The Verdict


Onondaga County Deputy Comptroller Richard Sheeran was indicted on 134 charges of violating Civil Service and Election Laws pertaining to making his employees contribute to the Republican Party.  When the trial verdict was announced, he was acquitted of all the felonies and convicted of most of the misdemeanors.  The prosecution had failed to convince the jury that Sheeran was part of a conspiracy; they convicted him as if he was working alone.  The court fined Sheeran $2700; the county later promoted him to director of the Division of Purchasing.

The Syracuse Newspapers, under publisher Stephen Rogers, had created and maintained a local climate in which corrupt politicians did bad things and were publicly rewarded for it.  I couldn’t stand it, so I wrote to “60 Minutes” and asked them to do a story on how newspapers, instead of being the watchdog of government, could enter into a plot with the government to lie to the people.

One day I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang.  It was Don Hewitt, producer of “60 Minutes.”  Our conversation was brief and mainly consisted of him asking me if Peter Andreoli would talk to him.  I said I figured it was likely, then immediately called Mr. Andreoli to give him a heads-up.  It would have been wrong for Andreoli to solicit news coverage but, when asked, he certainly could cooperate.  I think he was impressed by the action I’d taken, and its effectiveness.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office had maintained a complete file of every word published about the investigation.  Among other things, whenever the prosecutors’ lost a court decision—which was very rarely—it would be reported by The Syracuse Newspapers with front-page headlines.  When they won—which was almost all the time—it either would go unreported or be reported in a small story on an inside page.  County Executive John Mulroy went to court to get the investigation un-funded; he failed.  The public never knew.  District Attorney Richard Hennessey went to court to get the investigation transferred to him; he failed.  The public never knew.  A local judge compared Andreoli to a sodomizer, then ruled against him; the judge was overturned on appeal.  The public never knew.  At every turn, the law said that the investigation was legal and proper; the newspapers ignored the law and reported that it was a witch-hunt.

A “60 Minutes” researcher came to the Special Prosecutor’s Office, read the files of court orders and newspaper reports, and concluded that The Syracuse Newspapers were engaged in a conspiracy to prevent the citizens from knowing the truth.

It was late in the television season and “60 Minutes” staff time was already committed, so the story never got aired.

All people share the right and the responsibility to make the decisions that affect their lives together.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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One Response to The Verdict

  1. Lillian “Lee” Llambelis serves as Special Assistant District Attorney for Community Affairs. Ms. Llambelis most recently served as Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs for New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Before her appointment, she served as Litigation Director for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund where she engaged in litigation, advocacy and policy development on Civil Rights issues affecting Latinos nationwide, litigating federal and state court actions challenging anti-immigrant laws passed by states and localities. Ms. Llambelis served from 1992 to 2002 as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, where she was assigned to the Trial Division; the Special Prosecutions Bureau, where she investigated and prosecuted white-collar crimes, including embezzlement, fraud, bribery, and the financial exploitation of the elderly; and the Official Corruption Unit where she investigated and prosecuted police corruption. Ms. Llambelis is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. She was also a Coro Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Llambelis served as an Assistant Press Secretary to former Mayor Edward I. Koch.

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