NRO's Geraghty misleads to declare Sotomayor "[s]oft" on "[c]orruption"

››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

NRO's Jim Geraghty accused then-U.S. district judge Sonia Sotomayor of being "[s]oft on New Jersey [c]orruption" because of her sentencing of a man in a kickback scheme, without noting that she reportedly gave the defendant only six months less time than the prosecutor requested.

In a May 26 post to his National Review Online "the campaign spot" blog, Jim Geraghty misleadingly suggested that as a U.S. district judge, Sonia Sotomayor was "[s]oft on New Jersey [c]orruption" due to the sentencing and financial penalty she issued in 1995 to Joseph C. Salema in a municipal bond kickback scheme. Geraghty cited the book The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of Corruption, by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure, who wrote that "Salema could have spent up to 10 years behind bars" and that Sotomayor "instead sentenced him to six months in a halfway house and six months of home detention, fined him $10,000 and gave him 1400 hours of community service." Geraghty commented: "A $10,000 fine to someone who pleads guilty to a federal charge of sharing in more than $200,000 in kickbacks. Boy, that will teach him!" But in declaring Sotomayor "[s]oft," Geraghty ignored the fact that prosecutors reportedly sought a prison term of only one year, and that Salema reportedly paid "a full restitution of $342,000" in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

While Geraghty cited Ingle and McClure's statement that "Salema could have spent up to 10 years behind bars" as evidence that Sotomayor is "[s]oft on New Jersey [c]orruption," according to Sotomayor's 2009 Almanac of the Federal Judiciary entry, "[p]rosecutors had sought a one-year prison term for the defendant, but Sotomayor noted during sentencing that Salema had made full restitution after entering a guilty plea earlier in the year." Moreover, in an August 15, 1995, article, The New York Times reported that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mary Jo White, said the sentence " 'sends a clear message that corruption in the municipal securities industry will not be tolerated' and that 'those who advance their own interests at the expense of the municipalities that they were hired to assist will be held accountable and punished.' "

Contrary to Geraghty's suggestion that Salema received only "[a] $10,000 fine" in monetary penalties, according to the Times, Salema "agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the S.E.C. on violating Federal securities laws by hiding the kickbacks among other expenses incurred by the bank in handling the bond issue. He has paid about $340,000 in restitution." Moreover, the Associated Press reported in an August 14, 1995, article (accessed via Nexis), "Aide to Former News Jersey Governor Sentenced to One Year's Confinement," that Sotomayor "acknowledged Salema had already made a full restitution of $342,000" in sentencing him.

Geraghty's May 26 post, titled "Sonia Sotomayor, Soft on New Jersey Corruption":

From The Soprano State: New Jersey's Culture of Corruption, by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure, p. 213:

"[Former Chief of Staff to New Jersey Governor James Florio Joseph C.] Salema could have spent up to 10 years behind bars for steering government bond business to First Fidelity in exchange for payments in a scheme that netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars," the Trentonian reported. U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor instead sentenced him to six months in a halfway house and six months of home detention, fined him $10,000 and gave him 1400 hours of community service.

A $10,000 fine to someone who pleads guilty to a federal charge of sharing in more than $200,000 in kickbacks. Boy, that will teach him!

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