account of Piemonte's acquittal:
The jury deliberated three hours in federal court in Utica before finding Piemonte innocent of the felony charge of aiding and abetting a conspiracy to sell marijuana. A felony conviction would have automatically disbarred him from from the practice of law. Piemonte has two previous misdemeanor convictions -- for witness-tampering in 1999 and filing a false document with the IRS in 2001.
When the jury announced the verdict at 2 p.m., Piemonte patted the back of his lawyer, Edward Z. Menkin, then leaned his head on Menkin's shoulder and began to break into tears.
"This is without a doubt one of the most difficult things I've had to go through in my life," Piemonte said. "I just want to go back to work."
Piemonte, 56, a former prosecutor and village court judge, was accused last year of accepting $20,000 in cash from the three drug dealers in exchange for providing them with phony documents that they used to convince their marijuana supplier in Canada that their load had been seized by police.
Menkin told jurors the prosecution's case was based on three convicted criminals who'd concocted the story of a crooked lawyer to get reduced prison sentences.
Wow, talk about a bullet dodged! It's a rare thing these days to see a federal jury return a not guilty verdict. What remains to be seen is whether the feds will let this guy alone.