firefighters writhed in agony and flames on the ground.rnAt the insistence of the Dinkins administration, the U.S.rnAttorney’s Office of the Southern District conducted arn”civil rights” investigation of Occhipinti and his actions. It interviewedrnowners and employees at all 56 premises that hadrnbeen part of Project Bodega. The charge against Occhipintirnwas that although he had an INS “consent to search” form preparedrnin both English and Spanish, he had had suspects sign afterrnrather than before the search. Forty-two of those investigatedrnadmitted they signed and gave permission prior to thernsearch. Fourteen claimed that Occhipinti and his task forcernsearched first, uncovered illegal activity, then “forced” them tornsign—hence, their civil rights were “violated.” Is it a coincidencernthat the 42 were not members of the Dominican Federationrnbut that the 14 were?rnOcchipinti vigorously denied the charge and demonstratedrnthat he had performed over one thousand consensual searchesrnduring his career without a single similar complaint. Numerousrnlaw enforcement officers testified that they had witnessedrnOcchipinti obtaining signed consent prior to anyrnsearches. Interestingly, no other officers were charged with thisrn”crime,” just Occhipinti—the target of the Dominican Federation.rnUpon examining the minutes of the grand jury, Occhipintirnalso discovered that the witnesses had portrayed themselvesrnas law-abiding citizens. The U.S. Attorney withheldrnfrom the grand jury information about the criminal records ofrnthe complainants, as well as the fact that contraband andrnillegal activity were uncovered at each of their locations.rnAnyone who follows New York City politics knows of therngroup known as “The Foursome”—four politically powerfulrnfriends from Harlem. They are former Manhattan BoroughrnPresident Percy Sutton, Congressman Charles Rangel, MayorrnDavid Dinkins, and Judge Constance Baker Motley. In therncourt system where Occhipinti was tried, judges are randomlyrnselected for cases with the help of a mechanical wheel. A defendant,rntherefore, has the luck of the draw regarding who willrnpreside. But, in Occhipinti’s case. Judge Motley was assignedrnwithout benefit of the wheel.rnMotley immediately issued a gag order forbidding Occhipintirnto discuss his case with the press. When she learned thatrnOcchipinti’s supporters had assembled 55 tape recordings containingrninformation showing that the prosecution’s witnessesrnhad engaged in criminal activity and that the Dominican Federationrnwas behind the charges against him, she ordered therntapes surrendered to the U.S. Attorney and refused to allowrnthem in the trial. But perhaps the most glaring injustice of therntrial was that Occhipinti was denied competent defense counsel.rnHis attorney, Norman Mordkofsky, had suffered a nervousrnbreakdown, was under a doctor’s care receiving large doses ofrnmedication, and had even exhibited overt suicidal tendencies.rnMordkofsky had asked to be excused so that Occhipintirncould obtain a healthy and competent attorney. Judge Motleyrncalled Mordkofsky a liar, pounded her gavel, and denied his request.rnOcchipinti was then given only two months from therndate of his indictment to prepare his 2 5-count defense, an unprecedentedlyrnbrief time span. After the five-week trial, withrnthe jury denied the information proving that the prosecution’srnwitnesses were unreliable, Occhipinti was found guiltyrnand sentenced to 37 months in a federal penitentiary. ThernBony Bowlrnby John Nixon, Jr.rnA gilded tortoise shell, no longer neededrnBy the original inhabitant,rnContained my family’s discarded buttons.rnHalf-sticks of chewing gum, corroded pins.rnPerhaps the ashes of a languid guestrnNearer that than a bona fide tray.rnTurned on its back, the item hardly gleamed.rnImagine, though, the sylvan merrimentrnHad the old tenant been in residencernWhen the blond paintbrush was applied, then gonernAmbling, a slow Midas, through woods. ]ust lookrnAt that bright fool. Almost glows in the dark.rnOCTOBER 1993/27rnrnrn