by Paul Beckman
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a decision?”
“Yes Your Honor, we have.”
The jurors did not look at the defendant.
The defendant looked straight at the judge. The defense attorney looked at his client. The prosecutor stared at the jury foreman who stood ramrod straight looking uncomfortable in his new suit. The courtroom held its collective breath.
The five guards entered the courtroom and took up their assigned positions.
The families of the informants held hands and hugged while the defendant’s family sitting behind him passing notes voting on where to go to eat. Italian was tied with Chinese at four.
* * *
When the police and FBI showed up at Attorney Brownstein’s office they walked past his secretary and took the phone from his hand and hung it up. They replaced it with a search warrant and began a mass confiscation of all the computers in his office along with every file.
“Do you have a safe?” the head FBI agent asked.
“I want my lawyer,” Brownstein said.
“Call him,” the police captain said.
Brownstein called another Brownstein (second cousin once removed).
The police herded the staff into offices and read them the charges that were pending against Brownstein. Millie was planning on leaving after work to see her sick mother. Terri and William G. were meeting for a rendezvous in New York (against company policy), others had local plans and Brownstein was taking the company jet to South Carolina for a golf and poker weekend with some bourbon tasting thrown in.
Each person had an exit interview with an FBI agent who handed over his card and indicated the first one to spill the beans usually gets off.
Brownstein’s secretary told the agent she knew about his gambling debts. His accountant let it be known that he’d tell all to get off. His receptionist, cleaning crew and stockbroker all jumped on the “tell all” bus.
Many had stories they were sure were going to get them off and put Brownstein away. There were a couple of suspected affairs, a mayoral bribe in the form of a campaign donation, a ride on Brownstein’s plane plus the Christmas gifts given to contractors, town officials, police and numerous other “cheat and graft” cases Brownstein was allegedly part of.
Every single one of these allegations were shown as at least partially true but explained away by Brownstein’s hard-hitting attorney, Brownstein, during cross. Only those who had been stealing from Brownstein turned on him and in doing so they confessed to their own wrong doing.
* * *
“Mr. Foreman please read the charges and verdicts.”
In a loud and clear voice he did and the verdict was unanimous.
After Brownstein shook hands with Brownstein the police cuffed the thieves while Brownstein opted for sushi with his family. The informant’s families were outraged and ate at the hot dog cart outside the courthouse.
published 19 March 2016