[cifnmedia] Firefighter Convicted of Theft From Ground Zero

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2004 10:41:01 -0800 (PST)

Former Firefighter Convicted of Theft From Ground Zero



NY Post

SAMUEL BRANDON Took Ground Zero items.
Courtesy of The New York Post

It wasn't exactly a scene out of "Twelve Angry Men" - a juror put his arm 
around a former firefighter and apologized to him yesterday minutes after he 
helped convict him of filching personal items from the smoldering ruins of the 
World Trade Center. 

"You were a fireman and went in there, and we know it was hard. That was a 
tough place to volunteer," the juror told Samuel Brandon after he convicted him 
on nine of 11 petit-larceny counts for stealing items from the site of the 9/11 

Brandon, 60, spent five months helping with the recovery effort at Ground Zero. 

During that time, prosecutors charged he helped himself to several souvenirs 
from the scene, including seven WTC ID cards. 

One of the ID cards belonged to equity salesman Michael Costello, 27, and 
another belonged to Port Authority property manager Robert Lynch, 44. Both were 
killed in the terror attacks. 

"The defendant knew he couldn't take these things," prosecutor Judy Salwen said 
in her closing arguments. "This was not a place for beachcombers and souvenir 
hunters. It's obvious the defendant wanted to brag about these items and wait" 
for them to become valuable collectibles, she said. 

Defense lawyer Ronald Kliegerman argued that Brandon didn't think he was 
stealing anything. 

"He volunteered to dig in the mud for hours," Kliegerman said "Do you think he 
was trying to demean the memory of these people? Never." 

After four hours of deliberations, the four-woman, two-man jury sided with 
Salwen's legal arguments - and also with Kliegerman's portrait of his client. 

Four of the jurors said afterward they hope Brandon won't receive any jail time 
for the misdemeanor crime. 

One of the female jurors went as far as to say charges should not have been 
brought against Brandon. She said she thought his work at the site had affected 
his mental state. "I just feel that it's just unfortunate that a series of 
events led to this," said the juror, who asked not be identified. He's 
"intrinsically a decent human being," she said. "There's nothing to suggest 

Another male juror agreed that charges shouldn't have been brought, and accused 
cops and prosecutors of "trying to make a career out of this case." 

A third male juror said he was "following the letter of the law" when he found 
Brandon guilty, and that he had a hard time doing so because Brandon had "spent 
a lifetime of service" in the Fire Department. 


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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