We live in a crazy world where good people do nutty stuff. As a young federal prosecutor Jimmy Pickerstein investigated public corruption in Bridgeport, imprisoned Hell’s Angels Danny Bifield and probed crooked cops. As a seasoned criminal defense attorney he represented Paul Pinto in the Joe Ganim federal corruption probe as well as many other wayward figures. But like the clients he represented he lost his way, fleecing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his mobbed-up client James Galante. The big man’s big heart, however, was noted by the judge who sentenced the 70-year-old to just a 30-day stay.
Pickerstein was the attorney to hire when you wanted to settle a case. He made an immense living cutting deals with prosecutors on behalf of clients. He coulda made a bigger living urging deeper-pocketed clients to hold out and fight. He normally understood the reality of the federal resources against a client who’d be hard pressed to persuade a jury he did nothing wrong. In the end, Pickerstein valued his own advice and cut a plea agreement. Having two elite criminal defense attorneys at his side, Andy Bowman and Willie Dow, didn’t hurt either. He had previously forfeited his license to practice law.
More from CT Post reporter Dan Tepfer:
As the state’s top federal prosecutor H. James Pickerstein stood upright against some of the toughest criminals.
But later caught with his hand in the cookie jar of convicted Danbury mobster James Galante–accused of taking more than $600,000–Pickerstein’s usually stoic composure crumbled as he begged Galante not to turn him in.
“That will kill me as a lawyer, don’t ruin my career,” Pickerstein begs Galante, according to an excerpt of a recording released by federal authorities. “I was jammed up with my firm, I’m broke, my son hasn’t worked, my wife’s medicine is $3,500 a month.”
On Tuesday afternoon a contrite 70-year-old Pickerstein was sentenced to 30 days in a minimum security prison.
“You violated one of the cardinal rules of practicing law using your client’s funds as your own money,” U.S. District Judge Victor Bolden told Pickerstein before a courtroom packed with silver and white-haired lawyers from the tri-state area some who worked with Pickerstein and some who battled against him. “Even more troubling is that you did not appear to have intended to pay the funds back.”
However, the judge continued that he found himself in the presence of an “extraordinary,” person, adding, “The time is for you to truly love yourself.”
Full story here.