“Outside Box, Federal Judges Offer Addicts a Free Path”

May 30, 2013

The New York Times on March 1, 2013 released the following:

By MOSI SECRET

“Federal judges around the country are teaming up with prosecutors to create special treatment programs for drug-addicted defendants who would otherwise face significant prison time, an effort intended to sidestep drug laws widely seen as inflexible and overly punitive.

The Justice Department has tentatively embraced the new approach, allowing United States attorneys to reduce or even dismiss charges in some drug cases.

The effort follows decades of success for “drug courts” at the state level, which legal experts have long cited as a less expensive and more effective alternative to prison for dealing with many low-level repeat offenders.

But it is striking that the model is spreading at the federal level, where judges have increasingly pushed back against rules that restrict their ability to make their own determination of appropriate sentences.

So far, federal judges have instituted programs in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. About 400 defendants have been involved nationwide.

In Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday, Judge John Gleeson issued an opinion praising the new approach as a way to address swelling prison costs and disproportionate sentences for drug trafficking.

“Presentence programs like ours and those in other districts mean that a growing number of courts are no longer reflexively sentencing federal defendants who do not belong in prison to the costly prison terms recommended by the sentencing guidelines,” Judge Gleeson wrote.

The opinion came a year after Judge Gleeson, with the federal agency known as Pretrial Services, started a program that made achieving sobriety an incentive for drug-addicted defendants to avoid prison. The program had its first graduate this year: Emily Leitch, a Brooklyn woman with a long history of substance abuse who was arrested entering the country at Kennedy International Airport with over 13 kilograms of cocaine, about 30 pounds, in her luggage.

“I want to thank the federal government for giving me a chance,” Ms. Leitch said. “I always wanted to stand up as a sober person.”

The new approach is being prompted in part by the Obama administration, which previously supported legislation that scaled back sentences for crimes involving crack cocaine. The Justice Department has supported additional changes to the federal sentencing guidelines to permit the use of drug or mental health treatment as an alternative to incarceration for certain low-level offenders and changed its own policies to make those options more available.

“We recognize that imprisonment alone is not a complete strategy for reducing crime,” James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general, said in a statement. “Drug courts, re-entry courts and other related programs along with enforcement are all part of the solution.”

For nearly 30 years, the United States Sentencing Commission has established guidelines for sentencing, a role it was given in 1984 after studies found that federal judges were giving defendants widely varying sentences for similar crimes. The commission’s recommendations are approved by Congress, causing judges to bristle at what they consider interference with their judicial independence.

“When you impose a sentence that you believe is unjust, it is a very difficult thing to do,” Stefan R. Underhill, a federal judge in Connecticut, said in an interview. “It feels wrong.”

The development of drug courts may meet resistance from some Republicans in Congress.

“It is important that courts give deference to Congressional authority over sentencing,” Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin, a member and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. He said sentencing should not depend “on what judge happens to decide the case or what judicial circuit the defendant happens to be in.”

At the state level, pretrial drug courts have benefited from bipartisan support, with liberals supporting the programs as more focused on rehabilitation, and conservatives supporting them as a way to cut spending.

Under the model being used in state and federal courts, defendants must accept responsibility for their crimes and agree to receive drug treatment and other social services and attend regular meetings with judges who monitor their progress. In return for successful participation, they receive a reduced sentence or no jail time at all. If they fail, they are sent to prison.

The drug court option is not available to those facing more serious charges, like people accused of being high-level dealers or traffickers, or accused of a violent crime. (These programs differ from re-entry drug courts, which federal judges have long used to help offenders integrate into society after prison.)

In interviews, the federal judges who run the other programs pointed to a mix of reasons for their involvement.

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez ran a state drug court in Seattle before he was appointed to the federal bench. “People that have a serious addiction, you can put them in custody, but the minute you put them back in the community, they go back to the same thing and lo and behold you see them again,” Judge Martinez said in an interview.

