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Friday, March 28, 2008

Like father, like son?

In a hearing yesterday in Brooklyn federal court, Judge Jack Weinstein disqualified Joseph Corrozo Jr. from representing his father, reputed Gambino family consigliere Joseph “Jo-Jo” Corozzo Sr., in a massive racketeering case. Judge Weinstein called Corozzo Jr. “a brilliant attorney” but said he was off the case because he was also representing an informant against Corozzo Sr. Meanwhile, in another part of the courthouse, another judge gave the prosecution a month to answer Corozzo Jr.’s claims that they are using gossip, innuendo, and lies as part of a smear campaign against him in an effort to get him disqualified from representing Dominick “Skinny Dom” Pizzonia. In their motion papers prosecutors claim that Corozzo Jr. is Gambino family “house counsel” and has actually been proposed for “made man” status. They further claim that he helped plan a shooting, stole money from the family, and tried to shake down a restaurant. One of the main witnesses against Corozzo Jr. is a turncoat named Lewis Kasman, who is a reputed liar and cheater, and self-proclaimed “adopted son” of John Gotti.

Yet again the government will not put its cards on the table. Rather than presenting their evidence to a grand jury, obtaining an indictment, and allowing Corozzo Jr. to defend himself, they throw a virtual kitchen sink of prejudicial claims at him in the “Skinny Dom” matter in order to embarrass him, damage his reputation, and get him thrown off the case. Hearings to examine conflicts of interest are routine. Judge Weinstein clearly made the correct decision; you can’t represent a snitch and someone he is testifying against. However, using a lawyer’s family tree to toss him off a case is just plain wrong. I have been in cases with Joe Jr. and found him a capable and hard-working attorney. He does not deserve to be treated like this. CR

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