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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Did Hoboken Mayor Have A Lawyer When She Spoke To The Feds?

There is a lot about Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's public statements in recent days which is really curious.
Today she said she has been asked by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark not to make any more public comments about her allegations that the Chris Christie Administration was pressuring her to support a large real estate development in exchange for state aid for recovery from Hurricane Sandy flooding ("Sandygate").
I thought it was strange for her to -- as she claimed days ago -- talk to the feds and then talk about it.
Usually the authorities (state or federal, makes no difference) tell informants and potential witnesses to say nothing.  I'm sure they aren't quite as diplomatic as I've written.  Understandably, the authorities want to protect their witnesses from undue influence, witness tampering or outright threats like violence.
Even stranger is that she spoke instead of her lawyer.  Nowhere in her statements or accompanying coverage was there anything about Zimmer being represented.
As I've written before, you need a lawyer when you talk to the authorities. Especially if you are innocent.
At a minimum, talk to a lawyer first before talking to the authorities.
But Zimmer apparently didn't bring a lawyer to her discussions with the feds.  UPDATE: This is even curiouser, given that Zimmer previously hired prominent criminal defense lawyer Gerard Krovatin in a civil case and (just tonight) wanted the Hoboken City Council to hire Krovatin to represent her and the City.  That in turn raises more questions, such as: Assuming Krovatin is hired, who is paying him? Who is the real client: Zimmer individually, or Zimmer merely in an official capacity, or the City of Hoboken? And why didn't -- or couldn't -- Zimmer hire Krovatin earlier and directly, using her own money?
Returning to the issue of the imprudence of talking without the aid of counsel, if Zimmer can be proven to have said anything that is inaccurate, she will be on a nasty road towards being charged with willfully false statements to government officials, which is a felony.  As I pointed out here, that is a major risk because the FBI does not record its meetings with witnesses and relies on written notes to memorialize what someone like Zimmer said.   

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree about talking to counsel before meeting and having counsel present during meeting. That was a critical and I hope not consequential error for her.