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Convicted Queens Judge Gets 5 Years

February 4, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ A former state judge convicted of taking bribes while on the bench was sentenced Monday to five years in prison by a federal judge who called him ″casually corrupt and amiably dishonest.″

William C. Brennan, 67, resigned Dec. 13, one day after he was convicted Dec. 12 in federal court of taking or soliciting some $50,000 in cash bribes to fix cases involving gambling, attempted murder and drug trafficking.

″No crime is more corrosive of our institutions than the bribery of a judge,″ said U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein, who imposed the prison term for racketeering and attempted extortion convictions and ordered Brennan to pay a maximum $210,000 in fines and assessments.

″It is a compounding factor that this was neither a crime of passion nor a momentary lapse,″ Weinstein said, noting that Brennan was convicted of taking or agreeing to take bribes between 1973 and 1985.

Weinstein said mitigating circumstances such as Brennan’s age and health dissuaded him from imposing the maximum 20-year term for the most serious charges. Brennan suffers from heart trouble, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Weinstein also sentenced Brennan to five years’ probation following his prison term for numerous wire fraud and bribery-related convictions.

Brennan also will have to forfeit to the government $14,000 of the bribes he was convicted of taking. That figure was reached following negotiations between prosecutors and his attorneys.

″I have nothing to say,″ Brennan said as he left the courtroom with his wife, Gloria.

U.S. Attorney Raymond J. Dearie said he was disappointed with the ″lenient″ sentence.

Prosecutors had asked Weinstein to impose a stiff sentence because Brennan was unrepentant and had not cooperated with their continuing investigation into judicial corruption in the New York City borough of Queens.

″Cooperation is useless. There’s nothing to cooperate with,″ defense attorney Daniel Hollman told Weinstein, adding that Brennan knew nothing about ″Queens judicial corruption or any other judicial corruption.″

Brennan remained free without bail pending an appeal of his conviction but Dearie said his office would go to court Feb. 11 to have Brennan sent to prison during the appeals process.

In a lengthy written memorandum that cited history and the Bible, Weinstein said: ″Were the public to lose faith in the honesty of the judges, much of the law’s barrier to vigilantism and chaos would crumble.″

Brennan was a $82,000-a-year justice on the state Supreme Court, which is a trial-level court.

Despite his conviction, he will receive an annual pension of $48,995 based on his 35 years’ service as a judge, transit police officer and state legislator, officials in Albany have said.

Federal probation officials received more than a score of letters on Brennan’s behalf written by friends, relatives and colleagues - including six Queens judges.

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