THURSDAY, JULY 11.2013
…[W]hile Yoel [the main witness against Kellner] testified in the Kellner grand jury that he knew Lebovits from synagogue, in a July 1 interview with Nicholas Batsidis and Joseph Alexis, two assistant district attorneys, and Rackets Division Chief Michael Vecchione, he claimed that he had “never seen Baruch Lebovits in his life.” In the same interview, Yoel also denied picking Lebovits out of a photo array, which, along with Yoel’s statements to a detective, led to Lebovits’ arrest. However, five days earlier, on June 26, he told prosecutors that Lebovits “could have molested me. [I] can’t really say.”……According to former Manhattan prosecutor and defense attorney Mark Bederow, “This witness has self-immolated. First, he swears to a pattern of years-long abuse by Lebovits. Then he reverses course and claims that he lied under oath and that although he knows Lebovits, he fabricated the abuse claims against him because Kellner paid him to do so. Then, on the eve of [Kellner’s] trial, he contradicts both prior sworn statements by bizarrely claiming he has never met Lebovits, but that [Lebovits] ‘may’ have molested him. He then alters his sworn testimony by claiming that he had not been paid by Kellner before perjuring himself at Kellner’s request.
“I don’t see any set of circumstances under which the DA can proceed with Yoel as a witness against Kellner.”…
…[T]he fact that the DA apparently unquestioningly took these allegations against Kellner from Lebovits’ defense attorneys and failed to investigate — until finally forced to do so by the prospect of the truth being revealed at Kellner’s trial — the possibility that Yoel was a victim of intimidation and witness tampering has also convinced them of the need for an independent investigation.
“There is overwhelming evidence of blatant and concerted efforts by Lebovits and his associates to pervert the course of justice and cover up his appalling crimes,” one of Kellner’s attorneys, Niall MacGiollabhui, told The Jewish Week.
“What is profoundly disturbing is that none of these efforts would have been successful without the active cooperation of the district attorney,” MacGiollabhui continued.
“Clearly, an outside investigation is now required to ensure that those ultimately responsible are held to account for this travesty of justice.”…