Maurice Nadjari Dies at 95; Crusading, and Criticized, Prosecutor

Maurice Nadjari Dies at 95; Crusading, and Criticized, Prosecutor

After The New York Periods released an exposé of police corruption in 1970, Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed a commission headed by Whitman Knapp. It identified payoffs and other criminality and advised that a unique prosecutor — a deputy attorney basic unbiased of the city’s 5 district attorneys — be appointed to pursue legal-justice wrongdoing.

Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller created the position and picked Mr. Nadjari, who experienced been a pugnacious, higher-profile prosecutor for 18 yrs. Legal professional Common Louis J. Lefkowitz, Mr. Nadjari’s nominal superior, manufactured the genuine appointment around the objections of the regional prosecutors, who were advised to convert more than their documents on pending investigations.

Chasing corruption was hard. It was all concealed. Conspirators talked only when compelled to. And to make scenarios hold up in court, policies had to be followed: no wiretaps with no court orders, no trapping folks into committing crimes, no exceeding jurisdiction or violating suspects’ rights. Expert prosecutors mentioned it necessary a careful touch.

But Mr. Nadjari came on like gangbusters, ballyhooing indictments at news conferences, and his cases generally led nowhere. He trumpeted pending motion on $70 million worthy of of “French Connection” heroin, seized in a notorious international smuggling scenario, that had vanished from the police home clerk’s office environment, but no expenses had been filed. A 16-month inquiry developed a charge that a housing inspector experienced taken a $30 bribe, but he was acquitted. Hundreds of law enforcement sergeants have been suspected of shaking down organizations all more than town, but only a dozen had been convicted.

And in big scenarios, Mr. Nadjari’s solutions tripped him up extra often than his suspects. In just one, he staged a mock theft to see if everyone would tamper with the situation as it moved by way of the courts in a different, a federal choose, Paul P. Rao Sr., was indicted on prices of lying to a grand jury about a converse he experienced had with an undercover agent. But the indictment was dismissed, and an appeals court docket denounced Mr. Nadjari’s “illegal, outrageous and intolerable strategies.”

Thomas I. Fitzgerald, a court docket official, was indicted for perjury, but an appeals court docket threw out the situation, citing an unlawful wiretap. Dominic Rinaldi, a State Supreme Courtroom justice in Brooklyn, was also indicted for perjury but acquitted. The metropolis Tax Commission president, Norman Levy, was convicted of fixing parking tickets, a misdemeanor that was reversed on appeal. Other conditions led to similar results.

In December 1975, Gov. Hugh L. Carey, a Democrat, moved to dismiss Mr. Nadjari as exclusive prosecutor, citing his poor report. Mr. Nadjari claimed the governor was making an attempt to include up an investigation, which afterwards led to the indictment of Patrick J. Cunningham, the state Democratic leader, on charges of advertising judgeships. Mr. Lefkowitz gave Mr. Nadjari 6 a lot more months in office, and the charges against Mr. Cunningham were being dismissed just before demo.

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