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John Derbyshire On The Color Of White-Collar Crime
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April 27, 2015, 08:59 PM
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Last weekend’s Radio Derb, with sound file, is now archived at my website.

The podcast was produced before black mobs decided to loot and burn central Baltimore, so it includes no commentary on that.

It does, though, presciently include a riposte to the grumble often heard in these situations:  “Yeah, yeah, you talk about black street crime a lot.  What about white-collar crime?  Isn’t that just as socially harmful, in a different way?  Who’s committing those crimes, huh?  Huh?”

Over to Radio Derb.

My normal reading matter over breakfast is the New York Post, which I am able to read out here in the wine-dark Aegean Sea via the miracle of the internet.

Let me just walk you through a typical edition of my home town newspaper. This is the New York Post for Tuesday, April 21st.

Page 2, headline: Former mayor found guilty of public corruption. This is about a lady named Noramie Jasmin, 51 years old, formerly mayor of Spring Valley, a small town in New York State. The town is 60 percent black. Mayor Jasmin has been convicted of mail fraud and extortion in relation to a project pushed by a local developer. The deputy mayor Joseph Desmaret was also involved, but avoided a trial by pleading guilty. Ms Jasmin and Mr Desmaret are both black.

Further down page 2, headline: Bungles” allowed Carl Heastie to make $200K off mom’s crime. Heastie is the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, the lower house of the state legislature. His mother was convicted in 1998 of embezzling $90,000 and using the money to buy a New York City apartment in the Bronx. She died soon after conviction. Her son, now-Speaker Carl Heastie, got control over the estate and eventually sold the apartment some years later at a profit of $200,000.

So he reimbursed the embezzled amount, right? Ninety thousand, plus those years of interest, right? Wrong. Heastie claims he paid ten thousand dollars in restitution to his mother’s victims. We must assume he trousered the other $190,000 as clear profit.

The Bronx District Attorney, Robert Johnson, should have taken legal action against Heastie on behalf of the victims, but did not. This is not very surprising. DA Johnson is deeply unenthusiastic about prosecuting criminals. A 2012 report showed him prosecuting only 75 percent of arrests. Johnson’s predecessor prosecuted 99 percent.

Carl Heastie and Robert Johnson are both black.

On page 6 we read about a different New York City District Attorney, this one from Brooklyn. Headline: Ken Thompson’s indictment strategies go soft on hard crime. Yep, that’s the guy: Ken Thompson, Brooklyn DA.

DA Thompson’s even less enthusiastic about prosecuting criminals than DA Johnson. An analysis by the Post showed that Thompson has the lowest percentage of indictments or guilty pleas before indictment of any of the city’s five DAs. His current rate is about 10 percentage points lower than his predecessor’s.

The other thing DA Thompson is famous for is using law enforcement officers, including highly-skilled and experienced detectives, as his personal errand boys, picking up his and his family’s fast food and dry cleaning, and taking out the trash at his $1.6 million town house. Officers who refuse are assigned to dead-end cases.

Ken Thompson is black.

On the opposite page, page 7, headline: Private equity firm founder gets up to 6 years for stealing $9.3M. That would be 45-year-old Lawrence Penn III, convicted of grand larceny and falsifying business records. Again there’s a partner in the crime who’s pleaded guilty, 44-year-old Altura St. Michael Ewers.

Lawrence Penn III is black. Whether Mr Ewers is black I don’t know; I leave you to google that rather unusual name for yourselves.

Forward to page 18 of Tuesday’s New York Post. Headline: Politically connected reverend accused of fleecing nonprofit. This is 47-year-old Rev. Andre Soleil, who is indeed politically connected: a former aide to Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor George Pataki.

Rev’m Soleil, quote, “hijacked a 50-year-old Harlem nonprofit and stuffed his pockets with organization funds meant to house and educate the poor, a new lawsuit charges.” End quote. The sum of money here seems to be about half a million dollars. Rev’m Soleil is black.