Former Assistant US Attorney Anthony M. Bruce retired after 38 years with the US Attorney’s office, Western District of NY. shortly after indicting me on November 20, 2015.
I was his last indictment.
In addition to my case, which is, I will attempt to show, a clear cut case of a reckless, malicious prosecutor, there are a number of other cases where Bruce seems to have committed various crimes such as obstruction of justice.
Such as the case against Bhavesh Kamdar. Bruce illegally changed a Pretrial Supervision report which recommended “moderate bond” for Kamdar to “no bond” and submitted the false document to a magistrate judge.
But for the DOJ’s “protect our own” policy – which is sort of akin to the “blue line” policy of police – Bruce would have been disbarred. He almost was.
Bruce’s plan was to deceive the court into denying Kamdar bail and keeping him in prison while awaiting trial, a hard place to conduct an effective defense.
Bruce was caught with the fraudulent document. Kamdar made bail and Bruce failed to win a conviction.
Kamdar is free. But he might not have been free if he had been held without bail. Kamdar did a lot to aid his own defense which he could not have done if he was denied bail.
Then there is the case of David Knoll, a once successful lawyer. Bruce made a deal with a bank robber in federal prison to trade a robber’s freedom for something “incriminating” he might uncover against Knoll and give to Bruce.
The bank robber, while in prison, arranged for a confederate to burglarize Knoll’s law office. Bruce wound up with stolen documents – which he later used to indict Knoll.
The case and the Bruce-sanctioned burglary were famous in the Western District of NY as an example of how Bruce could flaunt the law and get any target he chose.
Another example is the case of Paul Rutherford. Bruce wanted him to testify against his two nephews, who Bruce was targeting.
Rutherford refused. Bruce again went to the prisons, this time to persuade a convicted killer who had been in prison for a 20- year-old murder to suddenly claim he remembered that it was Rutherford who did the killing two decades earlier.
Rutherford was indicted and held without bail, spending 14 months in prison awaiting trial, where, he claims, he went deaf from the din.
At Rutherford’s trial, the man who had been convicted for the murder admitted on cross-examination that Bruce promised him early release from prison once he “remembered’ Rutherford was the killer.
The jury didn’t buy that a man who sat in prison for 20 years only remembered after Bruce refreshed his memory [and promised him freedom] that Rutherford was the killer.
Bruce’s case fell apart when Rutherford’s assigned counsel uncovered that the convicted murderer had, over the years, accused others, including his own brother, of the same killing in various attempts to get out of prison.
The acquittal infuriated Bruce, who threatened Rutherford’s lawyer with charges that could lead to disbarment, for what he claimed was improperly obtained exonerating information.
Then there is the case of Mike Caggiano, a guy who Bruce claimed was part of a union extortion ring.
Caggiano, who never had a criminal record before, got into a brawl in a local bar and cut his opponent with a knife causing a puncture to his neck requiring two stitches. Orchard Park police charged Caggiano with a misdemeanor. He was convicted and sentenced to four months of weekends in county jail and 300 hours of community service. He served his sentence and worked at Local 17 as an apprentice.
Bruce was after Local 17. Other than property damage and some pushing and shoving at picket lines, there was nothing to indicate Local 17 was dangerous or violent.
But Bruce learned how Caggiano fought a man in a bar brawl, and indicted Caggiano for the fight he already served time for, claiming the fight was not a drunken brawl, but that Caggiano was extorting the man on behalf of the union.
Bruce conflated the fight and the two-stitch puncture wound to a brutal stabbing to the neck of a man who wouldn’t play ball with the union.
The publicity was splendid. Alongside complicated wire fraud and money laundering schemes, and murky conspiracy theories, Bruce had a brutal union stabbing which everyone could understand.
Bruce knew, of course, that Caggiano wasn’t guilty. Everyone told him before trial. But he needed Caggiano for the violence component.
As other indicted union members were offered plea deals without prison time, the best deal Bruce offered Caggiano was eight years imprisonment.
As long as Caggiano was a defendant, he was useful in every news story, which never failed to mention that he was the man who stabbed a man in the neck while allegedly extorting him to use Local 17.
During the trial, the man Bruce claimed had been brutally stabbed admitted he had been drinking with Caggiano for hours the night of the fight. They got drunk together and the stabbing was revealed to the jury as nothing much more than a pin-prick. The witness further admitted that Caggiano pricked him only after the man broke a bottle of liquor and threatened Caggiano with its jagged edges.
On top of that, the man said that Caggiano never tried to get him to give work to the union.
Bruce must have known the jury would acquit Caggiano. He knew it all along. But Caggiano’s life was ruined. His life savings lost. His reputation shattered.
Bruce pretended Caggiano was an enforcer. His acquittal seemed irrelevant to Bruce. Caggiano had served his purpose.
The acquittals of Jeffrey Peterson, Thomas Freedenberg, Gerald Bove, and Michael Eddy, also of Local 17, also seemed irrelevant to Bruce. He got one man. To get one conviction, he traded four acquittals of innocent men.
“The verdict was a mixed verdict,” Bruce said when four of five men he tried to put in prison were acquitted in the Local 17 trial.
For Bruce, the man he sought, Mark N. Kirsch, the leader of the union, was convicted. That four innocent union members were falsely charged was the sacrifice Bruce required to make his case better.
Then there is the case of the Chosen Few motorcycle club. Bruce suborned perjury and was almost disbarred, which we have told about in another post. The crux of it was that he got his informant to commit crimes and encourage a feud between the Chosen Few and the Kingsmen.
Bruce actually intervened to start a motorcycle war to get indictments. He indicted 21 men. Three of them were held without bail for years.
Ultimately, it was found that Bruce’s protected informant, David Ignasiak, was the one and only criminal in the group.
All charges were dismissed. Most of the men’s life savings were wiped out. Three of the men spent years in prison. And his criminal informant walked away scot-free. But Bruce did not care. He was only disappointed he lost the case.
In fact, he wanted to push on, but his superiors – realizing that Bruce had suborned perjury before the grand jury and may have conveniently “lost” that testimony – decided that even Bruce could not always be above the law.
For 38 years, Anthony M. Bruce enjoyed conscienceless antipathy to Blackstone’s ratio of “It is better that 10 guilty men go free, than one innocent suffer.”
In Bruce’s world, innocence and guilt were of little concern. He wanted to win.
He feared no one, not judges, not defense lawyers, colleagues or juries. Or his bosses at the Department of Justice. He was above the law.
He indicted me, I believe, at the behest of Clare Bronfman’s attorney William Savino. He may wind up being under investigation himself.
In coming posts, we will examine cases Bruce led – where he indicted innocent men.
Some think he did it for pleasure.
But others think he may have been rewarded for this work.