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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jurors On Track

No verdict yet, but the jury in the Bruno trial showed some interest in what is generally, but not exclusively (it does say Thoroughbred Racing and other opinions, after all), the main topic around here. They requested a readback of testimony by Jared Abbruzzese regarding the worthless horse for which he paid Bruno $80,000. You may recall that Abbruzzese told the court that he purchased the horse, named Christy's Night Out (pedigree not available on Pedigree Query), to fulfill a "moral obligation" to compensate for a consulting gig from which the former Senate Majority Leader was terminated.

Horse breeder Stuart Jamison Morris, who runs Dapple Stud Farm in Lexington, Ky., said he examined the horse and said there was nothing exceptional about it physically that would give it a high value as a race horse.

Morris said it was a small horse, the “bottom of the barrel in the world of thoroughbred” horses and worth less than $5,000. [Troy Record]
And the jury asked to hear Abbruzzese's testimony about our old friends at Friends of New York Racing, the predecessor entity to Empire Racing.
It included Abbruzzese being asked about an Aug, 26, 2004 golf outing he had with Bruno, then-future NYRA executives Tim Smith and Steve Duncker. [ed.-In fact, Smith was the future president of Empire and never worked at NYRA; Duncker was already on NYRA's board and became sole chairman the next year. Whatsmore, Duncker was considering Smith for CEO of NYRA until he learned that Smith was scheming for an Empire takeover all along..] At the time, Bruno was being paid $20,000-a-month to work at two Abbruzzese-backed companies.

Abbruzzese was also asked about an “off-campus” meeting in his Loudonville living room with Bruno he arranged in May 2005 while Friends of New York Racing was hoping to succeed NYRA overseeing the state’s racetracks. The meeting was highlighted in a memo Tim Smith, then head of Friends of New York Racing, sent to the group’s board members. [Times Union]
Old time readers recall that we talked a lot about these shenanigans at the time around here; a couple of background posts here and here.

- I found the gay marriage debate to be a rare bit of truly compelling, and even at times moving, drama to take place in a chamber where most outcomes are determined in advance. Here many of us have been bashing these guys, and, lately, the Democrats in particular, for being clowns; but now I was watching Senators such as Eric Schneiderman, Kevin Parker (all duded up for the occasion), Diane Savino, even Pedro Espada Jr., and the bill's sponsor Tom Duane (with my sister-in-law right there on TV behind him!) speak with passion and eloquence about Thomas Jefferson, the constitution, the long, uphill fights for civil rights over the years, and equality and justice for all.

On the other hand, only Senator Ruben Diaz Sr, amongst the 38 lawmakers who voted the measure down, had the balls to get up and explain to the voters why. If they did, and if they were being honest, many of them would explain that they had their own political fortunes in mind given the supposed anti-incumbent mood of the voters, and especially, for the Republicans (who, against many expectations, voted unanimously against) after the right-wing revolt against the GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava, who favors same-sex marriage.

Among the eight Democrats who abandoned the ideals of the party was the convicted girlfriend-dragger-down-the-apartment-hallway Hiram Monseratte; and Joseph Addabbo, who defeated Republican Serph Maltese in the district which includes Aqueduct. We no doubt will see Addabbo's smiling face at the press conference announcing which group will seek to attract degenerate slots gamblers to his district. Whenever that turns out to be.


Anonymous said...

Isn't Abbruzzese still hanging around the hoops of New York Racing. Empire never dies, it just morphed into SL Green.

Anonymous said...

I read that Pat Lynch and Jim Featherstonhaugh's Firm were hired by the gay lobby for the Gay Marriage Bill vote in Albany.

Those of us who follow this site and others will know that Pat Lynch and Jim Featherstonhaugh are both extremely well connected in Albany.

Pat Lynch was Chief of Staff for Speaker Silver.

Jim Featherstonhaugh is a long term friend of Joe Bruno.

Both represent Delaware North in the Aqueduct VLT fight and look what that has cost racing due to their inability to pay the $370 million last year and get the VLT facility built and operating.

SL Green is continuing its lawsuit against Delaware North accusing it of breach of contract for withdrawing from Empire Racing and using propriety information in it own successful bid in 2008.

Anonymous said...

The longer the Bruno trial continues, the less likely he will be acquitted of all charges. It looks like the best outcome for him will be a hung jury. More likely a guilty verdict on at least one charge.

Steve Zorn said...

Featherstonhaugh's firm also represents the NY Thoroughbred Horsemen's Ass'n, and they've done a terrific job for us, even after Bruno's departure from the halls of power.

And Stuart Morris of Dapple, who commented on the value of the horse that Bruno sold, is a terrific and honest guy -- one of the consignors that I'd be willing to buy a horse from. He knows what he's talking about.

Anonymous said...

Jim Featherstonhaugh is also a partner in Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, one of Delaware North's partners in their bid for the VLT Franchise at Aqueduct.

Anonymous said...

To compare the struggle for gay marraige with the past civil rights issues in this country is insulting to those that struggled suffered and died for freedom and full civil rights. Lets be real.

I truly have no position on gay marraige, but the comparison with those struggles is absurd and almost petty.

Most if not all of the issues can be solved by civil unions, proper planning and insurance legislation.

I understand the angst but feel proponents hurt the cause by making such comparisions.

Alan Mann said...

>>To compare the struggle for gay marraige with the past civil rights issues in this country is insulting to those that struggled suffered and died for freedom and full civil rights. Lets be real.

I truly have no position on gay marraige, but the comparison with those struggles is absurd and almost petty.>>

I think you make a totally fair point here. But in my opinion, it's precisely the relative triteness of the matter which makes the staunch opposition to it so frustrating and maddening.

Anonymous said...

