Nearly eighteen years ago, the day O.J. Simpson was acquitted, the feds began their attempt to train me as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. One of the first things my supervisor told me was never to flash my modest federal prosecutor badge for any private purpose. That's an automatic 60-day unpaid vacation, she said.
I was a little insulted. What kind of moron has to be told that? What sort of self-involved twit uses a prosecutor's badge for private gain?
So: in my years as a federal prosecutor I never used my badge to intimidate or impress or harass, and therefore never got that 60-day unpaid leave. I did once absent-mindedly use it as identification while checking in for a flight. I realized my mistake and ran to the bathroom and hyperventilated for ten minutes. It's possible I'm not cut out for a life of crime.
But they gave us those stern warnings for a reason. Prosecutors are human, some of them are morons, and some of them abuse their badge for silly things like drunkenly demanding a free hot dog.
Case in point: Ari Pregen.
Ari Pregen was, until recently, a Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney. Not anymore. Pregen has been fired. Pregen, witnesses claimed and an investigation determined, flashed his badge for personal purposes.
This invokes what I call the Gary Hart Rule: some behavior does not merely show bad character. It displays a level of stupidity so alarming as to render the bad character secondary. It raises a serious question as to whether emergency personnel should be rushed to the scene to equip the subject with a ventilator in case he forgets to breathe.
Doubling down, Pregen denied misusing his badge, only to be confronted with photographic proof:
According to a termination letter written by Salomon, Pregen "denied having engaged in any inappropriate conduct and denied violating any office policies." However, his bosses subsequently received additional information from Levy such as a still image of Pregen flashing his badge inside Goldrush. Levy also told Mansfield that, despite being told not to return to the club, Pregen visited Goldrush February 2 "and repeated the unbecoming conduct."
On February 8, for the second time in two days, Pregen falsely denied acting a fool and abusing his position. "Because we had proof that Mr. Pregen's assertions were false and we found his statements not to be credible, Mr. Pregen was terminated," Salomon wrote.
By now you may be thinking that Ari Pregen is a pathetic figure, and that I'm rubble-bouncing.
Before you decide, consider this: Ari Pregen was the prosecutor who pursued photographer-rights activist and Photography Is Not A Crime blogger Carlos Miller — unsuccessfully. Ari Pregen is the one who argued this:
A real journalist, he explained, was supposed to follow police orders without a second thought. A real journalist would never back talk to police. A real journalist would never question a direct police order as to why he was not allowed to stand on a public sidewalk.
Character is destiny, you statist thug.