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With one exception, good words for KushnerThe Star-LedgerJanuary 13, 2005The following are excerpts from letters sent to federal Judge Jose Linares, U.S. District Court in Newark, on behalf of wealthy developer and political contributor Charles Kushner. Linares is expected on March 4 to pronounce sentence on Kushner, who has pleaded guilty to witness tampering in connection with a federal investigation. Kushner admitted hiring a prostitute to lure his sister Esther's husband into a videotaped encounter. He then had a copy of the encounter sent to the sister. The excerpts also include letters from Kushner to his sister and the judge. Additionally, there are excerpts from the prosecutor's letter to the judge asking that no leniency be shown to Kushner. **** Letter of apology from Charles Kushner to his sister, Esther: "Dear Esther, I write this letter with a shattered heart and tears in my eyes. It is devastating for me to realize the impact that our family feud has had upon all of our lives. I want to express my true regret for my conduct and to sincerely ask for your forgiveness. What I did as an act of revenge was wrong in every way. . . . 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. Our feelings and our actions make us all orphans before G-d . . . You are soon to walk your son down the aisle to be married. Please know that I wish you well and hope that you derive joy from your family. I only ask that you forgive me for resorting to such despicable behavior which is disgraceful. I have caused you and your family much pain. I was wrong, and I committed a terrible sin. How did we ever let things get so far out of hand? How did I let hatred inside my heart and guide my actions? . . . You are still my sister, and I will never erase fond memories and the love for you in my heart. Once those memories and feelings no longer exist, I will cease to be a person and be forever destroyed. I carry no hatred in my heart at this time, even as I face jail with the knowledge that I will be apart from the people I love. . . . What have we become as people and a family? We were once the envy of the community and now we are a tragic story. Enough blood has been spilled, and enough shame and disgrace has been felt. I implore you as my sister to help me stop it now in our hearts . . . **** Letter from Charles Kushner to the judge: "Let me begin by telling you that not a night goes by where I do not lie awake feeling remorse for the pain I have caused others. Throughout the bitter dispute with my siblings, where I was sued, publicly humiliated and insulted, I expended great energy to keep perspective to void hatred from my heart. Sadly, I allowed my emotions to build up and ultimately acted in a way that I will regret for as long as I live; not because of the jail sentence you will impose on me, but because of the despicable nature of my actions. I have chosen to live my life as an Orthodox Jew, a life filled with moral and ethical obligations. It provides me with a wonderful, meaningful framework within which to lead my life. In addition to violating the laws of our country, I have violated the laws of my Maker and my religion - a sin for which I will eternally repent . . . There is nothing I can say that will excuse my conduct. There is simply no moral defense for my behavior. From the day I was arrested, the most sincere way I could think of to demonstrate my honest remorse was to immediately plead Guilty and accept responsibility for my actions . . . I deeply appreciate all of the letters that have been written to your Honor on my behalf. But I am also deeply embarrassed that the many private acts of charity that I did without hope of any reward are now being brought to your Honor's attention as part of my plea for leniency." **** Seryl Beth Kushner to the judge on behalf of her husband: I ask your honor to please understand the very real and severe pain that Charlie endured for many years because of a family dispute started by Charlie's brother for the purposes of destroying Charlie. Charlie's crimes are not excusable, nor is the fact that he may have been driven to do something terrible an excuse for the deplorable conduct he engaged in. I just need your Honor to understand that Charlie, who was always very good to his siblings throughout their lives, was himself very hurt by his brother's betrayal and hurt even more when his brother Murray convinced his baby sister Esther to join this stupid and mean-spirited dispute . . . Charlie would go in front of a train for our children and me. That is what he has done to protect us. He has spared our very close-knit and loving family any more pain than is possible by pleading guilty to these offenses. Charlie knows he has done a wrong thing. He does not sleep for the pain he has caused his parents, myself and our children. . . . **** From the U.S. Attorney's Of fice to the judge: "Defendant Charles Kushner, since the time of his August 18th plea, has continued to try to thwart the United States government at every opportunity. . . . The 700 letters that defendant Kushner has submitted to this court show that when defendant Kushner wanted to be good, he could be very good. But the charges contained in the Information, to which defendant Kushner pleaded guilty in August, show more starkly that when defendant Kushner wanted to be bad, he was downright evil. . . . Giving is certainly easier when some of the money comes from unwitting business partners and can be converted into illegitimate tax benefits. . . . Kushner's offenses were crimes of greed, power and excess. 