* Served as Chief Deputy Attorney General of NYS from 2017-18
* Was elected D.A. of Manhattan in 2021 with financial support from George Soros
* Pledged to indict former President Trump for unspecified crimes if elected D.A.
* Supports alternatives to incarceration as punishment for many crimes
* Crime rates in NYC soared under Bragg’s watch.
* Indicted Donald Trump on 34 felony charges in March 2023
Alvin Leonard Bragg Jr. was born in New York City on October 21, 1973. Raised in an upper middle class home in the historically low-income neighborhood of Harlem, Bragg spent his youth exposed to the notorious New York crime wave of the 1970s and ’80s. He has described his decision to become a prosecutor as a product, in large measure, of his own personal experiences with the city’s criminal-justice system — most notably three occasions when he was allegedly the victim of what he calls “unconstitutional” gunpoint stops by NYPD officers.
From the age of four until his high-school graduation in 1991, Bragg attended the highly prestigious Trinity School, one of the nation’s most elite private institutions, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He went on to graduate from Harvard University with a B.A. in Government in 1995, and later earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School where he served as an editor for the left-leaning, student-run Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review.
From 1999-2000, Bragg served as a law clerk for Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. of the Southern District of New York. He then worked as an associate for the New York-based law firm of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello from 2000-2003, focusing primarily on white-collar crime and civil rights issues.
From 2003-2006, Bragg assisted the office of then-New York State Attorney General and future Governor Eliot Spitzer. He subsequently served as the Chief of Litigation and Investigations for the New York City Council, prior to becoming an assistant U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District in 2009.
Bragg continued to advance his career as a New York public official with his return to the State Attorney General’s Office, serving as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice from 2013-2017, and as Chief Deputy Attorney General from 2017-2018. Bragg says that during his tenure as Chief Deputy AG, he “oversaw litigation challenging the federal government’s anti-immigrant policies, including the federal government’s attempts to end DACA, impose a travel ban on Muslims, and include a citizenship question on the census.”
In January 2019, Bragg joined the faculty of New York Law School as a visiting professor. He also served a stint as co-director of the school’s Racial Justice Project, which Law.com describes as “a legal advocacy organization that examines issues of racial inequity and works to address them through litigation and policy recommendations.”
On June 18, 2019, Bragg officially announced his intent to challenge the incumbent Cy Vance Jr. in the 2021 Democratic primaries for District Attorney of New York County — i.e., Manhattan. Bragg vowed that his “grassroots campaign” would not accept any corporate political donations. “We’re not going to be unduly influenced by anyone,” he declared.
In an official campaign video by which he launched his run for D.A. of Manhattan, Bragg identified the borough’s “two standards of justice” — “one for the rich and powerful and connected, and one for everyone else” — as the focal point of his priorities. “As D.A., from day one, I’ll work to make the office the progressive leader it should be,” he said, pledging to: (a) “reverse mass incarceration, especially in communities of color”; (b) carry out “thorough and transparent investigations of police misconduct”; and (c) “keep neighborhoods safe [by] ensuring one standard of justice.”
Bragg’s campaign website summarized a wide range of policies that the candidate planned to implement as Manhattan District Attorney. Among these were the following:
Reducing Gun Violence: “Comprehensive gun-violence reduction can only be achieved through a multi-faceted approach that includes law enforcement, community intervention/improvement, and legislative change. We will not arrest or incarcerate our way out of these problems…. For years, our city attempted to address violence with blunt, catch-all strategies such as stop-and-frisk and broken-windows which were ineffective, racist, and created a deep distrust of police by communities of color. […] Study after study has shown that overly broad increases in enforcement have little to no effect on reducing crime.”
Ending Racial Disparities: “In fighting police misconduct, Alvin knows that Black and Latinx people accounted for 80% of the police-involved deaths in New York City from 2010-2015, while no unarmed white people were killed by the police during this time, and pledges to create a new Police Integrity Unit to ensure there is one standard of justice in Manhattan and no special protections for the powerful and well connected.”
Declining and Diverting Minor Offenses: “Our courts have been clogged with petty offenses for too long. From smoking marijuana to jumping a turnstile, our criminal courts spend far too much time treating minor offenses with the same blunt instruments used to address homicides and other violent crimes. […] These cases do not belong in criminal court. The punishments are disproportionately harsh, and fall disproportionately on the backs of people of color. This makes them morally indefensible. […] This is why I will not prosecute most petty offenses through the traditional criminal court system. With important but limited exceptions, I will either dismiss these charges outright or offer the accused person the opportunity to complete a program without ever setting foot in a courtroom. Upon successful completion of that program, their case will be dismissed.”
- Bragg further announced that he “will decline to prosecute any of the following charges, without exception”: marijuana misdemeanors, turnstile jumping, trespass, driving with a suspended license, consensual sex trade, outdated offenses, resisting arrest for a violation or non-criminal offense, and obstructing governmental administration.
