D.A. Claims Lawyers Bribed Court Worker

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Three defense attorneys and a paralegal bribed a court insider to send monied clients their way, the Manhattan district attorney said in an indictment.
     Jae Lee, 41, Jose Nunez, 47, Dwayne Smith and Benjamin Yu, 36, are accused of bribing a court employee in the New York City Criminal Justice Agency to funnel clients their way, which “broke the lawyers’ oaths and undermined the integrity of our court system,” District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said Monday.
     The CJA is a nonprofit charged with helping courts reduce unnecessary holding times after a person’s arrest by interviewing people arraignment and recommending to a judge whether they should be released on bail.
     Vance claims that the unnamed court employee – who was not charged with wrongdoing – used the interviews to figure out who was likely to be able to afford an attorney to expedite arraignment and then sent them to the defendant attorneys, between August 2013 and September 2014.
     The court worker was paid up to $1,000 to text Smith after an interview and persuade arrestees to retain him with promises of a shorter holding period, Vance said.
     The worker was also paid up to $1,000 each week to develop arrestees’ profiles and recommend them to the attorneys, Vance said.
     “The criminal justice system should be built on an even playing field – not one where insiders abuse their positions for profit,” Vance said in a statement.

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