The other day I read this line of reasoning put out by a newspaper:“If indeed he misled investigators about his own activities, Matanov deserves some degree of punishment. But . . . a possible sentence of up to 44 years? Throwing the book at a scared 23-year-old immigrant . . . this is just the kind of overly aggressive prosecution that gives the wrong impression of America’s commitment to freedom, civil liberties, and proportionate justice.” (my emphasis)
This sounds like something I noted when I wrote about Khairullozhon Matanov’s arrested in an early morning raid of his Quincy apartment by van loads of heavily armed FBI agents. I always thought the FBI was an investigative agency but lately they’ve been more like storm troopers.
The newspaper writing this, now you better sit down, is the Boston Globe. Yes, the same newspaper that demanded that US Attorney Carmen Ortez indict Probation Commissioner John O’Brien and others for engaging in rampant patronage, not what we like to think should exist in a society where everyone is supposed to be treated equally, but a long-term practice in this democracy where those who are elected to office get jobs for their friends and supporters. Patronage is not a crime. It’s tawdry at times but it’s fair to say it is a widespread practice throughout our country.
The Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her assistant Fred Wyshak decided that like with Lola whatever the Globe wants, the Globe gets. They reached into their vast hat of federal crimes and magician-like pulled out of it the idea that a letter telling an applicant she was not hired was mail fraud. They then figured having written more than three such letters amounted to racketeering with a penalty of 20 years and later bribery of 10 years. O’Brien faces up to thirty years in prison.
O’Brien’s a guy in his late fifties who went to Boston College, became a probation officer in 1980, and served as the commissioner of probation from 1998 to 2010. He had never been charged with a crime up until Ortiz and Wyshak brought these charges.
Matanov is a young man who has been in the United States since 2010 having sought political asylum from Kyrgyzstan. He worked hard as a cab driver and sent money back home to his family and friends. (Interesting to note that at his bail hearing the AUSA presented evidence of him sending money home as if it was some sort of evil. If that were the case every Irish, Italian, Eastern European, Asian and Latin immigrant would be suspect by the federals.) He had never been charged with a crime up until Ortiz indicted him for not wanting to incriminate himself, even though he had done nothing criminal.
The Globe suggests it is “overly aggressive prosecution” to charge a young man who was friends with terrorists with crimes with penalties up to 44 years; yet it urged on and cheered on the charging of a 58-year-old man who was friends with politicians with crimes with penalties up to 30 years.
It is interesting to note that in its editorial the Globe said the decision was made by “federal authorities.” It does not mention it was made by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz nor that she showed up in the courtroom to show her endorsement of the charges. The Globe has traditionally treated the local U.S. attorney with kid gloves often being able to influence many of its decisions.
There has been curious back-door connection between the Globe and the Boston U.S. attorney that undermined the Globe’s credibility. There was the time it received and printed secret grand jury testimony intended to embarrass then University of Massachusetts President William Bulger, a disgraceful action that was never investigated.
There’s continues to be an eerie relationship between its Spotlight Reports and subsequent actions taken by the Boston U.S. attorney. Recently we it had a Spotlight article about a mean taxi cab owner who treated his mostly immigrant cab drivers poorly. He committed no crimes that I could see but that didn’t stop the U.S. attorney from authorizing a raid of his business. Federal official from several agencies with guns drawn and pointed raided the taxi cab office and scared the hell out of the cab drivers. They were there to seize some records. Like with the raid on Matanov another outrageous show of force.
Historically the Globe’s cheer leading for the Boston federal prosecutors has led us to this point where the penalties are grossly out-of-line with the offenses, the federal police forces have becoming more hostile and threatening, and its readership ill served. Rightly criticizing U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz office in relation to the Matanov matter shows that perhaps under its new ownership it has taken off its cheer leading skirt an will give us the news straight by itself showing a greater “commitment to freedom, civil liberties, and proportionate justice.”