Fighting for Economic Justice: “Alvin’s Economic Justice Initiative will target labor crimes against working people, such as negligence in workplace safety, and cheating workers out of overtime, workers’ compensation, paid sick leave, and unemployment insurance by ‘misclassifying’ them as independent contractors, or forcing them to work off the books.”
Ending Mass Incarceration: “As District Attorney,” said Bragg’s web page, “Alvin will make incarceration the last resort and will work to reverse the effects of mass incarceration” by doing the following:
- “For cases that the [D.A.] office does recommend incarceration, the maximum sentence will be 20 years, absent exceptional circumstances.”
- “Opposing any sentence of life without parole. Everyone should have a chance for parole.”
- “Supporting legislation repealing mandatory minimums.”
- “Eliminating the use [of] predicate felony sentencing enhancements.”
- “Cases involving substance use and mental illness will be analyzed through a public health lens. Every case will be eligible for courts specializing in certain types of programming, such as drug treatment and mental health treatment.”
- “The [D.A.] office will take into account the immigration consequences of charging someone with a crime and of any sentences.”
- “Taking an active role in cases through the parole process, including writing letters in support of release to the parole board as a default position for every parole-eligible case.”
- “Opposing revoking probation or parole for technical violations or requiring community supervision where it is not needed.”
- “In any case in which a person allegedly violates the terms of a non-incarceratory sentence or pre-plea programming mandate, seek an incarceratory ‘alternative’ to be imposed only as a matter of last resort, after repeated opportunities are afforded for a successful completion of the mandate.”
- Publishing charging, conviction, and sentencing data, along with racial and other demographic data.”
Reforming Pretrial Detention: “Even though New York’s bail reforms made significant improvements to reducing the number of people incarcerated because they do not have cash bail, Black and Brown people are still disproportionately impacted.”
Free the Wrongfully Convicted: “Wrongful convictions are the height of injustice. They ruin the lives of the wrongfully convicted, impair law enforcement’s ability to apprehend the persons who actually committed the crime, and severely undermine the public’s faith in our criminal justice system. When I become Manhattan’s District Attorney, I will abolish the existing CIU [Criminal Investigations Unit] and start […] a Free The Wrongfully Convicted Unit.”
Combating Hate Crimes: “As Manhattan D.A., I commit to halting the rise in hate crimes and repairing the harm to the victim and the community.”
Expanding Restorative Justice Options: “The people of Manhattan are best-served when the core drivers of violence are effectively addressed, those willing to work on taking accountability are offered the tools to do so, and all who have suffered harm are offered the resources they need to heal and strengthen their communities. One of the most important ways in which I will accomplish these goals is through the use of restorative justice.”
Improving Reentry Outcomes: “My office will take an active role in cases throughout the reentry process, both because it is essential to ensure public safety and because I believe we owe a moral duty to those sent to prison to help them reenter society.”
Increasing Police Accountability: “Police misconduct can take various forms and can occur both on duty and off duty. […] The tragic deaths of unarmed Black individuals at the hands of the police [..] and the excessive [police] force used against the New Yorkers protesting those killings this past summer [of 2020], underscore the urgent need to address these issues…. Police corruption has plagued the NYPD for decades. … I will provide a digital complaint board for civilians to report acts of police misconduct.”
Fighting Corruption and White Collar Crime: “We must have one standard of justice. We cannot have a system that allows those with power and influence to evade accountability when they commit crimes.”
Safety and Equality for All: “I will be an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and hold any person who commits hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people accountable.”
Delivering Housing Justice: “I will bring to [the D.A. office] a record of defending tenants against unscrupulous landlords in even the toughest cases.”
In a 2021 interview with Ebro in the Morning, a Hot 97 radio show in New York City, Bragg boasted that if he were to be elected as D.A., he would be eminently qualified to prosecute President Donald Trump for his “lawlessness.” In the course of the interview, host Ebro asked, “One of the things leading into this vote for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, I know a lot of people are wondering, whoever has this job, are they going to convict Donald Trump?”
Bragg replied: “Look, that is the number one issue we know he’s [a reference to then-Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance] investigating. And what I’ll say is, I’m the only, I was the first to announce against Cy Vance. I too have a lot of issues which is why I decided to run. I’m the candidate in the race who has the experience with Donald Trump. I was the chief deputy in the attorney general’s office. We sued the Trump administration over 100 times. For the Muslim travel ban, for family separation at the border, for shenanigans with the Census. So, I know how to litigate with him. I also led the team that did the Trump Foundation case. So, I’m ready to go wherever the facts take me, and to inherit that case, and I think, you know, [it’d] be hard to argue with the fact that that’s, that would be the most important, most high-profile case, and I’ve seen him up front, and seen the lawlessness that he can do.”
In the same interview, Bragg also said:
Bragg’s 2021 campaign for D.A. received the support of the powerful Democrat multi-billionaire, George Soros, who donated approximately $1 million to the leftwing activist group Color of Change, which in turn diverted donations to support Bragg’s candidacy in New York. Moreover, Soros contributed $50,000 to People’s Action Power and $72,000 to the New York Justice & Public Safety PAC, money that likely aided the Bragg campaign as well.
