Nancie L. Katz and Rich Schapiro, New York Daily News, Jan. 14, 2007
Brooklyn prosecutors are seeking to indict deposed Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman Clarence Norman for allegedly selling a judgeship for at least $50,000 in cash and $6,000 in postage stamps, it was reported yesterday.
The alleged corruption, detailed by The Village Voice, has the potential to shake the Brooklyn political establishment and push the Legislature to overhaul how state Supreme Court judges are selected.
Norman — already sentenced to two to six years behind bars for unrelated felony campaign corruption — will be indicted by a grand jury for allegedly demanding payoffs to elevate former Civil Court Judge Howard Ruditzky to the state Supreme Court, The Voice says.
Sources told the Daily News that Ruditzky was granted immunity and recently testified before a grand jury, where he revealed he paid $70,000 for the judgeship.
District Attorney Charles Hynes’ case against Norman, according to The Voice, revolves around the testimony of Ruditzky and three other witnesses: Jeff Feldman, the executive director of the Brooklyn Democratic Party; ex-Supreme Court Justice Michael Garson; and Ruditzky’s millionaire cousin, an overweight sex therapist named Norman Chesler.
Norman had the ability to promote Ruditzky because Supreme Court nominees are selected by judicial conventions, a system that allows a Democratic leader in a Democratic county to handpick jurists.
Norman was planning to promote Ruditzky and then select his replacement for Civil Court without having to run that candidate in a primary, The Voice reports.
But that plan crumbled when Ruditzky lost. In stepped Chesler, who, according to The Voice, was allegedly told by Norman, “We could use money for activities in my community.”
Chesler’s first alleged payment to Norman came in the form of postage stamps, two $3,000 rolls he bought at a post office, The Voice reported.
Bank records reviewed by The Voice reveal a series of withdrawals totaling $43,950 that Chesler made from his company between July and November 2001. Notations contained with the record of the withdrawals, also reviewed by The Voice, said that “CN asked for Rudy to come up and give 50k for services,” adding that “since they weren’t getting it on their own, they asked for help.”
Chesler began cooperating with Hynes’ office after being indicted in a car insurance scam, The Voice says.
Ruditzky, Chesler and Norman’s lawyer could not be reached for comment yesterday.