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Democratic Boss’ Criminal Trial to Be Postponed

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It appears that the first of many criminal trials against Kings County Democratic Boss Assemblyman Clarence Norman, initially set to begin Monday, has been postponed until August. Officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s Office said that Judge Martin Marrus adjourned the first of four criminal trials against Norman, for his alleged misappropriation of state travel vouchers, since an appellate motion in the case has yet to be adjudicated. The postponement has put to rest any rumors that Norman was planning to hammer out a plea deal with prosecutors, a move that could jeopardize his seat in the Assembly, as well as his position as president of the Kings County Democratic Party. “With everything pushed back, he doesn’t have to plea…at least not right now,” an official from the Kings County District Attorney’s office said. Sources close to the Kings County Democratic Party said that rumors had been swirling about Norman pleading to a misdemeanor charge and stepping down as both Assemblyman and Kings County Democratic Boss. “From what I’m hearing, there may be a change in leadership in the next few months,” the source said. Norman has continued to proclaim his innocence in all four indictments against him and has said many times that he will be vindicated at trial. As prosecutors prepare for the travel voucher case against Norman, the Assemblyman’s attorneys have long held the belief Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes should not be prosecuting this particular charge, since the vouchers were given to Norman in Albany. Lawyers cite a similar case involving former Assemblyman Roger Green, who was penalized in Albany for misuse of the same type of travel vouchers. Hynes and his team said they decided to file these charges against Norman since he allegedly misused the travel vouchers in Kings County. While Marrus upheld Hynes’ position, Norman’s attorney, Roger Adler, brought his motion to the appellate court. Since it does not appear that a decision will be rendered on the appeal by April 18, Marrus postponed the case, said officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s office, who explained that they are ready for trial. Marrus ordered that if the appellate court does not render a decision by August, both the prosecution and the defense should begin the second indictment against Norman. In that case, Norman is accused of putting a $5,000 check meant for his campaign into his own personal account, officials said. The trial is set to being on August 8. During a tentative schedule set down by Marrus earlier this year, the “$5,000 check” case will be followed by charges that he failed to report some campaign contributions. Coercion charges against Norman would be handled last, according to the schedule. Norman and Kings County Democratic Party Executive Director Jeff Feldman have been charged with forcing judicial candidates to use particular and costly vendors if they wanted continued support from the party. The allegations stem from the 2002 primary election campaigns of Judges Karen Yellen and Marcia Sikowitz, who were both running for Kings County Civil Court. Both women claim that they lost the elections because they did not “go along” with Norman’s demands, prosecutors said.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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