Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Charles Kushner update

9 Comments:

At 7:20 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

1)
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/state/ny-bc-nj--contributorcharge0112jan12,0,1979009.story?coll=ny-region-apnewjersey

In letter to judge, disgraced political donor begs forgiveness
By JEFFREY GOLD
Associated Press Writer
January 12, 2005, 7:21 PM EST

NEWARK, N.J. -- Major Democratic donor Charles B. Kushner, in a letter to a judge who will sentence him to prison, begs forgiveness from the government and asserts "there is simply no moral defense for my behavior."

The wealthy real estate developer pleaded guilty to retaliating against his brother-in-law, a witness in a federal investigation, by having a prostitute seduce the man and sending a tape to his wife.

Kushner told the judge that the "bitter dispute" with his siblings led to actions he will regret "not because of the jail sentence you will impose on me, but because of the despicable nature of my actions."

The letter was among nearly 200 that U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares ordered released on Wednesday in response to requests from two newspapers, The Star-Ledger of Newark and The Record of Bergen County. Other letters are from supporters of Kushner, including his wife and employees of his company, as well as several rabbis and the Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark, asking the judge for leniency.

Several letters from current or former public officials are to be released Thursday. Linares said about 500 other letters were not released because they were not cited in legal papers submitted by the defense.

Linares rescheduled Kushner's sentencing from Tuesday to March 4 after prosecutors and defense lawyers said they still disagreed on whether Kushner accepted responsibility for his actions.

If the judge determines that Kushner has accepted responsibility, he faces about two years in federal prison. If not, the term could be almost three years.

Arguing that acceptance was lacking, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra told the judge that Kushner's companies have not fully complied with subpoenas for documents in an ongoing federal investigation.

Kushner attorney Benjamin Brafman, however, insisted that the companies "have moved heaven and earth" to comply and continue to process requests.

Linares said that if both sides cannot resolve the issue, he will have a hearing, with witnesses, immediately before sentencing.

Kushner, who was not at Wednesday's hearing, remains free on $5 million bail.

In other documents released Wednesday, prosecutors argued Kushner should get the maximum 33-month term, contending he has yet to account for copies of the videotape he sent to his sister showing her husband having sex with the prostitute and continued to obstruct the grand jury investigation into the conduct of his associates.

The letters include one written by Kushner to his sister two weeks after he pleaded guilty, saying, "I committed a terrible sin."

"Many people try to justify my actions based on the hatred and nasty history that has unfortunately evolved in our family," he wrote. "I offer no excuses or defense. Nothing excuses my conduct."

The defense brief, also released Wednesday, excerpted portions of the letters attesting to Kushner's integrity, honesty and generosity in seeking the shortest possible prison term of 18 months.

Several writers describe being hired by Kushner when they desperately needed jobs; others tell of medical care he paid for without solicitation.

Rabbi David Helberg, dean of a Jewish elementary school in Brooklyn, N.Y., described Kushner as "a drink for the parched, a morsel for the famished and a prayer for the soul."

Kushner, who describes himself as an Orthodox Jew, founded a Jewish day school near his home in his father's memory.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, who said he came to know Kushner through mutual friends, lauded his support for Catholic programs serving the poor and asked the judge to weigh Kushner's "considerable charitable works."

Arthur J. Mirante II, president of Cushman & Wakefield, the New York-based global real estate services firm, wrote that Kushner had chosen his firm to find tenants for the former headquarters of Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co. When Kushner found a tenant on his own, he still insisted on paying Cushman $3.5 million for "loss of opportunity," Mirante said.

Kushner pleaded guilty Aug. 18, only five weeks after being charged and six days after one of his prime beneficiaries, Gov. James E. McGreevey, announced he was a "gay American," said he had an extramarital homosexual affair and that he would resign Nov. 15.

Kushner, 50, of Livingston, has donated more than $1 million to McGreevey and other Democrats since 1997.

