Department Of Justice Prosecutors care little about justice; convictions – whether of the innocent or guilty – are their goal

“Reality,” a commenter wrote,  “Look at history and tell me how many times the Feds lose cases when there are so many financial crimes involved and so much fed money being spent to investigate.” 

It’s true, the Feds, that is the Department of Justice [DOJ], has a high conviction rate. It’s so high that the DOJ is either nearly infallible or the justice system has become so broken, so pro-government, that innocent people have little chance at justice.

The literal reason for super-high conviction rates at the DOJ is because approximately 95 percent of defendants take plea bargains. They almost have to – whether they are innocent or not.

In the money-driven federal justice system [you need big money to get a respected attorney] the method used by the DOJ to get high conviction rates is to grossly overcharge a defendant so that he faces long years in prison.

Then offer him a plea deal with a substantially shorter potential prison term.

For instance, Joe O’Hara was facing 20 years on a bribery charge in El Paso Texas.

I personally believe Joe is innocent. But the public official he allegedly bribed – with a $5,000 fully reported, fully on the books, otherwise perfectly legal political donation – and for which he got nothing in return – was also charged with accepting a bribe[s].

That public official took a plea bargain – contingent [of course] on his testifying that Joe and others bribed him.

This man did not care perhaps if he was really bribed or not – or that he gave Joe nothing in return. He was simply seeking to get out of years of potential prison.

In turn, Joe was also offered a plea deal – for 2.5 years. From 20 years down to 2.5 years.

Joe had to make an assessment. He knew he had a judge who was salivating at the prospect of putting people in prison and making a name for himself in the arena of public corruption.

Joe took the deal and likely saved a decade or more of his life in prison. I don’t think he had a chance at a fair trial. Our present federal justice system if so corrupt that it does not matter if Joe was innocent.

It just doesn’t matter.

There was another factor that militated against Joe. He had no money. Years of fighting Nxivm left him bankrupt.

So in the Texas bribery case, seemingly unrelated to NXIVM, he had a public defender. He therefore was not considered a formidable opponent. He could not afford a top lawyer. The DOJ wrote him off – and probably felt darn good about it. Another conviction.

“And what the hell; 2.5 years is not so long. He’ll get out and resume his life,” I can imagine the prosecutor saying to himself.

In my case, Ms. Chitra Selvaraj, my codefendant in the Bronfman-inspired federal charges against me, is currently facing up to 20 years in prison – just as I am.

She was offered a misdemeanor and no prison time by former AUSA Anthony Bruce, a man who I believe corruptly led a grand jury to indict us in 2015.

Who wouldn’t want to take that deal? A misdemeanor? Instead of 20 years?

But Chitra’s challenge was that the misdemeanor came with a condition: She must lie in court for the DOJ against me.

This is what former AUSA Bruce proposed: She could have a misdemeanor if she wanted. From 20 years to no prison.

She had to decline the deal however since she was unwilling to perjure herself, she said, and make up crimes that neither she nor I did.

It’s a sad fact: She could get out of trouble by simply lying. And the DOJ would be pleased to accept her lies.

But isn’t that what children try to do? Get out of trouble by lying? Isn’t that what cowards do?

But, still, can I blame Joe or anyone who takes a plea? No I cannot. This is what the system has become.

Convictions [via plea bargains] of innocent Americans are appropriate at the DOJ. Sure, it’s Machiavellian: Keeping conviction stats high is important for prosecutors’ career advancement.

There is another reason: The DOJ notion is that the importance of public perception of the infallibility of the DOJ is more important than the lives of a few thousand innocent people.

No one can beat the federal system. That’s the idea they want Americans to believe. They want you to believe that if the DOJ charges you, you are through. The judiciary is irrelevant. There is no such thing as a fair trial in the federal courts. That is the approximate reality. And the DOJ wants Americans to believe that. It’s efficient. It makes their job easier.

It keeps our prisons full. It keeps bad guys off the streets. And if a few innocent people have to suffer, it’s the price we pay to insure that we lock up all the bad guys.

The perception has become that the DOJ is never wrong. If they charge you, you must be guilty.

In the old days, the days of the founding fathers, they knew that government is often wrong and that people are people. When people – cloaked in governmental power and authority – are unchecked – and not watched – they become corrupt.

That’s why they wrote the constitution and included a number of provisions for due process.

