TESTIMONY OF JOSEPH OCCHIPINTI
CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY SUMMARY STATEMENT
Joseph Occhipinti, the Executive Director of the National Police Defense Foundation expressed the concerns of the law enforcement community that certain Justice Department officials selectively prosecute dedicated officers in order to protect certain organized crime operations.
Agent Occhipinti is considered one of most decorated federal agents in the country, as well as a leading expert on international organized crime. As the former INS Chief for Anti Smuggling, he spearheaded numerous drug interdiction programs and task force operations that successfully prosecuted major organized crime. For five years, Occhipinti worked undercover infiltrating the "Dominican Federation"; a front for the cartel, where he exposed corruption and is credited for one of the largest seizures recorded.
Agent Occhipinti testified how during a police homicide investigation in 1988, he uncovered evidence that a Dominican drug cartel reportedly employed a former federal prosecutor who allegedly held private sex and drug parties at the SDNY. His undercover investigation, "Operation Esquire", was prematurely terminated by prosecutors to avoid a potential scandal. Instead, Occhipinti through the support of state prosecutors, developed "Operation Bodega" to target the cartel who was using area grocery stores to facilitate their drug trafficking and money laundering activities.
The Dominican Federation realizing Occhipinti' was a viable threat, conspired to set him up on fabricated civil rights charges alleging illegal consent searches. The SDNY authorized the prosecution on perjured testimony and railroaded Occhipinti into a conviction. Occhipinti became the first law enforcement officer in U.S. history to be prosecuted for alleged unlawful searches, which did not involve acts of police brutality, racial bias or corruption. Due to this landmark conviction ,drug interdiction has been terminated in many jurisdictions.
Joe eventually became a national hero when he was carted off to a federal prison and placed in the general prison population with Dominican drug lords he investigated. Major police, civil rights, community and elected officials championed his cause. These groups were outraged by the acts of prosecutorial misconduct and how politically powerful drug lords could manipulate the Justice Department to misuse civil rights laws to their advantage.
Former Congressman Guy V. Molinari, Congressman James Traficant Jr. and others did their own independent investigations that corroborated the conspiracy and prosecutorial misconduct. The New Jersey General Assembly requested congressional hearing and a Special Prosecutor that was resisted by the Justice Department. Instead, the FBI and OPR were directed to investigate the case wherein critical defense witnesses were routinely intimidated and critical evidence ignored. In fact, the FBI case agent tried to set-up Borough President Molinari in an unauthorized sting operation.
On January 15, 1993, former President George Bush granted Agent Occhipinti Executive Clemency and commuted his sentence. However, this landmark prosecution sent a strong message to the police and American public educating them of the political power possessed by foreign drug lords and the Justice Departments inability to investigate corruption and misconduct within their ranks.
House Judiciary Committee
Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
Hearings on H.R. 4105
Testimony by Joseph Occhipinti
July 27, 2000
CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONYDear Mr. Chairman, Committee Members and Invited Guests,
My names is Joseph Occhipinti and I am the Executive Director of the National Police Defense Foundation (NPDF), which is a Congressionally recognized and IRS approved 501c (3) non-profit foundation that protects and supports the efforts of the national law enforcement community.
I founded the National Police Defense Foundation in 1995 after it became evident that many dedicated law enforcement officers from around the country were being unjustly victimized by the same criminal justice system they serve.
Today, the NPDF speaks for the interest of thousands of Federal Agents, Police Chiefs, State Troopers, Sheriffs and local law enforcement personnel in the United States and abroad. The NPDF funds two important law enforcement initiatives the Congressionally recognized "Safe Cop" program that post a $10,000 for pubic information leading to the arrest and conviction of any one who shoots a law enforcement officer. The second NPDF initiative is the "Operation Kids" program that distributes free child fingerprint kits to parents, posts rewards for missing children and arranges for life saving heart operations for critically ill children.
I am a retired federal agent who was the former Chief of the Immigration & Naturalizations Service's Anti-Smuggling Unit at New York City. During my twenty-two years of unblemished federal service with both the Department of Justice and Treasury Department, I became a leading government expert on international crime syndicates and drug cartel operations.
I am one of the most decorated federal agents in United States history having received over 78 official commendations, including three Attorney General Awards. I worked almost five years undercover infiltrating the Dominican drug cartel that resulted in the prosecution of major organized crime figures, as well as one of the largest drug seizures ever recorded in our country.
I come here today to testify in support of the passage of H.R. 4105, the "Fair Justice Act of 2000" that will create a new agency to investigate any official misconduct or corruption by Department of Justice personnel. I support this bill for personal reasons that I hope can be effectively described in the foregoing statement.
My problems started on October 18, 1988, when Dominican drug lords in New York's Washington Heights, savagely murdered NYC Police Officer Michael Buczek. The NYPD had arrested the wrong suspect and their Chief of Detectives formally requested my assistance in the homicide task force due to my expertise in Dominican organized crime.
I was instrumental in helping to solve the murder, as well as in identifying the Dominican drug lords responsible for the officer's death. During the course of this homicide investigation, I developed credible evidence that Dominican Drug Lord Freddy Antonio Then was buying up Spanish grocery stores called "Bodegas" in Washington Heights in order to facilitate his drug trafficking and money laundering activities.
