Satan’s Docket: Welcome to Mob City Utica, New York

By Dr. Leon R. Koziol

“For as long as can be remembered, people have been pleading for a lawyer to take a conscientious stand against his profession; to slay an evil which has lurked there for too long. And when that person finally arrived, they crucified him.”    Original

There can be no better depiction of my ten year ordeal exposing corruption of children, parents and families in our nation’s domestic relations courts. Prior to taking a stand against those who made a living bankrupting entire families through orchestrated conflict, I had an unblemished 23 year record as a successful civil rights attorney. Today, the retributions have cost me my children, licenses and livelihood to the point of seeking human rights protection in Paris.

It’s all been suppressed in the news or misrepresented by a cult of judges issuing defamatory decisions in upstate, New York. And now the story will finally be told in a book set to be released this fall entitled, Satan’s Docket. I was not sure of that title but it came out by accident in one of my chapters where I warned my readers to reconcile, mediate or surrender their petty custody and support issues to avoid being placed on Satan’s Docket.

However after spending a few days in our nation’s capital networking with fellow whistleblowers and best selling authors, I came across such published titles as Lucifer’s Bank and The Dark Side. It was then that I knew I had my story right, from ethics committee witch hunts to my pedophile custody judge removed from the family court bench, it was all there like another plot for the blockbuster movie, Devil’s Advocate.

Over the course of my originally uncontested divorce, over thirty-five, that’s right 35 trial jurists were removed from my case, some from the bench altogether, a record among courts across America by my research. Due to my controversial litigation over the years, you would think that the witch hunt was executed by jurists in my home county. But ironically they all pretty much did the right thing by stepping down at the outset.

I continue to be censored for my public criticisms, most particularly for my 2013 testimony before the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption at Pace University. Since that time multiple license reinstatement applications have been denied through opposition reports citing that testimony with exhibits containing reproduced website postings at www.leonkoziol.com.

Prior to being terminated as the principal ethics lawyer working against me (for falsifying his time sheets), Steve Zayas declared to the licensing court that year that his Committee (the “unethical ethics committee” as I called it) would oppose my reinstatement as long as I continued my public criticisms. That has left me in a suspended state exceeding the seven year term for disbarred convicted felons.

I have never been disbarred, still paying my registration fees as a member of the New York bar, and I have never even been accused of a crime, child abuse or found guilty of malpractice. I completed a six month license suspension many years ago caused by a secretary in my office (sent to jail last year on felony convictions). She was influenced by outsiders to tamper with office mail and keep court appointments off my calendar.

The Third Department ethics court nevertheless held me responsible for her supervision while taking no similar action against fellow members of the court or their appointed ethics committee for supervisory duties regarding the three ethics lawyers they allowed to resign quietly for falsifying their time sheets. And that would entail misappropriation of public money, right? Not even a criminal charge?

While I could go on and on, the book tells it all in 22 chapters and over 108,000 words destined to become a documentary someday. At least that’s what I’ve been told by experts at the National Whistleblowers Summit this past week in Washington D.C. Sadly the collateral damage was inflicted upon my innocent daughters and victims of government abuse still awaiting my return to the “profession.” Since 2010, I remain amazed at the number of people still seeking my services. I could not win everything that came to me over a stellar career but I always remained dedicated to my clients.

To make my book appealing to a broader market, I spiced up the plot with excerpts of high profile cases. In it, I heap praise on most of the characters unconnected with the witch hunt, even former enemies. I can think of only a few locals that I have exposed negatively. Utica Mayor Ed Hanna and city lawyer Linda Fatata come to mind. This chapter brings out some of my local history for those of you across the country who have wondered about it. Entitled, A Wedding to Die For, I introduce Satan like she has never been seen before. Here is that excerpt:

Kelly Hawse and I met in 1998 at a place called Babe’s Macaroni Grill and Bar, an Italian restaurant in a predominantly Italian populated city. Once known as “Sin City of the East,” Utica, New York had a dubious distinction as a rust belt city mired in mafia lore.

A high number of mobsters were discovered to be from Utica at the infamous Appalachian summit of 1957. While many mafia enclaves closed after that sting operation, this one survived well into the nineties and quite likely into the present century.

Outside investigations of corruption triggered by the Appalachian arrests revealed that city police and county prosecutors were ignoring the gambling, prostitution and racketeering which were rampant here. Convicted murderer, Joseph Valachi, testified at a U.S. Senate hearing that from eighty to a hundred members of the mafia were from Utica. News reports featured shootouts, car bombings, ambushes and gruesome murders that would rival the Middle East today.

While attending law school in Illinois, even my classmates from Al Capone’s city of Chicago could not get enough of my stories, not so much because they tracked the ones in the Godfather movie but because they were real and current, three murders in a single month.

