CBA Record March-April 2020


REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS! Y ou think you know about Operation Greylord? As U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole writes in his foreword: “For all those who believe they already know the story of Greylord, “Where’s Mine,” is a real eye opener.” In Where’s Mine , Judge Charles P. Kocoras delivers a glimpse inside the world that gave rise to Operation Greylord. Not the head- lines, nor what was covered by mainstream media, but rather a street-level view of the characters involved. Kocoras leverages his unique knowledge of Operation Greylord, having presided over the first major Greylord trial of Judge John Murphy in May 1984. While the names of the players are fictional, the reader can sense the authenticity in the dialog and events that could only be provided by someone with intimate knowledge of the operation. “Where’s mine” is an expression that symbolizes the corrupt exchange of money between the lawyers and judges targeted in Operation Greylord. Kocoras takes us into private rooms and judge’s chambers to see how suspects conducted their various brib- ery schemes, how they were questioned by undercover agents and in some cases flipped for the prosecution. The first chapter introduces us to attorney Saul Spencer, one of the fictional attorneys at the center of the story, who represents the archetype of the lawyers exposed by Operation Greylord. Through dialog with his drug dealing client Mo Sands, we hear how Saul negotiates with him for an additional $50,000 to ensure that the case against Sands is dismissed by the judge. Spoiler alert – it is. Kocoras dives deep into the underlying motivations for these corrupt lawyers and judges. Kocoras writes of Saul, “[t]he pursuit of lofty goals befitting all of society gave way to the attainment of high fees from clients . . . Idealism was replaced by mercantilism, and at some point, winning cases in whatever way possible and getting paid were all that really mattered.”We learn first-hand how the process of taking bribes is started and then cemented as standard operating procedure. Kocoras also explores the many personal

Where’s Mine

and ethical challenges members of Opera- tion Greylord faced. Because the operation involved fabricating criminal activity and filing fake cases, every lawyer involved risked losing their law license for lying to the court. We are taken inside meetings with the U.S. Attorney discussing strategies for the opera- tion. We hear how the Greylord team had to overcome concerns that the operation should not move forward because the strategy of using fake cases was the same as the failed ABSCAM operation years earlier. We listen as they convince the U.S. Attorney General to allow the operation to continue. Leading up to the first major trial, Opera- tion Greylord involved over three and a half years of investigations. Kocoras explores the personal challenges of long-undercover agents forming close personal relationships with their targets and then having to betray them. We watch as Peter Theos, a prosecutor who goes undercover, becomes close personal friends with Roger Flynn, a criminal attorney who takes Peter under his wing to teach him how things work.They become very close and Peter struggles with his fondness for Roger, while knowing that he will be responsible for Roger’s prosecution. In Kocoras’s first book – May It Please the Court – about the exceptional trial career of Dan Webb, there is a chapter on Greylord where he quotes Webb’s early assessment of the operation. Operation Greylord will be viewed “as one of the most comprehensive, intricate, and difficult undercover projects ever undertaken by a law enforcement agency.” With “Where’s Mine,” we gain a realistic and practical understanding of the corrup- tion schemes, the challenges of developing evidence and winning convictions at trial. Students of Chicago legal history or the law enforcement investigative process will find Kocoras’s fictional account of Operation Greylord provides another layer of under- standing and appreciation for the magnitude of the effort to end corruption in the courts. Operation Greylord resulted in the indict- ment of 92 people. Of those, 17 were judges and 15 of those were convicted.

By Charles P. Kocoras Chicago’s Books Press, an imprint of Chicago’s Neighborhoods, Inc., 2019 228 pages. Reviewed by Peter Mierzwa

Peter Mierzwa is a member of the CBARecord Editorial Board and a Group Vice President at Law Bulletin Media.


Made with FlippingBook Publishing Software