At that time, a registered police informant told me that the Then cartel had on their payroll two Dominican attorneys, one of whom was a former federal prosecutor at the Southern District of New York (SDNY). It was alleged that the cartel was holding private sex and drug parties for some prosecutors in exchange for favorable court dispositions. Unfortunately, despite the credibility of the informant who agreed to wear a wire against the attorneys, the Chief of the Criminal Division (SDNY) refused to authorize "Operation Esquire".
In August of 1989, I continued my investigation of Mr. Then and started "Operation Bodega". Within a few months, the operation developed into a highly successful multi-agency task force resulting in numerous felony arrests, defendant convictions and contraband seizures. However, due to the lack of cooperation by SDNY federal prosecutors, I went to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office who assigned me three Assistant District Attorneys, one of whom was John F. Kennedy Jr. It was clear that federal prosecutors were unhappy with my actions and continued investigation.
On April 4, 1989, the "Dominican Federation", an established front for the Dominican drug cartel according to the NYPD, held a press conference at City Hall calling Operation Bodega a "Republican Conspiracy" that was sabotaging the 1990 census. Also, they accused the operation of violating the federal civil rights of hard working Dominican merchants.
One year later, I became the sole defendant in a multi-count conspiracy indictment for alleged civil rights and related violations. The SDNY had conducted an unprecedented "in-house" investigation rather than refer the case to the FBI, as required by law. According to a published report, an unidentified Justice Department source alleged that federal prosecutors were afraid that the FBI would lie for Occhipinti.
A review of the indictment disclosed that the majority of the complainants openly committed perjury before the Grand Jury with respect to their criminal past and continued involvement in organized crime activity. In fact, two years later, the TV show "Inside Edition" went undercover into the very same Bodegas and captured the same complainants and their employees involved in ongoing criminal activity. One complainant when confronted by the producer on national TV admitted his perjury helped to convict a federal agent.
In another TV documentary, the jury foreman openly admitted that the trial jury realized the perjury by the complainants, however, they convicted me because they misunderstood the law. The jury was led to believe by the prosecutor that an Immigration Officer had no authority to search for narcotics, which is clearly not the law. Congressman James Traficant immediately brought this matter to the attention of Attorney General Janet Reno who unfortunately refused to overturn the conviction, alleging it is not relevant whether or not the jury understood the law.
It should be noted that my landmark prosecution had adverse implications on the entire law enforcement community, as well as drug interdiction operations. For example, today drug interdiction in the States of New York and New Jersey and other jurisdictions has been terminated since agents utilize consent searches in those operations and are fearful that fabricated allegations could land them in jail.
I became the first law enforcement officer in United States history to be
Prosecuted under federal civil rights laws for an allegation of an unlawful search and seizure. There were no acts of police brutality, corruption or racial bias! It is not uncommon for drug suspects or their defense attorneys to allege that an officer's search, seizure or arrest was unlawful. It is the general practice that these allegations are handled administratively by the courts or by the agency. Not in my case!
After my indictment, I solicited and received the aide of the Dominican community, as well as some civil rights leaders who knew my commitment to protect the community from drugs. Dr. Angel Nunez, a local Dominican immigration lawyer and Legal Counsel for the National Hispanic Coalition agreed to conduct his own independent investigation into the allegations. Dr. Nunez later executed a lengthy sworn statement that was entered into the Congressional Record that not only confirmed the drug cartel conspiracy, but also documented some outrageous acts of prosecutorial misconduct.
As part of his investigation, Dr. Nunez conducted taped interviews of all of the Bodega owners I investigated, including the Federation complainants. In essence, Dr. Nunez determined that the non-Federation Bodega owners all admitted the consent search were lawful, wherein Federation complainants testified they never gave permission. However, after careful questioning many of the Federation complainants finally admitted on tape they gave permission.
In addition, some members of the Dominican community volunteered to work undercover by making controlled buys of contraband from the Federation complainants in order to prove their involvement in ongoing criminal activity. The goal of this defense undercover operation was to convince the jury of the drug cartel conspiracy. A total of 55 undercover tapes were made, which was later ordered by the court to be turned over to prosecutors for transcription. Unfortunately, the prosecutors intentionally delayed the process, which precluded the defense from presenting those tapes to the jury, which would have impeached the credibility of the Federation witnesses.
In an effort to better understand why I was railroaded into a conviction, it's important to note the many acts of alleged prosecutorial misconduct that was never properly investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility. For that reason, I have prepared the following brief synopsis of the alleged misconduct and unprofessional behavior that has been well documented in the Congressional Record, the District Court, the Second Circuit of Appeals and to Department of Justice.
1. A defense prosecutor is required to turn over to the defense during the discovery stage any written document or contemporaneous work product memorializing an interview that is considered exculpatory. It is the defenses contention that the following law enforcement agents provided critical exculpatory evidence, which was unlawfully withheld from the Grand Jury and defense.