Some of the most pointed criticism of the status quo has come from Judge Gleeson, a former federal prosecutor. The drug court he helped set up is open to defendants who committed a range of nonviolent crimes, like fraud and selling prescription pills, and whose addictions fueled their actions.

In a 35-page opinion he issued this week, he criticized the Justice Department for charging defendants with drug offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences, urged the Sentencing Commission to reduce the guideline range for many drug offenses and called for more programs that divert defendants from prison time.

The opinion chronicled the case of three graduates of the drug court, including Ms. Leitch, 29. The daughter of two addicted parents, she began smoking marijuana daily and later snorting cocaine at a young age, stealing to pay for her drug habit.

After a visit with her children to Guyana, where her father lives, she was paid over $30,000 to transport drugs back to the United States. Customs agents at Kennedy found the cocaine and charged her with importing and possessing the drug, which carried a three-year sentence under federal guidelines.

Though she showed up high at a court hearing, causing her to be jailed for a time, Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold offered her a slot a year ago in the district’s new drug court. She later took parenting courses, earned a general equivalency diploma and got a commercial bus driver’s license — with government subsidies for some of those efforts. She now drives a bus in Nassau County.

Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said she backed the program because drug courts elsewhere had lowered recidivism rates. “Our overall strategy of law enforcement and crime prevention isn’t just incarceration,” Ms. Lynch said.

At a sentencing hearing for Ms. Leitch last month, a prosecutor vacated her guilty plea and agreed to dismiss the charges if she did not use drugs or get arrested for 18 months. After the hearing, Judge Gleeson offered some encouraging words for the defendant, and then a hug.

“I don’t know them as just the judge,” Ms. Leitch said later. “People see judges as the bad guy. They get deeper. They get to know who you are.””

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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

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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.


Gupta to Urge Probation From Judge Who Once Defended Insiders

October 22, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle on October 22, 2012 released the following:

“Patricia Hurtado and David Glovin, ©2012 Bloomberg News

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) — As a lawyer, Jed Rakoff once persuaded a judge to give probation to a client convicted at an insider-trading trial alongside former Wall Street Journal reporter R. Foster Winans. Now a federal judge himself, Rakoff must weigh Rajat Gupta’s similar request to stay out of prison.

Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director, will come before Rakoff in Manhattan federal court on Oct. 24 to be sentenced for leaking stock tips to Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam. Prosecutors say Gupta, convicted by a jury in June, deserves as long as 10 years in prison. Gupta seeks probation.

Gary Naftalis, a lawyer for Gupta, argued his client’s crime was an “aberrational” event in a “lifetime of good works” that merited a punishment for a man who has suffered an extraordinary fall from grace. He asked Rakoff to impose a term of community service, suggesting Gupta work with troubled youth in New York or with the poor in Rwanda.

“Good works help, but on their own they are rarely a ‘Get out of jail free card,’” said Gordon Mehler, a former federal prosecutor who’s now in private practice in New York. “So, it seems as if probation, even in Rwanda, is unlikely.”

Gupta, 63, is the most prominent of 70 people convicted since a nationwide insider-trading crackdown by U.S. prosecutors began four years ago. Gupta also served as managing partner of McKinsey & Co. from 1994 to 2003 and on the board of Procter & Gamble Co. from 2007 to March 2011, when he also resigned from the boards of Goldman Sachs, AMR Corp. and two other companies.

Buffett’s Berkshire

After a four-week trial in June, jurors found Gupta guilty of tipping Rajaratnam about dealings at New York-based Goldman Sachs, including a $5 billion investment by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Rajaratnam, 55, is serving 11 years in prison for trading on tips from Gupta and others.

In his 17 years as a judge, Rakoff has sentenced at least nine defendants for insider trading, including seven who pleaded guilty and two whom he jailed after they were found guilty by juries. Rakoff has a track record of imposing a sentence that is half what the government recommends.

