Pickerstein leaving Federal Court
Judge Victor Bolden
(May 12, 2016) Harold James Pickerstein was sentenced to 30 days in Otisville by Judge Victor Bolden after he stole $600,000.00 from a mobster he was defending. His Federal sentencing guidelines called for about 3 years. Pickerstein was holding millions of dollars in trust for the mobster. After the mobster got out of jail the mobster asked Pickerstein for his money. Pickerstein told the mobster that he was having financial problems and spent the money on back taxes and personal expenses. If you are going to rob that kind of money why would you turn it over to the IRS to pay back taxes? Enter into an offer and compromise, or get into a payment plan. Or file bankruptcy. But to go out and steal money to pay back the IRS? How stupid is that?
Yet Pickerstein is no dummy. He submitted numerous letters of support from former Federal prosecutors and prominent attorneys who attested to his brilliance as an attorney and to his kindness and good deeds. He was the Mother Theresa of ex-prosecutors. The court was jam packed with lawyers supporting him. Standing room only. You would think that Pickerstein was the greatest lawyer of all time. Outside of the State of Connecticut nobody ever heard of him. The former Chief Federal prosecutor for Connecticut, tearfully pleaded with the judge to spare Pickerstein, and cried, “This is a man I love and respect!” This former prosecutor argued that the Sentencing Guidelines were inappropriate in Pickerstein’s case. He said that the decision on whether to jail Pickerstein should not be determined by “provisions and subprovisions of a set of guidelines nor in the horizontal and vertical lines of a grid but rather on a close examination of what the defendant did, and more fundamentally, who he is…” Pickerstein is a former Federal prosecutor, that’s who he is. Connecticut Federal magistrate judge Fitzsimmons wrote about how she worked with Pickerstein in the Federal prosecutor’s office, and observed, “Jim’s work in that case was representative of the things most important to him demonstrating compassion for victims, his integrity….” The victim in Pickerstein’s case was a mobster. I guess it’s ok not to have compassion for a mobster. I guess you can still have integrity when you rob from a mobster. If Jim robbed a Federal judge or prosecutor no doubt the Feds would have given him the electric chair. The moral of the story, it pays to have friends in high places.
The mobster met with Pickerstein and asked for his money back. Pickerstein begged for mercy and said he had personal bills, medical expenses, and back taxes that he had to pay. He didn’t mention to the mobster that he had just spent $8K on clothing stores in Fairfield. The mobster was wired and taped recorded his conversation with Pinkerstein and then went to the Feds. Usually it is the mobsters that get caught on tape. You never hear of a case where the mobster rats out his own lawyer!
Pickerstein submitted letters from his doctors. He has prostrate cancer. He needs more aggressive medical treatment. He has been receiving treatment for a number of years now. When I was in Otisville I met many guys with sentences upwards of five or ten years with medical documentation showing they had one foot in the grave. There is a Federal prison with a top notch medical facility in Devens, MA. Why does Pickerstein want to go to Otisville instead of Devens? The medical care at Otisville is provided mostly by EMT’s, nurses and Physician Assistants. If you want real medical treatment you get shipped out of Otisville and go to a hospital, or get shipped to Devens. But you may have to wait a very long time for your paperwork to get processed and approved. There is an Eastern European dental assistant at Otisville who is very popular with the inmates. The running joke is that this dental assistant survived the Holocaust, not as an prisoner, but as a guard.
I have a feeling that Pinkerstein will not receive a warm welcome in Otisville from the white collar guys who stole a lot less money and got a lot more time, or from the drug dealers who are doing five to ten years. But he is only in for 30 days. Big deal. He can survive for 30 days. If he complains about anything in the prison guys will be all over him. Its best he just grab a few books and hide out in the library for 30 days. Nobody will even notice he was there. There was a 78 year old billionaire in Otisville who did 2 short months. George Landegger. Guys weren’t too happy about his short sentence. He was caught trying to hide close to $10 million in Swiss bank accounts. But George was a billionaire businessman wheeler dealer who knew how to make people happy when he needed to. I don’t think Pickerstein is in the same league. Pickerstein is a guy with a sad personal story. He has financial and family problems. His son committed suicide. But the many guys I met in Otisville had even sadder personal stories. Yet the Federal judges in their cases, as in mine, didn’t stray far from the “horizontal and vertical lines” of the Federal sentencing guidelines grid, and locked us up for years without much consideration for our “sob stories.”