Just in TImes Union:

Will verdict come today? Bruno jury back at work
December 3, 2009 at 8:30 am by Robert Gavin

Jurors deciding the federal corruption case of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno have begun their fifth day of deliberations as the trial has reached Day 20.

The panel of seven women and five men, unable to reach a unanimous verdict again Wednesday, finished their work for the day in U.S. District Court by 5 p.m. or so.

The jurors had asked to review portions of testimony from Loudonville businessman Jared Abbruzzese, who paid Bruno $440,000, starting with $20,000-a-month in 2004 for work as a “consultant.”

Abbruzzese testified on Nov. 20 that Bruno, 80, of Brunswick, was hired for his “visual credibility” and Rolodex contacts. The federal government has said Abbruzzese was effectively paying the powerful Republican senator gifts.

Overall, Bruno faces eight counts of mail and wire fraud in connectiion with side employment, while in office, that netted him more than $3.1 million. Federal prosecutors allege Bruno intentionally failed to disclose conflicts of interest between his private and public jobs in a 13-year scheme.

He is accused of violating federal theft of “honest services” law as majority leader.

Jurors informed Judge Gary Sharpe on Tuesday they had reached a unanimous “verdict” on two of the eight counts. It was still unclear Thursday what those counts were — or if jurors still believe they have a decision on them.

Nothing is final until the actual verdict is read in court.

To convict on any count, the jury needs to find Bruno guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

Bruno decision today?

Now that the budget and Gay Marriage Bill are behind us, when will we get the Aqueduct VLT decision announcement?

Odds on both decisions?

Anonymous said...

Alan, and you have a fair point also.

It is trite to most fair individuals, but those directly involved on both sides have very strong feelings and are influential with their representatives, creating this road block.

Until it can be passed by popular vote, and it will get there someday, it will be tough for representatives from highly religious districts to go against the grain.

My point is some folks are rightfully offended when the proponents compare this to slavery, they should cut back on the rhetoric since I believe it hurts their argument in the black community.

steve in nc said...

Anon 9:37: (is that in the old testament?)

I actually do agree with you that domestic partnerships are the best solution, so long as they don't discriminate against anyone. But we'd need to take things one important step further: Government should no longer recognize marriage at all. Let's make it just an informal civil or religious institution with no standing in law. That would leave each church free to sanction only the marriages or divorces it approves of. And the rest of us could get other people's churches out of our personal and legal affairs.

As you might detect, I do have a big beef with you:

You wrote: "To compare the struggle for gay marraige with the past civil rights issues in this country is insulting to those that struggled suffered and died for freedom and full civil rights. Lets be real."

It is you who needs a reality check. I recently googled gay rights groups here in NC and turned up many, but most do not have any contact names on their websites. Why? Gays can pay for their openness at the workplace. Such firings are totally legal here. There are many well known cases, so I'm sure there are many more not-so-well known ones.

And have you spent any time in a school lately? Getting teased as gay (whether one is or not) and bullied or worse is commonplace. Really damaging to the psyche of gay youngsters and even some straight ones. Higher suicide rates for gay youth are no accident.

Sure, gays are fully "integrated," but in many places, that only works effectively when a portable invisible closet is applied.

I'm not arguing that the two struggles are identical or have had similar histories. But if you haven't seen anti-gay violence and oppression, you just prefer not to look. And your idea of making gays almost but not quite equal is insulting.

It wasn't until 1971 or (1973?), long after other civil rights triumphs, that the Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriage. Marriage is the touchiest and brings intolerance to the surface precisely because it is intimate and to some, sacred. The analogy between laws against interracial marriage and gay marriage holds very well.

Isn't it amazing that as late as the 1970s, state attorneys general went to the high court to defend those racist laws? Can you imagine anyone doing that now? Likewise, it won't take 40 years for today's "love the sinner; hate the sin" crowd to be seen universally as the sanctimonious bigots they are.

Anonymous said...

Sorry steve, but getting fired or teased pales in comparison to being a slave. I am pretty confident in that statement.

And please do not imply my views are somehow religious based (not that there's anything wrong with that), I am agnostic. It is common sense based.

I never stated that there was NO anti gay violence or oppression, it obviously exists and will always exist just as racism and sexism will never disappear.

My point is simply that comparing gay marraige to the violence that occured during slavery and Jim Crow is not helping the cause, they should tone down that rhetoric since it offends some potential allies.

It IS insulting to those that fought those battles.

Is our President a bigot, btw? Last I checked he was against gay marraige.

steve in nc said...

I'm not arguing that you or Obama are bigots. I reserve the bigot label for those putting the money and muscle behind the opposition to gay marriage.

Just because gays were never enslaved doesn't mean there aren't important things in common between the two struggles. Back when Clinton proposed ending the ban on gays in the military, and opponents voiced worries about having to take showers with gays, an older black guy I worked with told me that that was the exact same thing he heard when he served in the then segregated Army. Showers. Another "intimate" situation that brings prejudice, fears, and the "yuck factor" to the fore.

Here's another similar dynamic: people telling gays to accept partial rights because "we're just not ready yet" for total equality. Blacks were told to be patient, lest they hurt their liberal white political allies and undermine their own cause. Your comments strike me the same way, which is why I reacted.

You are correct that some are insulted by these comparisons. Some Jews are also insulted when people attach the term holocaust to contemporary genocides. Making some sort of BCS ranking of oppression might be appropriate for historians, but I have no patience for that approach when it is used to justify halfway justice.

Anonymous said...

Gag me with a manly fist (in my actual mouth)

Please, please everybody give me special rights and untouchable/unquestionable status in society! All I have to do is turn my life into a same sex freakshow!

And then watch as fire and brimstone only rain down on the heterosexuals who dare to oppose me.

steve in nc said...

The right to get married is special?