On April 26, 2021, George Soros’ son, Jonathan Soros, donated $10,000 directly to Bragg’s campaign for D.A. Three days later, on April 29, Jonathan’s wife, Jennifer Allan Soros, donated yet another $10,000.
Bragg was elected as Manhattan District Attorney on November 2, 2021, winning the general election with over 83% of the vote.
Shortly after his election as DA, Bragg wrote the following in defense of New York State’s bail-reform law which had gone into effect in January 2020:
“All of New York state was governed by the same bail laws from the 1970s until 2020, and under the old bail laws, 43% of people charged with misdemeanors in New York City who had bail set remained in jail until the disposition of their case, including 40% whose bail was set at $500 or less. In April 2019, the New York State legislature recognized the urgent moral, civil rights and human rights issues raised by the use of monetary bail and overhauled the state’s bail laws. The laws went into effect January 2020, and contributed to a 40% decline in New York City’s pretrial jail population. Some District Attorneys and other law enforcement and elected officials resorted to fearmongering, claiming that the reforms contributed to a rise in crime and lobbied for immediate changes to the new law. The data showed otherwise. […] The new bail laws eliminate the use of money bail and pretrial detention for people charged with most misdemeanors and many nonviolent felonies. Unfortunately, the legislature amended this law in April 2020, after only 3 months of the new law being in effect. These changes, which I vocally opposed, went into effect on July 1, 2020. The general framework established by the original bail reform law has not changed, but the amended law adds to the situations in which judges can impose cash bail and pretrial detention. Judges now have more discretion in setting bail and other conditions of pretrial release. Approximately 88% of New York City criminal cases arraigned in 2019 would have been ineligible for either bail or remand under the original bail reform statute. Under the amended law, that number dropped to 84%. The amended law still allows for an estimated 30% reduction in New York City’s jail population when compared to before any bail reform.”
But Bragg’s confidence in the efficacy of bail reform would prove to be egregiously misplaced, as New York City’s rates of homicide and violent crime increased dramatically after the reform went into effect. Emblematic of this trend was an early August 2022 report that, accordiung to statistics compiled by the NYPD, a group of 10 career criminals had been arrested a total of 485 times in NYC since January 2020.
On January 1, 2022 — his first day as Manhattan DA — Bragg composed a letter instructing his staffers to do everything in their power, in cases involving illegal aliens, to prosecute such defendants in a manner that would minimize the possibility of deportation. “The Office will seek dispositions that avoid immigration consequences for all misdemeanors, and all felonies for which non-carceral outcomes are the presumptive outcome,” wrote Bragg.
On January 3, 2022, Bragg issued to his office staff a memo entitled “Achieving Fairness and Safety,” which called for his ambitious “progressive” reforms to be implemented promptly. On the premise that “reserving incarceration for matters involving significant harm will make us safer” (emphasis in original), the memo stipulated that the same offenses enumerated in the Declining and Diverting Minor Offenses section of his campaign platform (cited above) would not be prosecuted.
Bragg’s memo also ordered the following notable policies:
On January 8, 2022 in New York City, Bragg appeared at a National Action Network rally alongside activist Al Sharpton to discuss his (Bragg’s) criminal-justice agenda. “We know that our first civil right is the right to walk safely to our corner store,” said Bragg. “But we also know that safety has got to be based in our community and fairness. It cannot be driven solely by incarceration.” In defense of his tepid approach to punishing criminals, the new D.A. said: “This is going to make us safer. It’s intuitive. It’s common sense. I don’t understand the pushback.”
When asked during a January 2022 interview with Fox News if his policies would “give criminals a green light,” Bragg answered: “No, I mean, it at least depends upon your definition of a criminal. And for all too long we’ve kind of dealt with this othering of anyone we put in jail is a criminal. Well, you know what, we’re putting in jail homeless people who, literally, in one example, used one counterfeit bill to buy food and toothpaste, got a sentence of [several] years. So, if that’s your definition of a criminal, I suggest we need to really reorder ourselves.”
During Bragg’s first full month as D.A., which was also Eric Adams‘ first full month as mayor, crime rates in New York City soared. As PIX11.com reported: “Crime in New York city rose nearly 39% in the first month of 2022. […] Police recorded 9,566 total crimes in January, compared to 6,905 in 2021. Every mayor index increased, with the exception of murder, which fell to 28 total compared to 2021’s 33 in the same period. Shooting incidents, however, were up nearly 32%. […] Transit crime jumped more than 75%, with 198 incidents total. It’s the biggest increase behind grand auto larceny, which accounted for 1,187 total crimes in January — that’s compared to just 620 incidents last year.”
In early August 2022, it was reported that accordiung to statistics compiled by the NYPD, a group of 10 career criminals had been arrested a total of 485 times in New York City since the state’s controversial bail-reform law had gone into effect in January 2020.