“If there is any judge who’s sensitive to the draconian impact of the sentencing guidelines with respect to white-collar offenders, it’s Judge Rakoff,” said J. Bruce Maffeo, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice. “That being said, he’s equally sensitive to the need to fashion a sentence that takes into account both the defendant’s personal background and the need to deter others in the financial world, where this kind of activity appears to be more prevalent than previously assumed.”

Winning Leniency

Rakoff, a former federal prosecutor in New York who headed the office’s securities-fraud unit, was a white-collar criminal- defense lawyer before taking the bench.

As a defense lawyer, Rakoff won leniency for a client convicted of insider trading who was also facing prison.

Rakofff’s client, David Carpenter, went on trial in 1985 with his lover, journalist R. Foster Winans, and broker Kenneth Felis. Prosecutors said Winans leaked tips to Felis about forthcoming market-moving articles in his “Heard on the Street” column, Felis traded on the news and Carpenter allowed Winans to place trades through his account. All were convicted. Carpenter died in 1991.

Wife, Husband

At the sentencing, Rakoff compared Carpenter’s relationship with Winans to that of wife-and-husband and said Carpenter merely acquiesced to Winans’ trades, according to Winans’s lawyer, Don Buchwald. Carpenter got probation while Winans was given an 18-month prison term.

“He was following Foster,” Buchwald said in a phone interview last week. “Carpenter was a very sympathetic figure.”

This week, Gupta will be seeking sympathy of a different sort from Rakoff. Gupta’s lawyer, Naftalis, said in a court filing that Gupta deserves probation because his crime was an aberration in a life “defined by helping others.”

Naftalis cited Gupta’s work as chairman of the Global Fund, an initiative to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as his work with the United Nations to improve world health. Naftalis declined to comment on a comparison of the Gupta and Carpenter cases. The defense submitted more than 400 letters to the judge describing Gupta’s accomplishments.

In their pre-sentencing court filings, prosecutors gave a different portrait of Gupta and asked Rakoff to consider the personal relationship between Gupta and Rajaratnam.

‘Very Close Friend’

In asking for a term of 97 months to 121 months, which they say are called for by U.S. sentencing guidelines, prosecutors say Gupta violated confidences and breached his duty as a senior corporate official by leaking news to his “very close friend” and business partner.

“Gupta’s interests often were aligned with those of Rajaratnam and Galleon such that Gupta stood to benefit if Galleon was successful,” prosecutors wrote in a filing, citing Gupta’s investment in Galleon and their partnership in another investment fund.

Richard Holwell, the former federal judge who presided over Rajaratnam’s trial and sentenced the fund manager, said judges consider “general deterrence,” or whether the sentence they impose will deter others from committing similar crimes.

“The nature and circumstances of the crime weigh in the government’s favor, because insider trading is a serious white- collar crime that undermines the integrity of the markets” said Holwell, who is now in private practice.

Deterrence

“The government will lean on general deterrence because insider trading has to be eradicated and one way to do that is by taking highly visible cases and making examples of them,” Holwell said. “That will weigh heavily on Rakoff.”

Other criminal defense lawyers said Gupta’s fall from grace may work in his favor. Kevin O’Brien, a former federal prosecutor in New York, said the judge must weigh Gupta’s achievements against his crimes.

“There is human drama there,” O’Brien said. “You can make the argument that for a guy like this who was on top of the world to have fallen so low and to have been so humiliated and exposed by a lengthy public trial, that is punishment enough.”

“What is smart about the Rwanda option is that it makes vivid Gupta’s commitment to public service and brings out with some clarity his history of good deeds,” he said. “It’s a creative approach.”

‘Mirage’ Guidelines

Federal sentencing guidelines are advisory. Rakoff’s history has been one of imposing sentences well below the recommended federal guidelines, which he has called a “mirage of something that can be obtained with arithmetic certainty.”