A. Walter Connery, NYC Asst. District Director of Investigations, INS.
B. William Glinka, Regional Commissioner, INS.
C. Lt. John Brown, NYPD Commanding Officer, 52nd Pct.
D. Rita Kardesman, Congressional Aide, Congressman Charles Rangle Office, NYC.
E. Detective Edmundo Rivera, NYPD, 52nd Pct.
F. Scott Blackman, NYC Deputy District Director, INS.
G. Captain Salvatore Blando, Commanding Officer, NYPD Manhattan North Homicide.
H. William Slattery, Deputy Commissioner, INS
I. John McAllister, Deputy District Director, INS
J. Chief Patrick Harnett, NYPD Chief of the Department.
K. Captain Joseph Reznick, NYPD Commanding Officer, 34Pct.
L. Detective Harold Hilderbrand, NYPD
M. Chief Charles Ferrigno, Organized Crime Drug Task Force, INS
N. Chief ADA Ann Rudman, Manhattan District Attorney's Office
O. Senior Special Agent John Dowd, DEA
P. Lt. Kidd, NYPD Internal Affairs Supervisor.
Q. Detective Stefanie Rich, NYPD Internal Affairs Unit.
R. Special Agent Richard Lauria, INS.
S. Special Agent Nicolas Minervini, INS
T. ADA John F. Kennedy Jr, Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
U. Special Agent Ronald Nowick, Internal Revenue Service, CID
V. Special Agent Michael Capasso, DEA
W. Special Agent Michael Agrifolio, DEA
X. Supervisory Special Agent Vincent Wincelowitz, FBI Corruption Unit
Y. Detective Ronnie Stripp, NYPD
Z. Assistant United States Attorney Larry Brynes
27. AUSA Jeh Johnson failed to advise the Grand Jury and defense of exculpatory information he received from NYPD Detective Raul Anglada relative to the proposed drug cartel conspiracy.
28. AUSA Jeh Johnson should have recused himself as the prosecutor for conflict of interest since he was intimately involved the Operation Esquire and Freddy Then drug investigations, both of which alleged official corruption at the SDNY.
29. AUSA Jeh Johnson should have recused himself due to his admitted social relationship with the judge and her family. Also, that he was the judge's former law clerk. During the trial it appeared that AUSA Johnson had some ex-parte communications with the judge, without the approval of the defense.
30. It appears that it was extremely convenient that this same judge was selected without being picked out of the "wheel", which is the proper procedure in federal courts for designating a trial judge. The prosecutors expressed unprofessional jubilation at the arraignment when the judge was selected. According to an unconfirmed Justice Department source, the judge was pre-selected. I noted my objections on the court record.
31. During the trial, Dr. Angel Nunez volunteered to be co-counsel in light of the nervous breakdown of my attorney. AUSA Johnson conveniently told the court that Dr. Nunez could not be my attorney since he would be called as a government witness. Dr. Nunez was subpoenaed but never called as a witness.
32. During my trial, AUSA Johnson reportedly took full advantage of my attorney's mental state by debriefing him on a daily basis for defense strategies. This is how AUSA Johnson learned about our "Impeachment" tapes that recorded the undercover buys from the Federation witnesses.
The prosecutors then pressured the court to have them released to their custody under the ruse they wanted to make transcriptions. The prosecution conveniently held the tapes while the Federation complainants testified and returned them once their testimony was completed. The defense was prevented from impeaching the witness's testimony because the tapes were not transcribed and available to the court.
33. During trial, the prosecutors took blatant advantage of my attorneys mental state by often taunting him with insults, pranks and derogatory gestures. For example, they would surreptitiously hide important "Brady" material on a cluttered defense table knowing he was disorganized to read the material and prepare for next days cross examination of prosecution witnesses.
The prosecutors learning of the perjury by the Federation complainants made representations to the jury that these witnesses were not testifying under any plea-bargain cooperation agreement. Moreover, the prosecutor led the jury to believe these witnesses would be prosecuted for their admitted crimes. No prosecutions ever materialized.
34. The prosecutors told the jurors that INS Special Agent Stafford William, an un-indicted co-conspirator, would not be prosecuted for alleged civil rights violations in exchange for his testimony against me. They also told the jury that the plea bargain cooperation agreement did not guarantee him his job.
According to testimony entered into the Congressional Record, INS Deputy Commissioner William Slattery stated that prosecutors tried to intimidate the INS in not firing the agent. When that failed, the prosecutors reportedly attempted tried to get the agent another law enforcement position in US Customs.
35. According to Department of Justice regulations, federal prosecutors are obligated to report to all felony violations involving witnesses to the appropriate federal and state law enforcement agencies. Staten Island Borough President Molinari confirmed from the IRS District Director that prosecutors never informed them of the admitted income tax evasion by Federation complainants. Similarly, prosecutors reportedly never notified any other law enforcement agency of their admitted felony crimes.
36. Department of Justice regulations prohibit prosecutors from coercing, intimidating or harassing any defense witness. According to testimony entered into the Congressional Record, my defense witnesses were routinely confronted in the defense witness room by prosecutors who demanded to know their testimony. These defense witnesses, many of who were younger law enforcement officers, felt very intimidated of potential retribution.
