneiderman:
Elena Sassower spoke of a pending lawsuit against NY State charging that the recent pay raises for Judges (and District Attorneys) were illegal and unconstitutional and naming Cuomo, Schniederman and Chef Judge Jonathan Lippman as defendants, among others . She also criticized the Commission for allowing conflicts of interest among its members.
Margarita Walters detailed how she lost custody of her only child and all of her assets through “a pretextual conspiratorial scheme of case fixing in the New York Court System”. She explained that she had taken her case to every appropriate authority, including Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Governor Cuomo and Eric Schneiderman.
This writer, Will Galison, presented , including a recording of Judicial Nomination Commissioner Fred Brewington stating that he had “shredded” evidence submitted to the JNC. I also spoke of the coverup, by the NYPD and others of .
Several witnesses also submitted copious written documentation in support of their complaints. Ms Sassower submitted a stack of legal briefs seven inches high, documenting the Center for Judicial Accountability’s lawsuit against Cuomo, Schneiderman and Lippman among others. I submitted the complaint against Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman filed with Preet Bharara, and the letter to Ray Kelly demanding an investigation into the death Sunny Sheu, neither of which had been responded to.
, in it’s “Public Comments/ Testimony section, originally included the statement: “All written testimony submitted will be included on the record of the proceedings”, but immediately after the testimonies of September 17th, that extremely important provision has now been expunged from the website.
It was expunged presumably because it is being wantonly violated. As of this writing, over two months after the hearing, not one word of the written testimony has yet been published. Effectively, all the written testimony and evidence that was submitted to the Commission is being withheld from the public. Is it part of some “secret record” for Commission eyes only? Will it be presented to Governor Cuomo and AG Schneiderman, or withheld from them as well? Or has it simply been shredded, like the JNC's evidence against Jonathan Lippman?
The only “record of the proceedings” available the public is the stenographic transcript of the public hearings.
But even more sinister and illegal is the Moreland Commission's alteration of the transcript of the September 17th hearing, to reflect what they want it to say, rather than what the stenographer actually recorded in her notes. Moreover, the Commission posted the altered transcript on the website and misrepresented it as an unaltered transcript, inckuding this signed certification attached by the stenographer, Stefanie Krut, of Precise Court Reporting:
CERTIFICATION; I, STEFANIE KRUT, a Notary Public in and for the State of New York, do hereby certify: THAT the foregoing is a true and accurate transcript of my stenographic notes.
In the transcript of the witness’s testimony, the sheer number of errors- including misspellings and omissions of key names and institutions - is shocking. But more alarming is the apparently deliberate pattern underlying the errors. Virtually all of the misspelled names of people and institutions associated with complaints against the judiciary, and many were of people with known ties to the Commission. For example:
None of the proper names listed above (and many more) were ever spelled correctly in the transcript. It should be noted that despite formal requests by several witnesses to correct the hundreds of errors in their respective portions of the transcript, the Commission has refused to make any corrections and has not responded to any of the witnesses.
Whereas there are over 70 errors in the 122 lines of transcription of my testimony, there are only five in the 152 lines of Mr. Bharara’s testimony. In the nearly 500 lines of testimony of Chairman Fitzpatrick, there are zero substantive errors.
If the transcript was not altered, Ms. Krut is a speller with a nearly paranormal ability to discern between the various spelling of names that sound identical. For example,
-Ms. Krut recorded the name of the law firm Vladeck, Waldman, Elias and Engelhard with perfect spelling, despite the rare variations in the names’ spelling. According to a search the Whitepages.com website, there are at least four different spellings of the name pronounced “vladuk” and the chance of it being spelled “Vladeck” spelling is about one in ten.
-The name “Engelhard” is seven times less common than its homonym “Engelhardt”, but Ms Krut made the distinction.
-The name that sounds like “Chamberlain” in the video is 20 times more likely to be spelled “Chamberlain” than “Chamberland”, but Ms. Krut nailed it.
In fact, Ms. Krut spelled perfectly every single proper name - approximately 50 different ones - uttered by Mr. Fitzpatrick in his introduction.
But does the discrepancy between the impeccable accuracy of the transcript of the government officials testimony and the butchering of the public witness’s testimony conclusively prove that the transcript was altered? Could it not be that after two and a half hours of carefully recording the politician’s speeches, the Stenographer suddenly became too exhausted to accurately transcribe?