Sources close to McGreevey have identified the man in the affair as Golan Cipel, an Israeli the governor had appointed to a state homeland security job. Cipel maintains he is not gay, and, through his lawyer, has denied McGreevey's claims and accused the governor of sexual harassment.

Kushner sponsored the work visa that allowed Cipel to come to the United States and gave him a $30,000-a-year job in public relations with one of his companies before Cipel got a state job.

Kushner also pleaded guilty to 16 counts of filing false tax returns for various partnerships affiliated with his company, avoiding up to $325,000 in taxes.

He has since resigned as chairman of The Kushner Companies, a Florham Park firm valued at more than $1 billion. It owns or manages 20,000 apartments in New Jersey and several other states, builds 500 to 1,000 new homes a year and has commercial properties in New York, Newark, Jersey City, Plainsboro, Hoboken and several other localities.

On the Net:

U.S. Attorney's Office:

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nj/publicaffairs/NJ_Press/break.html

2)
http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nj/publicaffairs/NJ_Press/files/kush0818_r.htm

08-18-04 -- Kushner, Charles -- Guilty Plea -- News Release

Political Contributor, Developer Charles Kushner Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud, Witness Retaliation and Making False Statements to the Federal Election Commission

NEWARK - Real estate developer and political contributor Charles Kushner pleaded guilty today to 16 counts of assisting in the filing of false tax returns, one count of retaliating against a cooperating witness and one count of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Kushner, 50, of Livingston, entered his plea in U.S. District Court before Judge Jose Linares.

At his plea hearing, Kushner admitted that, as Chairman of Kushner Companies, he assisted in filing false tax returns claiming over $1 million in partnership charitable contributions as office expenses, causing losses to the IRS of between $200,000 and $325,000.

Kushner further admitted he devised a scheme to retaliate against a cooperating witness and her husband by having a prostitute seduce the husband and covertly filming them having sex. Kushner told the Court that he paid a private investigator $25,000 to arrange for the seduction and videotaping of the cooperating witness' husband. Kushner admitted to personally recruiting the prostitute and instructing that the videotape be mailed to the cooperating witness.

Kushner also admitted to making false statements to the Federal Election Commission which allocated campaign contributions to certain individuals who had no knowledge that contributions were being made in their names and had not consented to him making the contributions.

"This is a great victory for the people of New Jersey," said Christie, "No matter how rich and powerful any person may be, they will be held accountable for criminal conduct by this office."

Each tax count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $100,000. The witness retaliation count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The false statement charge provides for a maximum prison term of 5 years and a fine of $250,000.

Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Judge Linares will determine Kushner's actual sentence based upon a formula that takes into account the severity and characteristics of the offense as well as other factors.

Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Under Sentencing Guidelines defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.

Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Joseph Billy, Jr.; and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation section, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia J. Hayes.

The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr., and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Resnik and Thomas Eicher of the Special Prosecutions Division.

- end -

Defense Counsel: Alfred DeCotiis, Esq. Teaneck, NJ

Jeffrey Smith, Esq. Teaneck, NJ

Benjamin Brafman, Esq. New York, NY


3)
http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nj/publicaffairs/NJ_Press/files/kush0713_r.htm

07-13-04 -- Kushner, Charles -- Criminal Complaint -- News Release

Political Fundraiser, Developer Charles Kushner Charged with Obstruction, Interstate Promotion of Prostitution

NEWARK, N.J. - Real estate developer and major political fundraiser Charles Kushner was charged in a criminal Complaint today with conspiracy, obstruction of the federal investigation of him and his companies, and with interstate promotion of prostitution, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Kushner, 50, of Livingston, N.J., is accused of hiring two intermediaries and a New York City call girl for $25,000 to videotape a cooperating witness in the underlying investigation while the cooperating witness was engaged in sex with the call girl. Kushner then ordered the videotape and still photographs mailed to the intended victim's wife, who also is assisting in the federal investigation, according to the criminal Complaint.

