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Free Ryan Jerome, DA Vance!

Brooklyn Daily

Ryan Jerome, a jeweler from Indiana, is a model tourist. He investigates local law before making a trip, and then sticks to it like white on rice while spending his hard-earned cash on sightseeing and boosting the area’s economy.

But trying to do the right thing in the Big Apple can reap rotten returns. Jerome, a retired, third generation Marine, discovered as much on his first trip here last fall when he was arrested and jailed for attempting to check his licensed handgun at the Empire State Building. The entrepreneur, who had just established his business, was carrying the firearm because he had several thousand dollars worth of jewelry on him which he wanted to show a refiner in New York.

Jerome paid a steep price for his honesty. He was cuffed, slapped with life-altering gun possession charges, and hauled off to jail for two days while he tried to make bail. Now, he is facing a three-and-half-year prison term if indicted at his March 20 court date — unless Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance does the right thing by junking this trumped-up case altogether.

Jerome’s ordeal puts Vance’s crime-fighting chops on the chopping block. The prosecutor is an outspoken advocate of the city’s wacky gun amnesty program, which gives $200 to anyone surrendering an illegal firearm — without questions or fear of prosecution. Yet he’s made Jerome his whipping boy for our anti-gun laws, offering him a dubious plea deal only after the case sparked a national furor which www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Free-Ryan-Jerome/">produced a “Free Ryan Jerome” Facebook page.

Jerome rightfully rejected the offer, which would forever brand him a violent felon, because he is neither a criminal nor someone with an illegal gun.

Vance, who wouldn’t comment on the matter, has served better justice in worse cases. One that received his kid glove treatment is detailed in a Feb. 14 letter sent to his office by Jerome’s lawyer, Mark Bederow. It involves a man charged in 2009 with bringing a loaded gun to a Manhattan college campus, and then telling a witness that he had come to “shoot that motherf------ in the head.” “Nevertheless, in early 2011, on the motion of [District Attorney Vance], the case was dismissed and sealed,” writes Bederow.

Even at a cursory glance, the facts point to Jerome’s innocence and good faith. He tried to check his gun repeatedly, cooperated readily with law enforcement before and after his arrest, and even conducted “Google” searches on his cellphone before departing Indiana, leading him to believe that his carry permit was valid in New York.

“All the information was on my phone, the history was there,” Jerome told me.

This case could be the final nail in Cyrus Vance’s prosecutorial coffin. His skimpy skills have taken a serious beating since he took office two years ago. The two cops charged with rape, and the three construction supervisors charged in the deaths of firefighters in the 2007 Deutsche Bank blaze, were acquitted, while his rush to judgment in the sex assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn turned embarrassingly on its ear after it was found that the victim lied.

Vance must mend his tattered reputation if he is seeking another term. One easy way is by delivering swift justice to Ryan Jerome, whose only crime was acting with grace under fire — and then some.

Sabruzzo@cnglocal.com

Read Shavana Abruzzo's column every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com.

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Reader Feedback

Harold from Nevada says:
I am really glad that I live in a state where we do not have such stupid laws. This DA in NY needs to have his head examined and get down to the business of putting real criminals behind bars.

I have never been to NY and have never had any desire to visit NY. As far as I am concerned NY is a foreign country no better than a 3d world country.
Feb. 24, 2012, 1:21 pm
Gun-Weary from Heights says:
Your hyped-up views seems really wrong to me. As I understand it, state law says that someone who knowingly possesses a loaded gun serve 3 1/2 years unless the DA offers a lesser plea. "Innocence and good faith" have nothing to do with this case, where there is no issue that he knew he was in possession of a loaded gun. Vance has offered a lesser plea, to a misdemeanor with no jail, putting the lie to your assertion that the plea would "brand him a violent felon." It would not: he will have been convicted of a misdemeanor only, if he accepts. If he doesn't, then he risks a felony and jail. But Vance has done the right thing, and you should get your facts straight. And give me a break about the Google search - any gun owner, especially a Marine, knows better than to be so careless.
Feb. 24, 2012, 10:55 pm
BLD from Downtown says:
I guess gun weary would rather have the mutt from bed-stuy with an illegal piece of junk 9 mm than a marine who fought for his freedom sitting next to him on the train. Personally give me the marine and his out of state licensed gun anytime. You have got to be kidding! Vance is n amateur. The former DA would have let this case go away quietly out of the public eye without it having to be played out in the press or on Facebook. After all Morgenthau fought for his country while in the Navy during WWII. Vance fled Manhattan to Seattle to get out of daddy's shadow and, unfortunately returned to be crowned DA. And look at what he has done. He has fired over a dozen of the most senior, productive ADAs, given us the DSK fiasco, the prosecution and acquittals of the so-called "rape cops", the acquittal in one of the crane collapse cases soon to be followed by the acquittal in the one on trial now and the acquittal in the Deutsch Bank fire case. All in all a truly remarkable record for someone in office for two years. He should cut his losses on this one and dismiss it. Then the voters should throw him out next year.
Feb. 25, 2012, 12:29 am
Gun-Weary from Heights says:
You attacked Vance a lot (did he prosecute you or something?), but you didn't even address my points. The guy with the illegal piece of junk would have to do 3 1/2 years or more, but Vance has offered this former Marine a misdemeanor and no jail.
Feb. 25, 2012, 9:11 am
Christo from Elsewhere says:
It is still a conviction resulting in a criminal record, which will restrict him for the rest of his life. Whereas the Gun Amnesty program allows *criminals* to turn in weapons without *any* repercussion and actually *pays them*.

Did Jerome screw up? Sure. You're absolutely correct that a gun owner should take the time to properly look into laws of places they're traveling to, and quite frankly Googling it over a phone is a painful and ineffective way to do so.

However, there is clearly a disconnect here given the circumstances. I agree there is no need to attack Vance, but he does need to reconsider the level of his discretion in this case.
March 2, 2012, 9:21 am

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