According to sources, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.‘s office for the last several months. The probe centers around allegations that several high profile investigations were shut down after attorneys for the rich made ‘donations.’
“The queries are centered on how things are handled in the office and who the major players are, the sources said. The FBI interest grew out of revelations that investigations were closed once lawyers representing the bigwig suspects made hefty donations to Vance’s campaign coffers, sources said.
The team has asked about current and former high-level staff members and their relationships to private law firms and outside agencies, sources said. Investigators are considering whether undue influence was at play.”
A lawyer for Weinstein apparently donated $24,000 to Vance Jr., and another lawyer sent $10,000 after the DA chose to forego criminal inquiries.
Additional reports show that Weinstein’s Law Firm also donated $25,000 to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In another case, the DA refused to bring criminal charges against Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., after meeting with the family attorney, Marc Kasowitz, in 2012.
Kasowitz had previously donated $25,000, and another $32,000 was delivered after Vance Jr. decided not to investigate.
“In an effort to contain the fallout from the October reports of bribery, Vance asked Columbia Law Schools’ Center for Advancement of Public Integrity to evaluate his campaign’s donation practices.”
The New York Daily News wrote, “The organization made several recommendations, which Vance announced he would adopt, including that he would be unaware of his contributors’ identities and would not accept donations over $320 from attorneys who have clients with pending matters in Manhattan state courts.”
The report cited “several reasons why campaign contributions to prosecutors, especially by defendants, persons under investigation, or lawyers representing parties to criminal proceedings, can be problematic.”
According to the findings, large contributions “raise the possibility of actual corruption, where the prosecutor abuses his or her position in exchange for campaign contributions through a quid pro quo that could be criminal in nature… [and] there is the more subtle (and non-criminal) possibility that prosecutors who are aware of campaign donations might be unconsciously biased in favor of their contributors, even if those prosecutors believe that their decisions are entirely unrelated to the donations.”
Whether or not the cases had merit is not the only issue concerning the investigation. If Vance Jr. did accept bribes to get guilty people off the hook, others think the level of corruption could go much higher.
Manhattan no longer prosecutes certain crimes because of the will of the people. But, to many people, Vance Jr.’s decision to not prosecute these crimes seems curiously like bribery.