Kushner conspired with the intermediaries in the hiring of another call girl for the purpose of seducing and videotaping a second cooperating witness in the government's investigation, according to the Complaint. The second intended victim, however, refused the call girl's advances.

(See addendum for the specific charges and potential penalties.)

Kushner turned himself in to the FBI this morning. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance today at 3:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald J. Hedges. Christie will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.

"Obstruction of a federal grand jury investigation will not be tolerated," said Christie. "The allegations in this complaint show a pattern of disregard for the law. The alleged conduct is repugnant to all those who respect the rule of law."

Kushner's intent in capturing the cooperating witnesses' seduction by the call girls on videotape was to gain leverage against the witnesses in the federal investigation, according to the Complaint.

Kushner allegedly ordered one of his co-conspirators to mail the videotape to the cooperating witness' wife two days after target letters from the U.S. Attorney's Office were issued to certain of Kushner's associates. Those associates were part of the federal probe of Kushner and his real estate entities for potential tax fraud and criminal violation of federal campaign contribution laws, according to the Complaint.

The obstruction scheme began in summer 2003, according to the Complaint, when Kushner contacted the two co-conspirators, asking them to locate a call girl and videotape the cooperating witness having sex with her.

The two co-conspirators had difficulty locating a call girl, prompting Kushner, in November 2003, to recruit a call girl himself, according to the Complaint. In early December, the co-conspirators and call girl, who had traveled several times from New York to New Jersey, devised and executed the plan, according to the Complaint.

A first attempt to set up the encounter failed when the victim declined the call girl's invitation to go to her motel room in Bridgewater, N.J., after she had convinced him to give her a ride there under the pretext that her car had broken down. They did, however, exchange telephone numbers, and on the following day, Dec. 5, 2003, the two had sexual relations in a Bridgewater, N.J. motel room, where the co-conspirators had installed a hidden camera, according to the Complaint.

Later the same day, Kushner demanded to view the videotape in a conference room in his Florham Park, N.J. offices, and expressed satisfaction with the result, according to the Complaint.

It was not until May 2004, after target letters had been sent to certain of Kushner's associates, that he offered further instructions regarding the videotape. On May 9, Kushner instructed one of the co-conspirators that he wanted the videotape and still photographs mailed to the cooperating couple, as well as the couple's children, before a scheduled family gathering the following weekend, according to the Complaint. The co-conspirator convinced him not to send the tape to the children, according to the Complaint.

The videotape and accompanying still photographs were mailed by one of the co-conspirators from upstate New York and arrived at the home of the husband and wife cooperating witnesses, where the wife opened the envelope and discovered its contents. The husband and wife subsequently turned the tape over to the FBI.

Kushner allegedly paid his two co-conspirators $25,000 to recruit the first call girl and complete the scheme to catch the cooperating witness on videotape with the call girl. Of that amount, the call girl received between $7,000 and $10,000. In the second instance, the co-conspirators received between $10,000 and $12,000 to videotape the second cooperating witness with a call girl. After that scheme failed, the call girl was paid $2,000 for her efforts, according to the complaint.

A criminal Complaint is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Joseph Billy, Jr.; and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation section, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia J. Haynes.

The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr., and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Resnik of the Special Prosecutions Division.

-end-

Defense Counsel: Alfred DeCotiis, Esq. Teaneck, N.J.

Charges and Maximum Potential Criminal Penalties

• Count One, Conspiracy to Promote an Interstate Act of Prostitution: carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine

• Count Two, Retaliation Against a Witness (Cooperating Witness 1): Carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine.

• Count Three, Obstruction of Justice (Cooperating Witness 3): Carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger jah said...

I am not necessarily a big believer in harsh jail sentences, and Kushner certainly does not deserve more than the law requires. But it does stick in my craw that there is a separate category for real wealthy guys who give money to religous charities before the bench. If Kushner doesn't get the maximum sentence, it will send a clear signal that there are two criminal justice systems, and we know to which one he belongs.