If true, the allegation that Commission tampered with the transcripts would mean that the “most credible, blue ribbon, who's who of New York law enforcement” is itself guilty of corruption, crimes and conspiracy. As Carl Sagan put it; “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” Is there proof?
The Smoking Gun
As it turns out, there is at least one feature of the transcript that proves beyond doubt that the transcript was altered after the stenographic notes were taken at the hearing. It occurred during Chairman Fitzgerald’s introduction of the Commission members and their accomplishments, as he introduced Commissioner Makau Mutua.
“Dean Makau Mutua is the Dean of the SUNY Buffalo Law School. He is also the SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Floyd Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo. Dean Mutua came to us from Nairobi where he attended the University of
The transcript is a subtly different however. At line 4 of page 7 Fitzpatrick states:
4 Dean Makau Mutua is the Dean of the SUNY Buffalo Law
Notice the differences? For one thing, Ms. Krut leaves out the name “Floyd”, from the phrase “Floyd and Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar”- which is spoken on the video. Of course, even the best Stenographers occasionally miss a word or two, and the omission of “Floyd” from “Floyd Hilda Hurst” would seem like a trivial error.
But look closer. Ms. Krut also added something to the transcript that was not spoken by Fitzpatrick at all. The transcript says “Hilda L. Hurst”, and Fitzpatrick never uttered the initial “L” or anything that sounded like it.
Could Ms. Krut have heard, between Fitzgerald’s words “Hilda” and “Hurst”, some random noise in the room that sounded to her like an “L”? If she did, it would be one of the most amazing coincidences in history, because Dean Makuta is, in fact, the “Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo”.
A stenographer may omit and misspell words that are spoken at a tribunal, but she cannot record information that she has no way of knowing, if it is not spoken at all. There is no possible way that Ms. Krut could have heard and typed the initial “L” because it was never uttered at the hearing. The initial “L” must have been placed in the transcript after the hearing, and that seemingly trivial fact has enormous ramifications.
The Significance of the Alterations
First of all, alteration of the transcript from her original notes means that Ms. Krut’s “certification” is fraudulent; the transcript is not a “true and accurate transcript of [Krut’s] stenographic notes”. It also means that the transcript was altered after the hearing and before the Moreland Commission posted it as the official record of the September 17th hearing.
And according to Ms. Seth, the Commission could not have altered the transcript either legally or technically; “The Moreland Commission cannot change [the transcript] on their own…you just can’t change things like that, this is a legal document that’s already been established…they don’t have the software to change the transcript” she said.
Harriet Ben Erdelman, the President of the New York Association of Court Reporters (NYACR) concurred: “the Court Reporter shouldn't have put the initial [“L”] in if it wasn't said... she would have written whatever was said verbatim.. corrections would not have been made except through the agency... they could not have sent [the corrections] directly to the stenographer”.
Because the transcript was never sent to Precise Court Reporters for corrections, and because the Commission does not have the software to alter the transcript, the only possible conclusion is that Ms. Krut created the transcript not solely from her stenographic notes, as affirmed in her oath of certification, but with input from an outside source, which is illegal; all without the knowledge or authorization of her supervisor and employer. To knowingly alter a transcript that will be used in an official procedure is not only a violation of Court Reporter’s ethics; it is a felony under NY Penal Code S 215.35 and to sign a false certification is perjury.
Why the Commission altered the Transcript Secretly and Illegally
The Commissioners could have corrected the spelling mistakes easily and legally by simply asking Precise Court Reporting to make the requested changes, so why didn't they do that way? Because if they admitted to reviewing and correcting the transcript legally, how could they then explain the dozens of errors in the Public testimony? How could they explain not noticing the misspelling of Chief Judge Lippman's name 13 times?
The Commission altered the transcripts secretly, illegally, and selectively, and that process allowed then to introduce other changes that might suit their agenda, and if discovered, attribute them to Ms. Krut’s exhaustion or incompetence. This fact could explain why virtually all of the misspellings and omissions in the transcript were of the names of the Commission's friends and associates who were implicated in public complaints.
Conflicts of Interest Among the Commissioners
The glaring conflicts of interests of the Commissioners are too numerous to address in this article and will be he subject of separate article, but several were directly addressed in t: The letter, which has never been responded to, asks the Commission to identify it’s protocol for dealing with obvious and potential conflicts of interest of Commission members, special advisors, or staff:
To expand on that point, how will Commissioner Special Advisor Ray Kelly handle the complaints already submitted against corruption in the NYPD? How will Milton Williams handle the numerous complaints against his old friend Judge Lippman, who Williams’ “Fund For Modern Courts” effectively put Lippman into power?
