Bruno trial ready for February

May 30, 2012

TimesUnion.com on May 30, 2012 released the following:

“Jury selection for second trial of ex-Senate majority leader set to begin Feb. 4 in Albany

By Brendan J. Lyons

ALBANY — The second criminal trial of former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno is scheduled to begin in February.

A federal judge on Tuesday met with federal prosecutors and Bruno’s defense attorneys for the first time since Bruno was indicted May 3 on two felony mail fraud charges. The attorneys discussed the scheduling of pre-trial motions, and the judge set a Feb. 4 trial date.

Bruno is charged with depriving the state of his honest services by allegedly using his political leverage to benefit a business associate and friend, Jared E. Abbruzzese of Loudonville.

Bruno’s dealings with Abbruzzese led to a conviction on two counts of honest services fraud at Bruno’s first trial, which ended in December 2009. The law used to convict Bruno was later retooled by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared honest services convictions must include allegations of a bribe or kickback, and Bruno’s conviction was vacated last fall.

A mid-level appeals court in Manhattan rejected Bruno’s arguments that he not face a second trial. The panel ruled there was enough evidence to support a new indictment, and the court ruled federal prosecutors could seek new charges on a theory that Bruno had received kickbacks.

Bruno, 83, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting in the chambers of U.S. District Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe, according to court minutes.

In May 2010, Sharpe sentenced Bruno to two years in prison for his conviction on two of the eight counts of honest services fraud contained in the earlier indictment. The sentence was vacated after Bruno’s 2009 conviction was overturned.

The new indictment alleges Bruno received $440,000 in payments from Abbruzzese that were “disguised as ‘consulting’ payments and $80,000 in payments for a virtually worthless horse.”

The investigation of Bruno, called Operation Green Pastures, began in late 2005 when FBI agents started examining his use of private jet aircraft supplied by Abbruzzese, his horse-breeding partner. Abbruzzese flew Bruno to Kentucky horse country, New York City and exclusive Florida golf resorts — including trips that were largely bankrolled by Abbruzzese.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.


John Edwards Prosecutors Face Decision Time on Whether to Call Mistress

May 9, 2012

ABC News on May 9, 2012 released the following:

By JAMES HILL, BETH LOYD and RUSSELL GOLDMAN

“The prosecution of John Edwards is near the end of its case, raising questions by observers: have they succeeded in tying Edwards’ mistress cover up to campaign funds, and will the mistress — Rielle Hunter — be called by the prosecution.

The court expects to find out by the end of today whether prosecutors will call Hunter to the stand. The prosecution has said it intends to wrap up its case by Thursday.

Before Hunter is called, the jurors can expect to hear today from Jennifer Palmieri, a former Edwards aide who was a close confidante of Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who has since died of cancer.

Palmieri was present when Elizabeth Edwards confronted her husband’s wealthy backer Fred Baron and Baron’s wife in 2007 over their support and friendship with Hunter. According to pretrial motions, John Edwards was present at that meeting.

The bigger issue, however, is whether Hunter will be called by prosecutors.

“There is one person who seems to be at the center of all of this, these spinning planets, and that’s Rielle Hunter,” Steve Friedland, professor of law at Elon University, told ABC News.

But there is a risk in calling Hunter.

“She can tie it together for them. Of course, what’s come out, she may be unreliable and who knows what she might say on the witness stand,” Friedland said.

And there are risks of not calling her.

“If they don’t call her, she will probably be called by the defense. So, in all likelihood, they will have to call her given that she is the glue here. The jury may figure, why are they not calling her?” Friedland said.

What the prosecution would want Hunter to confirm is that the cover up “was about the campaign and not just a private matter,” Friedland said.

“She’s the witness who can provide first hand knowledge. She’s dangerous for the prosecution, but sometimes you don’t get to choose your own witnesses. You have to call who’s available,” he said.

Kieran Shanahan, a former prosecutor who has been in court every day of the trial, believes the prosecution’s hand will be forced.

“I still believe, as a practical matter, the government will call Miss Hunter, and if they don’t, then certainly the defense will,” Shanahan told ABC News.

The prosecution still has to complete its case, he said, that Edwards violated federal campaign finance rules during his run for the presidency by using nearly $1 million funnelled to him to hide Hunter and her pregnancy.

Edwards claims the money was used to hide the girlfriend from his wife, not the government.

If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“I think the government, to bring the case home, is going to have to nail cleanly that Edwards knew what he was doing was wrong,” Shanahan said.

Both lawyers said that the testimony of many of the prosecution’s witnesses helped the defense as well as the prosecution.

“What helped the government was that he admitted that he knew money was going from Fred Baron to his daughter Quinn… But did he accept it for the campaign or to help his daughter? That is still an open issue,” Friedland said.

“Tying this to the campaign…. that hiding the money was hiding it because he didn’t want it attached to the campaign. It’s this kind of relationship that has to be bridged. Right now, the bridge is not built completely and this is called reasonable doubt,” Friedland said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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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.