 
At 10:57 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>I am not necessarily a big believer in harsh jail
>sentences, and Kushner certainly does not deserve
>more than the law requires. But it does stick in my
>craw that there is a separate category for real wealthy
>guys who give money to religous charities before the bench.

100%, and you know he'll end up in one of these country club prisons with a kosher salad bar and tennis courts.

>If Kushner doesn't get the maximum sentence, it will
>send a clear signal that there are two criminal justice
>systems, and we know to which one he belongs.

The same message the 730 prominent community leaders who wrote letters asking for leniency for him. No average decent person will ever get such public support. Certainly no agunah or victim of child abuse has ever seen that level of community support. Just a rich man who sets up his brother-in-law with a prostitute and sends pictures to his sister.

Obscene.

 
At 10:59 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/nyregion/13kushner.html

Donor Apologized to Sister for Seduction of Husband
By ROBERT HANLEY
Published: January 13, 2005

NEWARK, Jan. 12 - In an emotional handwritten letter in August, Charles Kushner, a major developer, political donor and philanthropist in New Jersey, apologized to his sister for hiring a prostitute to seduce her husband, who was cooperating in a federal investigation against him, and then sending her a videotape of the encounter.

"What I did as an act of revenge was wrong in every way," Mr. Kushner said at the start of a five-page letter to his sister, Esther Schulder. "I only ask that you forgive me for resorting to such despicable behavior, which is disgraceful. I was wrong and I committed a terrible sin. How did I let hatred invade my heart and guide my actions?"

The letter was among 165 letters, most citing his generosity and compassion and appealing for leniency for Mr. Kushner, that were ordered released on Wednesday by Judge Jose L. Linares of Federal District Court. The judge is to sentence Mr. Kushner in March for filing false tax returns and campaign finance reports, and for retaliating against his brother-in-law, William Schulder.

Mr. Kushner pleaded guilty to those charges in a plea agreement with United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie on Aug. 18 and is expected to be sentenced to 18 to 24 months in prison. He wrote the letter to his sister 13 days later. Judge Linares ordered the release of the letters and a sentencing memorandum submitted by Mr. Kushner's lawyers after two New Jersey newspapers, The Star-Ledger in Newark and The Record of Hackensack, filed a motion last month seeking the memo and about 700 letters written by Kushner supporters on his behalf.

Judge Linares limited the release to 165 letters cited by Mr. Kushner's lawyers in their sentencing memo. In his ruling, the judge said, "These letters have been, by defendant's choice, thrust into the public domain by virtue of their inclusion in a public document." The defense had argued unsuccessfully that releasing the letters would be an invasion of privacy.

The judge also ordered Mr. Christie's office to release its sentencing memo. That document is to be made public on Thursday, after federal prosecutors remove references to any continuing investigation. About 10 letters written on Mr. Kushner's behalf by past and present public officials in New Jersey will also be released Thursday under the judge's order.

The defense sentencing memo called Mr. Kushner a man of considerable wealth who was generous with employees of his real estate development company, Kushner Companies, various charities, strangers and family members. Letters mentioned in the memo were written by a cross-section of people, including his wife and four children, neighbors, present and past employees, business associates, rabbis, church leaders, community leaders, college officials and doctors.

Many of the letters focused on his compassion and generosity. One noted that he often provided World Series tickets to ailing children. The Rev. John J. Myers, archbishop of the Diocese of Newark, wrote that Mr. Kushner was "extremely generous" with donations to programs for the poor of many religious faiths.

Mr. Kushner started his letter to his sister by saying he was writing with a "shattered heart and tears in my eyes." He mentioned his feuding with other family members. Those arguments, the authorities said, involved disagreements about Mr. Kushner's making political donations with funds from the Kushner Companies and about 100 smaller business entities it controlled. The donations and the family dispute led to the federal investigation.

Mr. Kushner wrote that he did not fear the judge or the impending prison sentence, "but I do fear that God will not forgive me for acting in such a despicable and reprehensible manner."