It’s funny. In America, today, we all believe that a politician can be corrupt but for some reason we think a government prosecutor is somehow above that weakness – that all the rest of of us have.

We would easily believe a politician could be corrupt and insist on watchdogs and transparency. We believe police can be corrupt. We want body cams on them.

But for some reason we don’t want to believe that prosecutors can be corrupt. It strikes at our whole sense of comfort.

The people who have the most power – prosecutors – are the ones we don’t want to watch. We let them police themselves. And trust their integrity – where we would never trust anyone else- not a priest, not a senator, not even the president.

But prosecutors – who control literally the life and liberty of people – they are to be trusted never to abuse their power?

That’s the American idea and of course this is wrong.

The Innocence Project has shown time and again that about 10 percent of exonerates on DNA evidence were innocent – but took plea deals!

Totally innocent men and women took plea deals because they were facing long years in prison. Were I a prosecutor, I would be ashamed of such a statistic and not proud of a 96 percent conviction rate – if it included say 10 percent of innocent people.

So the question is raised: Does every innocent person take a plea deal or get convicted at trial?

No.

The reality is that, on occasion, an innocent defendant can get a federal judge that is fair, a judge that did not originally come up from the ranks of prosecutors at the DOJ.

It is a shocking fact that most federal judges were formerly DOJ prosecutors. So they have a natural bias toward convictions, toward supporting their old friends. People are people.

Many of those judges themselves put innocent people in prison when they were prosecutors to boost their own conviction rates – which helped them, in turn, get promoted to higher positions and ultimately led to a federal judgeship.

If this is true, and I believe it is, then what chance does an innocent defendant have for an acquittal in the federal system? Most federal judges are pro-prosecution because they were prosecutors.

But occasionally, judges are appointed who believe in due process and the constitution. They know that prosecutors – possessing almost unlimited power to destroy lives – are corrupt or semi-corrupt [I call any man or woman corrupt who would knowingly convict an innocent person] and these judges will impose fair trials.

Call me naive, but I still believe a fair trial, presided over by a judge who is not pro-prosecution – but neutral – will convict the guilty and acquit the innocent most of the time.

But who gets a fair trial?

Prosecutors – such as former Assistant US Attorney Anthony Bruce – who I have written about on this website – are extreme examples of corruption.

But he is not unique. He is just more brazen.

Many DOJ prosecutors know a person is innocent, but it frankly doesn’t matter. I think this is what happened to Joe O”Hara.

I believe the DOJ knew he was innocent, but they also knew they had him. Why let any fish go, once he’s hooked?

Let no indictment go to waste. Innocence or guilt is of secondary consideration. “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” That’s a motto the DOJ might consider.

The present Latin motto of the DOJ is “Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur”. It has been translated as “Who prosecutes on behalf of justice.”

I would change their motto to: “Qui Pro Domina Cupiditas Sequitur”

Who prosecutes on behalf of ambition.

And let us, while we’re at it, reverse another longstanding belief: Blackstone’s rule.

Blackstone wrote, “It is better that 10 guilty ones go free than one innocent suffer.”

Much of due process is based on this one concept.

But the new DOJ rule, perhaps we could call it, “Blackguard’s Rule,” is: “It is better that 10 innocent ones are convicted [via plea deals] than anyone we indict – guilty or innocent – go free.”

We never let them off the hook.

If the DOJ spends time and resources on an investigation – for they have only finite hours to invest – [about 2000 hours per prosecutor per year; if they spend a lot of time [say 200 hours] and it turns out that the target is totally innocent, what’s a DOJ prosecutor to do?

He just spent 10 percent of his year on an innocent man. He’s got all this time in. He will be chided if he does not get enough convictions. A prosecutor who does not win convictions [via, mainly, plea bargains] is considered a dud. He won’t be promoted.

On top of that the public presumes the DOJ is infallible. When they jury sees the defendant paraded in, they don’t think he’s innocent until proven guilty. They think ‘What did he do?”

Then there is the fact that there is no watchdog for prosecutors.

I can hear the DOJ prosecutors saying among themselves, “Most of the people indicted are guilty of something anyhow.”

The conscience says, “Most, but not all.”

The prosecutor argues with himself, “If a few innocents suffer – what the hell is the difference?”

His conscience says, “It would matter to you if you happened to be one of those who are innocent and charged.”

But the conscience is a small voice. Easy to ignore — for a while.

On top of that, Americans just don’t care.

