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ACCLAIMED FILMMAKER/BEST-SELLING AUTHOR KENNETH DEL VECCHIO PARTNERS WITH LEGENDARY U.S. ATTORNEY, JUDGE HERBERT STERN

By TEMPLE LI

Herbert Stern and Kenneth Del Vecchio have led storied careers.

Herbert Stern – as a prosecutor. A defense attorney. And as a judge. He’s also a published novelist, and the author of a series of legal books. But those are just titles.

Kenneth Del Vecchio is a filmmaker, author (novels and legal books), film festival chairman, former prosecutor, former judge, and a defense attorney. Again, these are just titles.

What these men have done with their titles is incredibly impressive. Details are coming.

Stern and Del Vecchio have now partnered up, in a writing and film project. One based upon Stern’s newest book, Diary of DA (Skyhorse Publishing). The pair’s legal ingenuity and writing flare – coupled with their similar moral compasses – has led to Del Vecchio adapting the book into a screenplay. And it’s a pretty damn exciting story, based upon Stern’s remarkable career.

Del Vecchio, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Empire State News, wrote the following in a book review of Diary of a DA this past winter:

Stern spearheaded the successful prosecutions of the real-life mafiosos who inspired the HBO hit series, The Sopranos. He brought down guys with names like Sam “The Plumber” DeCavalcante and Anthony “Tony Boy” Boiardo, whose father, Richie “The Boot” Boiardo, maintained an incinerator at his Livingston, NJ property so he could effectively dispose of mob-hit bodies. He also oversaw the prosecutions of mafia made men Anthony “Little Pussy” Russo and Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, the latter of which was Frank Sinatra’s cousin. 

On the government front, Stern shredded the most notorious of corrupted political machines. Not only did he ensure the convictions of the law-breaking mayors of Newark, Atlantic City, and Jersey City, but he broke the backs of their seemingly impenetrable behind-the-scenes bosses. Longtime Hudson County chieftain John V. Kenny was considered the most powerful – and most corrupt – political boss in New Jersey. His group heisted 10% of all monies paid for public contracts in Hudson County and extorted 3% of the salaries of municipal employees throughout the county. Stern ended their abusive operations. 

You see, Stern was the U.S. Attorney for the State of New Jersey in the early 1970s. His groundbreaking work not only was national news at the time, but it paved the way for other corruption-busting prosecutors. Stern is a legend in this field, and one who handled these historic prosecutions while only his 30s. At 37, he became the youngest Federal District Court judge in the U.S. Del Vecchio noted in his book review:

[This] resulted in even more notoriety for the ever-motivated legal stalwart. Presiding over the only case ever tried in an American court in the then-American occupied sector of West Berlin, Germany, Stern gained international acclaim through this 1986 trial and a book he authored about it, Judgment in Berlin. This first writing effort netted Stern a movie deal, as the book was adapted into a screenplay and produced into a feature film of the same title. Academy Award winner Martin Sheen played Stern in the movie, and Academy Award winner Sean Penn co-starred in the flick. Upon retiring from the bench at 50 (an age at which most lawyers do not even first-become federal judges), Stern launched one of New Jersey’s most fabled and respected criminal defense practices.

Stern also has authored volumes of legal books, including Trying Cases to Win, published by ABA Publishing. His advice on how to win, for sure, is sage – given the voluminous trial victories he obtained.

Del Vecchio proclaimed that Stern “is one of the most impressive individuals I have ever met, seen, or read about. I’m blown away by his accomplishments. And I couldn’t put his book down. It will make an amazing movie.”

The titles that Del Vecchio owns also have netted rather impressive accomplishments. Still in his 40s, Del Vecchio is an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Anchor Bay, Millennium Entertainment, Cinedigm, Screen Media Films, Vivendi Entertainment, Green Apple Entertainment, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. Del Vecchio is founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.” He also is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journals. A best-selling criminal suspense novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. In addition, he is a regular legal analyst on Fox News and i24, and he is the owner of the Criminal Law Learning Center, where he has taught thousands of police officers and lawyers…And he is a former judge, who also has tried over 400 cases as a practicing criminal attorney.

The pair share more than just legal and writing successes. They also hold a common bond in their pursuits to seek justice. Stern and Del Vecchio believe that the great majority of elected officials and law enforcement officers, at all levels, are honest men and women, who are acting in the best interests of Americans, in legislating, reviewing, and upholding laws—with thoughtfulness and fairness. This fundamental belief is what causes them to be so highly concerned with those who abuse their positions of power.

The worst act of injustice to Stern and Del Vecchio: when law enforcement misuses its power and falsely charges individuals or otherwise engages in illegal investigations. With experiences and relationships that run as deep as possible, these two men have protections and mechanisms to thwart such misconduct—and ensure legal punishment for those who violate these scared grounds.

Del Vecchio considers himself pragmatic in this regard. He details his thoughts about this issue in another Empire State News article, ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE RESULTING IN HARSH CONSEQUENCES FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AT ALL LEVELS.

And as for the Diary of a DA book-to screenplay-to movie project currently ongoing with Stern and Del Vecchio, it is anticipated that the script will be done by the end of the summer. But it may not be a movie; instead, it may be a TV mini-series or even a yearly series. Del Vecchio says that the book has so much rich material that there are multiple viable options, with many suitors. As Del Vecchio wrote in his book review:

Diary of a DA, by Herbert Stern, is a thought-provoking, educational, highly interesting and entertaining literary work. It belongs on the must-read list for anyone who enjoys crime genre books, and for anyone who simply likes a good, inspirational story. 

Well, soon, it will be on the must-watch list.

Temple Li is the news editor for Empire State News, where she frequently authors her own editorials (just because she feels like it). She graduated at the top of her class at a mediocre college, infuriating her professors with her conservative wit and sultry charm. Empire State News allows Ms. Li to make a living, and to have a platform to tell people what she thinks. What could be better than that?

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