At another point, he wrote: "Mom and Dad are crying. I visit their gravesites often and ask for their forgiveness for making them failures in death while they were such successes in life. How did hatred and sibling rivalry make us all go so astray and prove to have such a tragic outcome for everyone involved. No one is a winner in this pathetic saga."

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-19/1105599818183670.xml

Kushner's write-in bid for leniency
Developer asks sister's forgiveness as letters seek court's mercy
Thursday, January 13, 2005
BY JOHN P. MARTIN
Star-Ledger Staff
Seeking to minimize his prison term, attorneys for convicted multimillionaire Charles Kushner yesterday released 165 letters designed to portray the disgraced developer as an extraordinarily kind-hearted citizen who has rescued strangers from death and whose life has been a near nonstop parade of good deeds.

The letters include testimonials from Kushner's relatives, employees, public figures and other supporters. Two are apologies from Kushner himself -- one to his sentencing judge and the other to his sister, who helped engineer his downfall last summer after Kushner sent her a videotape of her husband having sex with a prostitute he had hired.

"We were once the envy of the community and now we are a tragic story," the prominent Democrat Party donor said in the five-page missive to his sister, Esther Schulder. "Mom and Dad are crying. I visit their gravesites often and ask for their forgiveness for making them failures in death while they were such successes in life."

The letters are among more than 700 filed by the defense team -- along with a 151-page memo that calls Kushner a hero, a genius, brilliant and "truly amazing" -- in a bid to persuade U.S. District Judge Jose Linares to limit Kushner's prison term to 18 months.

The defense filing sparked an equally passionate response from prosecutors, who say Kushner continues to stifle an ongoing probe into his company's finances and deserves a term as stiff as 33 months.

"Defendant Kushner's offenses were crimes of greed, power and excess," the three assistant U.S. attorneys wrote. "They are emblematic of an individual who believed that he had become so powerful that even the laws of the United States were no impediment to his ambition or will."

They contend the letters mischaracterize a ruthless businessmen who used other people's money as his own, set up his sister's husband in a lurid sex trap and continues to obstruct the investigation into a family-run empire that owns or manages $3 billion worth of property.

The government lawyers acknowledged Kushner's record of charitable contributions, but said the charges "show more starkly that when defendant Kushner wanted to be bad, he was downright evil."

Their dueling submissions highlighted what has become an extraordinarily tense behind-the-scenes battle over the fate of one of the region's most prominent politically active businessmen and philanthropists.

Kushner, 50, a Livingston resident and the largest individual contributor to former Gov. James E. McGreevey, admitted in August that he had cheated on his taxes and had hidden illegal campaign donations by making them in the names of his business partners.

He also acknowledged that he retaliated against a cooperating FBI witness -- his sister's husband, William Schulder -- by luring Schulder into a tryst with a prostitute, then sending a tape of the encounter to the sister, Esther.

His sentencing had been set for Tuesday. But acting on a request from the attorneys, Linares yesterday agreed to delay the hearing until March 4.

Prosecutors complained that the Kushner Cos.' have refused to turn over documents, despite countless subpoena requests. They also cast doubt on assertions by Kushner that he has destroyed all photographs and videos of Schulder's sex tryst.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra told the judge the government could call about six witnesses to prove its claim in an evidentiary hearing.

Kushner attorneys Benjamin Brafman, Alfred DeCotiis and Jeffrey Smith denied the allegations, but asked for more time to resolve the matter. Brafman said Kushner Cos. employees and attorneys have "moved heaven and earth" to respond to what he said was a mammoth request for records.

"We're talking about enough records to fill this courthouse," he said.

Linares reluctantly agreed to the request for more time. "This is the last time this matter will be adjourned," he said.

Acting on a request from The Star-Ledger and the Record of Hackensack, the judge also ordered both sides to release versions of their previously sealed memos and any letters referenced in the memos. In his 28-page ruling, Linares declared that the memoranda "are indisputably judicial records" available to the public, as are letters referenced within them.