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. . . . His offenses were motivated by power, greed and a desire to wield illegitimate influence over people and events. In committing his crime, defendant Kushner showed extraordinary sophistication, cunning and when needed, ruthlessness. Yet he still blames his victims for his crimes and minimizes most of his criminal conduct . . ." **** Rabbi David Helberg of Brooklyn: "Charles Kushner is a drink for the parched, a morsel for the famished and a prayer for the soul. The world needs Charles Kushner! **** Cory Booker, who unsuccess fully ran for mayor of Newark in 2000: "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 . . . Charlie has stood by me when many others would not. . . . What Charlie most deeply cared about was Newark and its people. . . . Newark urgently needs such warriors and I await and will welcome his return." **** Howard Jonas, the chairman and founder of IDT Corp. in Newark: "Even Mr. Kushner's closest friends do not deny that he made a terrible and serious mistake. His admission of wrongdoing in no way diminishes my judgment of him as an honorable and decent man." **** David Ascalon, a Cherry Hill- based artist who first met Kushner when he was commissioned to design a sanctuary of a congregation: "Charlie is clearly an ambitious individual. He is, no doubt, driven to succeed and to achieve. Though there are others out there with his high level of ambition, what is so extraordinary about Charlie - what sets him apart - is that he is not motivated by greed or ego. . . . What ultimately motivates him is his deep-rooted passion to give to the community." **** Most Rev. John J. Myers, arch bishop of Newark: "He has always been gracious to me even though we are of different religious faiths." Cardinal Theodore McCar rick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., formerly archbishop of Newark: "He was very generous to the Archdiocese of Newark, especially in supporting charitable work. . . . He has always had a reputation for integrity in his business and I have never heard anyone speak badly about him for any of his business dealings." **** Joshua Marcus, a childhood friend: "Charles Kushner befriended me and became my 'Big Brother.' . . . He gave me confidence and looked out for me." **** Debra Davidson, a South Orange resident with special needs who works for Kushner Cos.: "Kushner Companies is the first place that has made me feel like an important and productive part of the team. At other jobs I was treated like I couldn't think for myself. Here, they treat me like a regular person. For me this is very important." **** Nicole Kushner Meyer, his third child who got married just two weeks before he was arrested: "I will miss my father immensely when he goes away but I guess I am lucky that he was able to participate in my wedding and walk me down the aisle. The only thing I worry about is that my father will not be around for my first child's birth." **** Martin Silverstein, the U.S. ambassador in Montevideo, Uruguay: "Since 1958 he has been my friend. We were classmates for 14 years. We shared a blanket in kindergarten. . . . The respect and kindness Charles ALWAYS showed his mother and father is a standard for everyone. Charles never raised his voice in teenage rebellion. When everyone was growing long hair in the '60s, Charles was observing his Dad's edict to keep his hair trim and sideburns above the cheekbone. . . . He was a good son." **** Alan Freeman, vice president of Bed Bath & Beyond, writing with his wife, Brenda: "Whether through company downsizing, jobs being sent abroad or simply bad luck, good and hardworking people in our community have suddenly been unable to provide financial support for their families. Upon hearing of such desperate situation, Mr. Kushner has consistently reached out to these people and in a number of instances has found them positions within his own organization." **** Finn Wentworth, who served as president of YankeeNets, then the owners of the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets, New Jersey Devils and the YES Network: "Although I may be a Republican from Morris County who was raised Catholic, I can comfortably state that I view Charles Kushner as a brother in helping the less fortunate and needy."Compiled by staff writers Kate Coscarelli and Ron Marsico. KUSHNER 1. Charles Kushner leaves a Newark courthouse in July. The U.S. Attorney's Office wrote: "In committing his crime, Kushner showed extraordinary sophistication, cunning and when needed, ruthlessness. Yet he still blames his victims for his crimes and minimizes most of his criminal conduct." LIST: The supporters
