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Men accused in county corruption scheme appear in court

Updated: 12/18/2013 5:30 PM
Created: 12/17/2013 9:16 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen/Berkeley Brean

New developments in a corporation case that involves hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in Monroe County. 

Four men are accused of bid-rigging county contracts and using that money at country clubs. Those men including the husband of Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks were back in court Wednesday.  One of the big questions is will a judge dismiss charges against Robert Wiesner? Right now, there is no decision.

Judge Robert Noonan, who is hearing this case, appeared extremely critical of the way the Attorney General's Office has handled things so far. He said it's not a slam dunk that he'll even allow the case against Robert Wiesner to go forward. As of Wednesday, Wiesner is still charged with two out of 25 counts in the indictment. Wiesner's attorney says he's looking forward to having a hearing to prove why those charges should be dismissed for good.

James Nobles, Wiesner's attorney, said, “Well, there's a dispute of facts here. One of the things that I outlined again was three or four issues that I believe the Attorney General's Office acted outside their authority. I think the judge has some questions about those issues and when you have factual disputes, the way to resolve that is to have a hearing.”

Wiesner left all the talking to his attorney and as his attorney James Nobles said there are a few issues that he believes justify a dismissal. Back in July, Wiesner's attorney wrote this letter to investigators, advising them that his client wished to exercise his right to testify before the grand jury. Wiesner was not given that opportunity and was ultimately indicted. 

In court Wednesday, prosecutors for the Attorney General's Office conceded that they should have let Wiesner testify and called it an inadvertent oversight.” Prosecutors aren't contesting efforts to dismiss the charges for now and expect to represent the case to a new grand jury. But Nobles says there are other issues that should preclude them from resubmitting the case. He says the single biggest factor is  "extreme misconduct of the Attorney General's Office in this case." He says the media was tipped off about the sealed indictment in advance and Wiesner and the other three defendants were paraded in handcuffs in front of TV cameras on the day of their arraignment, which Nobles says was done solely for publicity.

And after court, Nobles said he's still not been given specifics about what his client is accused of doing.

Nobles said, "The judge reviewed our motion to not represent the case and said he has a lot of questions which is what we've been saying since the very beginning of the case. We're six weeks into it. We still haven't seen any evidence against my client and we're anxious to actually see what there is."

The judge did order the Attorney General's Office to turn over grand jury exhibits and two search warrant applications to Wiesner's attorney so he can make his case as to why the charges should be permanently dismissed. But that's just a small portion of the evidence. There are two million pages of documents in all that the state has gathered to make its case.

Why did the Attorney General's feel the need to handcuff the white-collar defendants (including the husband of Maggie Brooks) before they were indicted?

The motion to drop the charges against Wiesner has mostly to do with alleged misconduct by the Attorney General's Office.

At first, the prosecutor had no interest in talking to News10NBC. The judge said what the Attorney General's Office did is “troublesome”.

The four defendants walked in handcuffs across Exchange Street to the police department.

In court Wednesday, Judge Noonan said he could see no other legitimate reason to do this other than to achieve a public walk.

News10NBC talked to the prosecutor about it.

The Attorney General's Office says they followed procedure in the arrest, but the judge said the usual practice in Monroe County is that if defense lawyers promise their clients will show up, defendants are allowed to come to court on their own just prior to being arraigned. Most times, the media is never notified.

 



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