Kushner's attorneys had fought to keep the letters private, contending that many were written by citizens who didn't realize their sentiments would be made public.

In their memo, Kushner's attorneys said that he agreed to let his defense team file such letters only with "great reluctance," insisting instead that his philanthropy and good works remain private.

But the avalanche of correspondence -- which exponentially exceeds the number of letters in a typical criminal case -- suggested that there were few people who hadn't been touched by Kushner's kindness.

A janitor at the Kushner Hebrew Academy, Nymaa Abraham, wrote that Kushner paid for him to travel to see his dying, 99-year-old father in Africa. A receptionist, Crystal Johnson, reported that Kushner paid for her cancer treatment and her mother's neurosurgery.

Rabbi David Helberg said that Kushner funded a worldwide search for a rare blood type to save a young mother in Chicago whom he had never met.

"All of us would like to think of ourselves as good sons or daughters to our parents," his lawyers wrote. "Charlie was simply better than all of us."

The letters also included correspondence from well-known New Jerseyans, from the Newark Diocese Archbishop John J. Myers, to IDT Corp. Chairman Howard Jonas, to former Newark mayoral candidate, Cory Booker.

"Charlie has helped fuel my hope, as well as made me believe that even in the often questionable world of New Jersey politics, there are still spirits who don't simply act in their self interest," Booker said.

The defense attorneys packed their memo with headlines such as "To Charles Kushner, Performing Acts of Kindness is Like Breathing" and "Charlie Kushner Treats Every Kushner Companies Employee with Dignity, Respect and Compassion."

The first letter filed came from Seryl Kushner, his wife of 32 years. In it, she recalled that Kushner showed up on their first date holding a bouquet of "semi-dead" lavender mums.

"Charlie explained that as he was walking to get his car, he saw a poor elderly woman selling the flowers on the street," Seryl Kushner wrote. "Feeling compassion for this woman, who was too proud to beg, Charlie could not help but buy all of her flowers."

In their reply, prosecutors complained that the campaign to portray Kushner as saintly was audacious and inaccurate and masked a man "motivated by power, greed and a desire to wield illegitimate influence over people and events."

They contended the memos and letters minimize Kushner's crime and exaggerate his philanthropy, which at times was surreptitiously funded through his partnerships and claimed as business expenses.

"Giving is certainly easier when some of the money comes from unwitting business partners and can be converted into illegitimate tax benefits," said the memo by Marra, Scott Resnik and Thomas Eicher.

They also argued that Kushner not only has failed to show remorse, but that he still assigns some blame to his siblings. In his letter, Kushner told the judge that his older brother Murray "tried to destroy my life" and mentions that he "could go on for pages to tell your Honor about the acts that Murray and even Esther, at Murray's insistence, have done to my own family."

But Kushner concluded that such venting "would not be helpful." Instead, he asked for forgiveness.

"I have spent many nights questioning how I, a religious Jew, can adequately atone for my sins," he wrote. "Incarceration will not remedy the judgement I will one day face."

John P. Martin covers federal courts and law enforcement. He can be reached at (973) 622-3405 or jmartin@starledger.com

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

http://www.dailyrecord.com/midday/midday1-update0113.htm
Posted 03:01 PM from the Daily Record newsroom
Torricelli among officials writing in support of disgraced Florham Park donor
...

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

So... what's involved in getting a full set of the letters?

 
At 5:33 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>So... what's involved in getting a full set of the letters?

