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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Judge orders feds to stop reading emails of Bonanno boss

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A Brooklyn judge has ordered federal prosecutors to refrain from reading email communications between reputed Bonanno crime boss Thomas DiFiore and his lawyer until she makes a ruling on the issue.

DiFiore’s lawyer, Steve Zissou, went ballistic after he obtained a memo from the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s criminal division chief stating the prosecutor’s office intends to review all emails between inmates and their lawyers that came through the Bureau of Prisons computer system.

Zissou told Federal Judge Allyne Ross last week he plans to file papers arguing the practice is unconstitutional. She granted his request for the feds to avoid the mobster’s electronic messages — at least for now.

“Frankly I had no idea they (prosecutors) were already doing this,” Zissou told the Daily News. “It’s immoral and unprofessional.”

According to the memo, the feds are on firm legal ground because the inmate waives any confidentiality privilege every time the computer system known as TRULINCS is used to send emails.

“Inmates at the (Metropolitan Detention Center) and their counsel are provided with ample notice that their emails are being monitored,” Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney James McGovern says in the memo obtained by The News.

“Thus, no attorney-client privilege attaches to such communications,” the memo says.

That notification is contained in the TRULINCS user agreement page that appears on the computer screen after logging in to the system and includes a “consent to monitoring” condition, McGovern pointed out.

The inmate must consent to “monitoring and information retrieval for law enforcement and other purposes” before using the system.

The Bureau of Prisons does not monitor in-person visits between lawyers and clients.

McGovern declined to comment, but a law enforcement source with knowledge of the memo said it did not signal a new policy but was merely a reminder to defense lawyers that the emails are subject to monitoring and prosecutors intend to do so.

Peter Kirchheimer, chief of the Brooklyn federal defender’s office, said he intends to make a request to each judge presiding over every one of his cases to order the government not to snoop on email communications between him and his jailed client.

Kirchheimer said it is not clear to him that the notification to inmates of monitoring is adequate to waive the confidentiality privilege.

DiFiore was arrested last year on extortion charges and is being held without bail.



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