On November 27, 2022, the New York Post reported:
“Since taking office on Jan. 1, Bragg has downgraded 52% of felony cases to misdemeanors — compared to 39% in all of 2019. Between 2013 and 2020, under District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., the percentage of cases the office downgraded had never exceeded 40%, according to data made public by the DA’s office.
“When serious felony charges are brought, Bragg’s office wins a conviction just 51% of the time — down from 68% in 2019, the last year before the pandemic disrupted the court system.
“He has declined to prosecute 35 percent more felony cases this year than in 2019, with 1,119 so far in 2022 compared to 828 three years ago.
“The DA’s office requested bail in only 49% of felony cases this year compared to 69% in 2019. State bail reform measures mean almost no non-violent felonies are eligible for bail now although they were in 2019.
“Misdemeanor convictions have also spiraled downward — to 29% so far this year, from 68% in 2019.”
Also on November 27, 2022, Fox News reported that the incidence of some, though not all, serious offenses had risen significantly during 2022: “The NYPD’s latest crime statistic reports show that overall crimes are up 27.6%, with 112,755 reported so far in 2022 compared to 88,394 reported during the same period in 2021. During the same period, there was a reported 13.2% increase in felony assaults, with a jump from 20,563 to 23,270 this year; rapes increased from 1,336 to 1,471; robberies from 12,033 to 15,639; and transit crimes from 1,316 to 1,865. Murders in the Big Apple are down from 432 to 372, and shootings are down from 1,688 to 1,438.”
Below are just a few examples of the many instances in which Bragg’s office sought to assign extremely soft penalties to offenders who had committed serious crimes or who had long rap sheets:
Downgrading Robbery Charges Against a Black Career Criminal
In mid-January 2022, Bragg’s D.A. office downgraded robbery charges which had been filed against William Rolon, a 43-year-old career criminal who on January 8 had robbed a local drugstore of more than $2,000 in merchandise while wielding a knife and causing the store’s female manager to fear for her life. Despite the serious nature of that crime, Bragg’s office reduced the original felony robbery charge to two counts of misdemeanor petit larceny, meaning that there would be no mandatory prison sentence, even though at the time of Rolon’s arrest he was wanted in Brooklyn for failing to appear in court on charges that included felony assault with a weapon. According to the New York Post: “Rolon has a rap sheet that lists more than 20 arrests that date back to 1991 and involve charges of rape, robbery, assault and drug dealing.”
The Incredible Case of Gangbanger James Lindsay
In December 2022, twenty-two-year-old Charles Lindsay — a member of the “Rich Fam” gang which was infamous for committing big-money robberies in the New York City area – made headlines as a real-world example of the consequences of the criminal-justice reforms that had been enacted in 2019 by then-NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. Those reforms, strongly supported by Bragg, allowed most criminal suspects charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies to walk free without having to post bail.
Prior to December 2022, Charles Lindsay had already been arrested on at least eight occasions, including three second-degree robbery charges filed on December 22, 2016, January 21, 2020, and February 5, 2020. His other prior arrests included a petty larceny charge on January 4, 2019, a grand larceny charge in February 2022, a robbery charge in March 2022, and a May 2022 rape of a 15-year-old girl in Brooklyn.
Then, over the course of just a few days in early December 2022, Lindsay was charged in four grand larceny cases where he was accused of stealing: (a) $3,080 in merchandise from Etro Boutique at 720 Madison Avenue on December 2; (b) another $3,540 worth of items from the same Etro Boutique on December 3; (c) $8,340 in goods from a Zadig & Voltaire shop at 1133 Madison Avenue on December 6; and (d) $9,860 in merchandise from Akris Boutique at 831 Madison Avenue on December 8. His heists for the week totaled nearly $25,000.
When he was brought to court on December 10, 2022 to face charges on those four grand larceny charges, prosecutors agreed to drop all of the charges if Lindsay would simply agree to attend five sessions with Manhattan Justice Opportunities, an alternative sentencing program designed to help low-level offenders avoid incarceration. Notably, none of the four charges would have been eligible for bail requirements under the 2019 criminal-justice reforms, which barred judges from setting bail on misdemeanors as well as many felony cases.
Prosecutors told NYC police that they had cut their deal with Lindsay because the D.A.’s Office, as a result of “speedy trial” restrictions contained in the 2019 criminal-justice reforms, had become backlogged with an impossibly heavy caseload and pressing deadlines and was trying to clear up its calendar. One police source disputed the caseload excuse, however, telling the New York Post: “The Manhattan DA’s office loves to cite their workload as the reason for letting dangerous criminals off, Scott free. Maybe if they actually prosecuted people there would be fewer crimes.” Asserting that it was “hard to believe” that Bragg’s office “could possibly have a heavy caseload with all the downgrading [of criminal charges] they do,” the source added: “We [police] don’t get to say we’re too busy to arrest these people. So why is it the other way around?”
