US Attorney Hochul Justice – Pay to play:
Did Payoffs lead to freedom for the connected?
By: Mike Madigan
Are there two types of justice in the Western New York Federal Justice system?
The following details how justice was served for two recent cases associated with US Attorney William Hochul Jr. The disparities in these two cases lead to serious questions about what appears to be clear conflicts of interest and serious breach of ethics on the part of the US Attorney and his wife Congresswoman Kathy Hochul.
On January 24th, 2011 Joseph Tomasino, 46 of Wheatfield was sentenced to three years’ probation and a minimal fine. Tomasino was caught on wiretaps coordinating drug sales, had in his possession over 1 gram of cocaine at the time of his arrest and he confessed that he, Keith Simmons, Anthony Catone and Tony Lamarand used the bar that Tomasino owned and operated to sell, distribute and use cocaine.
The Wheatfield drug gang that Tomasino, Lamarand, Catone and Simmons operated was characterized by the FBI as being a serious risk to public safety. The FBI accused the gang of fire-bombings, violent beatings and of recruiting youths both for taking and selling drugs.
Tomasino did not serve any prison sentence and he remarkably continues to own and operate the business that stored, distributed and sold drugs from that premises (only the name of the bar-restaurant changed not the ownership).
On August 26th, 2011 Darain Rabatoy, 34 of Ransomville was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison followed by three years supervised release for attempting to buy marijuana from a federal agent in a sting operation.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul’s office was responsible for the prosecution of this man. Rabatoy did not have any illegal drugs in his possession, no wiretap evidence against him, no association with any violent drug gangs, no ownership of a business that was used to store, distribute and sell drugs like Tomasino. Rabatoy received prison and Tomasino remains free and the owner of the business that he used for dealing drugs.
What caused such apparent disparity in justice in these two cases?
The following is a summary of transactions that occurred between the lawyers associated with the Tomasino violent drug ring cases and remarkably US Attorney William Hochul’s wife Congresswoman Kathy Hochul concurrent with the prosecution of these cases:
- January 13th 2010 Kathy Hochul received $750 from Dennis C, Gaughan the lawyer of Anthony Lamarand. This payment was received 1 day prior to Mrs. Hochul’s husband’s office acting on Grand Jury indictments of Catone and Tomasino who were part of the same drug ring case that Lamarand was charged in. Catone and Tomasino are key witnesses in the pending Lamarand indictment and sentencing.
- January 13: Kathy Hochul received payment towards her campaign of $500 from the law firm of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambia LLP, the law firm representing Joseph Tomasino. Tomasino’s indictment was handed down by William Hochul’s office on January 14th 2010 the next day.
- June 16 2010 Connors Vilardo LLP, Stephan Catone’s lawyer, paid Kathy Hochul’s campaign $250. Catone is a key potential witness in the Tomasino case.
- June 25 2010 Kathy Hochul received $500 from Lamarand’s lawyer Dennis Gaughan the day after Lamarand pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to distribute cocaine. Hochul’s husband’s office had agreed to drop two other major felony counts against this allegedly violent criminal. Tomasino is a key witness and his case is linked with Lamarand directly.
- July 10, 2010 Keith Simmon’s lawyer Thomas H. Burton donated $2500 to the Hochul campaign 15 days after 2 of the three indictments charges were dropped for Lamarand. Tomasino is a key witness and his case is linked with Simmons directly.
- March 04-2011 Kathy Hochul accepted $5000 from Lamarand Lawyer Dennis C. Gaughan on the same day that her husband’s office petitioned to delay his sentencing. Tomasino is a witness in this case and his case was just resolved with no prison and no confiscation of his business.
- March 14, 2011 Kathy Hochul’s campaign again accepted a $2500 payment from the law firm of Thomas H. Burton, the firm representing Keith Simmons. Tomasino is a witness in this case and Tomasino’s case was just resolved with no prison and no confiscation of his business.
- April 01 2011 Kathy Hochul again accepted $500 from the law firm Connors Vilardo LLP the law firm that represented Stephan Catone. Both Catone and Tomasino’s received only probation for their serious crimes weeks earlier.
- May19, 2011 Mary Rose Gaughan, wife of Anthony Lamarand Lawyer Dennis Gaughan, paid Kathy Hochul’s campaign $1500. The Anthony Lamarand case is still being processed by US Attorney Hochul and Tomasino is a witness in this case.
I again ask what caused such disparity between the Tomasino and Rabatoy cases?
There is a clear conflict of interest for the US District Attorney and his wife Congresswoman Kathy Hochul when you see money changing hands on 9 separate occasions from lawyers in these cases concurrent with their prosecution. On four of the occasions major activity was occurring before US Attorney Hochul at the same time as the donation to his wife Congresswoman Hochul (within 24 hours). These four transactions occurred over a 15 month period making this correlation unlikely to be coincidental.
This is not the only case where such conflicts of interest and apparent ethical breaches exist for the Hochul’s. When reviewing the contribution history for Congresswoman Hochul, a pattern of contributions can be found in close proximity to major actions by the US Attorney’s office.
It is essential that the US Attorney not permit any conflicts of interest or even the appearance of a conflict of interest in legal cases that he and his office is tasked with prosecuting. The US Attorney and his wife have not maintained this standard.