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Meet Stanley Okula, an assistant United States attorney under Preet Bharara in the Southern District of New York. Bharara was rumored a possible successor to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Okula, Bharara’s employee, has been branded a liar, not once, but at least three times, by judges in three different countries: the U.S., Britain, and Canada.
Okula’s most recent branding came at the hands of U.S. Senior District Court Judge Kevin Duffy who told opened up a hearing in New York last week by telling the Okula that:
I think I should start with something. On the front hall of the Department of Justice is engraved the whole section of United States v. Berger about how the job of the Justice Department is to see justice is done. Justice is founded in truth. Most of the time judges of this court depend upon the U.S. Attorney’s Office to tell the truth. I have now Caught you flat-out in a lie. I want you to know that. I would prefere henceforth that you advise your superiors that you are not to come to this Court alone, you are to come with supervision. If they don’t mind you lying, then the whole office is going to pay for it. I have made known to the other judges of this Court my findings in connection with you, sir.
Later in the hearing Judge Duffy reminded Okula that “[i]t is to the benefit of the people of the United States to have justice done and not just another scalp on the wall. Is that understood?”
At the end of the hearing, Okula tried to explain to the Court that there was “absolutely no intention to…” at which point Judge Duffy responded:
Listen. You knew that this was a problem with me before. The last time we met prior to this time, we talked about the possibility of the reasons why five indictments were returned. I pointed out my belief that most likely it was because of your desire or someone’s desire at the the U.S. Attorney’s office for press releases. That gave you the opportunity to go back and check. Then you came in here and completely denied that press releases had been issued. Yet Mr. Little, before the day was out, sent me copies of the press releases. The following day I received from you an admission that in fact there had been press releases every time. That to me is a lie. You knew about it. You had the opportunity to check on it… Here we find you had the opportunity to check [on the press releases]. I see no reason to believe that you didn’t check, and you came in and represented that it never happened. It happened. Too bad. It’s in writing and you were proved wrong.
Judge Duffy ended the hearing by telling Okula, “as far as I’m concerned, you’re branded as a liar and you will remain a liar for the rest of your life. That’s that.”
In 2007, a British judge made the following comments about Okula:
This complaint turns upon the behaviour of the United States Prosecuting Attorney, Mr Stanley Okula. It is alleged that Mr Okula has displayed personal animosity towards Mr Stanley Tollman and his family which went far beyond the responsiblities of a thorough prosecutor He 1s said to have declared that he intends to make Mr Tollman’s “life as miserable as possible” which is a comment he has not denied. He is also said to have commented that he was looking forward to having a “perp walk” with Beatrice Tollman. I understand this to mean that he intended to walk publicly with Mrs Tollman through the streets of New York from the processing centre to the court house with her handcuffed and chained for the benefit of the press. In his affidavit, Mr Okula denies this allegation
I have heard evidence from Mr Robert Fink to whom this statement was made. Mr Fink represented Mr Tollman’s son. Brett Tollman His evidence was corroborated by Caroline Rule who made a contemporaneous note of the conversation when it was repeated to her by Mr Fink shortly afterwards. I found Mr Fink to be an entirely honest and trustworthy witness I believe his account to be true and I find Mr Okula’s affidavit on this point to be untruthful.
Gavin Tollman is Stanley Tollman’s nephew and whilst Gavin Tollman was in Canada. Mr Okula attempted to secure Mr Gavin Tollman into United States custody without proceeding through the extradition process. In September 2006, the Canadian court found that there had been an unequivocal abuse of the process of the court and that Mr Okula had misled the Canadian court. In these proceedings, Mr Okula claims that his actions had the support and approval of his superiors I find that evidence unlikely to be true.
Brett Tollman is the defendant’s son who was the subject of a prosecution by Mr Okula. Despite Brett Tollman’s attendance at court voluntarily, Mr Okula at first opposed bail and then subsequently asked for bail in the sum of $25 million. Mr Fink told me that Mr Okula had made it clear to him on a number of occasions that things “would be easier for Brett if his parents came back.”
Mr Okula’s actions, although reprehensible when taken alone, do not in my view, amount to sufficient evidence to make a finding of “oppression” which would bar extradition. However. they are factors to be considered when assessing the overall fairness in reaching the decision as to whether it would be unjust or oppressive for Mr Tollman to be returned.
Okula’s bad conduct goes back at least to 2005 when Okula was accused by Canadian Justice Anne Molloy of “circumventing” Cananda’s extradition treaty by failing to file a formal extradition request and then misleading opposing counsel in a case involving Gavin Tollman, son of Stanley Tollman. The judge accused Okula of influencing Canadian authorities to detain the younger Tollman under harsh conditions in order to put pressure on him to abandon his rights.
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