The Post noted that in a similar circumstance in November 2022, “Manhattan prosecutors said they only pursued a pair of charges against a serial shoplifter with nearly a dozen cases because it would have been ‘a waste of resources’ for the overworked [D.A.] office.”
Bragg Offers Plea Deal to Muslim Who Attacked Jews
In May 2021, a 24-year-old Brooklyn Muslim named Waseem Awawdeh carried out an unprovoked attack on Joseph Borgen, a 29-year-old Jewish man, in Midtown Manhattan. Awawdeh was filmed punching and kicking the victim, and using crutches to pummel him. The assailant also pepper-sprayed Mr. Borgen and called him a “dirty Jew.” The attack occurred while Awawdeh and fellow pro-Palestinian demonstrators harassed and beat pro-Israel counter-demonstrators in the midtown area. Moreover, the Palestinians shot fireworks at a crowd of onlookers and spat on people who were dining in a local restaurant.
For his role in the mayhem, Awawdeh was charged with several offenses: assault as a hate crime; gang assault; menacing; aggravated harassment; and criminal possession of a weapon. According to a prosecutor who was present at Awawdeh’s arraignment hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court, Awawdeh told a jailer: “If I could do it again, I would do it again.” Nonetheless, the assailant was released on bail soon after his apprehension and was seen on video celebrating his release with some of his comrades.
Though Awawdeh faced a maximum of seven years in prison if convicted of the charges, Bragg offered him a six-month deal in a January 2023 plea bargain. In response to that deal:
- Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted: “@ManhattanDA offered Waseem Awadeh a sweet plea deal with a 6mo sentence, despite the fact that the violent Jew-hater said he would try to kill Jews again and showed no remorse! Awadeh and a mob attacked Joseph Borgen who was seriously injured and feared for his life! Shameful!”
- The watchdog group StopAntisemitism ,” tweeted: “New York is simply no longer safe for Jews under the supervision of @ManhattanDA.”
- Fox News Host and former New York State judge and District Attorney Jeanine Pirro tweeted: “By offering a plea deal in a vicious assault, that’s a hate crime to boot, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg proves his allegiance, not only to criminals, but to those victimized because of their religion and ethnicity.”
- New York City Council member Kalman Yeger tweeted that it was “Open Season on Jews, encouraged by @ManhattanDA.”
The Case of Career Criminal Marcus Wright
On April 24, 2022, a 37-year-old African American named Marcus Wright was arrested and charged with grand larceny after he had stolen nearly $1,400 in merchandise from an upscale boutique in the Soho section of Lower Manhattan. Bragg’s office, however, allowed Wright to plead down to a misdemeanor petty larceny rap and thereby avoid serving any jail time. Wright was subsequently arrested again on May 13, 2022, after he walked up to a random woman in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood and punched her in the face while she was talking on her mobile phone, causeing her to suffer “redness, swelling to her face, and substantial pain.” But the charges that were lodged against Wright in the Chelsea case — third-degree assault, attempted assault, and harassment — were not eligible for bail under the bail-reform measures that New York State had enacted in 2019, thus he was allowed to go free while his case was pending. By this point in time, Wright’s long rap sheet included 36 separate charges for offenses that included, among others, grand larceny, assault, soliciting prostitution, and drug crimes.
The Case of a Teenager Who Assaulted a Police Officer
Just before 6 p.m. on July 24, 2022, a 16-year-old black male jumped the turnstile at the 125th Street-Lexington Avenue subway station in East Harlem. When police confronted the teen, he became verbally aggressive with the officers for more than three minutes before they attempted to arrest him. At that point, the teen engaged in a violent fight with one policeman, punching the officer approximately 20 times during the mayhem. Eventually the young male was subdued, arrested, and charged with assault on a police officer, obstruction of governmental administration, and resisting arrest. Despite the seriousness of his offenses, the suspect was released without bail during a court appearance that same day. Notably, he had been previously arrested for carrying a loaded gun on April 12, and for robbery on July 10 — but was released without bail on both occasions.
A Rapist Who Was Offered a Plea Deal of 30 Days in Jail
A 25-year-old black man named Justin Washington was arrested and jailed on February 23, 2022, after a teenage female relative of his told police that he had raped her in an East Harlem apartment. Washington was initially charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, and forcible touching, and was incarcerated on $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond — though prosecutors asked a judge to set bail at $100,000. A rape conviction could have resulted in Washington being sent to prison for up to 25 years, but approximately three weeks after his arrest, prosecutors reduced the charges to third-degree rape and the judge reduced his bail to $12,000 — conditions that allowed the suspect to walk free while his case was pending. A few months later, in August 2022, Washington was permitted to plead down to a charge of second-degree coercion, a charge that could have carried a maximum prison sentence of 16 months to four years. But Bragg’s office subsequently offered to reduce the sentence even further, to a mere 30 days in jail along with five years of probation. But just a week before Washington was set to be sentenced in September 2022, he went on a maniacal sex-crime spree, victimizing four women and one man near the homeless shelter where he was living in the Bronx.
