Smiling Faces Sometimes

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Velez Family Inclusion

If there are any counts that definitely do not belong in this indictment and trial, they are the counts related to the Velez family. I recall reading a newspaper article online during the early part of the trial that stated Marilu Carmona Bruno (Norberto Velez's former wife) was stabbed 28 times and must imagine that the information came direct from an AUSA's mouth. The testimony of Dr. Patrick Hinfey reveals that much.

Dr. Hinfey's testimony begins on page 647 in Volume 3:

BERGRIN 3 01_24_13 (link removed - contact me privately for a copy)

While I will be the first to agree that Marilu did not deserve to be stabbed, according to the testimony of Mr. Velez and Dr. Hinfey, it did not happen as she described it. I also feel that she victimized her daughter, Carolyn Velez. Carolyn was 9-10 years old when this happened and she was called to testify in her father's defense. The wild allegations against Paul Bergrin over his representation of Norberto Velez in the attempted murder case and then the tampering with a witness case are right out of the twilight zone.

For AUSA John Gay to repeatedly state that Bergrin "brainwashed" Carolyn Velez at the time of her father's trial is beyond the limit of prosecutor misconduct. Of course I would have thought the jurors could see through this farce of a presentation, but as we are all aware, they did not.

In so far as I am aware, only a psychiatrist could actually determine to any extent if a person had been brainwashed. We do not hear the AUSA mention any psychiatrist or offer any explanation as to how he made this wild determination. In fact, the AUSA has offered an expert opinion on a topic that he clearly knows nothing about, which violates the rules of evidence.

I have already stated my thoughts in earlier blog posts on this completely irrelevant inclusion in this indictment, but that was before we heard from Mr. Velez, called as a defense witness in this trial. You will find Norberto Velez's testimony in Volume 30, beginning on page 7949:

BERGRIN 30 03_07_13 (link removed - contact me privately for a copy)

Mr. Velez clearly states that Paul Bergrin had minimal contact with his daughter Carolyn while he was awaiting trial as there was a restraining order in place - the man had supervised visitation, so let's not pretend that he frequently brought his daughter to Bergrin's office. His testimony describes much more in relation to what really happened on the day of the stabbing and the relationship between Yolanda Jauregui and Alejandro Barraza-Castro.

On cross-examination, AUSA Minish treats Mr. Velez like a third-class citizen, accusing him of attempting to murder his former wife, one of the charges that he was acquitted on in trial, and belittles him throughout. I find it ironic that AUSA Minish has no respect for the system that he works in. Mr. Velez was found not guilty on the charges by a jury and his daughter's testimony in his trial had little to do with that as she was not a witness to the incident.

This situation that the government includes as "witness tampering" in this trial should never have been included. There is not the minimum standard of proof that it ever happened.

Sadly, the last time Norberto Velez saw his daughter was back in 2001. If anyone "brainwashed" Carolyn Velez, it was her mother, Marilu Carmona Bruno.

UPDATE on 10 April 2013 @4:15pm EST:

It's important to read Paul Bergrin's cross-examination of Carolyn Velez. The part relevant here is in Volume 6 and begins on page 1099 at the top:

BERGRIN 6 01_29_13 (link removed - contact me privately for a copy)

Carolyn Velez clearly states that Paul Bergrin never asked her to lie or coerced her in any way in the video that she made for Essex County prosecutors after her father's trial and acquittal. Overall she is extremely hostile towards Bergrin and for no real reason whatsoever. She claims to have lied in trial testimony, she claims to have told the truth in the video after the trial, and claims to tell the truth in testimony in this trial, but it took Bergrin an inordinate amount of time to drag the truth out of her; so much so that Bergrin is repeatedly admonished by Judge Cavanaugh for not hurrying through his cross examination.

Carolyn Velez also states much the opposite on direct questioning by the AUSA, and consistently uses the term "your lies" when responding to Bergrin on cross prior to him revealing the truth. She has been coached to despise Paul Bergrin - that much is clear to me - even though he did not instruct her to lie or coerce her in any way, shape, or form. This is one angry young woman, but her anger is misdirected at Paul Bergrin. I do not even believe what she says about her father and feel that she is repeating what other family members have told her to say.


Aziz Bashir said...

If all this brainwashing crap is true why come forth now? I mean this did happen allegedly when she was nine and all these years later she has the perfect story didn't forget anything. And they even had a nick name for mr Velez (JASON) ask your contacts i was there for that one how unprofessional.

Aziz Bashir said...

And i do apologize to mrs marilu for not invoking sympathy in my last post.