Moreover, how would any of Commissioners, as deputized “Little Attorney Generals”, handle complaints against the man who convened the Commission in the first place, Andrew Cuomo? The fact that the Commissioners are being asked to investigate their friends, colleagues employers (and potentially themselves) is the very kind of situation for which conflict of interest rules exist.
The Commission Must Act on Every Crime of Which it Obtains Evidence
But, according to ¶ IV of Executive Order 106: “If in the course of its inquiry the Commission obtains evidence of a violation of existing laws, such evidence shall promptly be communicated to the Office of the Attorney General and other appropriate law enforcement authorities, and the Commission shall take steps to facilitate jurisdictional referrals where appropriate.”
That includes violations of law by anyone; including friends, colleagues, employers, family and even fellow Commissioners.
Whistle-bower: ADA Mark Sacha Exposes Corruption in the Moreland Commission
No. According to Mr. Sacha, not only was his September 24th testimony completely ignored- his 8- page follow up letter to the Commission, which details and documents his complaint has also gone unanswered and unacknowledged for nearly two months.
And ominously if not surprisingly, it was immediately after Mr. Sasha's testimony that the Commission banned testimony from non-invited guests entirely and permanently.
The Moreland Commission Protocol on Conflicts of Interest
The Moreland Commission has refused to divulge its protocol involving matters of conflicts of interest. Center For Judicial Accountability's August 5th letter specifically requested this protocol, but has been ignored by the Commission. When this reporter asked Executive Director Regina Calcaterra about the issue, she directed a State Trooper to detain him while she fled in her car.
Whatever the Commission's protocol on conflicts of interest may be, they are certainly bound by Public Officer's law : a Commissioner who is presented with evidence implicating his friend, colleague or employer, should disclose that potential conflict of interest and recuse himself from any investigation regarding anyone or any matter with which he has a relationship. But that would require every member of the commission to recuse themselves regarding complaints against Schneiderman or Cuomo, and that might make things pretty complicated.
A much simpler solution is to change the names on the transcript, so that his friends are no longer even mentioned in the record. He would want every mention of your favored government officials and favored institution’s names altered, so that they would not show up on an electronic search and were not part of the official record, and that is exactly what the transcript reflects.
A corrupt commission would ignore any requests to correct the obvious errors and omissions in the transcript, and that is exactly what the Commission has done.
A corrupt commission would also not respond to any emails or phone calls regarding the transcript or the procedures on conflict of interest. And that is exactly what the Commission has done.
It appears that the Commission's protocol for handling conflicts of interest is to illegally change th record so that their friends are not mentioned in it. How can they prosecute Chief Judge Jonathan “Littman” or Administrative Judge Anne “Fow”, when no such people exist? And how can they pursue a complaint by the mysterious Will Galveston, who also does not exist?
By Altering The Transcripts, Moreland Commissioners Committed Multiple Felonies
The alteration of the transcript is much more than a violation of Commission Rules; it may constitute commission of a number of of State and Federal felonies under state and federal law, including:
3) Federal law 18 U.S.C. § 2541 for conspiracy to deprive the rights of the witnesses for redress of grievances, among other things.
4) Crimes under Color of Law, for all of the above in their official capacities as deputized Attorney Generals.
5) NYS Public Officers law §74, for using his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others
Who is Guilty?
Certainly, any Commission members, advisors, or staff who were involved in the altering of the transcripts must be prosecuted by Federal law enforcement.
The Moreland Commission Is Not Merely a Sham; It is the Epitome of Corruption; a Disgrace and a Danger to the State of New York.
If, as Governor Cuomo claims to believe, official corruption is a “double crime” of particular heinousness, how can we describe the perversity of corruption in a Commission created for the sole purpose of fighting public corruption . Certainly it is a “triple crime”. It is the underlying, crime, the betrayal of the public trust, and ultimately the mechanism by which public corruption will be perpetuated and proliferated. Add to that the hypocrisy, the cynicism, and contempt for the rights and grievances of the New York citizenry, and it can be said that those Commissioners involved in this cover up are despicable criminals as any. If this group of felons represents, in Governor Cuomos' words, “the best and brightest law enforcements officials you have ever seen assembled, period, in the state of New York”, we are in deep trouble.