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New information collected by the prosecution linking indicted Brooklyn Justice Gerald P. Garson to a bribery scheme emerged during a three-hour argument yesterday on defense motions to dismiss the case against him and suppress wiretap evidence. The material centered mainly on conversations, either recorded or reported by a prosecution witness, indicating there was contact between Justice Garson and a businessman who was repeatedly recorded as claiming he could fix divorce cases handled by the judge. The witness said that she had seen Justice Garson’s name and telephone number in the electronic phone book of a cell phone belonging to businessman Nissam Elmann. The prosecution, however, conceded that it had been unable to verify another claim made by the witness regarding a three-way conversation with the judge. Justice Garson’s lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, heatedly denied that his client knows Mr. Elmann, one of eight people charged with participating in a scheme to influence the judge. Mr. Fischetti said Justice Garson “never received a dime” from Mr. Elmann, nor had the prosecution made any charge to that effect. Justice Garson was indicted last April on official misconduct charges. He is accused of having given a lawyer who frequently appeared before him ex parte advice and other amenities, such as favored access to chambers, in exchange for free meals, drinks and, in one instance, a box of cigars. Justice Garson was also accused of accepting referral fees from the lawyer, Paul Siminovsky, who appeared before him as counsel to parties involved in divorce cases. In many cases, Justice Garson appointed Mr. Siminovsky as a law guardian to represent children caught in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings between their parents. In August, the prosecution obtained a superseding indictment against Justice Garson and upgraded the charges against him to bribery. The bribery charge, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison, accused the judge of giving Mr. Siminovsky appointments as a law guardian worth tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for gifts such as meals and drinks worth thousands of dollars. Charges have been dropped against Mr. Siminovsky. He has been cooperating with the prosecution. In addition to Justice Garson and Mr. Elmann, the other defendants remaining in the case are Louis Salerno, a court officer; Paul Sarnell, a former court clerk; and Avraham Levi, a litigant in a case before Justice Garson. Two other defendants, Esther Weitzer and Rabbi Ezra Zifrani, have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the prosecution. The information about Justice Garson’s phone numbers being in Mr. Elmann’s cell phone was disclosed by Executive Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Blank, as he fended off defense claims that the prosecution did not have probable cause for a series of wiretap warrants obtained during the investigation. Mr. Blank said that Frieda Hanimov, who first alerted the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to a possible bribery scheme in the fall of 2003, told investigators that Mr. Elmann had shown his cell phone to her with the name and number of Justice Garson displayed. Mr. Blank also said that 16 phone calls had been uncovered that were made from either Justice Garson’s robing room or the courtroom at 210 Joralemon Street to Mr. Elmann’s business. Phone Call Claim Mr. Blank also informed Justice Steven W. Fisher, who is presiding over the case, that Ms. Hanimov claimed to have participated in a three-way phone conversation involving the scheme, which included Justice Garson. The prosecution could not verify that claim through an examination of phone records, Mr. Blank acknowledged. Justice Fisher pressed another prosecution lawyer, Assistant District Attorney Seth M. Lieberman, on whether there was any evidence to sustain Mr. Elmann’s claims that he knew Justice Garson and had dined with him. Mr. Lieberman conceded that there was no evidence before the grand jury establishing contact between Justice Garson and Mr. Elmann. When Mr. Lieberman tried to elaborate, Justice Fisher cut him off, saying he did not want to discuss information that was not before the grand jury. Mr. Blank said the prosecution had recorded Justice Garson making a reference to Mr. Elmann’s company during a session at which the judge coached Mr. Siminovsky on how to get valuation testimony into evidence in Mr. Levi’s case. Mr. Blank said the prosecution had evidence that Justice Garson told Mr. Siminovsky to “pass on his greetings” to Mr. Elmann. Mr. Blank referred to additional evidence that Justice Garson was in Mr. Siminovsky and Mr. Elmann’s “sphere of influence.” That evidence, he said, showed that Mr. Siminovsky interrupted a meal he was having with Justice Garson to meet with Mr. Elmann who had just received a cash payment from Ms. Hanimov. Referring to the video surveillance of Justice Garson’s robing room, Mr. Blank said the camera had recorded “powerful evidence” of Mr. Siminovsky’s delivering a $1,000 referral fee to the judge which he counted moments after Mr. Siminovsky left room. Mr. Fischetti protested that, in describing the payment, Mr. Blank had left out vital information about how Justice Garson had repeatedly told Mr. Siminovsky he did not want the money, before finally agreeing to accept it. Mr. Fischetti pointed out that Mr. Siminovsky was cooperating with the prosecution when the referral fee was delivered. The whole episode, he charged, “was a set-up by the DA.” Separately yesterday, Justice Fisher took pains to set straight the public record about the case. Referring to press reports, Justice Fisher said the case “is almost always described” as accusing Justice Garson “of fixing cases in his court.” That is not the case, and Justice Fisher closely questioned Assistant District Attorney Lieberman as to whether Justice Garson was being accused of changing “a particular decision or result in exchange for money or a benefit.” Mr. Lieberman responded that Justice Garson was being accused of providing ex parte advice and courtesies that were not available to other attorneys such as easy access to the judge and lenience in obtaining adjournments. Justice Fisher said he expects to issue a ruling on the motions to dismiss and suppress in about three weeks. Pictures Allowed Justice Fisher also ruled yesterday that a still photographer could take pictures of the session, but he refused to allow television cameras into the courtroom. State law does not permit television cameras in any aspect of a criminal case, he said. Still cameras, he added, however, are not covered by that law, Civil Rights �52, but must meet conditions set forth in the chief administrative judge’s rules. After a test in which a photographer took a picture, Justice Fisher ruled the photographer’s presence would not be intrusive. Professor Abraham Abramovsky, of Fordham University School of Law, argued the wiretap motion for Justice Garson, and Diarmuid White, of White & White, argued for him on the motion to dismiss.

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