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Monday, June 18, 2007

Plainfield and AG nominee Milgram

Anne Milgram, Gov. Corzine's nominee for Attorney General is, according to the Ledger, 'known for convictions in federal cases of foreign child, adult exploitation in labor and sex trade'.

Plainfield has some experience with the basis for Milgram's claim to fame.

In February 2002, as a result of good police work by the Plainfield Police Division, a sex-slavery operation at 1212 West Front Street was busted.

The story was sensational -- several underage Mexican girls were rescued from this particular 'stash house.'

Busts were made, trials held, sentences meted out.

But the good work of the Plainfield cops was pushed out of the picture in the rush by prosecutors and Federal officials to glom onto the publicity.

Reading the papers at the time, you would have thought we were the Keystone Cops, instead of the main actors in bringing justice to the situation.

While the shoving out of the picture by sharp-elbowed and publicity-hungry prosecutors is nothing new to cops on the beat, Plainfield was to be treated even more roughly over the incident.

On January 25, 2004, the New York Times Magazine featured a lurid writeup of the sex-slavery industry in the US and Mexico.

The lead into the story was the Plainfield bust of
1212 West Front Street.

The problem with this story was that the descriptive detail by the author, Peter Landesman, suggested that the writer himself had never even visited Plainfield.

As Public Information Officer at the time, Mayor McWilliams charged me with checking out Landesman's statements and handling a protest of the piece with the Times.

Though the Times' public editor and I went back and forth via email, the Times would never admit to Landesman's having fudged any part of his story.

However, Slate magazine's Jack Shafer got on the case, too. With millions of readers -- as opposed to a measly few thousand in Plainfield -- Slate got the Times' attention concerning Landesman's exaggerations and sloppiness.

I don't think Landesman has had a story published in the Times since. That's only right, by my lights.

But how does this connect with Anne Milgram?

One of my gripes with the Times was that if sex-slavery rings are as big as they are and as many thousands of girls are swept up in this net as is claimed, why are there so few investigations, prosecutions and convictions?

For years after the Plainfield incident, I would periodically get calls from national magazines who were doing sensationalistic stories on the topic and wanting to cite Plainfield. In every case I would ask them why they are picking up such an OLD story? Wasn't there anything newer in the entire national prosecutorial pipeline?

Sadly, it seems there wasn't much.

And this is when Anne Milgram was honchoing the pursuit of traffickers.

So, what exactly is her reputation in this regard based on?

-- Dan Damon

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