Courts - Canada
Judge who fixed divorce cases sent to prison
12:26 p.m. EDT, June 6, 2007
• Former Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Gerald
Garson sentenced to prison
• Garson fixed divorce cases in exchange for gifts
• Gifts included cigars, cash
• Hidden camera in chambers recorded bribes
An ex-judge who accepted expensive gifts in exchange for helping
fix divorce cases and a former state lawmaker convicted in
a scheme to shake down a judicial candidate were sentenced
to prison Tuesday.
Former Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson,
74, was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. Garson,
74, wept as he asked for leniency, claiming the cigars, cash
and other gifts never influenced his decisions. But he also
admitted that when he saw hidden-camera videos of his shady
dealings in chambers, "I was appalled, embarrassed and
ashamed of my demeanor."
Garson was convicted of receiving bribes and
accepting rewards for official misconduct but acquitted on
four lesser counts. The sentencing judge had no sympathy for
him. "You abdicated your own moral fiber," Justice
Jeffrey Berry said before imposing the sentence. "What
you brought upon yourself is terrible."
Earlier in the day, former state assemblyman
Clarence Norman Jr. surrendered in the same Brooklyn courtroom
to begin serving a two-to-six-year term. The Garson case arose
from a broader investigation into allegations that civil judgeships
were being bought and sold for up to $50,000.Hard evidence
of such brokering never materialized, but the scandal did
bring down Norman, the longtime head of the Brooklyn Democratic
Party, and resulted in convictions of courthouse staff.
Though already sentenced, Norman had been
free on bail pending his appeal on convictions for grand larceny
and other charges. A civil court candidate testified at Norman's
trial earlier this year that Norman threatened to pull his
party's support in 2002 unless she paid his favored consultant
thousands of dollars. Beforehand, a jovial Norman had told
reporters, "The Lord is with me. My family's with me.
I have my health."