Last year, he sentenced James Fleishman, a former executive at expert-networking firm Primary Global Research LLC, to 2 1/2 years in prison for passing tips to fund managers while the guidelines called for more than seven years. He also ordered Primary Global consultant Winifred Jiau to serve 48 months for selling information. Her guidelines suggested a term of 78 months to 97 months in prison.

Still, Rakoff has rarely been silent about the contempt he has for insider traders, often expressing his sentiments in open court. In Fleishman’s case, he said insider prosecutions over “the last 30 or 40 years” have not “done enough to deter this serious and sophisticated crime.”

With Jiau, whose scheme ran for two years, he said the leaks undermined “the integrity of the financial markets” and demanded a “meaningful sentence.”

Maffeo said he believes Rakoff will impose some term of incarceration upon Gupta.

Love Families

Rakoff has demanded prison in cases in which, unlike Gupta, the defendants have admitted trafficking in illicit information. He sentenced ex-SAC Capital Advisors LP manager Donald Longueuil to 30 months instead of the 46 months to 57 months urged by the guidelines. He ordered a former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. manager to spend 18 months behind bars.

“Why is it that defendants always remember how much they love their families after they’ve committed the crimes that place that relationship in jeopardy?” Rakoff said at the sentencing of former Galleon trader Adam Smith, who won probation largely because he cooperated with prosecutors and testified against Rajaratnam.

Rakoff imposed an 18-month prison term on Manosha Karunatilaka, a former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. manager who pleaded guilty to passing nonpublic information about his company’s orders to fund managers as part of an insider-trading scheme. Karunatilaka cooperated with the U.S. and accepted responsibility for his crimes.

Crying Infant

As Karunatilaka’s infant child cried in the courtroom, Rakoff rejected a bid by defense lawyer Brad Bailey to impose a term of six months’ in prison and six months of home confinement.

Gupta, after two days of deliberations by a jury, was found guilty of three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy. The tips came in September and October 2008 and concerned Buffett’s $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs and the bank’s losses in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Jurors acquitted Gupta of charges that he leaked information that Cincinnati-based P&G’s organic sales growth would fall below estimates and that he tipped Rajaratnam about Goldman Sachs’s earnings in the first quarter of 2007.

In his filing, Naftalis argued that Gupta deserves leniency because his crimes were limited to a two-month period in 2008.

Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, said Rakoff will focus on the nature of the crime and Gupta’s background. Henning predicted that the former Goldman Sachs director will get a prison term of two years to three years.

“That’s not a deleterious prison term, but it is prison and it doesn’t mean he will get a free pass,” Henning said in a phone interview. “It has to be a term to get everyone’s attention, and by everyone, I mean Wall Street.”

The case is U.S. v. Gupta, 11-cr-00907, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).”

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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

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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.


Ex-EPISD Superintendent Lorenzo García’s victims can tell court of harm

August 29, 2012

El Paso Times on August 29, 2012 released the following:

“By Hayley Kappes \ El Paso Times

Victims of a scheme to fraudulently inflate standardized test scores at the El Paso Independent School District have until Sept. 21 to inform a federal court of the harm they suffered.

Students or employees of the school district between 2006 and 2011 who suffered damages from a plan devised by former Superintendent Lorenzo García can fill out a “declaration of victim losses” through the U.S. Probation Office.

Those who were directly harmed include students classified as “limited English proficient” or special education students whom the district targeted to prevent from taking the 10th-grade Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exams, according to a letter dated Aug. 17 from the probation office to district students, parents and employees.

District faculty and staff members were indirectly harmed by the scheme, according to the letter.

Former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, who in 2010 alleged the district was removing students improperly, and members of Kids First! Reform EPISD!, a general-purpose political action committee, are urging victims of García’s crimes to detail their losses to the U.S. Probation Office.

Shapleigh argued that García’s restitution should include the cost of educating each student who was denied an education and the bonuses he earned by fraudulent means.

Under the plea agreement, García faces a prison sentence of just less than four years and is ordered to pay $180,000 in restitution to the school district for his role in the cheating scheme and for steering a $450,000 contract to his mistress.