A young lawyer, Joseph Dacquino, was found tied to a chair and lifeless in the law office basement of a criminal defense attorney who had defended figures linked to organized crime. Speculation abounded that the victim was an FBI informant, mistaken for his boss or in the wrong place at the wrong time. [1]

Many years later, that boss, Louis Brindisi, would advise against my challenges to a corrupt court system during a private exchange at his former restaurant in Saratoga Springs. His practical advice was based on a preference for keeping a law license over child contact because a whistleblower like me could end up in jail without commission of any crime.

He knew the system as well as any lawyer but possessed a street character about him which elevated the value of his advice. And how correct he was. He was related to the judge whose wife commended our wedding.

One year after that wedding, I won a First Amendment trial as former Utica corporation counsel with Louie on the other side. [2] Front page newspaper photos featured Kelly in a pregnant state alongside me on the front steps of the federal courthouse after the jury verdict was announced.

My daughter was actually there to witness her daddy make precedent. Her mom could probably verify the kicks inside her each time my little girl celebrated an objection ruled in my favor. It was all but delivery time when the verdict was read aloud and she could hear it.

Our attending nurse at the hospital may have confirmed a likelihood that my unborn little girl could hear that verdict. Otherwise her prior opinions regarding the sonograms would be fraudulent. On one occasion, she concluded that our little girl was playing hide-and-seek with mommy and daddy as she visited or ducked the screen.

In the courtroom, my daughter must have guessed from her exclusive vantage point that her dad had brought together a highly intriguing cast of characters for her entertainment, stories she could one day share with her friends in high school.

They included a reputed mobster lawyer, a multi-millionaire mayor renowned across the country for his Trump-like battles, and a highly respected, veteran lawyer assisting her dad who would later become legal counsel for the Woodberry pool club with her mom as a director and her future sister an avid patron.

United States District Court Judge David N. Hurd presided over the case. A serious minded federal jurist, he was easy to spot in any crowd even without a robe. Prior to assuming the bench, he resembled one of the Kennedy brothers, John or Bobby, and Ted by the time he got this case.

Louie was at an opposing trial table with city lawyers that included John Dillon, Utica’s corporation counsel during these proceedings who would also sue the city he worked for ten years later. In Pearce v Longo, [3] he recovered $2 million in a parent murder-suicide case involving a city police investigator after he left support court. That horrific event, needlessly fomented by divorce contests, morphed into a local movement to prevent domestic violence.

In addition, there were notable persons not at my trial who were monitoring it closely. They included Tim Julian, the replacement mayor who I had named in a race discrimination case. That litigation had just begun in the same court before the same judge resulting in a verdict of $333,820.32 one year later.[4] I argued that verdict in Manhattan before Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Another six figure jury verdict arose after that one as my cases against the city grew over time.

Tim’s brother, Robert Julian, was also undoubtedly glued to news reports of this trial. Highly influential in politics, he held prominent positions during a stellar career as a personal injury attorney. He served a term as state Supreme Court justice and more recently represented my disgraced custody judge, Bryan Hedges. From the first day of jury selection to the last day of trial, front page news provided all the daily drama. Some background is therefore in order.

On December 4, 1996, a horrific fire erupted in a multi-floor building on Bleecker Street in east Utica. Firefighters sent into the building were soon trapped on an upper floor when the one below it was by-passed in the rush to get to the assumed source. The temperature on the one below reached a level that produced a flashover, in lay terms a mass fire eruption caused by temperatures reaching a kindling point.

It left firefighters above scrambling to escape. Crawling, blinded by smoke and suffocating to their deaths, only miracles allowed them to get out alive. But the injuries, scars and traumas were indescribable. At the time, my boss, the city’s mayor, was in a heated battle with the fire department over budget cuts which were quickly cited as a factor.

It attracted national attention. Utica’s arson rate was growing to twice the national average and three times the state average. At its worst, when I was city corporation counsel, the Utica Fire Department was battling as many as three fires a night with nearly half ruled as arson.

I can still remember working on a risk management report in City Hall late one night when fire sirens were going off in multiple parts of the city. Due to threats I had received because of that report, I would be extra careful when accessing my car alone in the basement garage. A close friend and city marshal would demand a call each time I did so that he could escort me safely.

I was also extra careful with the report’s final conclusions and recommendations. I wanted to assure all concerned that they were based on fact and not the political agenda of the mayor. His name was Edward A. Hanna, and he had appointed me the city’s top lawyer…

Stay tuned for more in this series of posts I call: Satan’s Series

Footnotes:

[1]   Rocco LaDucca, Mob Files Day 7: How it all ended, (Utica) Observer Dispatch, May 9, 2009

[2]   Koziol v Hanna, 107 F. Supp. 2d 170 (NDNY 2000)

[3]  766 F. Supp. 367 (NDNY 2011)

[4]  Patterson v City of Utica, 370 F. 3d 322 (2nd Cir. 2004)