37. According to Federal Court procedures, a court-designated interpreter must be unbiased and must properly translate to the court all testimony. In my trial, the prosecutors influenced the judge to use as the "court interpreter" the same Spanish interpreter they had used for over a year to debrief the Federation witnesses, both during the grand jury and pre-trial process. Despite using the interpreter in court, they used her as one of their expert witnesses, who openly admitted before the jury her bias towards me. A Hispanic journalist in the court reported to the defense that he overheard the interpreter intentionally rephrasing defense questions and failed to provide correct translations to the court. This action was highly prejudicial to the defense and was reported to the court.
38. On one operation, I was convicted for conducting an illegal consent search solely upon the testimony of an INS agent who I previously disciplined for misconduct. At trial, the prosecutor never called the actual complainant to testify, instead relied solely upon the testimony of the agent.
According to testimony entered into the Congressional Record by John McAlister, the INS Deputy District Director, he reported to prosecutors that the agent committed perjury. The agent had asked him to backup his court testimony that he had reported the alleged misconduct to his supervisor, which never occurred.
In addition, I learned after the trial that this particular operation had been monitored by the NYPD Internal Affairs Unit. I had requested their presence because of allegations of police corruption. According to Lt. Kidd, the NYPD Internal Affairs supervisor, he went to the prosecutor and produced the undercover police tape confirming the legality of the search. This critical evidence was intentionally ignored and never turned over to the defense.
39. According to Patrick Harnett, who retired as the NYPD Chief of the Department, he met with prosecutors and attempted to convince them of my innocence. Chief Harnett confirmed that the genesis of Operation Bodega was the homicide investigation of PO Michael Buczek. He also verified that the NYPD was aware of its operations and fully endorsed it. This was critical since prosecutors misled the jury to believe I invented the operation without a predication for my own personal gain. A copy of Chief Harnett's affirmation was placed in the Congressional Record.
40. According to an official memorandum entered into the Congressional Record, DEA Senior Special Agent John Dowd was reportedly threatened by prosecutors with potential prosecution after he confirmed that one of the searches enumerated in my indictment was lawful. The DEA Agent and IRS Agent was present during the search when permission was given. In any event, the prosecutor ignored the evidence and the fact that the complainant was a major Dominican organized crime figure under investigation by numerous federal and local agencies.
Once the agent reported the incident to his supervisor and executed a memorandum memorializing the incident, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss that count in the indictment. The memorandum was never turned over to the defense.
41. After my conviction, many noteworthy journalists and radio personalities began to champion my cause. On one occasion, AUSA Jeh Johnson called up the WABC early morning show to criticize the show host for supporting my cause. On another occasion, SDNY prosecutors put out a formal press release criticizing Pulitzer Prize journalist Mike McAlary who published a series of investigative articles that exposed the drug cartel conspiracy. This type of action by federal prosecutors is unprecedented and not sanctioned by the Justice Department.
As you can see, it is virtually impossible for me to outline every documented act of prosecutorial misconduct or to convince you of the drug cartel conspiracy. Instead, let me represent that my landmark prosecution has been closely scrutinized by many, as well as independently investigated by numerous media entities, journalists, elected officials, police officials, legal experts, the New Jersey General Assembly and Civil Rights Groups. It was their general consensus that I was the target of a well-orchestrated drug cartel conspiracy. Moreover, my prosecution was politically motivated and there were many outrageous acts of prosecutorial misconduct.
One case in point, a New York Judge privately brought my case to the attention of Professor Bennett Gershon, a law professor at Pace Law School in New York who wrote a book on prosecutorial misconduct. In essence, Professor Gershon believes my prosecution is one of the worst cases of prosecutorial misconduct he has ever seen during his career.
Professor Gershon was particularly outraged that my attorney of record, who suffered a nervous breakdown prior to trial, was refused permission to be replaced by substitute counsel. The prosecutors believed my attorney was lying about his nervous breakdown, despite the fact we have documented medical evidence reflecting the attorney was hospitalized and tried to commit suicide on two occasions. In addition, a New York State Supreme Court Judge came forward and confirmed that a week earlier he excused my attorney on a murder trial for what appeared to be severe depression and bizarre behavior. A few years later my lawyer was disbarred for threatening a judge at a side bar.
Finally, former President George Bush showed the courage to go against his own Justice Department by granting me Executive Clemency on January 15, 1993. This is the first time a sitting president reportedly had taken that action.
For almost two years after my release, I filed an application for a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence, which meant if I was convicted again, the clemency would no longer be valid and I could be returned to prison.
For almost two years, I worked closely with distinguished Members of Congress, the United States Senate, New Jersey General Assembly, New York Senate, among others to have Congressional Hearings in my case. In fact, the New Jersey General Assembly, both Republican and Democrat, unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the Justice Department to appoint a Special Prosecutor. In addition, legislative resolutions were put forward in the New York Senate and New York City Council.
Unfortunately, these requested congressional hearings failed to materialize due in part to the resistance of the Justice Department and the fact President George Bush granted me Executive Clemency. Instead, the Justice Department convinced my supporters that an unbiased investigation by the Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), as well as the FBI, would be conducted into my case.