Contact the court, they should be able to help you. If anyone can get copies and post them, please post a link in the comments

District Judge Jose L. Linares
U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
Martin Luther King Jr. Bldg. & U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut St.
Newark NJ 07102

Secretary: Lisette Rodriguez 973-645-6042
Courtroom deputy: Delores Hicks 973-645-4702
Court reporter: Phyliss Lewis 973-645-3677


http://pacer.njd.uscourts.gov/
NEWARK
Martin Luther King Building & U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street Rm 4015
Newark, NJ 07101
973-645-3730
Office Hours 9am - 4pm / Drop Box until 7pm

 
At 2:24 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Kushner's write-in bid for leniency - Guilty developer, supporters shower federal judge with letters
by JOHN P. MARTIN
STAR-LEDGER STAFF
January 13, 2005

Seeking to minimize his prison term, attorneys for convicted multimillionaire Charles Kushner yesterday released 165 letters designed to portray the disgraced developer as an extraordinarily kind-hearted citizen who has rescued strangers from death and whose life has been a nearly nonstop parade of good deeds.

The letters include testimonials from Kushner's relatives, employees, public figures and other supporters. Two are apologies from Kushner himself - one to his sentencing judge and the other to his sister, who helped engineer his downfall last summer after Kushner sent her a videotape of her husband having sex with a prostitute Kushner had hired.

"We were once the envy of the community and now we are a tragic story," the prominent Democratic Party donor said in the five-page missive to his sister, Esther Schulder. "Mom and Dad are crying. I visit their gravesites often and ask for their forgiveness for making them failures in death while they were such successes in life."

The letters are among more than 700 filed by the defense team - along with a 151-page memo that calls Kushner a hero, a genius, brilliant and "truly amazing" - in a bid to persuade U.S. District Judge Jose Linares to limit Kushner's prison term to 18 months.

The defense filing sparked an equally passionate response from prosecutors, who say Kushner continues to stifle an ongoing probe into his company's finances and deserves a term as long as 33 months.

"Defendant Kushner's offenses were crimes of greed, power and excess," the three assistant U.S. attorneys wrote. "They are emblematic of an individual who believed that he had become so powerful that even the laws of the United States were no impediment to his ambition or will."

They contend the letters mischaracterize a ruthless businessman who used other people's money as his own, set up his sister's husband in a lurid sex trap and continues to obstruct the investigation into a family-run empire that owns or manages $3 billion worth of property.

The government lawyers acknowledged Kushner's record of charitable contributions, but said the charges "show more starkly that when defendant Kushner wanted to be bad, he was downright evil."

Their dueling submissions highlighted what has become an extraordinarily tense behind-the-scenes battle over the fate of one of the region's most prominent politically active businessmen and philanthropists.

Kushner, 50, a Livingston resident who was the largest individual contributor to former Gov. James E. McGreevey, admitted in August that he had cheated on his taxes and had hidden illegal campaign donations by making them in the names of his business partners.

He also acknowledged that he retaliated against a cooperating FBI witness - his sister's husband, William Schulder - by luring Schulder into a tryst with a prostitute, then sending a tape of the encounter to the sister, Esther.

His sentencing had been set for Tuesday. But acting on a request from the attorneys, Linares yesterday agreed to delay the hearing until March 4.

Prosecutors complained that Kushner Cos. have refused to turn over documents, despite countless subpoena requests. They also cast doubt on assertions by Kushner that he has destroyed all photographs and videos of William Schulder's tryst.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra told the judge the government could call about six witnesses to prove its claim in an evidentiary hearing.

Kushner attorneys Benjamin Brafman, Alfred DeCotiis and Jeffrey Smith denied the allegations, but asked for more time to resolve the matter. Brafman said Kushner Cos. employees and attorneys have "moved heaven and earth" to respond to what he said was a mammoth request for records.

"We're talking about enough records to fill this courthouse," Brafman said. Linares reluctantly agreed to the request for more time. "This is the last time this matter will be adjourned," he said.

Acting on a request from The Star-Ledger and the Record of Hackensack, the judge also ordered both sides to release versions of their previously sealed memos and any letters referenced in the memos. In his 28-page ruling, Linares declared that the memoranda "are indisputably judicial records" available to the public, as are letters referenced within them.

Kushner's attorneys had fought to keep the letters private, contending many were written by citizens who didn't realize their sentiments would be made public.

