The Niagara Falls Reporter has taken a lot of space this week to examine the case against Frank Parlato.
We believe it is warranted not only because Parlato is the publisher and editor in chief of this newspaper and his credibility reflects on the credibility of this publication, but because it should be of interest to readers on more generic terms: This is a rare chance to get an insight into how the US Attorney’s office, in coordination with the FBI, conducts an investigation, presents to the grand jury and indicts and prosecutes a citizen in America.
Very few defendants are as transparent as Parlato and fewer still have media outlets ready to reveal in gripping detail what happens to an individual after the US government tells the world in a written indictment what crimes he is allegedly guilty of.
Most defendants are advised by their attorneys to say nothing and the government’s version of events, as laid out in the indictment, are the only version on the public record.
Parlato is different. He believes in the First Amendment as the safeguard of our liberty, and that it is of vital importance that the public get both sides of the story.
Equally important, the entire staff wants readers to get an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes when federal prosecutors indict an American.
It is vital to freedom that all aspects of government, even prosecutors, get an extensive dose of sunshine. If they are honest they should surely be able to stand the light.
As the staff at the Niagara Falls Reporter, Artvoice, the Front Page and the South Buffalo News investigates the Parlato case, we have uncovered a wealth of information which pulls back the curtains of how prosecutors worked in this case.
We believe that as it is revealed, our readers will be fascinated by it.
Could what was done in the Parlato case also be occurring in other cases where the defendants are less willing and less able to fight back?
We hope to examine many such cases in coming weeks.
For this week, we would like to leave our readers with a taste – a rather fascinating example of what on the surface appears to a textbook example of prosecutorial misconduct.
If what is alleged is true, it seems clear that (now retired) AUSA Anthony Bruce may have fabricated evidence or is guilty of suborning perjury.
We understand Bruce has been accused of suborning perjury in the past and we will be getting into that case in future issues. In fact, we learned AUSA Bruce was almost disbarred, according to sources in the legal community.
In this case, which may in fact lead to former AUSA Bruce being disbarred, Parlato’s lawyers point to a certain and mysterious “Letter of Intent” which appears to be dated Jan. 8, 2008.
The government’s theory – as emails from the government clearly indicate –was that Parlato’s criminal liability with alleged victims Clare and Sara Bronfman –- is based solely on this curious “Letter of Intent” and its being a valid, enforceable, “fully executed” (i.e signed by both parties) contract.
Without going into all the details of the Letter of Intent at this time, the facts on record show that AUSA Bruce knew the Letter of Intent was not a valid contract, yet evidently misled the grand jury into believing it was.
The government admitted, through a somewhat bizarre email written by AUSA Elizabeth Moellering, on Sept. 18, 2015, that they believed at one time that they had an actual contract – a fully signed Letter of Intent – which they simply couldn’t find.
AUSA Moellering wrote to Parlato’s defense lawyer Brian Feldman, “We are still looking for the fully executed version of the Letter of Intent.”
Feldman wrote back, “Thanks, Elizabeth. If you conclude that there is no executed version of the Letter of Intent, we would appreciate knowing that.”
The government never produced an “executed version” and indicted Parlato based on the terms of a bogus Letter of Intent.
Even after the Indictment, the government, in voluntary discovery, never produced an “executed version” of the letter of intent.
According to written documents made available to this publication, AUSA Bruce was told by Parlato’s lawyers that there never was a signed letter of intent and that even the Bronfmans themselves swore under oath they never signed a Letter of Intent.
Clare Bronfman also denied, in courtroom testimony, that the Letter of Intent, which she never signed, was binding.
Documents the government produced reveal that the Letter of Intent was the sole source of any alleged fraud by Parlato against the Bronfmans.
Documents also reveal that witnesses were called into the grand jury and examined by AUSA Bruce as if the Letter of Intent was a fully executed contract.
The allegation stands – within a motion Parlato recently filed – that the US Attorney has indicted Parlato based on there being an “executed version” of the Letter of Intent, when none existed.
That ASUA Bruce knew this and misled the grand jury was not alleged in the motion.
It was reported to us by an eyewitness that AUSA Bruce admitted he was in frequent contact with the Bronfman’s attorney, William Savino of Woods Oviatt of Rochester, prior to the indictment and Savino pressed AUSA Bruce to include the Bronfmans in the indictment.
It is also known that the Bronfmans offer fees for indictments of their enemies.
Savino and Bruce are known to have related outside interests. Nothing has been alleged that Bruce received any compensation for including the Bronfmans in the indictment. It is unknown at this time whether Savino received any compensation for ASUA Bruce including the Bronfmans in the indictment.
We do know that the Letter of Intent – which – had it been valid – was the only way to include the Bronfmans in the indictment – was never signed and that the Bronfman portion of the indictment is as false as perjury.
Much more will be revealed later on this matter.