Bertram L. Podell

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Bertram L. Podell
Bertram L. Podell.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th district
In office
February 20, 1968 – January 3, 1975
Preceded byAbraham J. Multer
Succeeded byStephen J. Solarz
Member of the New York State Assembly
In office
January 1, 1955 - February 20, 1968
Preceded byThomas A. Dwyer
Succeeded bySidney A. Lichtman
Personal details
Bertram Lawrence Podell

(1925-12-27)December 27, 1925
Brooklyn, New York
DiedAugust 17, 2005(2005-08-17) (aged 79)
New York City, New York
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Bernice (Bunny) Posen
Alma materSt. John's University
Brooklyn Law School

Bertram Lawrence "Bert" Podell (December 27, 1925 – August 17, 2005) was an American politician who served in the New York State Assembly for six terms and part of a seventh, and was a member of the United States House of Representatives from New York for part of one term and three full terms.

Personal life[edit]

Podell was born on December 27, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York,[1] the oldest of three children born to Hyman Podell and Henriette Menaker Podell. The family name was originally Podolsky. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School, joined the United States Navy for World War II, and served from 1944 until 1946.[2] Podell graduated from St. John's University in 1947 and Brooklyn Law School in 1950.[3]

Professional and political career[edit]

Podell practiced in New York City, and specialized in real estate law.[4]

In 1954, he ran for the New York State Assembly; he defeated incumbent Thomas A. Dwyer in the Democratic primary, and went on to defeat Republican Irving Kornblum and two other candidates to win the general election.[5] He served from 1955 to 1968, sitting in the 170th, 171st, 172nd, 173rd, 174th, 175th, 176th and 177th New York State Legislatures.[6]

Podell was elected as a Democrat to the 90th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Abraham J. Multer. He was re-elected to the 91st, 92nd and 93rd United States Congresses, holding office from February 20, 1968 to January 3, 1975.[7]

Criminal charges and election loss[edit]

In 1973, Podell was charged with bribery for allegedly accepting money to arrange approval of a route to The Bahamas for a small Florida-based airline.[8] While under indictment, he was defeated in the 1974 Democratic primary by Stephen J. Solarz, who went on to win the general election.[9]

Podell's case was one of the first that brought public attention to Rudolph Giuliani, then a prosecutor in the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.[10] Podell's trial took a dramatic turn when Giuliani aggressively cross-examined him, causing him to lose his composure and ask for a recess, after which he agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy and conflict of interest. Podell and co-defendant Martin Miller later attempted to withdraw their guilty pleas, but their motion was denied; Podell was sentenced to a $5,000 fine and 24 weeks in prison, of which he served 18. Podell and Miller unsuccessfully appealed their convictions.[11][12][13]

Podell was disbarred by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division because of his conviction, but then re-instated in 1980 after a New York State law was passed in 1979 made it possible for lawyers to retain their licenses if they were convicted under federal law for crimes which were not considered felonies under state law. Afterwards, Podell continued to practice law until shortly before his death.[2]


Podell died in New York City on August 17, 2005. He was survived by his wife Bunny; two sons, Stephen D. Podell and Gary A. Podell; a daughter, Ellen T. Crown; two brothers, Paul N. Podell and Herbert S. Podell; and five grandchildren.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New York Red Book. Albany, N.Y.: Williams Press. 1977. p. 200.
  2. ^ a b Stone, Kurt F. (2011). The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 238–240. ISBN 978-0-8108-5731-5.
  3. ^ Stone, Kurt F. (2000). The Congressional Minyan: The Jews of Capitol Hill. Brooklyn, N.Y.: KTAV Publishing House. p. 385.
  4. ^ "Convicted Politician Bertram Podell, 79". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. August 22, 2005.
  5. ^ "Dems Retain all but One of Boro Seats in Legislature". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY. November 3, 1954. p. 7.
  6. ^ CQ Weekly Report. 26. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly. 1968. p. 956.
  7. ^ "Politics and Politicians: Biography, Bertram Podell". M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives. State University of New York at Albany. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  8. ^ Associated Press (July 13, 1973). "Democratic Congressman is Indicted". Herald-Journal. Spartanburg, S.C. p. A5.
  9. ^ Kornacki, Steve (November 30, 2010). "Steve Solarz (1940-2010) and the Making of Senator Schumer". Washington, D.C.
  10. ^ The Political Scene: Mayberry Man: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
  11. ^ Associated Press (December 30, 1960). "New York Democrat Enters Guilty Plea". Montana Standard. p. 14.
  12. ^ "United States of America, Appellee, v. Bertram L. Podell and Martin Miller, Appellants, 519 F.2d 144. Nos. 866, 875, Dockets 75-1019, 75-1030". Court Listener. June 24, 1975.
  13. ^ Associated Press (January 10, 1975). "Ex-Lawmaker is Sentenced". Toledo Blade. p. 8.
  14. ^ Wolfgang, Saxon (August 19, 2005). "Bertram Podell, Ex-Congressman, Dies at 79". The New York Times.


New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Thomas A. Dwyer
New York State Assembly
Kings County, 21st District

Succeeded by
district abolished
Preceded by
new district
New York State Assembly
53rd District

Succeeded by
William J. Giordano
Preceded by
Stanley Steingut
New York State Assembly
44th District

Succeeded by
Sidney A. Lichtman
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Abraham J. Multer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
Stephen J. Solarz