Bragg made headlines with his handling of an early July 2022 case involving Jose Alba, a 61-year-old New York City bodega clerk, who acted in self-defense when he stabbed Austin Simon, an unruly 35-year-old black man who attacked Alba inside the store. Surveillance video of the incident showed Simon’s girlfriend becoming enraged when her payment for a bag of potato chips was declined by a credit-card processing machine. “There’s money on there [the card],” the woman said during a tense back-and-forth exchange with Alba, who, after having tried several times to process the transaction, told her: “It’s not working now.” The woman then screamed, “You fucking piece of shit. I’m gonna bring my nigga down here, and he gonna fuck you up. My nigga is gonna come down here right now and fuck you up!” Alba responded at that point: “That’s not my fault it not working, that’s not my fault it not working. The machine not working, the card not working.”
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Simon entered the store and began yelling obscenities at Alba, who tried to calm the situation by saying, “Papa, papa, I don’t want no problem, papa.” But the raging Simon pushed Alba, hovered over him, and attempted to pull the older man out from his work station. In the face of Simon’s relentless aggression, Alba found an opportunity to take a knife and stab him. Additional video footage, meanwhile, showed Simon’s girlfriend stabbing Alba in the arm.
Simon — who previously had been arrested eight times for crimes that included robbery, assault, and assaulting a police officer — later died of the wounds that Alba had inflicted on him. Bragg’s office, in turn, charged Alba, who had no prior criminal record, with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Moreover, Bragg initially sought to impose a a $500,000 bond — later reduced to $50,000 — to keep Alba incarcerated at Rikers Island until his trial. By contrast, no charges were filed against Simon’s girlfriend for the role she had played in the deadly incident.
Noting the injustice with which Bragg’s office was treating Alba, Reason.com wrote on July 11, 2022: “New York Penal Law 35.15 allows that a person may kill in self-defense if ‘the actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force.’ It also mentions that self-defense applies if ‘he or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a … robbery.’”
Outraged by the manner in which Bragg handled the Alba-Simon case, a bipartisan coalition of New York City lawmakers sent a letter to the District Attorney in which they wrote: “You are simply rewarding the guilty and punishing the innocent.”
In March 2023, John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, reported that according to data that his organization had culled from the Manhattan D.A. Office’s Data Dashboard, the incidence of Manhattan’s seven major felony offenses — murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto — had risen by 26 percent between 2021 and 2022, to their highest levels since 2006.
In March 2023, news reports indicated that Bragg was likely to indict and arrest former President Donald Trump. According to Fox News: “The potential indictment stems from the yearslong investigation surrounding Trump’s alleged hush money scandal involving porn star Stormy Daniels. Toward the end of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen sent $130,000 to Daniels to prevent her from disclosing her 2006 affair with Trump. Trump reimbursed Cohen through installments.”
George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley characterized the potential indictment of Trump as “legally pathetic,” writing:
“[This] case would be easily dismissed outside of a jurisdiction like New York, where Bragg can count on highly motivated judges and jurors.
“Although it may be politically popular, the case is legally pathetic. Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of ‘hush money’ to former stripper Stormy Daniels….
“It is extremely difficult to show that paying money to cover up an embarrassing affair was done for election purposes as opposed to an array of obvious other reasons, from protecting a celebrity’s reputation to preserving a marriage. That was demonstrated by the failed federal prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards on a much stronger charge of using campaign funds to cover up an affair.
“In this case, Trump reportedly paid Daniels $130,000 in the fall of 2016 to cut off or at least reduce any public scandal. The Southern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s office had no love lost for Trump, pursuing him and his associates in myriad investigations, but it ultimately rejected a prosecution based on the election law violations. It was not alone: The Federal Election Commission chair also expressed doubts about the theory.
“Prosecutors working under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., also reportedly rejected the viability of using a New York law to effectively charge a federal offense.
“More importantly, Bragg himself previously expressed doubts about the case, effectively shutting it down soon after he took office. The two lead prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned in protest. Pomerantz launched a very public campaign against Bragg’s decision, including commenting on a still-pending investigation. He made it clear that Trump was guilty in his mind, even though his former office was still undecided and the grand jury investigation was ongoing.
“Pomerantz then did something that shocked many of us as highly unprofessional and improper: Over Bragg’s objection that he was undermining any possible prosecution, Pomerantz published a book detailing the case against an individual who was not charged, let alone convicted.
“He was, of course, an instant success in the media that have spent years highlighting a dozen different criminal theories that were never charged against Trump. Pomerantz followed the time-tested combination for success — link Trump to any alleged crime and convey absolute certainty of guilt. For cable TV shows, it was like a heroin hit for an audience in a long agonizing withdrawal.
“And the campaign worked. Bragg caved, and ‘America’s Got Trump’ apparently will air after all. […]
“While we still do not know the specific state charges in the anticipated indictment, the most-discussed would fall under Section 175 for falsifying business records, based on the claim that Trump used legal expenses to conceal the alleged hush-payments that were supposedly used to violate federal election laws. While some legal experts have insisted such concealment is clearly a criminal matter that must be charged, they were conspicuously silent when Hillary Clinton faced a not-dissimilar campaign-finance allegation.
