This is only one case in one area. However, all across the world similar scenarios are playing out daily in courts. Regardless of who is getting paid off; be it the lawyers, the judge, the GAL, the mental health experts, social workers, court reporters, etc....the ones that loose in a situation of this nature are the children.
How to Fix A Divorce: Prosecutors Spell It Out
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: Friday, April 25, 2003
It would often begin with Nissim Elmann, an electronics dealer, known among some Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn as the man who could help win a messy divorce or custody battle. For a fee, Mr. Elmann could guarantee a good outcome, according to a theory laid out yesterday in Brooklyn Criminal Court, by bribing the right people.
Mr. Elmann would bring a client wanting a guarantee, say, that he would win custody of his children to Paul Siminovsky, a divorce lawyer who had bragged that he had an advantage whenever he appeared in Justice Gerald P. Garson's courtroom, officials said. Under the court system's random assignment method, some of Mr. Siminovsky's cases did land before Justice Garson, but his advantage was really a payback for the meals and drinks he routinely bought for the judge, according to criminal complaints accusing the judge, Mr. Siminovsky and two court employees of a conspiracy to fix divorce and child custody cases.
For his part, Justice Garson, a State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn, directed clients toward Mr. Siminovsky and gave him advice on how to win cases in his courtroom, even coaching him on questions to ask witnesses, the complaints say. In exchange for the favorable treatment, according to the complaints, Mr. Siminovsky gave Justice Garson a box of cigars, $1,000 in cash and other gifts. At that point, Justice Garson asked that Mr. Siminovsky simply write a check to his wife, Robin Garson, also a State Supreme Court judge, to use to pay off a debt, officials say.
For the whole scheme to work, a law enforcement official said, the group needed to subvert the random assignment method the court employs to guard against corruption. To make sure the cases ended up in front of Justice Garson, the complaints charge, the conspirators brought in court officials, including Paul Sarnell, his senior clerk, and two employees of the main court clerk's office. In return for Mr. Sarnell's role in getting two cases assigned to Justice Garson, the complaints charge, Mr. Siminovsky gave him telephones from Mr. Elmann's warehouse.
After Mr. Sarnell retired in late 2002, Louis Salerno, a court officer, approached Mr. Siminovsky about becoming the new fixer, court documents say. In one instance, Mr. Salerno received electronic equipment from the trunk of Mr. Siminovsky's car for assigning a case to Judge Garson, the complaints say.
The clients hoping to win an advantage in their divorce or child custody fights also poured money into the scheme, officials said. For example, Avraham Levi, who was charged yesterday with conspiring to rig the outcome of his divorce, agreed to pay Mr. Elmann more than $10,000 to bribe Justice Garson, one complaint says. That case was steered to Justice Garson, and Mr. Elmann warned Mr. Levi that he could not settle the case but must let it come to trial, the complaint charges. Mr. Levi paid the money in December 2002, according to the complaint, and his divorce and custody case, still pending, began before Justice Garson in late January.
In another case, Esther Weitzner is said to have given Mr. Elmann money to bribe the judge and a court-appointed psychologist who was to be a witness in her child custody proceeding. A warrant was pending for her arrest late yesterday, a law enforcement official said.
Photos: Also arraigned in Brooklyn yesterday were, clockwise from left: Nissim Elmann, an electronics dealer; Paul Siminovsky, a divorce lawyer; Louis Salerno, a court officer; Paul Sarnell, Justice's Garson's former law clerk; and Avraham Levi, who had been Mr. Siminovsky's client in a divorce case.; Justice Gerald P. Garson after being arraigned on corruption charges in Brooklyn Criminal Court yesterday. (John-Marshall Mantel for The New York Times)