Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brooklyn Federal Judge Writes Tell All Book

 Federal Justice Frederic Block's new book 'Disrobed' takes readers behind the bench.
U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block can’t suppress a smile while evaluating the state of his 78-year-old mind.
“I’m at the DGS stage of life: Don’t give a s---,” Block chuckles in his ninth-floor chambers at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse. “I don’t care what any of you say. I feel freed up to do what I really feel is the right thing.”
For Block, his freedom came with an eight-month sentence: Hard labor on a laptop, writing his 400-plus page memoir. The book details his improbable ascension from debt-chasing suburban lawyer to big city federal judge.
“Disrobed” is unlikely to storm the best-sellers lists occupied by fellow attorney John Grisham or the new Arnold Schwarzenegger autobiography — much to its author’s dismay.
“My book is more valuable than his book — I know it!” Block says of the Governator. “His book is going to sell . . . I just think this information is more important to know about than Arnold’s girlfriends.
“But,” he muses, “our society and our value system is all screwed up.”
“Disrobed” offers a behind-the-robes peek into several major cases, including the Peter Gotti mob trial — featuring movie star Steven Segal as a key witness — and the Crown Height riots.
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A 'good-looking' young Frederic Block with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), before Block became a federal judge.

Gambino family racketeer Gotti wound up with a nine-year jail term; his mistress committed suicide after his conviction.
The tome also offers insights into the war on drugs, gun control and the death penalty.
And it gives Block — a far freer spirit than those usually found on the federal bench — the chance to even one old score.
Ex-Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kroger, now the president of Reed College in Oregon, provided an unflattering description of Block in a 2008 book. Kroger quoted rumors that the judge, when not turning hearings into “unpredictable free-for-alls,” spent his time wearing leather and downing martinis in Manhattan clubs.
Block writes in his book that the comments summed up the unwarranted skepticism that greeted his appointment by President Bill Clinton. In person, he’s a bit more ... direct.
“Did you read about that guy John Kroger, that a------, what he wrote about me in his book?” his honor asked the Daily News. “This guy’s an absolute a------.”
The self-deprecating Block is not above taking a shot at himself.
His first day on the bench, Block notes, was Halloween 1994. “That sounded like the appropriate day for me to put on my judicial costume for the first time,” he jokes.
As a kid, Block’s passion was music — “I learned to play boogie-woogie on the piano” — not the law.
But he wound up hanging a shingle in remote Patchogue, L.I. — hardly the high-profile habitat for an aspiring federal judgeship, a position that comes with a lifetime appointment. “No way in a million years did I think I would end up in Brooklyn,” he says.
Block was a Democrat in the heart of die-hard GOP country, ruling out a patronage appointment. And he never worked on any level as a prosecutor — often a stepping stone to a judgeship.
He once leaked a story to Newsday about then-Gov. Hugh Carey trying to condemn a neighbor’s Shelter Island vacation home — a huge embarrassment for the governor.
Block also wrote an Off-Broadway musical, “Professionally Speaking,” that opened to good reviews (including one from the Daily News) before a six-week run in 1985.
Two decades after his rave, the News panned Block for declaring the government’s efforts to win the death penalty against a murderous drug lord were “absurd.” The News headline deemed him “JUDGE BLOCKHEAD.”
The jury, however, took less than an hour to reject the death penalty.
The veteran jurist says he doesn’t share too many opinions in the memoir, fearful that some defense lawyer might start quoting passages in the courtroom — as happened to mob killer/book collaborator Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano.
“I was very sensitive about saying anything about anybody that would be so-called questionable in terms of a judge speaking out,” said Block, whose circle of judicial friends includes Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “But I wanted to make it an interesting read.”
He succeeded. In one instance, Block recounts how he begins every trial by instructing his jurors to bend the truth. If anyone asks for details about the case, Block advises, tell them their judge is a Brad Pitt-lookalike who forbade them to speak.
So has the balding Block ever been confused with the hunky “Benjamin Button” star?
“Hmmmm ... no,” he says with a sigh, but adds: “I was just as good-looking as him when I was (younger). I had Elvis Presley hair!”


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