Vicky Gallas said...


Yes, I read the nickname repeatedly in the transcripts - stated by the AUSA of course. Talk about sensationalist garbage! Well, we all know where the newspapers got the "stabbed 28 times" BS.

No telling what really happened in the car, but Paul Bergrin is a teddybear and sure would never intimidate a little girl. That jury verdict was not based on the testimony of a 9 year-old that did not witness the incident anyway.

The bottom line is that a 9 year-old is not going to recall statements and events 10-11 years later so explicitly. She was told what she remembered, no doubt. And then why wouldn't prosecutors have pursued Paul legally - at least with the NJ Bar - back in 2001?

Yes, I also caught the part in Norberto Velez's testimony wherein he stated that he was intimidated by the FBI agents that came to discuss Paul.

This stuff had no place in any indictment.

Craig in Florida said...

The Velez mini-drama is not a ground for reversal.

Paul should have taken the stand and rebut, through sworn testimony and documents from his legal files, each and every allegation against him. Had Paul proved credible on the stand, and withstood cross-examination, he might have won. The government could not have even impeached Bergrin with his misdemeanor conviction.

Direct confrontation between prosecutor and Defendant would have given Paul a chance for acquittal or hung jury. Paul argued in closing that he meant no harm, but arguments are not evidence.

Paul argued reasonable doubt in his closing. An argument of innocence would have been better.

Aziz Bashir said...

The bad part about the whole scenario would be their is no proof what's so ever that mr bergrin committed these acts and you talk about fair trial whatever.

Aziz Bashir said...

Im afraid out here if it happened with mr bergrin there's no telling what will happen with the community.

Vicky Gallas said...


You are correct of course. No proof except the word of a 21 year-old that she recalled these specific words and events from when she was 9 years old. No corroboration from her psychiatrist or a hypnotherapist and as none were ever mentioned, we could assume that she never saw either. And then there was the restraining order and supervised visitation in place after the stabbing incident, so how many times could she have been alone with her father and Bergrin?

he should at least have seen a hypnotherapist way back then and more recently.

Vicky Gallas said...

That last sentence is supposed to start with an "S" for She.

Vicky Gallas said...

@Craig in Florida

I admit to little knowledge on the appeals process. As far as I am aware, the judge could still dismiss the count relating to this mini-drama though, and any other count for that matter. Not enough evidence for a conviction. And then if the judge let's it fly, the appeals court could overturn it or send it back to the court for retrial.

The verdicts were never filed in this case. No document has been filed since the Order to send Bergrin back to MDC Brooklyn. Not sure of the significance of this, except that I have never come across a case that it happened in research, but then most cases I have researched were guilty pleas.

In the Middle District of Florida, trial verdicts are filed quickly. Perhaps this is normal for NJ?

There was no valid reasoning for this jury to convict Paul on most counts charged anyway, but yes, I do agree that if a defendant is going to step out on a limb and demand a trial, they should testify in their own defense. However, most defense attorneys disagree with me on that... more evidence that you are/were a prosecutor.

I testified in my defense at my own trial. Few people go to trial these days and the last one I dealt with was Jeane Palfrey. The last time we met was in December 2007, almost 4 months before her April 2008 trial, and she believed there was a deal in the works that would return most of her money to her and include a minor sentence. When I contacted her after I found out there really was going to be a trial, that was a main point that I made... must testify for yourself. Of course we all know now that she did not testify and her attorney's idea of a defense was to state that the government did not prove their case; no kidding.

One of the first things I said to Paul more than 2 years ago was that he had to testify in his defense. I think he must have viewed this case more from a defense attorney perspective than a defendant view. Defense attorneys are usually against clients testifying in defense; mine was not - he knew I intended to anyway.

Why does anyone take a case to trial and skip testifying in their own defense? No clue.

Aziz Bashir said...

I know for a fact that the conviction rate out here is 99.9 in the federal system with that rate not even mr bergrin with his skills would overcome this difficulty, and they (AUSA)did not win this case fair and square for a better choice of words.

Anonymous said...

Vicky & others,

The link attached was just posted on NJ.COM yestereday

This woman acting as an informant basically violated her rules as an informant for the FBI and is now facing 5 years in prison.

Now lets compare this to Oscar who violated the informant system continuously but was still kept.
Some serious ethic violations from the AUSA, DEA & FBI.

Vicky Gallas said...


I just updated this post. Sometimes it is information overload when I read these transcripts and the fact is that it took Paul a crazy amount of time to drag the truth out of Carolyn Velez and then there are the constant reprimands from Judge Cavanaugh that he is taking too much time - it's headache material for sure.

