Were they really that good?
This piece about the release of former Miami-Dade County judge Harvey Shenberg got me thinking:
Wow, what a blast from the past! Operation Court Broom? I haven't thought of those jokers in years. I bet many of you youngsters don't really even know much of our last great judicial scandal. Judge David Goodhart? Good ole' Judge Sepe?
Released from federal prison: Harvey Shenberg, former Miami-Dade County judge. Shenberg, 64, convicted in 1993 of racketeering conspiracy and extortion in the Operation Court Broom judicial corruption scandal, got out last week.
U.S. District Judge Jose A. Gonzalez, Jr. initially sentenced Shenberg to 15 years and eight months. Shenberg appealed, and in 1997 the sentence was reduced to 12 ½ years. He served his time in Miami, as well as Yazoo City, Miss., Montgomery, Ala., and Atlanta.
He is now on three years of supervised release.
''He's doing great,'' says his mom, Ruth Regina Panken, 79, a nationally known makeup artist and wigmaker for humans and dogs who has appeared on David Letterman's show. She still runs a wig salon on Kane Concourse in Bay Harbor Islands.
Two other judges and a former judge did time in the Court Broom case. No word on Shenberg's post-prison plans. He could not be reached for comment.
Holy crap -- "Maximum" Morphonious? Boy, Miami was awash with corruption in the '80s, when you think about it.
Let's take a walk down memory lane, when AGs like Dexter Lehtinen and of course state attorney Janet Reno actually went after public corruption in our fair city:
So all you pre-senile old-timers, who were the lawyers who were doing the bribing? You know, the "liquid lunchers" who hung out at Sally Russell's across the street from the courthouse, stale popcorn dripping from their lapels?
Judge Harvey Shenberg, 49, was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and one count of extortion. David Goodhart, 63, a former judge, was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy.
Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Judge Jose Gonzalez of Federal District Court set sentencing for July 1. Appeals Are Planned
Lawyers for the two judges said they would appeal.
Judge Phillip Davis was acquitted on all five charges he faced, and former Judge Alfonso C. Sepe was acquitted on 27 counts, and the jury deadlocked on five others counts against him.
The Government's indictment accused the four judges of accepting a total of $266,000 in exchange for acts like lowering bail, disclosing the existence of arrest warrants, returning seized property and suppressing evidence.
An assistant United States attorney, John O'Sullivan, said prosecutors were prepared to go to trial on the undecided counts.
Judge Sepe said he was confident that he would be found not guilty on the undecided counts and looked forward to returning to the bench. "The judiciary is very vibrant and strong and healthy, and will not come apart because there has been an unfair or untrue accusation against us," Judge Sepe said.
Judge Davis said: "This has been a trying situation for two years now, and I can only say without a shadow of a doubt that the system does work. Everyone involved in the system did their job."
Defense lawyers had focused for the most part on the Government's principal witnesses, Raymond J. Takiff, a criminal defense lawyer, and former Judge Roy T. Gelber, who earlier pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to resign from the bench and to cooperate with investigators.
The inquiry began in 1989, when Federal agents persuaded Mr. Takiff, whose clients at the time included Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, the deposed leader of Panama, to pose as the representative of a Central American drug ring and other narcotics traffickers with cases pending in Dade County. Undercover Federal and state agents then appeared in court as defendants in fictitious cases.
The Government maintained that the four judges had accepted payments from Mr. Takiff to help his clients.The investigation was the second-largest judicial corruption investigation in American history.
(It's ok, the statute of limitations has long passed.)