Saturday, July 09, 2005

CHECK STILL IS NOT IN THE MAIL

Newsday
June 18, 2002

CHECK STILL IS NOT IN THE MAIL

By: Jimmy Breslin
Upon arriving home, I dropped my suitcase to look at a message from the
Mexican consul in New York that, despite insides that I felt were
fortified, caused me to spin. I was just in the house from Dallas, where
observing a throng of Catholic churchmen spending days on the subject of
sexual abuse of infants and children raided the sensibilities. That it
took so long, that they were so proud of themselves at the finish, was
staggering.

The church's problem with sex is almost as big as the National
Basketball Association's.

Now, coming on top of this, the message from Mexico made me sit down.

The Mexican office wanted to know about Eduardo Daniel's money from the
Brooklyn federal court. Had he received it yet? Could I give them some
way to reach him in Mexico?


Eduardo Daniel is the father of Eduardo Gutierrez, who at age 20 drowned
in concrete on a dangerous building job in Williamsburg. The builder,
Ostreicher, was fined $1 million in a criminal case in Brooklyn federal
court by Judge Leo Glasser.

The money was broken up, with a worker damaged for life receiving the
most and Eduardo's father awarded $100,000.

The judge said from the bench that no lawyer was to touch the money,
that it was to go directly to the people involved. I heard him say that
and so did a couple of people with me. Good, we said, at least that
protects him from these thieves outside on Court Street.

The record I never saw - or I would have written it for all to see what
it was - said the judge ordered the money to go to the estate of Eduardo
Gutierrez. The kid has no estate. Still, the word is the key to robbing
people.

I spoke to Daniel at that time. I told him the money would be coming any
day and I hoped it would help his life.

I then went about my business. I had written a book about the death of
his son, and worked with Daniel on it, and that was that. I had no idea
that my subject was about to become my relative.

Sometime in February, I guess, a friend of Daniel's told me that he
hadn't received the money yet. "They tell him it is on the judge's desk
and he hasn't signed it yet."

"He will," I said with confidence in our system of government. That
shows what a sucker I can be.

For I had confidence in a judge who fell down on the job. Fell on his
face. Glasser is the guy who played tough guy on the bench in Gotti's
last trial. And now he let money coming from the death of a fine young
man go into the hands of Brooklyn Democratic clubhouse bums.

But at this point I didn't know this and thought Glasser was what he
pretended he was. So I left the subject and went on to other stories.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Eduardo Daniel's friend told me that he
still hadn't received the money.

I called the judge's office and was told that he had signed the papers
in November, over seven months ago. The secretary told me to call a
woman in another office, who put me onto an assistant United States
attorney, Rich Faughnan, who wanted a promise that his words wouldn't be
used. I couldn't understand why he was being such a sneak. He then said
something about the public administrator's office.

I went crazy. This was his reason for being a sneak. I screamed that he
had given the money to thieves. The public administrator takes
everything but the bones from the dead. Some time later, I got a call
from Louis Rosenthal, who said he was the counsel to the public
administrator.

"Where is the money?" I yelled.

He said it was in an account. He said, what are you shouting for, why,
this Eduardo had a civil case going on the son's death and usually we
keep this kind of money, this $100,000, until the civil case is ended.
So he claimed he could have held the money for a couple of years more. I
almost expired.

He called me "sir" through my shouting. He told me the next day that the
money had been sent registered mail. Why, he even had taken less than
his usual fee.

When I screamed, "What fee?" he said he was a private attorney and
charged a fee. How did he get his hands on the money? Why, he was the
counsel to the public administrator.

A hired burglar with a public office.

His friend is the Brooklyn surrogate, Michael Feinberg. Their favorite
reading is the death notices. Feinberg sits on the bench and assigns the
work to Rosenthal, who takes anything he can get. He earns millions and
is not embarrassed to take $3,600 off a young man who drowned in concrete.

He swore to me the money would reach Daniel last week. I spoke to
Daniel's friend last Wednesday. The money wasn't there. I was told that
Rosenthal had grabbed $3,600 from the money due Daniel.

I went to Dallas for the Catholic bishops. Once, I saw a map of the
border with Mexico and I thought about Daniel, and his large family
living without running water and suddenly having $100,000. Oh, of course
he had to have the money by now. And now when I got home on Sunday night
I saw this message from the Mexican consul. So I called Daniel's friend,
who called Mexico, after which he called me.

"He says he didn't get the money."

For nearly seven months, this man has lived in dust while some cheap,
grubby Court Street lawyer toys with money and not one person in this
great legal system, not a district attorney, state attorney general,
chief judge, United States attorney or bar association has stirred
itself to recognize the outrage.

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