As for OPR, it is an extremely small unit with a tremendous backlog of cases that prevented them from conducting a thorough investigation. This investigation, if conducted properly, would have included the interviews of over seventy-five witnesses, as well as the review of volumes of defense investigative files. It is unfortunate that OPR failed to interview critical witnesses and basically rubber-stamped the court of appeals decision that no prosecutorial misconduct occurred.
For example, as previously noted, OPR failed to interview NYPD Detective Raul Anglada who confirmed that one year prior to my indictment, AUSA Jeh Johnson ignored critical information of the proposed drug cartel conspiracy. The detective is very credible, he was physically present when the informant told the prosecutor that she overheard the Dominican Attorneys Jorge Guthlein and Andres Aranda conspiring to set me up on fabricated civil rights charges. What is compelling is that AUSA Johnson in a sworn statement to the court, did not deny the allegations of being told, but conveniently said he did not remember the conversation.
As for the FBI investigation, it seems highly unprofessional that the FBI would assign local FBI agents to conduct a misconduct investigation involving federal prosecutors in the same judicial district where the agents work. Normally, the FBI would assign an OPR agent or a team of agents from another district office.
As for the promised "unbiased" FBI investigation, the case agent concluded that there was no credible evidence of the drug cartel conspiracy. According to sworn statements entered into the Congressional Record, the FBI Agent allegedly intimidated many witnesses, both civilian and law enforcement.
The following is a brief synopsis of alleged misconduct involving the FBI Case Agent who many believe engaged in an unprofessional and shabby investigation, which ultimately protected the fine image and reputation of the local United States Attorneys Office.
1. The investigative staff of Staten Island Borough President who spearheaded a two-year investigation into my case furnished the FBI with full access to the informants. It was their critical undercover activities that helped to expose the drug cartel conspiracy, as well as the extent of organized crime activity by the Federation and others. Mr. Molinari encouraged the FBI to conduct their own independent undercover investigation, which could have resulted in numerous federal RICO prosecutions, which he refused.
2. When the FBI refused to do the undercover drug buys from the Federation complainants, Borough President Molinari convinced Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the former NYC Police Commissioner to do their own undercover operation. However, on the day of the planned drug buys, the NYPD detectives were reportedly told the operation was terminated at the request of federal authorities.
3. The FBI agreed to interview me during my imprisonment in order to obtain background information regarding the Project Esquire and related corruption investigations. The interview never materialized and instead they interview my brother-in-law and sister who had no idea of the cases I worked as a federal agent.
4. The FBI Case Agent reportedly threatened the entire investigative staff of Borough President Molinari with potential criminal prosecution for fabricating the evidence of the drug cartel conspiracy. The agent even referred the case to the Eastern District of New York for a Grand Jury investigation. No prosecution ever took place and it is believed the action was intended solely to intimidate Mr. Molinari and his staff from continuing with their investigation.
5. The FBI Case Agent reportedly threatened NYPD Police Sergeant Lenny Lemer who was assigned to the DEA Task Force that was investigating the Dominican Federation for money laundering activity. Sgt. Lemer had come forward with evidence of the drug cartel conspiracy and reported to his superiors. According to his sworn affidavit that was entered into the Congressional Record, Sgt. Lemer was similarly threatened with potential prosecution for attempting to expose the conspiracy.
6. The FBI case agent unlawfully attempted to setup Borough President Molinari on obstruction of justice charges through an informant who reportedly was intimidated by the case agent. When Mr. Molinari learned of this sting operation by the informant, he immediately reported the matter to the Justice Department and OPR. In response, the Justice Department made a written apology for the unprofessional and illegal actions of the case agent.
7. FBI Special Agent Lionel Baron convinced Dr. Angel Nunez and the undercover informants involved in my case that he was willing to help prove the my innocence, as well as develop a criminal case against the Dominican Federation and others. However, the informants must be fully debriefed regarding their undercover activity on my case and be willing to work exclusively for the FBI. After their initial debriefing, the FBI Agent never did any follow-up activity. A FOIA request by New York Post Reporter Al Guart, among others disclosed no written record of any such investigation by the agent.
8. According to William Acosta, a former U.S. Customs and NYPD Internal Affairs officer who dedicated his entire career in exposing corruption, he furnished the Justice Department with critical evidence confirming the drug cartel conspiracy and the fact the Dominican Federation had reported ties to our intelligence community.
Mr. Acosta executed two sworn affidavits that reflected he learned of the drug cartel conspiracy from his joint investigations with Manuel De Dios, a world renown journalist who was exposing the Dominican Federation and other crime syndicates. You may recall that Mr. De Dios was the first American journalist in this country to be assassinated by drug lords.
There are many law enforcement sources who believe that Mr. Dios was conveniently murdered a week after he executed a sworn affidavit wherein he agreed to testify before Congress regarding the drug cartel conspiracy, as well as Federation witnesses. Both, Mr. De Dios and Mr. Acosta's sworn affidavit was been entered into the Congressional
Record. Why didn't the FBI case agent feel it important enough to debrief Mr. Acosta?
It should be evident that the intended goal of this FBI Agent was to intimidate the witnesses, as well as discredit the overwhelming evidence of the conspiracy. The FBI which has jurisdiction to investigate such federal crimes as drug distribution, RICO violations, loan sharking, interstate gambling, etc. failed miserably in their responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes brought we brought to their attention. The FBI ignored a golden opportunity to effectively use our intelligence, evidence and access to our defense undercover informants to infiltrate and prosecute the Dominican Federation, and others.