I can only imagine Paul trying to get to the truth and constantly being told to hurry up while the witness weasels through more of her lies, denies, and obstructs the truth on behalf of prosecutors that feed each answers via specially worded objections. This is happening with every flippin' witness - WTF!

Anonymous said...

Does the presiding Judge make his decision on the Rule 29 decision or is it the appellate court? Can we dive into this? I hope the judge is smarter than the jury if he makes this decision.

Aziz Bashir said...

Sorry vicky for not responding to your post sooner but i had a long day at work, and i see that behavior all through out the transcripts mr bergrin not being allowed to present his case he cut through a lot of material. And if im not mistaken the government got eight weeks to present their case paul one week???

Aziz Bashir said...

And lets not forget the testimony of the agent she had two part answers for one question as a matter of fact it was just a yes or no question and had a perfect memory when prosecutors ask questions. But when it came to direct i don't remember or i got to look at my notes mr bergrin faces the rest of his life in prison and the way the judge handle the case not that he was bias or anything but i doubt if he's going to rule in favor of mr bergrin.

Vicky Gallas said...


No apology necessary - I have a long day today, so I know the feeling.

Mr. Lustberg addresses that problem in the beginning of Volume 7. I see it as a two-part problem...

1. The government witnesses have been coached to respond a certain way and Paul has no choice except to be repetitive and reword every question 10+ times to get to the truth of the issue he is questioning the witness on.

2. The judge is in a major hurry. He wanted this trial over in a month in my opinion. The trial should have naturally continued for at least 3 months. This sort of rush is unheard of when considering the number of counts and the number of witnesses.

So I understand that the judge is the mediator / referee, but he spends more time telling Paul to hurry-up than Paul would need if the witnesses were being forthright to begin with. The witnesses are forcing Paul to either dig for the truth or give-up.

I view it as the judge giving Paul Bergrin mini-victories with his rulings throughout the trial on issues that really do not matter much in the big picture anyway, but with anything that actually matters, he sides with prosecutors. Both Paul and the prosecutors spend far too much time thanking him for nothing much.

So why was this judge in such a hurry that he could not even wait for US Marshal Service to bring-in Paul's other witnesses?

Paul disputed the government's allegations in every situation. It's just that by the time he was able to reveal the truth, he was being admonished repeatedly on every issue. Perhaps all the jurors remembered was the judge admonishing Paul and they were not clear on the serious points that Paul's cross-examinations of government witnesses revealed.

As only one example - the stated update in this post on Carolyn Velez's testimony. She claims to have lied during her father's trial and she claims to have told the truth in the video for prosecutors shortly after that trial. Paul revealed that she stated on the video that he NEVER instructed her to lie or coerced her in ANY way. Her testimony in this trial is that this was not true. So was she lying in the video or telling the truth??? Can't be both ways, especially when she is claiming to remember all of this at age 21, 11 years later.

Vicky Gallas said...


Yes, most agents that testified in Volume 6 became Alzheimer's victims when Paul cross-examined each and the same with almost all government witnesses. They made it so that he had to pull out transcripts and refer to their notes and prior statements, which in turn angered the judge. If the government's witnesses had offered straight answers to Paul as each did to the AUSAs, he wouldn't have had to repeat questions and reword questions repeatedly. I think these AUSAs knew the judge would get angry when Paul kept digging for truthful responses.

Ah, but the judge does show a bias in favor of prosecutors if you look at the big picture. This is what I meant when I said he gave Paul mini-victories throughout the trial that really did not matter in the grand scheme anyway. The government was handed a victory every time the judge admonished Paul and the jurors probably stopped listening to the cross frequently as a result. Jurors tend to believe a judge knows what he's talking about. These jurors joked and laughed with the judge and on occasion with the AUSAs. They NEVER laughed with Paul, but they did laugh at Paul's witnesses after an admonishment from the judge or an objection from an AUSA or smirks from agents in the courtroom.

All of this is why I had to get the transcripts. The one person that refused to give them to me (my post about secrecy) claimed that they revealed nothing anyway. BS! I think they reveal quite a lot.

Aziz Bashir said...

First i want to say i hope and pray you had a blessed and stress free day, i do recall the long day you referred to. But not to contradict myself. I know the judge was bias i just wanted to be fair in discussion and unlike the jurors just because you're a agent ,prosecutors, or judge doesn't mean your being truthful. They had out for mr bergrin i'll end this with one statement( ABU GAHRIB) apology if i misspelled. Good nite mrs gallas