Ex-Brooklyn Judge Garson gets 3 to 10 in prison
(Brooklyn - WABC, June 5, 2007) (WABC) -- Former state Supreme Court Judge Gerald Garson, who accepted gifts in exchange for helping fix divorce cases, was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in prison.
Garson wept in court, saying he was "profoundly sorry" for his actions, which included pocketing cash and cigars.
Garson was found guilty of three of seven counts of bribery and misconduct on April 19th. He showed no reaction as the verdict was read. Six other people have already been convicted of crimes linked to the case.
The sentencing judge had no sympathy for him. "You abdicated your own moral fiber," Justice Jeffrey Berry said before imposing the sentence. "What you brought upon yourself is terrible."
The trial for Garson, who is 74, had been delayed due to appeals on procedures. Garson faces a maximum of seven years in prison when he's sentenced in June.
Prosecutors had used video from a camera setup in the judge's chamber showing him allegedly taking gifts from a divorce lawyer who's clients then got favorable rulings.
This tape was made in Judge Gerald Garson's robing room back in 2003.
First we hear Judge Garson trashing his job.
"Let me tell you something about this job...one of the great things about this job is I don't know what the f--- I have tomorrow, until I get here ... I don't give a s--- either, you know? ..."
But the tapes also contain valuable evidence that prosecutors say will prove Garson was on the take. For instance, you see the lawyer, Simonovsky, handing Judge Garson an envelope with money in it. Moments later, you hear this:
Siminovsky: "Make sure it doesn't fall out of your pocket.."
Garson: "Yeah, it's not going to fall out.."
Garson: "For at least an hour or two.."
In Garson's defense, his lawyer insists:
Michael Washor, defense attorney: "If you see the tape, you'll see Gerry Garson give the envelope back."
Not exactly. What you see and hear is Garson asking Mr. Simonovsky to change his form of payment instead to Judge Garson's wife's campaign.
Garson: "So um ... maybe you can ... do a check or something like that..."
In the tape, you also see Simonovsky place a box of cigars in Judge Garson's drawer in exchange for advice on a case.
Michael Vecchione, Assistant District Attorney: "The judge told him how to prep a witness, what to get out of a witness, told him he was gonna be a winner..."
Judge Garson was also allegedly promising favorable decisions like this one where Simonovsky's client was divorcing his wife and wanted their home:
Garson: "I'll award him exclusive use on it...she's f-----."
Garson: "You win..."
Judge Garson retired from the bench after receiving a suspension. If convicted, he could face up to 31 years in prison.
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