Impeaching the Fraudster Snitch

There's a white collar $60 million stock fraud trial going on in state court in New York. Bloomberg has the details.

The Government is relying in part on the testimony of John D. Mazzuto, the former CEO of a Pittsburgh-based company called IEAM, who pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against others to save his own skin, to get a conviction against James Margulies, the company's former chief counsel.

New York criminal defense attorney Ira London, who is representing Margulies, got his shot at Mazzuto during cross-examination last week. Henry Blodgett of Business Insider says Ira "eviscerated" him and shows how with portions of the transcript.

For the lawyers out there, note Ira's great use of trilogies (three questions (sometimes more) for each point, or one question asked three different ways. Often, each question will add one additional fact.) Great work, Ira.(Disclosure: Ira is a long-time friend.) The trial is expected to last two more weeks. [More..]

Trilogy Examples:
Q You decided to lie to avoid responsibility for your actions?
A Yes.
Q You decided to lie to avoid problems?
A Yes.
Q You decided to lie to keep the fraud going?
A Yes
Q Just give us an estimate. How many people do you think you've deceived?
A Hundreds.
Q And this was face to face on occasion, wasn't it?
A Yes.
Q And on other occasions it was on the telephone?
A Yes.
Q And on other occasions it was in writing?
A Yes...
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    A brilliant cross (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 01:03:38 PM EST
    I just wish I could have been there to see it.

    Any chance of somehow getting up the whole transcript so those who could not be there can read the whole thing?

    I'll ask when the trial is over (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 01:06:30 PM EST
    Thanks! (none / 0) (#11)
    by scribe on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:17:50 AM EST
    It could be a real education.

    Exciting to read, (none / 0) (#3)
    by KeysDan on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 01:12:18 PM EST
    must have been just riveting to hear it.

    Yes (none / 0) (#4)
    by ruffian on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 02:15:09 PM EST
    I've never known about that trilogy method - it does give a certain balance and grace to the questions and answers.

    Me either... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 03:00:41 PM EST
    and it gives the jury a "3 strikes yer out" frame of reference....brilliant.

    What do you think? (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 11:38:12 PM EST
    Any chance jury feels its being played?

    "You're a liar."........"Yes"
    "You're a weasel"...."Yes"
    "You're a turdball"...."Yes"

    Next "question" :

    "You're a snake"...."Yes"

    Jury: "we get it, we get it already, what are we, 10 years old? The same smears, over and over and over again. (if this guy doesn't speed it up, we'll be here forever)

    What do you think, is it just me? I mean, once or twice, or three times, powerful. But, doesn't it wear thin after a while?


    no, it's very effective (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 12:52:37 AM EST
    Here's another one:

    Q    Sometime later, after 1990, you made a conscious decision to become a crook, isn't that right?
    A    Yes.
    Q    You made a conscious decision to become a fraud?
    A     Yes.
    Q    And you made a conscious decision to become a criminal?
    A     Yes

    lol (none / 0) (#9)
    by NYShooter on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 01:10:28 AM EST
    two expert lawyers vs. an old jock?

    I think I'll accede to your judgment


    People absorb information best (none / 0) (#12)
    by scribe on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 07:23:41 AM EST
    when it's presented in threes.  It's just one of those psychological things about how our lizard brains work.  

    the first time, your attention gets twigged and you're kinda paying attention, but it hasn't sunk in;
    the second time, your attention is engaged and you're really looking;
    the third time, your attention is captured and you get it.



    Probably depends... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 08:11:40 AM EST
    on the jurors particular bias or prejudice.

    Me?  I might feel it's overkill if the prosecution does it, but on cross of a snitch I think its just nailing the point home:)


    snitch vs whistleblower (none / 0) (#6)
    by diogenes on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 10:31:01 PM EST
    Is there any difference between a snitch and a whistleblower who reports Medicaid or IRS fraud and incidentally picks up a portion of the proceeds?

    I think the difference is (none / 0) (#14)
    by CST on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 09:42:58 AM EST
    a snitch is someone who has also broken the law, and then turns on the people they are with.  They are by definition less trustworthy, because you know they are willing to break the law.

    A whistleblower is someone who witnesses wrong-doing and calls it out, but was not actually personally in the wrong.


    Or a snitch... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 10:02:09 AM EST
    is a whistleblower who only blew the whistle to keep their own arse outta jail.

    A righteous whistleblower blows the whistle when there is nothing in it for them, except doing the right thing.


    a fraudster is, by definition, a liar. (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 04:50:45 AM EST
    a lie told to one's face, and a lie told over the phone, by email, etc. are still lies, the method of transmission is irrelevant. a fraudster is, by definition, a criminal. beating that dead (and admitted to) horse down the road accomplishes nothing, for a juror with a minimum of half a functioning brain. be careful on jury selection, make sure you only get very dull people seated.

    clearly, you needn't be particularly smart to go to harvard or yale (see: bush, gw). clearly, you needn't be awfully smart to graduate from either institution (see: bush, gw).

    presumably, mr. london pointed out that mr. mazzuto was testifying as part of a plea agreement (having not seen the entire transcript, i'm just guessing), so the jury would know, upfront, that mr. mazzuto is himself an admitted criminal (unless they are a very dense group). making that point, redundantly, via cross, would seem almost an insult to the jurors ("they're so stupid, i need to pound this very obvious point into their little pea-brains, or they'll miss it!"). not, in my not so humble opinion, a way to get the jury sympathetic to you, or your client. but that's just me, i take these things personally.

    if what i read was merely a small sample of the "brilliant" cross, i'm not impressed. we'll have to wait and see if the jury was. no doubt mr. london is a fine attorney, i just found him sort of dull and needlessly repetative in this instance.

    Marguiles (none / 0) (#16)
    by SmartMouth on Wed Jun 29, 2011 at 12:43:57 PM EST
    The cross was indeed a waste. The jury knows Mazzuto is a crook. Marguiles is toast. All the money in question went through his IOLTA account.

    He is as good as convicted. Thie will cause a huge settlement with Baker as well as many other.

    I am not impressed either.