Today is the day when former state senator and democratic power broker (read: “party boss”) John Lynch learns his fate for accepting bribes and cheating on his taxes. Now before I delve into this story, let me remind everyone that this is not a case of “innocent until proven guilty.” Nope. Lynch has entered pleas for his crimes and stands guilty as charged. Now he awaits sentencing for his malfeasances, a punishment that likely will come down today at 11am.
John Lynch is staring at a sentence that will range between 33 months and 41 months, with the exact total falling with the discretion of the U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler. The case took a bizarre bend over the past few days as Judge Chesler has been bombarded with letters from folks who are seeking leniency on Lynch’s behalf. CBS radio:
Chesler received letters from current and former officials seeking leniency for Lynch. (see list of character letters here) Over 170 were delivered to the judge last week by Lynch’s lawyers, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported after petitioning the judge for their release. Among the writers were former Middlesex County Prosecutor Robert Gluck, who wrote, “If you piled all the good work John has done… the good would outweigh the bad a thousand-to-one.”
Senator Bob Smith (who took Lynch’s place in Trentonia) went even further with this gem: “He was an unbelievably effective civic leader who did literally thousands of services and good deeds for average citizens.”
The Feds see things a bit differently, of course. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Chiesa wrote: “This was not a brief error in judgment or a one-time mistake. The conduct defendant Lynch has admitted to represents a carefully crafted, long-term effort to accept secret corrupt payments in exchange for his ability to officially influence state action.”
I wonder what Sen. Bob Smith was thinking when he sticks his neck out for Lynch. As far as I see it, if this is a case of loyalty to Lynch on Smith’s behalf then likewise it’s a slap in the face to NJ voters and taxpayers.
John Lynch may have done a lot of nice stuff for people, but I still hope the judge will see Lynch for what he is: a power-grabbing, self-aggrandizing political bully who used his many considerable powers for his own ends to the detriment of the taxpayers of this state.