Rudy Giuliani: The Prosecutor

Randy Mastro

11/16/2007 5:02:01 PM - Randy Mastro

On the Presidential campaign trail, Rudy Giuliani's extraordinary accomplishments as New York City's Mayor - fighting crime, cutting taxes, reducing welfare rolls, and bringing jobs back to our city - have become well known. But before he was our mayor, he was a crusading prosecutor whose leadership, drive, creativity, independence, and integrity tell us much about what kind of President he will be - a great one.

I worked side-by-side with Rudy when he was the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan in the mid-1980s and saw first-hand how he tirelessly took on the Mob, white collar crime, drug dealers, and corrupt public officials, with unprecedented success and a more than 90 percent conviction rate. And I saw first-hand how he stood his ground, even when it wasn't the popular or politically expedient course, because of his unwavering commitment to do the right thing.

Here are some examples.

Organized Crime

Putting his personal safety at risk and facing death threats for it, Rudy took on the Mob - and won. He used the RICO statute in innovative ways to wipe out the top echelon of the major La Cosa Nostra Families, and then, in his greatest triumph, put away the heads of the five New York Families - known as "the Commission" - for 100 years each. He also successfully tackled the Sicilian Mafia in the famous "Pizza Connection" drug case. And he broke La Cosa Nostra's long-time stranglehold over the Teamster Union's leadership by securing independent union oversight and direct rank-and-file democratic elections of top Teamster officials.

White Collar Crime

Rudy also had the courage to take on Wall Street when its excesses crossed the line from greed to criminality in the 1980s. He convicted such notorious white collar criminals as Ivan Boesky, Dennis Levine, Marc Rich, and Michael Milken, who later bonded with Rudy as a fellow cancer survivor.

Narcotics Prosecutions

Rudy also brought a record number of federal narcotics prosecutions to address the drug epidemic in our city. He even instituted a "Federal Day" program once a month to prosecute those arrested for drug offenses in the federal system to have the maximum deterrent effect. Moreover, he used drug forfeiture laws in innovative ways to seize both proceeds and instruments of those crimes. For example, when New York officials couldn't get local judges to evict drug dealers from public housing projects, Rudy seized the tenancies from them to the cheers of neighbors forced for too long to endure their drug crimes.

Public Corruption

Rudy also cracked down on a local government rife with corruption by the 1980s. He successfully prosecuted Congressmen, Borough Presidents, political party bosses, City Agency heads, and even a top City Hall official, regardless of the political consequences. In fact, he personally tried the case that resulted in the conviction of corrupt Bronx Democratic Party Boss Stanley Friedman.

Other Major Matters

Through it all, Rudy also found time to personally argue for the deportation of a notorious Nazi concentration camp guard facing a death sentence overseas and to seek to shut down the PLO mission in New York City because the PLO was a terrorist organization. He successfully prosecuted others involved in terrorist activities, including an FALN member and arms dealers conspiring to sell weapons to Iran and the IRA. And he stood up to the Washington bureaucracy by refusing to defend in court a government policy that automatically denied social security disability benefits, even to worthy applicants, for budgetary reasons.

In short, time and again, Rudy did the right thing, no matter what the personal or political cost. That's called leadership. And it's that kind of leadership that we need so much today in our next President.