On Friday August 2nd I used a vacation day at work and traveled downto the Federal Court house in Newark to watch the sentencing of Patrick Ricciardi for crimes related to his wiretapping of the mayor’s office. What I saw at the proceedings profoundly shocked me and shook myfaith in our courts.
At this point most know how around May of 2011, over two years ago, anetwork security audit detected Ricciardi's network wiretapping and the mayor's office turned this evidence over to Federal Law Enforcement. In this very paper we read of Ricciardi's arrest in November of 2011and the announcement that forgoing a trial Ricciardi decided to plead guilty in March of 2013. Knowing all of this I expected Judge Salas to treat this crime seriously and professionally. I was wrong.
August 2nd's farce was kicked off by Ricciardi's public defender claiming there to be a conspiracy against his client going so far asto allege that letters written to the judge by the public had all been printed on the same machine. He then bizarrely claimed that the Federal investigation which had started in May 2011 was some sort of 2013 election ploy.
The worst was yet to come. As Judge Salas began by telling the defendant that these were very serious crimes mid-speaking she must have changed her mind because the sentence handed out was insulting to the people of Hoboken and theFederal Justice system. Far from holding Ricciardi responsible the judge decided to give no jail time, refused to levy a fine, and told Ricciardi that he could pay restitution to Hoboken tax payers for hiscrimes in $50 monthly installments over the next 22 years. Short of apologizing to Ricciardi for his arrest and conviction there was little else JudgeSalas could do to show how little she thought of the law.
Judge Salas' reasoning for this sentence was equally as odd. Judge Salas evidently felt that losing your job for bugging office emails was a severe punishment as if that was not something to be expected. Also Ricciardi had adult children who "needed" their father. All of Ricciardi's children are over the age of 18. At what age does the cry of "won't someone think of the children" stop?
Capping off this judicial caricature was Judge Ester Salas' warning to Ricciardi that if he violated probation that he would have to appear before her, the very judge who was giving this laughable sentence, to answer forit. A more serious threat would have been to warn Ricciardi that if he violated probation that she would resign from the bench and do everything in her power to see that his case was heard before a judge who took federal crime seriously.
Judge Esther Salas' message to the people of Hoboken could not beclearer, drop dead. That Hoboken will need to look elsewhere for leadership and protection from crime and corruption. Hoboken will haveto save itself from the corruption that has robbed it of so much potential and tax dollars because Judge Salas is neither interested nor up to the job.