It should be noted that everything I said about the Dominican organized crime groups, such as the Federation, was officially corroborated in a 1997 one hundred page Department of Justice intelligence report entitled "The Dominican Threat, a Strategic Assessment of Dominican Drug Trafficking.
I am sure you recall Jim Fox, the former FBI Special Agent in Charge at NYC who spearheaded the World Trade Center bombing case. We all saw him almost every night on the national news. Well, Mr. Fox proved to be a very courageous FBI official who was not easily intimidated or afraid to tell the truth to the public or the Justice Department. Mr. Fox publicly admitted that the FBI possessed certain evidence of my innocence. It was those public statements that my defense team used in order to support my application for a new trial.
Mr. Fox was unfortunately severely penalized for making those statements. According to published reports, it was alleged that federal prosecutors in my case directed Mr. Fox to prepare an affidavit reflecting that his comments were taken out of context. He reportedly refused and was later suspended one month prior to his scheduled retirement after 30 years of unblemished service with the FBI. A clear message that no matter who you are, or your position, you do not cross the Justice Department.
In conclusion, I can only say that during the past ten years I have noticed a pattern of abuse by the Justice Department involving any organized effort by law enforcement to aggressively target the Dominican drug lords or their crime syndicates. Instead of supporting their efforts, it appears the agents are
pressured to prematurely terminate viable investigations through intimidation and coercion. If the agent is uncooperative, he will find, like myself that they have become the targets of a Justice Department probe.
There are many sources who believe that these Dominican organized crime investigations are being protected by Special Interest groups for a variety of reasons: pressure from our intelligence community, political intervention, official corruption or perhaps it has simply become politically incorrect for the Justice Department to investigate ethnic organized crime groups. No matter what the reason, dedicated agents should not be made the scapegoats.
Over the past ten years I have obtained personal knowledge that the following criminal investigations involving Dominican organized crime may have been prematurely terminated for some of the reasons noted above. Moreover, many of the case agents involved were reportedly pressured and intimidated to prematurely terminate their investigations. When the agents refuse, they conveniently become potential defendants for alleged civil rights prosecution.
1. A DEA investigation by S/A John Dowd involving the Sea Crest Trading Company.
2. An IRS investigation by S/A Ronald Nowicki involving the Sea Crest Trading Company. In addition, a confidential source confirmed that IRS Agents in Connecticut were similarly being pressured to terminate their investigation.
3. A Manhattan District Attorney investigation by NYPD Detective Ronnie Stripp involving the Sea Crest Trading Company.
4. An U.S. Customs investigation (Case#02AR8NY003) into alleged money laundering by the Dominican Federation.
5. A DEA investigation by Sgt. Lenny Lemer involving the Dominican Federation and the Sea Crest Trading Company.
6. A Manhattan District Attorney's Office criminal prosecution was reportedly terminated against Dominican Attorney Andes Aranda for allegedly conspiring to set up NYPD Police Officer Louis Della Pizzi on fabricated civil rights charges. According to many sources, these two attorneys who were the subject of the "Project Esquire" corruption probe have similarly escaped other criminal prosecutions.
7. A DEA investigation involving Dominican Attorney Andres Aranda, who was allegedly implicated in the Jheri Curls drug organization. According to published reports, he was captured on tape accepting drug money from the head of this drug organization, who was convicted for drug distribution.
8. A NYPD Internal Affairs investigation by former Deputy Commissioner Walter Mack into Sea Crest Trading Company and the Dominican Federation.
9. A Bronx District Attorney's Office investigation by Assistant District Attorney Edward Friedenthal into the reported illicit activities of the Dominican Federation, the Freddy Then drug cartel, Sea Crest Trading Company, Dominican Attorneys Jorge Guthlein and Andres Aranda.
10. A New Jersey State Police investigation by Detective Sergeant Jim Mullholland into the Dominican Federation and Sea Crest Trading Company. This inquiry was predicated upon my testimony before the New Jersey Senate Crime Committee investigating the infiltration of Dominican organized crime operations in the State of New Jersey.
11. A Brooklyn District Attorney's Office investigation authorized by District Attorney Charles Hynes into the Dominican Federation and Sea Crest Trading Company.
12. A FBI investigation that was predicated upon evidence furnished by retired NYPD Detective Ben Jacobsen of the A.C. Nielson Company into organized coupon fraud involving the Sea Crest Trading Company.
13. A NYPD/US Customs money laundering investigation by Lt. R. Rose into the Dominican Federation and Sea Crest Trading Company.
14. An U.S. Postal Inspection investigation by Inspector J.V. Barrett into the Sea Crest Trading Company.
15. A Bergen County (NJ) investigation by Detectives Juan Lopez and Wayne Yahn into the Dominican Federation and Sea Crest Trading Company.
16. The dismantling of DEA Group 33 at NYC who that had the highest arrest and seizure record involving the Dominican cartels. The agents were later reassigned and investigated by SDNY federal prosecutors for alleged civil rights violations. The agents were never prosecuted and later filed a civil suit against the government.
