Robes for a Rogue

Ex-councilman Noach Dear prepares to mount the bench

None of these antics diminished Dear's expertise at raising funds for politics. While most of his efforts, appropriately, went to his own campaign coffers, Dear achieved national attention when he raised several million dollars for the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1996. Gore even visited Dear's spacious home in Midwood. Since his conservative constituents had little in common politically with the Clinton administration, the perception was that Dear was offering White House access, a notion he did not dispel.

To finance his own council races, Dear won large checks from friendly business executives. When he ran for Congress, however, contributions were limited by law to $2,000 apiece. Dear's campaign staff solved this problem by forging 47 sequentially numbered money orders in other people's names to cover a secret donation of $40,000.

Federal Election Commission records show that investigators spent three years painstakingly tracking down the culprits. Ultimately, no criminal charges were referred, but Dear's treasurer had to pay $45,000 in fines. Dear, who insisted it was all a mystery to him, had to pay any remaining funds in his congressional campaign accounts. This wasn't a problem, because he had already spent the money.

For his Civil Court race this year, Dear has relied mainly on the connections he has made as a member of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Dear was appointed to one of the panel's nine seats in 2001, right after he had to yield his council post. So far, of the $147,000 he has raised for the judgeship contest, roughly half has come from taxi corporations, which rely on his good graces for their regulatory needs. If Dear were running for city office, he would be forbidden to seek these gifts. Because Civil Court is a state post, he's free to take whatever he can get. If this appears unseemly, that's someone else's problem. Taxi commission chairman Matthew Daus, who hails from a Democratic Party clubhouse adjacent to Dear's Borough Park district, declined to talk about it.

The usually loquacious Dear went mum as well. Caught on his cell phone, he apologized. "I am crazy, crazy these days. Meetings and meetings. I will call you, I promise. Promise," he said. The judge-to-be was not heard from again.

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