Sorry, no tax breaks in prison

There’s no escaping surcharges and fees – not even inside a prison.

So those living in cells behind razor wire often have only their inmate funds to pay off the hundreds of dollars they owe in mandatory surcharges and crime victim assistance fees.

Some prisoners ask judges to convert the money they owe into a civil judgment, allowing them to keep more of the money they earn in prison making license plates or whatever.

In other words, they’ll never pay.

So chances are not good a judge will grant the request, as one defendant learned this week as he stood before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller.

The offender was about to head off to prison on a drug conviction, and he asked for the civil judgment.

“You’re a prisoner,” Boller replied. “You’re in New York State. We all pay taxes. Welcome to New York State.”

Request denied.

An epic stretch of the truth

We’re hearing a lot about truth in political ads these days. How about truth in sports ads?

A spot airing on the Fan 590 radio station in Toronto promotes the Bills-Seahawks game on Dec. 16 at Rogers Centre as “an epic NFL gridiron battle between East and West.”


We’re talking about the 3-4 Bills and 4-3 Seahawks. The teams do not even play in the same conference.

We’ll give them points for accuracy on geography. And instead of trying to sell us on the future Hall of Famers participating in this historic clash, the ad trumpets the fact that more than 60 percent of the seats sell for under $100 this time around.

Sounds like an epic price break.

Is battle boosting Grisanti?

Where’s the pollster on this one?

For a time, it looked like the kind of incident certain to end Mark Grisanti’s short career in the Senate. But the North Buffalo Republican insists his participation in an all-out brawl at the Seneca Nation’s Niagara Falls casino last winter is not getting push-back on the campaign trail.

“Actually, people who brought it up said they would have done the same thing,” Grisanti said of the episode that featured accusations of punching, hair pulling and head smashing. While accounts differ widely about who started the fight, Grisanti said that he was coming to the aid of his wife, who had been hit first by some bar patrons.

“I think it’s appreciated. Nobody has said to me, ‘I’m not voting for you because of that fight at the casino.’ They’ve said the opposite, that it took guts to stick up for your wife and that you must have known you were a New York state senator yet you still went and protected your family,’ ’’ Grisanti said.

Siena College, which recently polled the 60th Senate race, did not ask likely voters if they have any lasting worries – or praises – about the fight.

It’s all in the evidence

In murder cases in which defendants deny the accusation, defense lawyers often keep clients off the witness stand.

Better to force the prosecution to prove its case than to let a client sink his or her defense with an ill-chosen answer during cross-examination.

Edward McCloud took the stand.

He faced a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a liquor store owner last November during a Cheektowaga home invasion.

He denied any part of the crime.

But McCloud’s DNA was found on several items connected to the home invasion and homicide.

A forensic biologist walked jurors through how much was found on the recovered duct tape and gloves.

McCloud did not have much to say about that evidence.

“I don’t know anything about any DNA,” he testified.

The prosecutor had plenty to say.

“He says, ‘I don’t know anything about DNA,’ ” prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable said at the end of the trial. “I bet he does now.”

Jurors convicted McCloud.

By Patrick Lakamp with contributions from Matthew Glynn and Tom Precious.