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Norman gets ready for court - Final trial starts, but more charges could be on horizon

After constant delays and a game of musical lawyers, embattled Assemblymember and former Kings County Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman is about to immerse himself in his fourth and last criminal trial. But that doesn’t mean that Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes is through with him yet. As prosecutors and Norman’s defense team select a jury for the coercion trial about to be presented, rumors are swirling that the DA will soon be filing more charges against the disgraced legislator. Over the last two weeks, there have been two “exclusives” in the Village Voice and the Daily News that Judges Reynold Mason and Howard Ruditzky both “bought” the judicial benches they sat behind by showering Norman and his cronies with cash. Currently, Mason is retired from the bench. The Village Voice reported last week that Ruditzky was forced to testify to a grand jury about these allegations. It’s believed that the case will ultimately be handed over to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, who may remove him from the bench. Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesperson for the Kings County District Attorney’s office, could not comment on the Ruditzky case because grand jury proceedings are confidential. Sources close to the case, however, say that if Norman is hit with any additional crimes, the charges probably won’t be presented until well after the current trial is over. As of this writing, opening arguments were expected to begin on Monday, January 29. To present their case, prosecutors intend to call up to 30 witnesses including Sur-rogate Court Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres, the firebrand who fought Norman’s judicial selection system and won, six supreme and civil court judges, Assemblymem-ber Annette Robinson, former Coney Island Assemblymember Adele Cohen and Assemblymem-ber Vito Lopez, the current chair of the Kings County Democratic Party. Not everyone on the list, however, is expected to be called to testify, officials said. Two witnesses that Norman will have to worry the most about are Judges Karen Yellen and Marcia Sikowitz, who both allege that Norman threatened to pull the Kings County Democratic Party’s support on their judge bids when they wouldn’t go along with his demands. Norman wanted them both to use printers and vendors of his choosing, which would cost them up to $100,000, they claim. The prosecutors “smoking gun” could be former Kings County Democratic Party Executive Director Jeff Feldman, who allegedly acted as Norman’s messenger when he made these demands. Although initially charged with coercion as well, criminal charges against Feldman were dropped when he agreed to testify against Norman. Norman lost his Assembly seat, his party position, license to practice law and was sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison two years ago after losing a pair of criminal trials where he was found guilty of violating election law and pocketing a $5,000 check meant for his campaign. During a third trial held last year, Norman was acquitted of charges that he had bilked Albany out of thousands of dollars in travel vouchers. Norman is currently free on bail as he files his appeals and waits for his next trial.

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