Miami feds fight defense plan to question witnesses in Pakistan for South Florida terrorism case

October 22, 2012

The Miami Herald on October 21, 2012 released the following:

“Federal prosecutors are fighting the defense’s plan to question key witnesses in Pakistan in a Miami case accusing two South Florida Muslim clerics of aiding the Taliban.

BY JAY WEAVER []

Two South Florida Muslim clerics — a father and son separated by more than 50 years in age — are struggling to persuade a Miami federal judge to allow their lawyers to travel to Pakistan to question alleged Taliban sympathizers who might help their defense against terrorism charges.

Lawyers for Hafiz Khan and Izhar Khan, former imams of mosques in Miami and Margate, have already lost their first bid to travel with federal prosecutors to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to take depositions from five witnesses who do not want to come to Miami to testify at the upcoming trial.

Among the potential witnesses are two other Khan family members and another suspected Taliban supporter who were accused in the same case of conspiring to aid the Taliban with money and guns.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola rejected the defense’s initial deposition plan — which was strongly opposed by federal prosecutors — as “unsafe and impractical.” But Scola left open the possibility for the defense’s alternative: allowing the Khans’ lawyers to question the witnesses at a hotel such as the Marriott in Islamabad in a live, videotaped deposition with the prosecutors participating from Miami.

“If there is a way for you to take their deposition, I’m going to let you do it,” Scola said, setting the stage for a final hearing Oct. 29.

The clock is ticking, however, because the “material-support” trial that initially drew national headlines is scheduled for early January. Bottom line, the defense said: No deposition, no fair trial.

“These witnesses are so important if we’re going to have any defense,” Izhar Khan’s lawyer, Joseph Rosenbaum, told the judge. “Without [the deposition], we don’t have a shot.”

Rosenbaum argued that that the prosecutors oppose any deposition of the Pakistani witnesses because their testimony could poke holes in the government’s case, which is built on phone recordings of the Khan family’s alleged network of fundraising for the Taliban, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

He further argued that witnesses would provide “context” for the phone calls, proving that the defendants wired about $50,000 from Miami to Pakistan to aid schools and families in the embattled northwest territory known as the Swat Valley — not to fund the Taliban’s violence against the U.S. government interests in the region.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pat Sullivan and John Shipley said in court they were opposed to any deposition, even if it were taken at a modern hotel in Islamabad. They declined to say why at Thursday’s hearing.

In court documents, they opposed the defense’s initial deposition plan, saying Pakistan is dangerous and that the witnesses could not be questioned at the U.S. Embassy because of their involvement in the alleged crime of aiding the Taliban. A fourth witness for the defense, Noor Mohammed, is suspected of being a Taliban soldier, and a fifth is a Pakistani pharmacist who received some of the money transfers from Hafiz Khan’s foreign bank accounts.

On Thursday, the prosecutors called an FBI witness who served at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad over the past year to testify about the safety risks of taking the deposition there as well as outside the diplomatic zone.

In court papers, they argued: “The entirety of the government’s case against these defendants concerns the Pakistani Taliban’s hostility, animosity and lethality towards United States citizens.”

By contrast, Rosenbaum called two female professors from the University of Colorado and University of Illinois who testified that Islamabad was a modern city of diplomats, business people and relative wealth. The witnesses said the city would be safe for both prosecutors and defense attorneys to conduct the deposition in an off-site hotel.

But Scola kept raising the question about whether it would be safe for U.S. prosecutors to travel to Pakistan if the public knew the purpose of the trip: Gathering testimony for a high-profile terrorism trial in Miami against alleged Taliban supporters.

“The question is whether it is safe for prosecutors to go to Pakistan,” said Scola, who also noted the well-known case of a teenage girl, Malala Yousufzai, who was recently shot in the head by the Taliban to silence her because she advocated education for girls.

The Miami terrorism indictment was filed with much fanfare in May 2011. Prosecutors charged Hafiz Khan, 77, former imam of the Flagler Mosque in Miami; Izhar Khan, 25, the one-time leader of the Masjid Jammat Al-Mumineen mosque in Margate; his sister, Amina Khan; her son, Alam Zeb; and Ali Rehman with conspiring to provide financial support for the Taliban from 2008 to 2010.