Accused Underpants Bomber Wasn’t Read Rights, FBI Agent Says

September 15, 2011

The San Francisco Chronicle on September 14, 2011 released the following:

“Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) — The man accused of the Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane with explosives hidden in his underpants wasn’t told he had a right to remain silent when interviewed by U.S. investigators, an FBI agent testified.

“We had to find out who he was in contact with,” Timothy Waters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds in Detroit today. “We felt there were other planes in the air with suicide bombers.”

The defendant, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself, has said agents improperly questioned him in a hospital while he was under the influence of the painkiller fentanyl. Abdulmutallab, who was hospitalized with burns following the incident, also said the U.S. failed to read him his rights.

Abdulmutallab has asked the court to throw out statements he made to U.S. agents after being taken into custody. The U.S. has said that Abdulmutallab wasn’t impaired by drugs and that concerns for public safety required agents to question him immediately, before advising him of his rights.

Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew members, originated in Amsterdam and was approaching Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009, when Abdulmutallab tried to detonate the explosives, according to prosecutors. He set fire to his clothes and a wall before passengers subdued him, prosecutors said.

Abdulmutallab, a 24-year-old native of Nigeria, faces eight criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He has pleaded not guilty and faces a possible life sentence if convicted. His trial is set for Oct. 4.

Edmunds didn’t decide today whether the statements will be admitted. The hearing will continue tomorrow.

Jury selection for the trial began today with Edmunds giving about 250 prospective jurors a questionnaire.

Osama bin Laden “is alive,” Abdulmutallab said when he entered the courtroom, as prospective jurors watched on a monitor. He leaned back in his chair and put his right foot on the table in front of him, removing it after getting a glare from the lawyer assisting him.

The defendant, who was dressed in a white T-shirt and black pants, complained about being forced to wear prison clothing. He later put on an unbuttoned shirt over the T-shirt.

‘Al-Qaeda’

Abdulmutallab told U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers immediately following the airplane incident that “he had detonated an explosive device hidden in his underwear, and that he had been acting on behalf of al-Qaeda,” prosecutors said in court papers Aug. 26.

Abdulmutallab was sent to a hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was treated for burns and given fentanyl, the U.S. said. FBI agents were assured by medical staff that the amount of the painkiller he received “would not render him incommunicative or unable to understand them,” the U.S. said.

“Once it became clear to the agents that what was under way was in fact an act of terrorism that could have been a part of a coordinated, multipronged attack similar to 9/11, it was lawful and appropriate for the agents to ask questions intended to respond to the imminent threat to public safety posed by the defendant and any possible confederates or co-conspirators,” prosecutors said in the Aug. 26 filing.

Not Overmedicated

The defendant wasn’t overmedicated and was able to respond to agents’ questions, a nurse testified at today’s hearing.

“He didn’t appear to be high on fentanyl,” Julia Longenecker, a treating nurse at the hospital, testified. When asked whether the fentanyl affected the defendant, she replied: “No, I don’t think so.”

Abdulmutallab’s statements to the U.S. should be rejected because the U.S. used coercive means to obtain them, Anthony Chambers, the defendant’s standby counsel, said in court filings. Abdulmutallab fired his court-appointed attorneys last year and is representing himself. He’s being aided by Chambers, who has filed pretrial motions on the defendant’s behalf.

Hospital staff advised federal agents that Abdulmutallab “could not be legally interviewed for four to six hours after administering the fentanyl,” Chambers argued in court papers. “Abdulmutallab was heavily sedated and semiconscious when he was interviewed by the federal agents and made the statements.”

‘Coercive Activity’

The agents’ interviews while Abdulmutallab was on medication constituted “coercive activity,” Chambers said in a filing dated Sept. 1. “Abdulmutallab lacked the cognitive ability to terminate the questioning and to know when to refuse to answer the question.”

Edmunds today denied a separate motion by the defendant asking to change the location of the trial. Abdulmutallab said extensive media coverage had created an “environment of hostility” toward him.

“The publicity in this case has been largely impartial reporting on the public court proceedings and motions,” Edmunds wrote. Because the jury questionnaire and scheduled questioning of prospective jurors “will fully expose any prejudice from pretrial publicity, a change of venue is not warranted at this time,” she said.

The case is U.S. v. Abdulmutallab, 10-cr-20005, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).

–Editors: Michael Hytha, Andrew Dunn”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch 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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions 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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Magistrate Judges: “Indispensable Resource” for Federal Courts

June 21, 2011

The U.S. Courts – The Third Branch in June 2011 released the following:

“U.S. magistrate judges have been essential to federal court operations for decades, but in fiscal year 2010, their contributions reached new heights as they handled more than 1 million matters.

“Magistrate judges are an indispensable resource,” said Judge George King (C.D. Calif.), who chairs the Judicial Conference’s Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System. “Quite simply, the federal trial courts would not be able to function without the magistrate judges who conduct all the important preliminary proceedings in criminal cases and perform a wide range of duties in civil cases.”

