If Rupert Murdoch used Fox personalities and programming to withhold information from the public to keep false convictions involving charlatan dog handler John Preston intact, the current investigation of his empire can’t be limited to invasions of privacy, nor can Scotland Yard be the only national law enforcement agency to undergo intense scrutiny. Our FBI has to be looked at just as hard for refusing to investigate public corruption that affects trial outcomes.
The post below comments on (and provides) unanswered emails to Geraldo Rivera concerning his 1984 exposé of John Preston, and originally appeared in my now defunct Progress Florida blog in June of 2009. More recent posts on Facebook Notes and this blog detail the FBI’s direct involvement with Preston.
Geraldo Rivera, Then And Now
By Susan Chandler on June 3, 2009 1:22 AM
Geraldo Rivera wasn’t one in a million journalists who would have liked to attend Gov. Charlie Crist’s December wedding; he was one of the reported 220 invited guests, according to St. Petersburg Times reporter Steve Bousquet’s December 12th “A (partial) Crist list of wedding guests.” [http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2008/12/a-partial-crist.html]
For a highly ambitious politician like Gov. Crist, 220 wedding guests is a very short list.
And why Rivera made it onto that short list is suspicious, as he had an alternate choice more in keeping with his chosen profession; a chance to update one of his successful decades-old exposés that had the potential to take the sting out his Al Capone secret vault fiasco.
In 1984, two years before his Capone catastrophe, Rivera successfully discredited self-proclaimed crime scene dog handler John Preston on ABC’s “20/20.” Preston testified nationwide, but probably nowhere more often than in Brevard County, Florida where he reportedly testified in at least 60 felony trials.
In December, the third upset conviction in the Brevard/Seminole district was all over the news; after 27 years of wrongful imprisonment, charges against Bill Dillon were dropped in light of DNA evidence.
On November 17th, the Innocence Project of Florida posted a video featuring Rivera’s work in discrediting Preston. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwF94oXsnvc]
Although Rivera troubled himself in 2006 to revisit his Capone clown act on FOX to proclaim it’s unmatched ratings, he doesn’t want to talk about John Preston on FOX, even though there are incarcerated men and their families, cross-country, waiting for him to step up, especially in Florida. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P84OKTUx6LY]
Being a on a eminent short list is more important than the lives of your fellow Americans, at least for FOX newsmen, who don’t mind being “the punch line of a million jokes,” Rivera’s own words.
It’s Gov. Crist’s job to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Brevard/Seminole and get to the bottom of every single one of Preston’s perjuries. No matter how many people in high places are willing to ignore that simple fact, it will never change. Below are a couple of unanswered e-mails addressed to Rivera that, along with his subservience to Crist, indicate that “atlarge” is a misnomer, Rivera’s the smallest of men.
From: Susan Chandler
Date: March 11, 2009 12:45:43 PM EDT
Subject: Request for comment
Dear Mr. Rivera:
Please comment on your disinterest in my e-mail of 2/28/09 (below). Thank you for your anticipated response.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Susan Chandler
Date: February 28, 2009 4:58:36 PM EST
Subject: John Preston still victimizing innocents (20/20 “Tracking the Tracker,” 1984)
Dear Mr. Rivera:
I am writing to ask that you do a follow-up story on John Preston, now deceased. Charges were recently dropped against Bill Dillon in Brevard County, FL after he spent 27 years in prison. Dillon’s was the third Brevard conviction involving Preston to be upset, preceded by Juan Ramos (1987) and Wilton Dedge (2004).
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Preston testified in at least 60 Brevard felony trials. The Innocence Project was involved in Dedge’s and Dillon’s winning their freedom. The three upset convictions revealed that in addition to Preston’s perjuries, the gentlemen had been more securely framed by the perjuries of coached jailhouse informants; Ramos/Gilmore, Dillon/Chapman, Dedge/Zacke. Dedge’s exoneration was the centerpiece of the Sundance award-winning documentary, After Innocence.
Clarence Zacke was used in to provide false testimony in at least one other trial. Hapless serial confessor (sworn opinion of Daytona Beach police officers) Gerald Stano was executed based on Zacke’s testimony – there was no forensic evidence against him. Prior to Stano’s execution, Zacke recanted, not knowing that the freelance reporter he was speaking to was taping the conversation, but knowing that the prison likely was.
Norm Wolfinger, one of Juan Ramos’ defenders, was elected as State Attorney in 1984 (Florida’s name for a District Attorney). Wolfinger publicly pretended no knowledge of Preston or informants, stating that he had come to office after Preston stopped testifying, omitting that his representation of Ramos brought him up to speed on both the bogus expert and snitches.
If nothing is done, other innocents convicted by Preston’s perjuries may die behind bars.
Please let me know by return e-mail if you will do another story on Preston’s victims. Thank you for your time, and thank you for exposing Preston so long ago.
Vero Beach, FL
Note to FOX: No matter how often you send camera crews to cruise with Brevard deputies for “Cops” episodes to reposition the department’s reputation, the fact remains that many of the arresting officers from the Preston days are still around to provide information on who he was called in to “investigate.” Stonewalling the Public Defender’s office isn’t law enforcement; it’s dereliction. And portraying dereliction as devotion to duty isn’t reality TV. It’s propaganda.