AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
Last January, Dominique Luzuriaga, the widow of slain NYPD officer Jason Rivera, delivered gut-wrenching testimony at her husband’s funeral that captured the pain felt by many New Yorkers as a result of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s soft-on-crime policies and complete failure to prosecute murderers, rapists, and career criminals. Yet now, as New York City descends further into chaos, the George Soros-backed prosecutor is leveraging every resource at his disposal to pursue a transparently political and legally dubious indictment of former President Donald Trump, drawing loud condemnations from even fellow Democrats.
In a tearful eulogy of her husband, Luzuriaga, ripped Bragg for a slate of far-left policies that include not prosecuting certain crimes, reducing many felony charges to misdemeanors, pre-trial release of violent criminals without bail, and dramatically reducing prison time for virtually all crimes. Lashawn McNeil, the man who killed Rivera, was a career criminal out on probation.
“This system continues to fail us,” Luzuriaga said to the crowd of mourners. “We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service. I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now.”
But if Bragg was watching, he did not heed Luzuriaga’s pleas. Instead, he seemingly doubled down on his radicalism, blatantly disregarding the law in pursuit of his extreme criminal justice “reform” agenda.
Last September, for instance, Bragg cut a sweetheart deal to Justin Washington, promising him a mere 30 days in jail after he allegedly raped a teenage relative – a crime that normally carries a 25-year jail sentence. Just days before Washington was set to start his sentence (he was out on bail thanks to a lenient $12,000 bond requested by Bragg’s office) Washington went on a spree of sexual assaults, attacking five other people before police arrested him.
Two months earlier, Bragg’s office released a teenager involved in a violent robbery case without bail. Three days later, the same teen assaulted a police officer in a subway station.
But as Bragg had already made clear, assaulting cops was of little concern to his office. Last June, Bragg dropped all charges against one woman caught on video attacking an NYPD officer, and reduced felony charges against a second attacker to third-degree misdemeanor charges.
Just days before that assault, a woman was attacked at random in Chelsea while talking on her phone. The culprit in that case, 37-year-old Marcus Wright, had no less than 36 busts on his rap sheet, including many that could have been felonies but were prosecuted as misdemeanors by Bragg’s office, allowing Wright to escape jail time. Yet even after assaulting an innocent woman for his 37th offense, Wright was freed without bail.
Thieves have enjoyed particularly lax treatment from Bragg. Last January, Bragg reduced charges for a knife-wielding suspect in a convenience store theft from felony robbery to misdemeanor petit larceny, allowing the career criminal with more than 20 arrests to be released without bail. Bragg’s office has also repeatedly downgraded charges for Nolan Gonzalez, a “serial shoplifter” with more than a dozen arrests.
Hate crimes also apparently aren’t of much concern for Bragg – just so long as they’re not perpetrated against a “marginalized” community. In February, Bragg’s office offered a plea deal of just six months in jail for a man involved in a vicious anti-Semitic attack near Times Square. Two other offenders were offered three years and 15 years in jail – still relatively light sentences for a violent hate crime.
Even murder isn’t enough to convince Bragg that someone should be behind bars. In December, Bragg’s office announced that they would be seeking clemency for rapper Trevell Coleman, who is serving 15 years to life for a brutal 1993 killing.
But while criminals get a free pass from Bragg, New Yorkers who defend themselves from those criminals can’t expect the same leniency. Just last week, Bragg charged a parking garage attendant named Moussa Diarra with attempted murder after Diarra confronted a thief who had shot Diarra twice before Diarra turned the criminal’s gun on him (Bragg eventually backed down amid public outrage). Last July, Bragg also charged Jose Alba, a worker at a local bodega, with murder after Alba killed a career criminal who attacked him behind the counter.
All of this has added up to a far more dangerous New York City. In total, major crimes rose 22 percent last year in the Big Apple.
Yet in spite of this alarming trend, Bragg downgraded more than half of all felony cases to misdemeanors over his first year in office, and still lost half of the felony cases that did reach court. According to NYPD data, more than 20% of criminals arrested and freed under Bragg’s “bail reform” policies went on to be arrested for more serious crimes within two months of their first offense.
Bragg’s indictment of Trump stands as just his latest abuse of the criminal justice system. This time, however, instead of reducing charges to allow an actual criminal to walk free, Bragg is manufacturing more serious charges over alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 to unfairly prosecute a political enemy.
Even some of the most vehement Trump critics recognize Bragg’s persecution of Trump as a sham. Elie Mystal, a longtime detractor of the 45th president, described Bragg’s case as “trying to bank in a half-court heave off the backboard after the shot clock buzzer has already sounded.” Fellow Trump Derangement Syndrome suffer David French called Bragg’s indictment “unwise,” going so far as to rebuke Bragg directly for forcing Trump to “face the potential loss of liberty on a case that requires so much acrobatics to make.”
Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, also concluded he didn’t have a case against Trump after a years-long investigation into the matter. Mark Pomerantz, a prosecutor under Vance, described the Daniels case as “too risky under New York law.”
Bragg’s persecution of Trump has also largely shattered what little was left of civility and decorum in American politics. For all the left-wing fretting about “democratic norms,” it is Democrats who have now thrust the country one step closer to authoritarianism by weaponizing the justice system against their chief political rival.
Yet for Bragg, the case has never been about even the pretext of punishing Trump for an actual crime. It was always about fulfilling a campaign promise to “get Trump” and realize the liberal fantasy of removing their greatest political threat from the playing field – no matter how frivolous the charges required to do so.
Nor will this indictment likely be the last. With numerous other ambitious Democrat elected officials eager to steal some of the spotlight, Bragg’s indictment looks to be just another chapter in a political witch hunt that began as soon as Trump came down the golden escalator in 2015.
But while Trump takes on the wrath of Bragg and the entire liberal establishment, the people of New York – and the country – will continue to suffer.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.