Prosecutors Say That Donor Has Failed to Show Remorse By ROBERT HANLEY January 14, 2005New York TimesNEWARK, Jan. 13 -- Charles Kushner, the real estate executive, philanthropist and political donor who pleaded guilty to ''crimes of greed, power, and excess'' last August, failed to show any remorse or humility, prosecutors said in a pre-sentencing report released on Wednesday. ''What is truly extraordinary is that Charles Kushner has failed to accept full responsibility for his outrageous criminal conduct,'' said Christopher J. Christie, the United States attorney for New Jersey, in the memo to Judge Jose L. Linares of Federal District Court. The report from the prosecution contradicted -- and at times seemed to mock -- a defense sentencing memo released earlier that said Mr. Kushner was ''genuinely ashamed'' about actions that his lawyers called inexcusable. The memo from the defense lawyers said Mr. Kushner was prepared to accept whatever prison term Judge Linares imposed at his sentencing, which is scheduled for March 4. ''There is contrition, grief, regret, loss, devastating heartbreak and at least by one courageous man, acceptance of full responsibility for his crimes,'' the defense document said. Mr. Kushner has pleaded guilty to 18 felonies, including filing false tax returns and campaign finance reports, and retaliating against his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with federal authorities in an investigation against him. Mr. Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce the brother-in-law, then sent a secretly recorded videotape of the encounter to the man's wife, Mr. Kushner's sister. Under a plea deal with Mr. Christie, Mr. Kushner faces a sentence of 18 to 24 months. In their memo to Judge Linares, Mr. Kushner's lawyers sought to convince the judge to impose a term at the low end of the sentencing range. Mr. Christie has asked for the maximum. Mr. Kushner's lawyers have provided Judge Linares with about 700 letters praising Mr. Kushner's charity and philanthropy. On Wednesday, 165 of those letters, all mentioned in the defense memo, were released under Judge Linares's direction. On Thursday, defense lawyers released seven letters from current or past public officials praising Mr. Kushner, who was one of the nation's leading Democratic campaign contributors. In October 2002, for instance, he wrote a $1 million check to the Democratic National Committee. One of his lawyers, Benjamin Brafman, said the defense team rejected offers from ''thousands'' of public officials to send letters to the judge and instead chose to provide letters from ordinary citizens who, he said, had benefited from Mr. Kushner's donations and kindness, including schoolchildren and the sick. ''Those letters are more meaningful to a court than perfunctory letters of reference from public officials regardless of how important they may be,'' Mr. Brafman said by telephone. ''We have too much respect for Judge Linares to flood the court with letters from people who really do not know Charles Kushner.'' One of the seven letters was written by former Senator Robert G. Torricelli, a Democrat. He called Mr. Kushner a friend for 20 years and praised him for creating a school, Kushner Academy, in Livingston, N.J., Mr. Kushner's hometown. Mr. Kushner and family members contributed both to Mr. Torricelli's Senate campaign and to a legal defense fund he created when he ran into ethics problems while in office. ''Thousands of people in this state live better lives and found a hand of rescue in Charlie Kushner's generosity and spirit of charity,'' Mr. Torricelli said. ''This is the Charlie Kush-ner I hope the court will remember when it imposes its sentence.'' The six other letters released on Thursday were written by Robert Abrams, a former attorney general of New York State; Martin J. Silverstein, the United States ambassador to Uruguay; Cory A. Booker, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Newark; Patricia Sebold, a member of the Essex County Board of Freeholders and a resident of Livingston; Eleonore Kessler Cohen, former mayor of Livingston; and Bruce A. Blakeman, former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature on Long Island and a board member at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Mr. Christie said in his memo that the government did not dispute that Mr. Kushner had performed charitable acts. He said the defense letters ''show that when defendant Kushner wanted to be good, he could be very good.'' But Mr. Kushner's guilty pleas last August, Mr. Christie added, ''show more starkly that when defendant Kushner wanted to be bad, he was downright evil.'' Mr. Christie called the hiring of the prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, William Schulder, fiendish.
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