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Prosecutor revs up case against Clarence Norman

Prosecutors seem to be pulling out all the stops in their quest to convict former Assemblymember Clarence Norman. As he continues to prove his case to the jury, Assistant District Attorney Michael Vecchione has called everyone who was present at that pinnacle moment when Norman allegedly threatened to pull his support from two judicial candidates if they didn’t fork over $9,000 for a special “get out the vote campaign” in central Brooklyn to testify. Just as this paper went to press, Vecchione called William Boone, the man responsible for getting the vote out during that pivotal 2002 primary election, to the stand. Boone explained that while coordinating the get out the vote operation, he was responsible for hiring people to hand out palm cards at polling sites and testified that he had received the money for “services rendered,” according to courtroom watchers. He didn’t reveal anything new about Norman’s alleged plans to shake down civil court judicial candidates Karen Yellen and Marcia Sikowitz. Yellen and Sikowitz had already both testified about the alleged coercion, where, during a meeting with their campaign managers, Norman allegedly blew his top, stating, “If you don’t agree to this, you’re not going to have any support in this county.” Last week, Yellen’s campaign adviser, Peter Weiss, recalled how Norman’s people, particularly former Kings County Democratic Party Executive Director Jeffrey Feldman, wouldn’t budge on the issue. “I told him we had no money, that it wasn’t fair,” Weiss recalled. “I told him we had done everything that [the county organization] had asked. He said his principal was adamant and the money had to be paid.” Prosecutors allege that with the 2002 primary just a few short weeks away, Norman demanded that Yellen hand over $10,000 for a joint get out the vote campaign. The money was reportedly going to be divided between Boone, who was going to get $9,000 and former Assemblywoman Adele Cohen’s campaign, prosecutors claim. Attorneys for the former Assemblyman continue to contend that Norman wasn’t trying to coerce money out of anyone and was simply trying his best to get a white judicial candidate elected in a heavily black voting district. During cross examination, attorney Anthony Ricco intimated that Yellen received more votes in minority districts than she did in areas where she paid thousands of dollars more to other get out the vote initiatives. 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 assists in his defense.

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