“Last year, the Federal Election Commission fined the Clinton campaign for funding the Steele dossier as a legal expense. The campaign had previously denied funding the dossier, which was used to push false Russia collusion claims against Trump in 2016, and it buried the funding in the campaign’s legal budget. Yet, there was no hue and cry for this type of prosecution in Washington or New York.
“A Section 175 charge would normally be a misdemeanor. The only way to convert it into a Class E felony requires a showing that the ‘intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.’ That other crime would appear to be the federal election violations which the Justice Department previously declined to charge.
“The linkage to a federal offense is critical for another reason: Bragg’s office ran out of time to prosecute this as a misdemeanor years ago; the statute of limitations is two years. Even if he shows this is a viable felony charge, the longer five-year limitation could be hard to establish….
“[T]he damage to the legal system is immense whenever political pressure overwhelms prosecutorial judgment. The criminal justice system can be a terrible weapon when used for political purposes, an all-too-familiar spectacle in countries where political foes can be targeted by the party in power.”
On another occasion, Turley called Bragg’s case a “political prosecution” and added:
“Well, they have discretion, but they don’t have discretion to create their own laws. And what is being done is something that most of us consider really beyond the pale, that is Bragg is taking a New York misdemeanor, which, by the way, has expired, only a two-year statute of limitations, and he’s potentially bootstrapping that into a felony. But he intends, according to reports, to prove a federal crime that the Department of Justice itself declined to prosecute.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, for his part, said:
“The Manhattan District Attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor and so he like, other Soros funded prosecutors, they weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety. He has downgraded over 50% of the felonies to misdemeanors, he says he doesn’t even want to have jail time for the vast majorities of crimes…. [I]f you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office. I think that’s fundamentally wrong…. These Soros district attorneys are a menace to society.”
On March 30, 2023, The New York Times reported:
“A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Donald J. Trump on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to four people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges. The felony indictment, filed under seal by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, will likely be announced in the coming days. By then, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, will have asked Mr. Trump to surrender and to face arraignment on charges that remain unknown for now.”
On the day of Trump’s formal arraignment, Bragg issued the following statement to the press: “Earlier this afternoon, Donald Trump was arraigned on a New York Supreme Court indictment returned by a Manhattan grand jury on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Under New York state law is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime. That is exactly what this case is about. 34 false statements made to cover up other crimes. These are felony crimes in New York State. No matter who you are, we cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
All told, Bragg charged Trump with 34 separate felonies. In an April 4, 2023 opinion piece, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy laid bare the corrupt manner by which Bragg had arrived at that total:
“Bragg’s indictment fails to state a crime. Not once . . . but 34 times. On that ground alone, the case should be dismissed — before one ever gets to the facts that the statute of limitations has lapsed and that Bragg has no jurisdiction to enforce federal law (if that’s what he’s trying to do, which remains murky).
“Bragg’s indictment charges 34 counts. […] The 34 counts are arrived at by taking what is a single course of conduct and absurdly slicing it into parts, each one of which is charged as a separate felony carrying its own potential four-year prison term.
“Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen in monthly installments during 2017 for the $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels right before the 2016 election for her silence about an alleged affair. That, in reality, is a single transaction: Trump paying back a debt to Cohen. Yet, because Trump paid in installments and each installment includes an invoice from Cohen, a bookkeeping entry by the Trump Organization, and a payment to Cohen by check, Bragg not only charges each monthly installment separately; he subdivides the installments into installments (as if the invoice, book entry, and check were independent criminal events). Voilà, one transaction becomes 34 felonies! […]
“[T]his is exactly the sort of abusive behavior that rogue prosecutors engage in, and thus that the Justice Department admonishes federal prosecutors to avoid. […]
“The worst due-process abuse of Bragg’s indictment, however, is that . . . it’s not an indictment. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantees that Americans may not be accused of a serious crime — essentially, a felony — absent an indictment approved by a grand jury. The indictment has two purposes. First, it must put the defendant on notice of exactly what crime has been charged so that he may prepare his defense. Second, the indictment sets the parameters for the defendant’s closely related right to double-jeopardy protection, also set forth in the Fifth Amendment. That is, by stating the crime charged, the indictment enables the defendant to claim a double-jeopardy violation if the prosecutor attempts to try him a second time on the same offense.
“Here, the indictment fails to say what the crime is. Bragg says he is charging Trump with felony falsification of records, under Section 175.10 of New York’s penal code. To establish that offense, Bragg must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump caused a false entry to be made in his business records, and did so with an intent to defraud that specifically included trying to “commit another crime or aid or conceal the commission” of that other crime.