One of King’s predecessors as the Committee chair, Judge Philip Pro (D. Nev.) agrees. “I would characterize the role of a magistrate judge as fundamentally important,” he said. “The unprecedented growth of caseloads in federal court over the past half century, together with the complexity of many of those cases and the litigation process itself, has spurred reliance on magistrate judges to undertake substantially greater responsibilities.”

The nation’s 94 federal judicial districts are served by 528 full-time and 44 part-time magistrate judges. Full-time judges are appointed to eight-year terms, and part-time judges to four-year terms, by district judges in their district. The terms can be renewed.

Magistrate judges preside over federal misdemeanor cases, handle preliminary matters in felony cases, and are usually the first judicial officer a criminal defendant sees after arrest or indictment. In most districts, magistrate judges also handle pretrial motions and hearings in civil cases and felony criminal cases, which are eventually turned over to district judges for final disposition.

However, at least 27 district courts include magistrate judges on the civil case assignment wheel for direct, random assignment of a portion of cases to them as the presiding judge, subject to the parties’ consent or request for reassignment to a district judge.

In FY 2010, magistrate judges (the job title was changed from magistrates in 1990) disposed of 12,470 civil cases with the consent of the parties and 116,983 misdemeanor and petty offense cases, took on 192,531 additional duties in criminal cases and 260,796 additional duties in civil cases, drew 21,878 prisoner litigation assignments, handled 368,157 preliminary proceedings and another 54,376 miscellaneous tasks—a record 1,027,191 matters in all, a 4.5 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

“Although magistrate judges cannot fully compensate for an insufficient number of district judges,” said King, “magistrate judges perform critical duties to ensure the timely adjudication of both civil and criminal cases.”

His court, based in Los Angeles, recently renewed its Magistrate Judge Civil Consent Pilot Project for an additional two years. Established in 2008, the pilot assigns full-time magistrate judges with at least three years on the bench two civil cases each month. If all parties timely consent in writing to the magistrate judge’s exercise of civil jurisdiction, the case remains with that judge for all purposes—including trial and entry of a final judgment. (The district has 24 authorized full-time and one part-time magistrate judge positions.)

In a statement announcing the pilot’s extension, the district court said: “The project furthers the court’s core mission of the timely administration and just adjudication of all matters before the court.”

Worth noting is one phenomenon regarding magistrate judges: they often are appointed to lifetime jobs as Article III judges, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. As of June 1, a total of 143 magistrate judges have been appointed as Article III judges. That total includes Judges King and Pro.

Pro explained those numbers as “consistent with the evolution of the magistrate judges system over the past 40 years.”

“The varied duties of magistrate judges and their flexible utilization throughout the country well qualify them to undertake Article III responsibilities,” he said. “Equally important, the system provides an arena in which magistrate judges routinely demonstrate their ability to do so in a manner which makes them credible candidates for nomination to district and circuit judgeships.”

King added that magistrate judges, through their service, offer “a reliable yardstick by which to measure the candidates’ qualifications . . . a proven track record as judicial officers.”

“They carry a judicial footprint from their body of work, their commitment to the rule of law, their temperament and demeanor on the bench, and their dedication to the public service,” he said.”

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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Pretrial Defense Tactics

February 14, 2011

Pursuant to the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, every person charged with a crime has the right to a trial by jury. Meaning, an individual charged with a crime has a constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury of his peers.

In preparation of going to trial, several motions are made to the court and if granted, require the government or the court to respond accordingly prior to trial. These filings are typically referred to as “pretrial motions.”

A pretrial motion is a request to the court either to compel the government to act or requesting the court to decide an issue prior to trial. The basic purpose of pretrial motions is to obtain as much evidence as legally possible from the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in order to sufficiently prepare a defense for trial, as well as request the court to make a decision prior to trial as a matter of efficiency.

Typical examples of pretrial motions include requests for a bill of particulars, exculpatory information, a list of witnesses, or a motion in limine requesting the court to rule on an issue prior to trial. There is no limit as to the number of pretrial motions that may be filed by the defense.

Once the defense has filed relevant pretrial motions seeking action by the government and if granted by the court, the AUSA is required to respond by disclosing the requested information within a reasonable amount of time prior to trial.

Evidence produced from the government enables defense counsel to uncover the AUSA’s case and trial strategy. Such evidence is critical in developing a strong defense and puts defense counsel on alert of any potential surprises the AUSA may use in an attempt persuade the jury.

If a pretrial motion is requesting the court to decide an issue prior to trial, typically the government will have an opportunity to respond with support for their view before the court will grant or deny the motion. The court may also hold a hearing where both sides are afforded the opportunity to respond, at which point the court will rule whether to grant or deny the motion.

In a typical case, pretrial motions are filed several weeks in advance of trial in order to obtain court authorization, allow the government a reasonable time to respond, and afford the defense with a reasonable amount of time to adequately prepare for trial.

Following pretrial motions, the defense will begin looking to the next step in the trial process, selecting a favorable jury.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Litigation.

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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