Americans care if a dog is abused. If someone beat a dog or a cat, you would hear a howl rise up and a lynching party ready to form.

But if their own Department of Justice provably puts thousands of innocent humans behind bars every year – destroying their lives – for conviction stats – no one seems to care.

That’s the America I am now acquainted with. It’s a different America that I thought existed when I was young.

It is the America that has the most people in prison of any nation in the history of the world.

I think this is partly because people don’t care that their Department of Justice has run amok and cares little for anything other than conviction stats. They do not care that the DOJ regularly puts innocent people in prison. It’s an inconvenient fact and they do not want to hear about it.

Many prosecutors, I believe, do it habitually, knowingly. Others play the game in such a fashion so that they never face their demons.

They put on an air of high-mindedness and simply avoid examining evidence of innocence. They say to themselves, “It is the defense’s job to establish innocence. My job is to convict.”

Then they ignore evidence of innocence and overcharge innocent defendants who now face long prison sentences. Then they offer a plea deal with 1/10th the prison time.

Scared and broke many innocent people take the deal.

The DOJ prosecutor gets the conviction stat. And goes to sleep at night, proud of their accomplishment.

They are criminals in the eyes of the true Lady Justice. But they self righteously crow they are on the side of justice.

And when the innocent person allocutes in front of the judge – admitting to something he never did – to get the plea deal and save years in prison – the corrupt prosecutor can say to himself – “See he admitted to the crime. He’s guilty. I did my job.”

What place in hell is there for such as these?

About the author

Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato is the founder of the FrankReport, publisher and editor-in-chief of Artvoice, The Niagara Falls Reporter, Front Page and the South Buffalo News.

27 Comments

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  • Anything the DOJ did illegal dishonest or otherwise that got Parlato indicted was justified. Think of Al Capone. Or Adolf Hitler. Anything that needed to be done was worth it. The DOJ has to take the law in their own hands sometimes since the constitution protects the guilty. Blackstone is ridiculous. Imagine if 10 guilty ones went free in exchange for every innocent person. The country would be filled with guilty people roaming the streets.
    Better for the DOJ to decide who is bad and get them off the streets as in Frank Parlato.

  • Back in the ’90s The Alameda DA was interviewed for a feature in the weekly East Bay Express. The primary readership for the paper is in Berkeley and Oakland, so the readership has a liberal bent. Despite this the DA proudly boasted that the reason that he was drawn in to be a prosecuting attorney was that he always rooted for Hamiliton Burger on the Perry Mason show. Being that Burger always lost, the DA must have been carrying around a whole of animus against defendants he was prosecuting.

  • Breaks my heart, again and again, to see this happening in the land I love, to people I care for, knowing full well that there but for the grace of God go I.

  • I’m totally aghast at what Bronfman and Raniere have put you through Frank, as well as what they have inflicted on Joe O’Hara and John Tighe, not forgetting Toni Natalie and others. I hope that evidence will be found in the NXIVM case that will prove that Clare lied and perjured herself in the charges against you and that you will be exonerated. Could a superceding indictment against Bronfman include perjury charges? And, if she were found guiltyof perjury, what would happen to her case against you?

        • Pyriel, we don’t, in fact, know that the superseding charges against Frank and Chitra are not linked to NXIVM. Same goes for Joe O’Hara and John Tighe as to their alleged crimes. I agree that Clare, like anyone who commits such a crime, should be charged with perjury. It’s the only way to begin to stop the corruption from overtaking the justice system and keep innocent people from serving in the place of true criminals.

  • Here is a link to the National Registry of Exonerations.
    CURRENTLY 2,361 EXONERATIONS
    MORE THAN 20,645 YEARS LOST
    https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=3234

    I linked to the Gary Gauger wrongful conviction case because it demonstrates how out of control some prosecutors and police are.
    And the Gauger case had a major impact on how Illinois handles homicide cases.

    In. 1993 Gary Gauger’s parents were brutally murdered.
    And a corrupt cop falsely claimed that Gary Gauger confessed.
    On the basis of the cop’s perjured testimony Gauger was sentenced to Death Row.

    It so happen.s the FBI had infiltrated a motorcycle gang and knew that the gang had murdered Gauger’s parents because Gauger’s father collected rare motorcycles.
    The FBI informed Illinois government officials about the real murderers.
    Problem solved?
    Think again.

