Bellacosa Attacks A.G. for Comments in Greenberg Fraud Case
ALBANY - A former Court of Appeals judge has accused the lead prosecutor in the New York attorney general's long-running case against former American International Group boss Maurice "Hank" Greenberg of intentionally deceiving trial and appellate judges.
Joseph Bellacosa, who sat on the Court of Appeals from 1987 to 2000 and also served as dean of St. John's University School of Law, submitted a letter to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) last month asking it to hold assistant attorney general David Ellenhorn accountable for allegedly false statements.
Ellenhorn, according to public records, said in court and in a sworn affirmation that Greenberg had boasted in his recent book of building another company that could be taken public. The issue is potentially important because the attorney general is seeking an injunction that would bar Greenberg or AIG's ex-CFO Howard Smith from serving as officers or directors of any public company.
But Greenberg, who has for eight years frustrated attempts by three attorneys general to bring him to trial on civil fraud charges, claims he has no plans to take his companies public.
One of Greenberg's lawyers, David Grandeau of Niskayuna, has asked for a JCOPE investigation, even though the agency does not enforce the Rules of Professional Conduct. Grandeau contends that Ellenhorn attempted to mislead the court and poison the case by falsely asserting that the former business titan is actively constructing a public company.
The attorney general's office denies Ellenhorn, a senior trial counsel, did anything improper and suggests the ethics complaint is part of a continuing effort by the defense to deflect attention from the defendants and delay the already long-deferred case.
John Milgrim, a spokesman for JCOPE, would neither confirm nor deny that the agency is investigating Ellenhorn.
Bellacosa and Roy Simon Jr., a former legal ethics professor at Hofstra University School of Law who advises lawyers on issues of professional conduct, were retained by the Greenberg team.
Bellacosa said Ellenhorn violated professional ethics during an appearance before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos (See Profile) and in an affidavit to the Appellate Division, First Department.
Ramos is presiding over the Greenberg/Smith case and recently rejected a defense motion for recusal alleging that he is biased and hostile toward the defendants. The defendants then appealed to the First Department and obtained a stay pending resolution of whether Ramos should step aside (NYLJ, Oct. 11).