In June of this year, prosecutors dropped the charges against the elder Khan’s son, Irfan Khan, a one-time Miami cab driver, without explanation. Khan, a 39-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, had been detained for almost a year before obtaining bail last April.

The FBI used a confidential informant, bank transfer records and more than 1,000 wiretapped phone calls to build the case against the Khan family and others.

In Pakistan, Hafiz Kahn’s daughter, Amina, and her son, Zeb, have said the federal case distorted the patriarch’s good deeds to help their family and relatives. Zeb, 20, said money sent from Miami was meant to repair a religious school founded by his grandfather and to help poor relatives rebuild houses damaged in fighting between the Pakistan army and the Taliban.

But the conspiracy indictment portrays Hafiz Khan as a talkative Muslim spiritual leader who solicited thousands of dollars from donors in the United States, directed family members to help disburse them and openly discussed deadly plots against foes who disagreed with strict Islamic law, or Sharia.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Alvaro Lopez Tardon, Fabiani Krentz, David William Pollack, and Vincente Orlando Cardelle Indicted by a Miami Federal Grand Jury for Conspiracy to Launder Over $26 Million in Drug Proceeds

July 15, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida on July 14, 2011 released the following:

“INTERNATIONAL DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING INDICTMENT UNSEALED

Wifredo Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce today the unsealing of an Indictment charging Alvaro Lopez Tardon of Miami Beach, Fabiani Krentz and David William Pollack of Miami and Artemio Lopez Tardon of Madrid, Spain, with a conspiracy to launder over $26 million in drug proceeds. Vincente Orlando Cardelle of Miami is also charged with bulk cash smuggling. This Indictment is being unsealed in conjunction with the arrests of numerous co-conspirators throughout Spain by the Spanish National Police.

It is alleged that Alvaro Lopez Tardon (Alvaro) and his brother Artemio Lopez Tardon (Artemio), through a network of contacts in Colombia and with the assistance of Alvaro’s right-hand man David William Pollack (Pollack), arranged for the laundering of proceeds from multi-hundred kilogram quantities of cocaine smuggled from Colombia to Spain. Once in Spain, the cocaine was processed and distributed and the drug proceeds collected by other co-conspirators. Artemio, who lives in Spain, would then send Alvaro’s money to the United States either by courier or via wire transfers. Once the money was in Miami, Fabiani Krentz (Krentz) and Pollack would assist Alvaro in laundering the money through the purchase of real estate and exotic automobiles. Conservatively, from 2004 to the present, it is alleged that Alvaro has received over $26,000,000 in drug proceeds from Spain.

On April 12, 2011, Vincente Orlando Cardelle, an associate of Alvaro, was stopped at Miami International Airport, on his way to Madrid, Spain and 21,605 euros believed to be proceeds from the sale of cocaine were seized from him.

The real estate purchased by Alvaro and his associates includes condos at 100 South Point Drive, Miami Beach, FL; 1000 South Point Drive, Miami Beach, FL; 1155 Brickell Bay Drive, Miami, FL; and 325 S. Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL.

The exotic automobiles include a Bugatti Veyron, a Ferrari Enzo, a Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57S, a Bentley Continental GT, an Aston Martin DB9, a Lamborghini Murceliago, a Lamborghini Gallardo, an Audi R8 and other Mercedes-Benz and BMWs.

If convicted, Alvaro, Artemio, Krentz and Pollack each face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. If convicted, Cardelle faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 5 years.

“International money launderers can no longer seek refuge behind jurisdictional barriers. The outstanding cooperation among international law enforcement agencies and governments leaves no place to hide for those who profit from the drug trade,” said United States Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.

“From the beaches of Miami to the shores of Spain, the fight against crime has no boundaries,” said Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies of the FBI Miami Division. “This is another outstanding example of an international partnership, this time with the Spanish National Police, that disrupted a major drug organization”.

This Indictment is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.

Mr. Ferrer and Mr. Gillies would like to commend the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Coral Gables Police Department, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, the Miami Police Department, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Miami Gardens Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the North Bay Village Police Department and the Spanish National Police for their assistance with this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tony Gonzalez and is before Judge Joan A. Lenard.

An Indictment is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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