“Nowhere in the indictment does the grand jury specify what other crime Trump fraudulently endeavored to commit or conceal by falsifying his records. That is an inexcusable failure of notice. The indictment fails to alert Trump of what laws he has violated, much less how he violated them. If any prosecutor were ever daft enough in the future to accuse Trump of falsifying records to conceal, say, a federal campaign-finance crime, Bragg’s indictment would be useless for double-jeopardy purposes because it doesn’t specify what criminal jeopardy Trump is in. […]
“Moreover, [Bragg] alleges that Trump falsified his records to conceal ‘damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.’ But every one of the 34 acts that Bragg charges as felonies happened after the 2016 election — from February through December 2017. […]
“The nondisclosure arrangements are the only relevant events in the case that occurred before the 2016 election. They are not crimes, but Bragg is hellbent on accusing Trump of crimes, so he is left to suggest — because he cannot prove — that Trump skirted campaign-finance laws.
“Put aside, though, that Bragg does not have the nerve to actually charge the federal crimes he is coyly intimating. To show how moronic this is, let’s pretend that these hush-money deals were in-kind campaign expenditures, that Trump decided to regard them as such, and that Trump’s campaign disclosed them to the Federal Election Commission as Bragg’s fantasy version of the law mandated. Even if all that were true, the law would not have required the Trump campaign to disclose the expenditures until the next reporting period after they occurred, sometime months into 2017. That is, such disclosures would not possibly have influenced the 2016 election.
“What a disgrace.”
On April 4, 2023, Republican Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said that Bragg had used federal funds to bring his 34 charges against Trump. On April 5, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said that House Republicans wished to call Bragg before Congress in order to find out whether or not he had coordinated his actions with federal authorities before indicting Trump. Also during the first week of April 2023, Jordan subpoenaed former New York County Special District Attorney Mark Pomerantz and accused him of politicizing the investigation into Trump and encouraging Bragg to indict the former president.
On April 11, 2023, Bragg filed a lawsuit against Jordan and the House Judiciary Committee, demanding that a federal court invalidate the aforementioned subpoena of Pomerantz as well as any additional subpoenas which Jordan might issue to Bragg or his staffers, past or present. “He and his allies have stated they want the District Attorney to come to Capitol Hill to ‘explain’ himself and to provide ‘a good argument’ to Congress in support of his decision to investigate and prosecute Mr. Trump,” Bragg said of Jordan, arguing that the Judiciary Committee Chairman had “no legitimate legislative purpose” for subpoenaing Pomerantz.
In response to Bragg’s lawsuit, Jordan tweeted on April 11: “First, they indict a president for no crime. Then, they sue to block congressional oversight when we ask questions about the federal funds they say they used to do it.”
On April 12, 2023, journalist Margot Cleveland wrote in TheFederalist.com:
“Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg became the first prosecutor to bring criminal charges against a former president when he moved forward last week with the arraignment of Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records. The pathetic, barebones indictment was quickly denounced by pundits on both sides of the political aisle. Then on [April 7], the House Judiciary Committee raised additional concerns about the role Matthew Colangelo, the former No. 3 man in the Biden administration’s Department of Justice, played in the targeting of Trump. While Bragg’s hiring of Colangelo to reportedly ‘jump-start’ the investigation into Trump further indicates the indictment was politically motivated, the Manhattan D.A. office’s unprecedented use of outside, Democrat-connected lawyers to investigate Trump pre-dates Colangelo’s arrival by nearly a year.
“In early to mid-February of 2021, Bragg’s predecessor, District Attorney Cyrus Vance, arranged for private criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to be a special assistant district attorney for the Manhattan D.A.’s office. Pomerantz, whom The New York Times noted was to work ‘solely on the Trump investigation,’ took a temporary leave of absence from his law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison […] But even before being sworn in as a special assistant to the Manhattan D.A., Pomerantz had reportedly ‘been helping with the case informally for months…’
“A few months later, the D.A.’s office welcomed two more outsiders, Elyssa Abuhoff and Caroline Williamson, who also both took leaves of absence from the New York powerhouse Paul, Weiss to work on the Trump investigation as special assistant district attorneys.
“For a law firm to lend not one but three lawyers to the Manhattan D.A.’s office seems rather magnanimous, until you consider Paul, Weiss’s previous generosity to Joe Biden. During Biden’s White House run, the law firm hosted a $2,800-per-plate fundraiser for about 100 guests.
“The chair of the Paul, Weiss law firm, Brad Karp, also topped the list of Biden fundraisers, bundling at least $100,000 for the then-candidate. […] Karp’s support of the Democrat presidential ticket isn’t surprising given that his fellow Paul, Weiss partner Robert Schumer is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s brother.
“Biden’s connection to the firm, however, dates much further back, with the former secretary of homeland security in the Obama-Biden administration, Jeh Johnson, also heralding from Paul, Weiss. Once elected president, Biden nominated Jonathan Kanter, a former partner of Paul, Weiss, to serve as the top antitrust enforcement official at the Justice Department. In fact, according to Bloomberg, Paul, Weiss has “emerge[d] as Biden-Era N.Y. Power Center.”
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