17. The dismantling of an elite NYPD anti-crime unit in Washington Heights who had the highest arrest and seizure record involving Dominican organized crime. This elite unit was investigated by SDNY federal prosecutors for alleged civil rights violations. One of the officers was prosecuted for alleged perjury since the prosecutors felt he was uncooperative. The conviction is on appeal and Congressman King (NY) has championed his case and has requested an OPR investigation into allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
18. The dismantling of an elite Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Narcotics Unit that was investigating the distribution of heroin in Philadelphia by Dominican Drug Lords from Washington Heights. The investigation disclosed that million of dollars in suspected drug proceeds were being delivered to a presidential candidate in the Dominican Republic.
When the agents began to make inquiries with the State Department and CIA, they were reportedly pressured to terminate their investigation, as well as reveal the identity of the informant. The agents reported the incident to the Senate Intelligence Committee who commenced a hearing into the allegations. Almost immediately, the agents were relieved of their duties pending a Justice Department and FBI investigation involving alleged civil rights violations. Almost two years later, the agents were cleared of any wrongdoing and the investigation still remains inactive. The agents have filed a civil suit against the PA State Attorney General, the United States Attorney in Philadelphia, the State Department and CIA,which is scheduled for trial this year.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding my landmark prosecution and many theories as to why the Justice Department may have gone to great lengths to prosecute a highly decorated federal agent for an alleged consent to search form infraction. There are many that believe the conspiracy was sanctioned by the intelligence community to protect certain CIA operations and assets under the disguise of national security. Wherein, others are convinced there is widespread corruption in the Justice Department and I had to be eliminated due to my increased enforcement efforts that would ultimately expose the drug cartel operations and official corruption.
Or was this simply a case of an over zealous federal prosecutor with a personal agenda who engaged in widespread prosecutorial misconduct to gain a conviction and secure a position in a prestigious law firm. Another case scenario is that there are a few elected officials who have been unwittingly corrupted by crime syndicates, such as the Dominican Federation who reportedly made substantial campaign contributions to certain elected officials, as well as helped to win certain elections through organized election fraud.
I would like to conclude by saying we have lost the war against drugs and we need this important bill to have basic oversight authority over the Justice Department. My colleagues in law enforcement tell me every day that they are more afraid of being prosecuted and railroaded by the our Justice Department, then by putting their lives in harms way.
The American public and criminal justice system holds the police to a higher standard wherein they are subjected to more civil suits, criminal prosecutions and imprisonment for alleged misconduct than any other profession. Yet, using that same criteria, federal law excludes federal prosecutors and other Justice Department personnel who knowingly violate the civil rights of a defendant to be completely immune from prosecution. Hopefully, your bill will change that dual standard.
I would strongly recommend that the committee consider contacting Staten Island Borough President Guy V. Molinari, as well as Congressman James Traficant who can turn over to the committee volumes of defense case files, undercover tapes and related evidence that establish substantial misconduct on the part of the Justice Department. Moreover, that a dedicated federal agent was betrayed by the very same government he proudly served.
Attachments: Congressional Record Exhibit Index
Media Reference Index
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD EXHIBIT INDEX DATE REF/PAGE DISCRIPTION OF DOCUMENT
4/28/93 Vol.138/#93 NJ General Assembly Resolution calling for
Congressional Hearings & Special Prosecutor
11/10/93 Page E2843 Affidavit of Hector Rodriguez
10/10/93 Press Release Traficant introduces Congressional Resolution
calling for appointment of Special Prosecutor
To investigate Occhipinti case
11/4/93 Page 2773 Statement of Greg Kaye, Director
New Jersey Political Action Committee
11/4/93 Pages 2773-2778 Index of Exhibits
11/5/93 Page E2869 Affidavit of NYPD Detective Raul Anglada
11/8/93 Pages 2801-02 Affidavit of Peter Navarro
11/15/93 Page E2868 Affidavit of Alma Camerena
11/16/93 Pages E2890-91 Affidavit of Hilda Navarro
11/16/93 Pages E2890-91 Affidavit of Tony Reyes
11/17/93- Pages E2942- Affidavit of Dr. Angel Nunez, Esq.