    The corrupt rotten local McHenry County prosecutor insisted on keeping the innocent man in prison.
    An Illinois Court of Appeals had to slap down the prosecutor.
    Gary Gauger was eventually pardoned by the Illinois Governor on the basis of INNOCENCE.

    As a result of the Gauger case and other exonerations the State of Illinois eliminated the death penalty.
    Moreover, a young State Senator named Barack Obama co-sponsored a bill to require ALL police interrogations in homicide cases to be recorded.

    • Thanks Shadow. That’s very helpful to a non American (coincidentally going through the Murder One boxed set). The amount of time that it took to quash Gary’s conviction and pardon him really is unbelievable. Hopefully there will be evidence found in the NXIVM case that proves that Frank was stitched up.

  • I have an old friend who has a brother in prison serving a life sentence for a crime that he did not commit, but an informant received a six figure payment for implicating him in.

    It’s unfortunate, but the entire system is designed to wake people up.

    If you want to wake up from this nightmare, figure out who you are.

  • Exactly correct. Anyone doubt Bruce started his career with the best of intentions? Over time justice becomes less a concept and becomes more of a machine.

    We love our heroes but in today’s society we love it even more when they fall (or fail). Meh, it’s probably always been that way. We build them up and tear them down.

    I wish you the best Frank. Times are changing and I fear we are about to repeat a dark time in history.

    • I agree with you Mitch, in that justice has become a machine for special interests. It’s quite sad actually, yet it’s been this way for quite sometime However, I can’t agree with your idea that while we love our heroes, especially when they fall or fail. Times are always changing. It’s a constant.

      • We love watching them fall.
        The good old days may not have been that good ( for everyone that is. Race, religion, sexuality etc)
        But they were still pretty damn good.

        So why can’t we go back to the way it was but with everyone included?

        • Not sure what you mean by the good old days. The equality in this country is still a work in progress and always has been. All people need to be treated with dignity. It’s been a mere 100 years ago that women were granted the right to vote. That’s right, at that time 50% of our US population wasn’t allowed to cast a vote. There are many examples in US history that speak to the same level of inequality. In my opinion, the good old days was a manufactured illusion. We’ve got a long way to go, and in all probability, the good old days are still to come and we won’t see this in our lifetime. Speak for yourself when you claim, “We love watching them (heroes) fall”. There are many heroes who are purposefully omitted from our history books.

          • Did you not read where I said include everyone? Such as women being allowed to vote. Everyone treated with dignity etc.
            The good old days can mean when people didn’t lock their doors or when they talked to their neighbors or didn’t search for a reason to be offended by something
            People are suspicious of each other now.

            As far as enjoying heroes fall, all you need do is watch the news, see the magazines at checkout.

          • How about equal justice under the law?? When your girl Hillary and her rapist husband are brought to justice we can talk equality, not some liberal jibbershit.

  • I would go a step further, that most people just don’t care, period, about any injustice (except as you stated for dogs and cats, but even then it’s very temporary, “fake” caring, a comment with no action attached), as long as it isn’t happening to them. The cowards of this country are getting exactly the out of control DOJ that they deserve for their silence. The internet has the potential to empower people, but they won’t use it for good, only to tell others to STFU.

    • Tell us what to do Scott. Tell us now! Don’t make us come on a radio show or a conference call. What is your vision to bring down Amway and other injustice? How can we harness the internet to help save Frank?

      It’s easy to insult people online. You’ve been at it for how many years and how many forums? Blogs? Even posting links to your website in the comment section of news stories. You keep getting banned, and ridiculed and making enemies of people that try to be a friend.

      How’s the Amway thing going ?
      Taking down Amway.
      Not your fault. Nobody will pick up the phone or go on your radio show. They get what they deserve.
      Did you get what you deserved when you didn’t listen to all the people that warned you about Amway?

      • Wow…what’s the matter Mitch? You sure seem upset about all this. Why? Are you personally affected by Scott questioning Joe? I’m sure Joe’s a big boy who can defend himself (if he was wrongly convicted then that won’t be a problem for him.)

        Personally, I have no opinion on Joe’s conviction because I dont know all the facts, and I’m betting most readers here don’t know all the facts either. Just going by the facts presented on this site would be unfairly biased, right?

    • Hey Scott, I think your are wrong. Why do you care about this case? Seriously. Me thinks it’s that same sort of temporary “fake caring” to benefit yourself.

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