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Wiesner and lawyer blast AG
Rochester, N.Y. --- One day after being handcuffed and paraded in front of local media cameras into court, the husband of Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks publicly fired back at the state agency that arrested him.
"In my 30 years of law enforcement I have never treated a defendant as I was treated yesterday," said Wiesner, a retired Rochester Police Officer, who read from a prepared statement. "It was a blatant and calculated act by the Attorney General's office to embarrass me, embarrass my wife, and prejudice this case."
Wiesner also made it a point to mention that the indictment that charges him with two counts of what amounts to bid rigging, but does not offer any specifics as to what he did. The indictment alleges his crimes occurred at some point between 2004 and October 2013.
"As a result I can only conclude that I am the target of a political prosecution," Wiesner said. "I look forward to the opportunity to know what they allege I did, so that I can defend myself."
Lawyer James Nobles, who is representing Wiesner, stated over and over all the reasons he believed the prosecution of his client was political in nature. He referenced the alert sent by the Attorney General's press office to local media on Election Day that detailed exactly when and where the four defendants would be turning themselves into authorities, processed for arrest and escorted to court for arraignments. The release further explained that an "unsealed indictment" would be made available to the media after the indictment.
Nobles said this release violated New York State Penal Law by disclosing information about a Grand Jury proceeding and a sealed document before it was unsealed in open court. He said the penalties for the crimes he believes were committed in that press release are the same level of felony charge that his client currently faces.
Nobles also explained his motion to dismiss the indictment against his client that was submitted in court on Wednesday at Wiesner's arraignment.
"On July 3rd, 2013 I wrote a letter to the Attorney Generals Office saying I represent Mr. Wiesner and it was my desire to have him answer these charges before a grand jury and have his right to defend himself and testify," Nobles explained. "They denied us that right."
Judge Robert Noonan will address that motion and other matters when Wiesner and his three co-defendants return to court on December 18th.
13WHAM News went to Kenneth Hyland for his perspective on the Attorney General's Office press release and the motion filed by Nobles on behalf of his client. Hyland spent thirty years as a prosecutor with the Monroe County District Attorney's Office before retiring to begin private practice in criminal defense law.
"Again I don't know everything there is to know about this but it appears on the face of it he may have a valid motion in which case the indictment would be dismissed," explained Hyland of the motion to dismiss charges against Wiesner. "If the motion is granted the prosecution will have a chance to re-present the evidence to a new grand jury but again it doesn't seem like it's a simple case so they'd have to start from scratch. They would have to recall the witnesses from the first grand jury and there is the potential for creating discrepancies between the witnesses testimony which is something that a prosecutor wants to avoid."
Hyland also noted that the AG's Office could argue that there was no felony complaint filed against Wiesner so they did not have to allow him to testify before the Grand Jury.
"But the weight of authority seems to be very much on Mr. Nobles side," Hyland added. "Once he serves a notice the AG's Office has to respond with a written notice."
As for the release of information regarding the sealed indictment Hyland echoed some of the comments Judge Noonan stated from the bench during the arraignments on Wednesday.
"There's no other word for it other than outrageous," Hyland said. "I was a prosecutor for thirty years, I've never seen such a thing it's clearly, in my mind, sent out to generate as much publicity as possible for this particular event and it's just not the way things are normally done."
"There is a penal law provision which prevents prosecutors or anyone having anything to do with the Grand Jury from disclosing the substance of that Grand Jury's decision," Hyland continues. "In this case this notice (press alert) tells not only when these people are going to be perp walked over to the court, it also discloses that there is an indictment; it says that copies of an unsealed indictment will be provided to the press again, I think it's just outrageous."
Attorney General's Office Responds
A spokesman for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman informed 13WHAM News that he could not yet respond to the legal arguments Nobles made in his motion to dismiss the charges against Wiesner. But the following statement was sent in response to other allegations and in regards to the early release of information to the media.
The email sent on Tuesday was inappropriate but not in violation of any law. It was sent, without approval by any supervisor, by a member of our press staff. Yesterday we suspended that employee without pay for one month. My office has never sent an email like this before, and it will not happen again. It is no surprise, however, that people charged with perpetrating fraud and corruption against the taxpayers of Monroe County are attempting to distract from their alleged crimes. The Attorney General will not be deterred from prosecuting public corruption wherever and whenever it occurs. --- Damien LaVera, communications director for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman