Posted Saturday, August 12, 2000

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London, August 11, 2000


Broker 'conspired to kill judge'

By Philip Delves Broughton in New York


A NEW York broker charged with fraud allegedly conspired to murder the city's toughest woman judge in the hope that a replacement would prove more lenient.

Justice Leslie Crocker Snyder of the Manhattan Supreme Court, renowned for handing down harsh sentences, was the target of an alleged conspiracy organised by Stuart Winkler, who stands accused of swindling investors of over £60 million.

Winkler, 47, the former chief financial officer with A S Goldman Securities, allegedly offered money to a fellow inmate at the Manhattan House of Detention to have Mrs Snyder killed. He believed that a different judge would be easier on him and reduce his £650,000 bail to a more manageable sum, prosecutors alleged.

The would-be hit man, however, allegedly decided to tell on Winkler and claims to have recorded him telling him: "Do it. It's a done deal. Don't worry about it. Just don't get caught." A transcript of the conversation was read out in court by prosecutors.

Winkler will now be kept in total isolation until his trial. With her shoulder-length blonde hair Judge Snyder, 58, is hardly the classic courtroom terror. For the drug dealers and swindlers who are led through her court, however, she is a nightmare in black.

Her nicknames range from the obvious, Ice Princess, to Judge 232 - the number of years she gave to the head of a Jamaican drug gang, the Jheri Curls. To a murderer whom she recently convicted to 75 years to life, she said: "I hope you will suffer every day of your life."

As she sentenced nine members of the Wild Cowboys crack gang in 1995, she called them "unfit to live" before putting one of them away for 158 years. She once sentenced a paralysed drug dealer to 175 years for shooting a police officer in the arm.

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