11/20/93 E3003 Counsel, National Hispanic Coalition
11/21/93 Page 3003 Two Affidavits by Richard Callaghan
President, Federal Agents PBA
Continuation of Congressional Exhibit Index
11/21/93 Pages 3004-05 Affidavit of Ray Hagemen
Chief Investigator, SI Borough Presidents Office
1/11/94 Press Release Traficant, Justice Department Misleading
Congress on Occhipinti Case
1/29/94 Pages E2281-84 Statement of William Slattery
Deputy Commissioner, INS
2/8/94 Pages E401-403 Affidavit of Hector Rodriguez
2/8/94 Page E131-132 Affidavit of Hector Rodriguez
2/9/94 Pages E140-141 Affidavit of James R. De Sziegerty
2/10/94 Pages E174-175 Affidavit of James R. De Sziegerty
2/23/94 Pages E220-221 Affidavit of Luis Rodriguez
2/28/94 Pages E269-270 Affidavit of Luis Rodriguez
3/7/94 Page E356 Statement of John McAllister
Deputy District Director, INS
3/8/94 Pages E376-377 Affidavit of Ramon Rodriguez
3/10/94 Pages E401-402 Affidavit of Ramon Grullon
3/19/94 Page E465 Affidavit of Hector Rodriguez
4/24/94 Vol.140/38 Affidavit of NYPD Det. Harry Hilderbrand
9/23/94 Pages 1936-1941 Affidavit of NYPD Sgt. Lenny Lemer
(Continuation of Congressional Exhibit Index)
11/14/94 Press Release Traficant uncovers Key Document in
1/24/95 Page E166 DEA Memorandum by S/A John Dowd
1/24/95 Page 163 DEA Investigation Report of Sea Crest
1/25/95 Press Release Traficant & Molinari want Congressional
investigation of Occhipinti case
1/26/96 Page E1733 Affidavit of William Acosta
Former, NYPD Internal Affairs Officer
9/27/96 Page E1734 Affidavit of Manuel De Dios
Former Editor, El Diario La Prensa
REFERENCE MEDIA INDEX
DATE NAME/REPORTER TITLE
11/3/98 New York Times 3 are indicted over money transfers
10/9/91 New York Post The Framing of a Cop, How a clever
Mike McAlary Dominican cartel manipulated New
York Politicans to bust a federal
10/10/91 New York Post Dominican Cartel's Calling Card:
Mike McAlary 2 bodies in the Grass
10/11/91 New York Post Cartel used to bring down
Mike McAlary innocent agent
Summer New York Post Occhipinti injustice rages on
1992 Mike McAlary
Summer S.I. Borough Report The tragic Story of Joseph Occhipinti
1992 Guy V. Molinari
2/22/93 New York Senate Senate Resolution to appoint Special Senator Kaufman Prosecutor to investigate the Occhipinti case
3/3/93 The New American Enemies and "Assets"
William n. Griggs The World Trade Center bombers had some curious connections
3/13/93 New York Post Slain Editor Battled Hispanic Mob
3/22/93 The New American Strange Justice
4/6/93 Inside Edition TV undercover documentary
4/93 Washington Heights CBS Investigation points to
News Frame-Up of Joe Occhipinti
5/15/93 Newsday Did lawyers set-up agent?
6/6/93 New York Post White House investigating
Colin Miner imprisonment of INS agent
6/17/93 Newsday Cops: Lawyer payoff on tape
6/17/93 Daily News Vice cops bag 3 in bribes
John Marzulli Bodega owners linked to gambling syndicate
8/93 Destiny Magazine "Stolen Elections"
9/19/93 The Washington Probe of agent's conviction sought
11/93 Spy Magazine Dinkins to Feds: Drop Dead
1/6/94 New York Post JFK Jr. Pal links him to ouster of
Jere Hester INS Agent
1/7/94 Washington Inquirer Civil Rights v. Criminal Justice
2/21/94 The New American The plight of Joseph Occhipinti
4/8/94 Daily News Feds probe loanshark leans on Bodegas
6/7/94 NYC City Council Resolution to appoint a Special Prosecutor
Councilman Stabile to investigate the Occhipinti case
9/4/94 The Daily Dispatch Illegal aliens put choke hold on U.S. war
American Legion against drug, former INS agent says
11/94 The Free American Former Federal Agent speaks
A Narco-Democracy in America
1/3/95 The Spotlight Supporting the Drug Culture
4/26/95 NY POST Guy Molinari Fumes:
Steve Dunleavy FBI tried to set me up
5/10/95 Staten Island Advance Black activist lends support to
Amita Duga Occhipinti
10/14/95 Gloucester County Was CIA the 3rd Leg of a drug
Times/Rick Murray drug /terror triangle?
10/15/95 Hearld News Loan Sharks target ethnic
Rick Murray Businesses
10/16/95 Herald News Narcotic Dealers Trade on Racism
10/17/95 Herald News Wayne Man, U.S. Agent Crime
Rick Murray War Victims
10/18/95 Gloucester County Cartel' drug rings surrounding state
10/18/95 Hearld News Are CIA, FBI involved in cover-up?
10/19/95 Gloucester County Framed? How a successful drug agent
Times who got too close to the cartel wound
Rick Murray up in jail
7/14/96 New York Post U.S. Coupon scams tied to Terror Fund
12/19/96 Italian Tribune Conspiracy against good
Ken Del Vecchio
1997 Harvard University Wild Cowboys, Urban Marauders
Press/Robert Jackall and the forces of order
Library of Congress
2/97 Chronicles Cultural Revolutions
4/28/97 The New American Smugglers Dues
William N. Griggs
6/97 FBI Intelligence Report The Dominican Threat: A strategic
Assessment of Dominican Drug Trafficking
5/10/98 New York Times Dominicans Allows Easy Sailing
6/22/98 The New American Dealing with drugies
William N. Griggs
Summer The Social Contract The Joe Occhipinti Interview
1998 Kevin Jenks
8/16/98 Hartford Courant Lenders Prey On Immigrants
Mike McIntire Part Two: Savvy Businessmen or
1999 Diablo Western Press Drugging America, A Trojan Horse
Library of Congress