Leon R. Koziol, J.D.
Citizen Commission Against Corruption Inc.
Does it get any more insane than this: While serving a 14-year sentence in a maximum security prison for armed robbery, a Georgia inmate managed to steal more than $11 million by impersonating billionaires using contraband cell phones. This inmate, Arthur Lee Cofield, Jr., a gang member, is also believed to have purchased a $4 million home with a portion of the stolen money.
Where was the oversight on such expansive criminal activity in the very facilities where correctional services are supposed to occur? Like a script from Shawshank Redemption, or the real life prison break at Dannemora in northern New York, this audacious theft could not have succeeded without insider involvement.
It’s just the tip of the iceberg in today’s corrupt society. When the president of the United States is pressuring Texas border mayors to downplay an escalating migrant crisis, the oversight failures of government become more than brazen. They encourage insider crimes from the top down. Our trust in the wolves guarding the chicken coop then become irreparably compromised.
This growing trend is exemplified by the shameless misconduct of FBI director, Christopher Wray, who continues to usurp his authority by immunizing Hunter Biden from grand jury investigation. Meanwhile the director himself was caught misusing the FBI’s private jet, authorized by Congress for counter-terrorism purposes, to fly to his summer home in Saranac Lake, New York. According to Senator Chuck Grassley, Wray left early from an oversight session to address business matters on one of these flights.
It should be no surprise, then, that some 14 whistleblowers have surfaced within the FBI bureaucracy. However, the retributions commonly suffered by this rare group discourage reporting. Qualified lawyers with independent means are crucial to effectively advance oversight of the oversight. Unfortunately, there is no legal protection for lawyers who expose misconduct within their own profession.
This can be verified by the absolute immunity from civil accountability which our judiciary has seized for itself. It polices its own members and the bar with a disciplinary structure that violates due process and is routinely weaponized to punish free speech outside the courthouse. It remains a highly confidential process devoid of jury rights which is therefore able to dodge media scrutiny.
As a prominent whistleblower in this context, I was subjected to widespread retaliation after 23 unblemished years as a civil rights attorney. I helped expose the kind of misconduct which “shocks the conscience” and caused New York’s high court to issue a permanent ban from judicial office against my child custody judge, Brian Hedges, for admitting to sexual abuse of his handicapped five-year old niece. My horrific ordeal has been captured in my recently published book, Whistlelblower in Paris.
Such exposures only incited more severe retributions as my law licenses and contact with my daughters were wrongfully suspended. Meanwhile, the ethics lawyers engaged in the witch hunt against me were cited by the state’s solicitor general for falsifying their time sheets. These standard-bearers of lawyer conduct, chief counsel Peter Torncello and deputy lawyers Elizabeth Devane and Steven Zayas, were never publicly prosecuted, criminally or ethically. Instead, they were allowed to return quietly to private practice.
This sort of widespread dysfunction in our oversight system, together with an ongoing dilution of parental authority in our public institutions, has become a silent contributor to the current escalation in criminal activity that has overwhelmed law enforcement in cities across America. It is evidenced not only by the numbers but by their depravity as mass shootings grow in our malls, grocery stores and even our schools. The random murder of little boys and girls in their classrooms is beyond credulity.
Ominously, the downward spiral shows no sign of relief. Last week ushered in yet another round of utterly demonic news. Deranged parolees are now stalking subway users for the purpose of pushing them into speeding trains. In Manhattan, a woman was egged on by fellow pedestrians when she pick-pocketed a man under the wheel of an errant truck. Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx are struggling with a rash of stabbings and drive-by shootings. And the normally uneventful fifth borough on Staten Island has been inundated with migrants filling its lodging facilities and wandering door-to-door begging for food.
Random shootings hit home for our oversight leaders when Congressman Lee Zeldin, candidate for New York governor, learned that his teen daughters were nearly struck while studying at their Long Island home. His opponent, current un-elected governor, Kathy Hochul, answered the call for ending controversial bail reform by promoting the lawyer who advanced it. And former governor, David Patterson, disclosed on a weekend radio program that he “never felt unsafe as (he does) now just walking around.”
Against this backdrop, a group of good government advocates have taken matters into their own hands by forming a nonprofit, independent entity known as the Citizen Commission Against Corruption, Inc. Its purpose is to do the job which oversight agencies are not. As the founder of this citizen group, I am seeking critical funding to staff offices and act on legitimate complaints of government abuse. Our only current office can be reached by calling (315) 864-8176 or e-mailing me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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