The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is former Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson. He gets the award for the following.
NEW YORK (AP) -- An ex-judge was convicted on Thursday of accepting expensive cigars and other gifts in exchange for helping fix divorce cases -- crimes captured on hidden-camera videos made in his chambers.It's good Garson is off the bench, but I suspect there are more judges out there taking bribes, directly or indirectly. Maybe even one in Broward County. For selling justice, former Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
A jury deliberated two days before finding former Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson guilty of receiving bribes and accepting rewards for official misconduct. He was acquitted on four lesser counts.
Garson, 74, showed no reaction as the verdict was read. He faces up to seven years in prison at sentencing on June 5.
During the five-week trial, surveillance videos showed divorce lawyer Paul Siminovsky giving Garson a $250 box of cigars and $1,000 in cash. Prosecutors alleged the judge was being bribed so he would award the lawyer lucrative guardianships in child custody cases and give him advice on winning divorce cases.
The videos "were the most convincing evidence in my mind," prosecutor Michael Vecchione told reporters outside court. In closing arguments, he described Garson as "no better than the health inspector who turns the other way for 20 bucks when the rats have infested the restaurant."
Defense attorney Michael Washor insisted his client was framed by Siminovsky and promised an appeal. He said his client was disappointed by the verdict.
"It's very painful, both emotionally and physically," he said.
Prosecutors say Siminovsky and Garson had a cozy relationship, and that the judge violated his neutrality by letting the lawyer buy him thousands of dollars worth of meals and drinks.
The relationship was exposed in 2002, when a woman reported that a courthouse crony told her that her husband, a client of Siminovsky, had arranged to bribe Garson, who was overseeing the couple's divorce.
Investigators arrested the lawyer, who agreed to wear a wire while having lunch with the judge. Jurors heard an audiotape of Garson sharing strategy with Siminovsky over matzo ball soup, prosecutors said.
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