At age 34 in 1971, Herbert J. Stern felt overwhelmed when he was appointed the chief federal prosecutor for the district of New Jersey. His task was to take down the Mob and state politicians on the take. Easy, right?
Stern went after New Jersey government officials taking kickbacks and bribes. Among his convictions against 100 Garden State officials, Stern unmasked Newark’s mayor Hugh Addonizio. Later, as a federal judge, he presided over a precedent-setting case involving an airplane hijacking in West Berlin.
Kevin Kenerly brings a no-nonsense delivery and his deep voice to this story of the law triumphing over corruption.
A gripping inside account of the mechanisms of law and order.
In 1961, 25-year-old Herbert Jay Stern, fresh from reserve duty, stood in his green army uniform in a New York County courtroom to be sworn in as an attorney. He could only guess what his life as a prosecuting lawyer would be. A dozen years later, in the wake of the national scandal of Watergate, Stern, draped in black robes now, would take the oath of office as a federal judge. In the years between, the idealistic young Stern would sharpen his skills in the realities of the criminal courts of New York City, to emerge as the lead trial attorney for the Justice Department, charged with breaking the back of organized crime in New Jersey. Stern’s highly charged account of his outright war against powerful state government officials and the mafia takes us deep inside the mechanisms of law and order during a time when assassinations came fast and loose, cities were burning in race riots, and racketeering and graft were so prevalent in the Garden State that its own senator called it a "stench in the nostrils and an offense to the vision of the world".
Before Stern and his equally dedicated colleagues on the "strike force" out of Washington, D.C., are finished, they will have successfully prosecuted the mayors of Jersey City, Newark, and Atlantic City for being on the take; a congressman for conspiracy, tax violations, and perjury; and blackened the eye of organized crime.
One of the modern era’s best trial lawyers give a bird’s eye account of just how corrupt New Jersey was and how he cleaned it up. Well told by a master storyteller. A gem.