By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The same firm was paid $9072 for representing Pataki's prior counsel Michael Finnegan, who like Wiesenfeld left government for a lucrative investment banking job. Finnegan did voluntarily appear before the grand jury, but McGuire himself inaccurately certified that Finnegan was "employed by the Office of the Governor at the time of the appearance" when, in fact, McGuire had replaced Finnegan in late 1997 and the appearance occurred on November 3, 1998. Not only was McGuire approving a payment to his own law firm a day after the payment for him was certified by his deputy, but the two submissions totaled over $37,000, almost twice what the comptroller paid after examining the bills.
The bills for Wiesenfeld's attorney, Andrew Lawler, reflected meetings and conversations with lawyers extremely close to the governor personally, such as Bill Plunkett and John O'Mara, neither of whom are known to have represented a client in the case. The submissions for McGuire and Finnegan indicate that their lawyer, Campriello, had 128 contacts with at least one individual whose name was repeatedly redacted by Campriello from the bills, a unusual occurrence that might cover discussions with the governor himself.
What all the campaign and public subsidies of this criminal defense team revealed, as did the stonewalling of the prime Pataki witnesses, was the circle-the-wagons mentality that gripped the Pataki camp throughout this high-octane probe. The governor's office tried to put a spin on the verdict when Yoo's jury only convicted him of the obstruction charge, deadlocking on the other fivewith 10 jurors reportedly for conviction on all counts. When Yoo subsequently pled guilty in another case, taking a one-year jail sentence for lying to the FBI about illegal contributions to ex-senator Al D'Amato, the government agreed not to retry him on the parole case.
But the evidence is still there, in a dusty court file in Brooklyn. Four players in the conspiracy have been nailed, and a half dozen witnesses with no motive to lie have given us a breathtaking snapshot of the Pataki heartland, where, as he moves sleepily into a third term, no bad deed goes unrewarded.