Smiling Faces Sometimes

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Vincent Esteves Tale

One thing that a good fiction writer learns early is that fiction should at least be somewhat believable. There should be some connection to reality or a factual basis in the story. Any decent fiction writer will understand that concept, but most lousy fiction writers are clueless on the necessity of using facts in a story. Vincent Esteves tells a tale so absurd that even Hollywood producers would laugh.

The only fact included in the Esteves story is that he contacted Paul Bergrin while in jail and seeking an attorney. The rest of it is like a bad B-movie script. A Google search on the topic yields many similarly written flicks, like Werewolves on Wheels and The Brain Eaters. Really - the Vincent Esteves story is no more believable than either of those B-movies. Some people enjoy these sort of flicks, so they exist; however, certainly have no place in a court of law.

Vincent Esteves and Oscar Cordova went to the same B-movie production school. Their tales interconnect at some points and it is clear that the two shared notes in class.

We discovered that Oscar Cordova lied in testimony earlier in the week. He made the claim on the stand in Bergrin's trial that he only contacted the DEA because though he was a drug trafficker and a gang member, he didn't participate in murder and Paul wanted to murder witnesses. Bergrin's cross-examination revealed that Oscar the informant had never met or spoke with him prior to his meetings with DEA agents and attempts at taping. Caught in his own web of lies - or were they his lies?

Realistically, almost everything that came out of Oscar the informant's mouth was a lie, but Paul Begrin really nailed him on that one. I am left to wonder if Lord Gino (Gustavo Colon) is actually his father. Is Oscar just the usual dirtbag informant or is daddy really the almighty crown of the Chicago Latin Kings? I vote for dirtbag informant, but if I'm incorrect, there's no doubt that daddy disowned him long ago.

I admit to little knowledge on gangs and wish that an expert on the Latin Kings would weigh-in on the topic. Paul Bergrin should have such an expert on the defense witness list.

Script and storyline concocted by agents or witnesses?

There cannot possible be DEA and FBI agents out there that are so stupid that any would buy the crap their witnesses are testifying to in this trial. I, believe it or not, still have some level of respect for the system, though it's been slim for years and is getting slimmer by the minute. To think that these agents are the level of stupid required to buy all of this hogwash would just floor me. Please tell me it ain't so....

The problem is that if these agents are not so stupid as to buy this crap hook, line, and sinker, they certainly helped to concoct it and created this storyline. We the people lose either way, obviously. All of the agents (DEA and FBI) are paid great salaries. The people have become the suckers in this equation, no matter how you want to view it.

What does this say about the prosecution team?

Not much that's good, I'm afraid. Prosecutors are supposed to represent the people and make a serious effort to weed-out the lies told by the criminal informants that they present during the course of a trial. As a matter of fact, the prosecutor carries the ultimate responsibility to actually verify any main points asserted by these criminal witnesses prior to any trial testimony.

So what would a prosecutor do if he discovered that a government witness was lying on the stand or even in sworn depositions? What if a different prosecutor still insisted on the testimony being valid? Well, I can only tell you what happened in my own trial:

John Craft (now an AUSA) was not the only prosecutor in my trial. Craft also had the assistance of the main area prosecutor with the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor, John Roman. Roman would not call my co-defendant (Robert Mihalek AKA Rocky) to the stand when he realized that his testimony in depositions was a bunch of lies. Roman ordered Rocky to leave the courthouse and he was never called to testify.

A prosecutor that truly represented the people would have called Rocky and allowed him to impeach himself and admit to all of the lies and name those that coerced and pushed him to state the lies to begin with. So I have no real admiration for John Roman, but I also do not despise him as I do John Craft. Do you see the difference here? 

Roman was not willing to go the extra step of participating in the scheme. On the other hand, he made no move to correct it either. Roman was mad when he figured out what was done, but not mad enough to correct it.

Edit 23 February 2013 @ 6:30pm EST:

That was the short version of the Roman and Craft story. I decided that if I am going to tell it at all, I should do so correctly:

Craft, Roman, and my co-defendant (Rocky) all entered a private room near the courtroom. Craft stated that they wanted to go over Rocky's testimony. Rocky stated that there was no need to because he knew the truth and fully intended to tell it on the stand. Roman got angry and stomped out of the room, slamming the door. Craft then ordered Rocky to leave the courthouse and wait in his car in the parking garage for further instructions. Rocky was left waiting in the car all day and then received a call from the main case agent (Brant Rose) ordering him to come to MBI offices immediately.

The above stated is what Rocky told me when I visited him at his Cape Canaveral condo the same day of my acquittal. Another state witness that was my friend (now deceased) stated the same, minus the actual conversations that took place in the private room, the same day. Suzanne Redfern really cared about Rocky and was concerned for him, so watching Roman stomp out of the room and then Craft yelling at Rocky as they both exited and Rocky heading for the elevator was noteworthy to her.