In their memo, Kushner's attorneys said that he agreed to let his defense team file such letters only with "great reluctance," insisting instead that his philanthropy and good works remain private.

But the avalanche of correspondence - which exponentially exceeds the number of letters in a typical criminal case - suggested that there were few people who hadn't been touched by Kushner's kindness.

A janitor at the Kushner Hebrew Academy, Nymaa Abraham, wrote that Kushner paid for him to travel to see his dying 99-year-old father in Africa. A receptionist, Crystal Johnson, reported that Kushner paid for her cancer treatment and her mother's neurosurgery.

Rabbi David Helberg said that Kushner funded a worldwide search for a rare blood type to save a young mother in Chicago whom he had never met.

"All of us would like to think of ourselves as good sons or daughters to our parents," his lawyers wrote. "Charlie was simply better than all of us."

The letters also included correspondence from well-known New Jerseyans, including Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, IDT Corp. Chairman Howard Jonas and former Newark mayoral candidate Cory Booker.

"Charlie has helped fuel my hope, as well as made me believe that even in the often questionable world of New Jersey politics, there are still spirits who don't simply act in their self interest," Booker said.

The defense attorneys packed their memo with headlines such as "To Charles Kushner, Performing Acts of Kindness is Like Breathing" and "Charlie Kushner Treats Every Kushner Companies Employee with Dignity, Respect and Compassion."

The first letter filed came from Seryl Kushner, his wife of 32 years. In it, she recalled that Kushner showed up on their first date holding a bouquet of "semi-dead" lavender mums.

"Charlie explained that as he was walking to get his car, he saw a poor elderly woman selling the flowers on the street," Seryl Kushner wrote. "Feeling compassion for this woman, who was too proud to beg, Charlie could not help but buy all of her flowers."

In their reply, prosecutors complained that the campaign to portray Kushner as saintly was audacious and inaccurate and masked a man "motivated by power, greed and a desire to wield illegitimate influence over people and events."

They contended the memos and letters minimize Kushner's crime and exaggerate his philanthropy, which at times was surreptitiously funded through his partnerships and claimed as business expenses.

"Giving is certainly easier when some of the money comes from unwitting business partners and can be converted into illegitimate tax benefits," said the memo by Marra, Scott Resnik and Thomas Eicher.

They also argued not only that Kushner has failed to show remorse, but that he still assigns some blame to his siblings. In his letter, Kushner told the judge that his older brother Murray "tried to destroy my life" and mentions that he "could go on for pages to tell your Honor about the acts that Murray and even Esther, at Murray's insistence, have done to my own family."

But Kushner concluded that such venting "would not be helpful." Instead, he asked for forgiveness.

"I have spent many nights questioning how I, a religious Jew, can adequately atone for my sins," he wrote. "Incarceration will not remedy the judgement I will one day face." _____________________________________________________________________________________________ John P. Martin covers federal courts and law enforcement. He can be reached at (973) 622-3405 or jmar tin@starledger.com.

1. In an August letter of apology to his sister, Esther Schulder, Charles Kushner looks to mend a family feud. LIST: The supporters Friends, relatives, rabbis, arch­bishops and politicians have written hundreds of letters to a federal judge asking for leni­ency when he pronounces sentence on wealthy devel­oper Charles Kushner in March. Here are some of the notables who wrote letters: Cory Booker, an activist who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Newark in 2000. Howard Jonas, the chairman and founder of IDT Corp. in Newark. Newark Archbishop John J. Myers. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washing­ton, D.C. Charles Kushner, who wrote a letter of apology to his sister. Seryl Kushner, Kushner's wife. Martin Silverstein, U.S. ambassador in Montevideo, Uru­guay. Finn Wentworth, who served as president of YankeeNets, which at one point owned the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets, New Jersey Devils and the YES Network. Alan Freeman, vice presi­dent of Bed Bath & Beyond. Rabbi David Helberg, founder and dean of Brooklyn temple.

 

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