Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Lawyer's guilty plea foreshadows upcoming trial of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson who fixed divorces and custody in Jewish community


At 9:50 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...


Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Brooklyn Judge Scandal
New York Lawyer
December 17, 2004
By Tom Perrotta
New York Law Journal

Attorney Paul Siminovsky yesterday pleaded guilty to giving unlawful gratuities to Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gerald P. Garson in the form of meals and drinks.

In exchange for his cooperation with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, prosecutors will recommend that Mr. Siminovsky receive probation for his role in the bribery scandal.

The attorney has agreed to resign from the bar and never seek reinstatement.

When asked if he knew he was committing a crime, Mr. Siminovsky told Justice Jeffrey G. Berry, "Initially I did not think so."

But, he said, as the gifts to Justice Garson became more regular he came to understand that he was breaking the law.

Mr. Siminovsky is said to have had more than 100 such meetings with Justice Garson and is expected to testify against him at the judge's bribery trial.

Nissim Ellman, a businessman also accused in the scandal, yesterday declined a plea offer. His trial is scheduled for February.


Guilty plea in judge gifts
Deal lets lawyer avoid jail in Garson case

A court street lawyer pleaded guilty yesterday to plying Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson with drinks and meals in a bid to get lucrative appointments.
Paul Siminovsky, who once faced bribery charges in a scheme to get favorable treatment from the now suspended judge, instead pleaded guilty at Brooklyn Supreme Court to a misdemeanor of offering "unlawful gratuities."

The plea keeps him out of jail in exchange for testifying against the judge at Garson's upcoming bribery trial.

Under questioning by Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Berry, Siminovsky admitted he bought meals and drinks for Garson more than 100 times in Brooklyn bars and restaurants between Jan. 1, 2000, and March 12, 2003, in exchange for 24 law guardianship appointments.

"You realized you were committing a number of crimes?" the judge asked.

"Yes," Siminovsky replied.

Siminovsky told Berry that he did not see the purchases for the now-suspended divorce judge as criminal at first, "until it became a regular basis."

That ended nearly two years ago when Siminovsky and six others were arrested in an alleged bribery scam to steer cases into Garson's courtroom, where they could get favorable treatment.

Under a deal with prosecutors, Siminovsky wore a wire to record Garson, other court employees and alleged court fixer Nissim Elmann.

In one sting, he was caught on videotape handing the judge cigars and $1,000 cash.

Yesterday, the bearded lawyer, who resigned from the bar, also promised never to try to get his license back.

Meanwhile, Elmann, indicted for felony bribery for allegedly taking bribes to get cases into Garson's courtroom for Siminovsky, rejected a plea deal that would have gotten him up to seven years in jail.

Garson has pleaded not guilty to taking bribes from Siminovsky in exchange for fixing divorce cases. Siminovsky won't be sentenced until after Garson's trial.

Originally published on December 17, 2004



December 17, 2004 -- A shady lawyer who helped bring down scandal Judge Gerald Garson pleaded guilty yesterday to charges he improperly lavished the fallen jurist with scores of free dinners and drinks.
Paul Siminovsky, 45, who faces a year in jail as part of a plea deal, allegedly took Garson to some 100 dinners in exchange for legal favors.

The busted barrister is expected to testify at Garson's upcoming bribery trial. Denise Buffa


Former Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Brooklyn Judicial Scandal
Published: December 17, 2004

A former lawyer who has been a central figure in a Brooklyn judicial scandal pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor yesterday, saying he had paid for drinks and dinner for a judge more than 100 times in exchange for lucrative appointments to guardianship cases.

The former lawyer, Paul Siminovsky, said he had entertained a State Supreme Court justice, Gerald P. Garson, over more than two years. He knew he was breaking the law "when it became a regular basis," he told a judge yesterday in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Mr. Siminovsky's plea was expected because he has been cooperating with the prosecutors in the office of the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, who last year charged Justice Garson with receiving bribes to influence his rulings in divorce and custody cases.

The judge hearing the case, Jeffrey Berry, said he was not obliged to follow the recommendation of prosecutors that Mr. Siminovsky serve no jail time. He set a sentencing date of Feb. 17.

Because Mr. Siminovsky pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, giving unlawful gratuities, the maximum jail sentence would be one year. He resigned from the bar because of the investigation and said yesterday that as part of the plea deal he had agreed never to apply for reinstatement.

Justice Garson was suspended from the bench without pay last year because of the charges and has said he is retiring. He is awaiting trial.

Mr. Siminovsky wore a hidden microphone for weeks in the spring of 2003 at the direction of the Brooklyn prosecutors. At a September trial of a court officer convicted of taking bribes to steer cases to Justice Garson, Mr. Siminovsky testified for the prosecution. He described giving the court officer $2,000 at a public restroom. Also at the trial in September, Mr. Siminovsky described interactions with the judge that were more extensive than those he acknowledged in his guilty plea yesterday. He said he had plied the judge with meals, cigars and cash in return for favorable treatment in cases.

Also yesterday, another man central to the case, Nissim Elmann, declined to accept a plea offer that would have required him to serve a prison term.

Prosecutors have described Mr. Elmann as a "fixer" who steered divorce cases to Justice Garson for favorable treatment.

Justice Berry set Feb. 23 for the trial.


Lawyer expected to admit he wined & dined judge
December 15, 2004, 6:23 PM EST

Paul Siminovsky, the Queens lawyer who is at the center of a Brooklyn court scandal, is expected to plead guilty Thursday to a charge that he gave illegal gratuities to Justice Gerald Garson, according to his defense attorney.

Siminovsky, 46, who resigned his law license shortly after the scandal broke in early 2003, is scheduled to appear before State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Berry this afternoon and admit he wined and dined Garson over three years in exchange for getting law guardianships, according to attorney Anthony Bramante.

Siminovsky, who was a well-connected matrimonial lawyer in Downtown Brooklyn before he got caught in the scandal, decided to help prosecutors after he was confronted with tape recordings implicating him. Investigators had tapes that they said portrayed Siminovsky's involvement in a scheme with Brooklyn businessman Nissim Elmann to get custody cases assigned to Garson.

Investigators said Elmann led people to believe he had close personal connections with Garson -- something not borne out in the probe -- and took money from litigants, with Siminovsky getting a cut.

In August at the trial of two court officials, Siminovsky testified that he spent $10,000 on Garson, plying him with drinks and dinners to curry favor with the jurist. Siminovsky said he spent the money as a way of paying back Garson for mentoring him and assigning him the guardianships. A misdemeanor complaint filed last week against Siminovsky alleged that he received guardianships in more than 20 matrimonial matters.

As part of his deal with the Brooklyn district attorney's office, Siminovsky is agreeing to never reapply for admission to the bar, Bramante said. Siminovsky, who now works as a warehouseman in New Jersey, is not expected to get any jail time.

Siminovsky is expected to be a key witness in any trials of Elmann and Garson. Berry may set a trial date for Elmann today. Prosecutors are appealing an earlier trial court ruling in the Garson case that threw out some charges, so no trial is expected for several months.

Suspended without pay since mid-2003, Garson is accused of bribe receiving and official misconduct. The pending misdemeanor charge against Siminovksy does not actually accuse him of bribing the judge. Under state law, bribery requires some kind of quid pro quo while an unlawful gratuity is akin to tipping a public official.

Garson's attorney Ronald Fischetti declined to comment yesterday.


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