Did Roman stomp out of the room because Rocky stated that he would be testifying truthfully or because it was a surprise to him that Rocky had ever lied in his depositions? We will never know. Roman was not involved in any part of the case and was only at the trial to assist Craft, as far as I am aware.

Back to Paul Bergrin's prosecutors

The prosecution team in Paul Bergrin's trial is complicit in presenting the false testimony of Oscar Cordova and Vincent Esteves. I have no choice except to conclude that not one of them has any conscience at all and each is truly the evil that they claim to fight. For the record, those names are:

Steven Sanders (AUSA)
Joseph Minish (AUSA)
John Gay (AUSA)
Paul Fishman (US Attorney)

So while I did take notice that Paul Bergrin excused the agents and the prosecution team in his questioning of witnesses this past week for their clear complicity in the false testimony, I do not excuse any one of them. Even if, and that is a big IF, the witnesses each concocted these lies they're telling on the stand all by themselves, prosecutors have a responsibility to the people.

The prosecutor is an important part of the justice system and to truly represent the interests of the people, is ultimately responsible for the presentation of falsities in witness testimony. A prosecutor is the last stop between what the witnesses tell the agents and the agents claim to have verified - he presents the testimony as truthful to the jury.

No one could convince me that any person named on the included list above is so stupid as to actually believe, let alone have verified, most of the testimony by this parade of criminal informants receiving get out of jail free cards in exchange for false statements to a jury in trial.

There is no excuse available to agents and certainly not to prosecutors. They are all complicit.

Article referenced:

Bergrin devised plan to kill witnesses, former client testifies

UPDATE on 17 August @545am:

Yes, this is the John Craft that prosecuted me:

John Craft Investigated for Racist Remarks



barry crimm said...

Yes, a great summation of the latest round of lies told at the Bergrin trial. I was there Thur. and can report that the lies became so ridiculous that I think the government may be losing the judge. He seems to be realizing which way the wind is blowing.

Oscar was caught in so many lies and may have been the single worst witness I have ever seen testify in federal court. Judge Cavanaugh repeatedly told Oscar and his handlers that his testimony isn't "doing them any favors."

My favorite part of Thursday's circus was when Paul asked Oscar if he was under any type of "professional" care. Oscar didn't answer and instead told the judge that he didn't feel so good. Cavanaugh broke for lunch but when they came back the government told the court that Oscar was in fact receiving "counseling" and taking two types of "mood stabilizing" drugs. Cavanaugh was visibly upset. He asked John Gay why he was now, four weeks into trial, hearing for the first time that the government's central witness was medicated and receiving counseling.

You can't make this stuff up.

Vicky Gallas said...

Woohoo! I knew it would all fall apart at some point, but didn't imagine that Oscar the informant would be the breaking point. It's been ridiculous all along and it sounds like that is now obvious to anyone in the courtroom.

We couldn't make this stuff up, though it sure looks like agents and prosecutors have. lol

Thank you for the report!

Anonymous said...

My own opinion:

Paul did a great job cross-examining Oscar. The Government did a terrible job presenting all of the facts. Also the fact he was able to turn the recorder on and off is critical. Paul made great points.

I was losing hope for Paul's acquittal simply because of the tapes. Paul to me seemed to be role playing as well but he has to convince the jury not me. But after the cross-examination he really made the jury forget about the tape.

Paul technically should of been granted a mistrial but I believe he has a strong chance of winning so probably better the Judge denied.

Vicky Gallas said...

The Oscar tapes were key in my opinion also. With prosecutors playing, or rather quoting, a couple of sentences in the news, I think it was a concern for anyone that supports Paul and even Paul as he did not get to hear all of the tapes in advance either.

Trust me - when an informant is pursuing and harassing for a prolonged period of time, it's not hard to ramble BS statements in response. Paul Bergrin always knew Oscar was an informant, but that doesn't stop a person from responding. I really played some outlandish games with agents and informants years ago and this case made me think about that. If it happens again in the future to me, I'll just shut the hell up and walk away. The less words they have to twist, the better.

Someone told me many years ago (like back in 1996) that it is best to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (an old adage) But in reality, by the time my trial was over, I discovered that it is much more intelligent to stay far away from your enemies.

Agreed - another mistrial would actually be a setback. The government's case is unraveling now, so why give them another chance to engineer it better?

Anonymous said...

Any why would a high profile lawyer like Paul get into drug dealing if he's raking in millions as a lawyer with potential to open up legit businesses. It's completely absurd. Everyone knows you don't call Paul expecting him to take your case for 5k. You get what you pay for in the defense system.

Susanne said...

Paul and I were born a week apart. Our mothers were very close cousins, and we spent our first year often in the crib together. We grew up good friends and the closest of cousins. Paul was always a very loyal, gentle, and sweet person. Although we have not been in touch for many years, I find all of this extremely hard to believe. Maybe I am nieve, but I find it hard to believe Paul could be capable of any of this.

Vicky Gallas said...


No, you're not naive. Paul is not capable of any of this. It's a government create-a-case.