DA Alvin Bragg Could Face Five Years in Prison For a Class-E Felony

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Former President Donald Trump was indicted earlier this month on charges relating to his campaign and financial ties to Russia. Alan Dershowitz challenged Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to find “a single case” in which those charges were charged.

In an interview with Forbes Newsroom,” Dershowitz said Bragg’s pledge to prosecute Trump while running for office should be “disbarrable.”

“I don’t think an indictment can actually come forward now after the comments made by [Robert] Costello,” the attorney said. Dershowitz added that Bragg “has proved that the main witness is going to be a perjuring liar on the witness stand, and that puts the district attorney in a terrible position.”

“If he uses Cohen as a witness, he could actually lose his bar license. It’s unethical to put a witness on the stand who you know is lying, and he has to know that Cohen will be lying. Or he tries the case without Cohen, which would be very difficult, or he does the right thing: he drops the case,” Dershowitz added.

In addition, Dershowitz warned Bragg that if he is convicted of leaking details of Trump’s indictment, he could face five years in prison. Providing grand jury testimony to the public is a Class E felony in New York, punishable by a one-to-five year prison sentence.

In his op-ed, Dershowitz also argued that the leaker of the sealed indictment commits the only felony in this case.

“It is likely that a serious felony has been committed right under District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s nose and he is not investigating it. Under New York law, it is a felony to leak confidential grand jury information, such as whether the jurors voted to indict. The protection of secrecy is as applicable to President Trump as it is to anyone else,” Dershowitz said in an op-ed for The New York Sun.

“We know that the information was disclosed while the indictment itself remains sealed and before any official announcement was made or charges brought. It is unlikely that the leak came from the Trump team, which seemed genuinely surprised,” Dershowitz said.

“The most likely, though uncertain, scenario is that a person in Mr. Bragg’s office or a grand juror unlawfully leaked the sealed information. That would be a class E felony, subject to imprisonment. It is possible of course that an investigation is underway, but it seems more likely that Mr. Bragg is too busy making up a crime against the man he promised in his campaign to get than investigating a real crime that took place on his watch,” Dershowitz added.

As Dershowitz noted, Bragg’s theory seems to be that Trump should have disclosed why he paid for a non-disclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels, defeating the purpose of the agreement.

“Why would Mr. Trump pay the money in the first place if he had to publicly disclose the embarrassing reason? Furthermore, no one in history has ever been indicted for listing ‘legal expenses’ for setting a potentially embarrassing payment of hush money,” he said.

“Thus, even the misdemeanor allegation involving false entries is unprecedented and represents selective prosecution. It is also almost certainly barred by the two-year statute of limitations. In order to elevate this bookkeeping case into a felony, Mr. Bragg must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the reason Trump made the false entry — if he himself did it — was solely as a campaign contribution to help him win his election,” he said.

“If somebody on the grand jury, prosecutor or grand juror, leaked the fact that there was a vote to indict, that is a one – five-year class E felony under New York,” Dershowitz said. “Bragg now has a prima facia case that a crime has been committed right in his building, but as far as I know he’s not investigating it.”


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