The restitution money should go toward creating a fund at the district to help students who were improperly pushed out as a result of the scheme, Shapleigh said.

“We’re asking that the return of the money be made to the students for their education, that the students have a fund at EPISD, to go find them, to restore them and get them a high-school degree,” Shapleigh said. “They are the real victims.”

District officials have not identified all the students whose education was impeded because of the scheme, district spokeswoman Renee de Santos wrote in an email.

“The district is continuing its efforts, on its own and as part of its cooperation with federal investigators to identify students who may have been affected by the criminal conduct described in the information filed against Dr. Lorenzo García,” de Santos wrote.

Douglas McNabb, adjunct professor of international criminal law at South Texas College of Law in Houston, said that because there are so many direct and indirect victims, it would have been difficult to assign a restitution amount.

García’s attorneys worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine the restitution amount, said Jim Darnell, one of the former superintendent’s attorneys.

Darnell disagreed that the restitution should reflect the district’s per student expenditures for students who were pushed out of school and said Shapleigh is not a criminal lawyer.

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said he couldn’t comment on how the restitution amount was reached.

The judge has the authority not to accept the plea agreement and can factor the victims’ statements to determine García’s punishment, said Douglas McNabb, adjunct professor of international criminal law at South Texas College of Law. McNabb has been a federal criminal defense lawyer for 30 years.

For each charge García pleaded guilty to, the punishment range is a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Briones in June said he would review the sentencing guidelines to determine whether the punishment should be more or less than the recommended sentence.

García is free on bond and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5.

“The court could say based upon the stated harm from the victims, ‘I’m going to give the defendant the high end of the guideline range,'” McNabb said. “By allowing the victim to set out a dollar amount in the statement would help perhaps the probation officer in terms of apportioning the amount of the plea-agreed-upon restitution, assuming that the defendant can pay it. Most of them can’t.””

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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

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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.


Feds request sentence for Bulger’s girlfriend

June 8, 2012

Boston.com on June 7, 2012 released the following:

“Federal prosecutors will ask a judge to sentence the longtime girlfriend of mobster James “Whitey’’ Bulger to more prison time than federal sentencing guidelines recommend for helping him elude authorities for 16 years.

It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday how much prison time prosecutors would request for Catherine Greig, because their sentencing memo was sealed.

Greig faces a maximum 15 years in prison. But prosecutors have indicated she could get as little as 32 months under federal sentencing guidelines.

In a public filing Thursday, prosecutors said they will request a sentence exceeding federal guidelines and also asked for a hearing to present evidence against Greig.

Greig’s lawyer wouldn’t say what he will recommend for a sentence.

The couple was apprehended last June in California. Bulger is awaiting trial for his alleged role in 19 murders.”

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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 – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.


Blago lawyer: ‘We accept the fact that’s a crime’

December 6, 2011
Rod Blagojevich
( Paul Beaty / Associated Press ) – Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tries to talk with the media as he is led away by wife Patti, as they leave their home heading to federal court for his sentencing hearing in Chicago, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Blagojevich was convicted earlier this year on 18 corruption counts, including trying to auction off President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat.

Chicago Tribune on December 6, 2011 released the following:

“Lawyers for Rod Blagojevich appear to have changed tactics this afternoon, conceding the former governor committed crimes but arguing that a 15-year prison sentence would be far too severe for such wrongdoing.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel has heard from three Blagojevich lawyers this afternoon, including one who told the judge to try to look past all of the technical arguments on sentencing guidelines and think about what Blagojevich was convicted of.

Sheldon Sorosky told the judge Blagojevich committed four wrongs, chiefly the attempted sale of the Senate seat held by Barack Obama until his election as president. Blagojevich made a mistake by asking for a job in return for possibly appointing Obama’s friend, Valerie Jarrett to the Senate, Sorosky said.

“We accept the fact that’s a crime. It’s illegal. He should not have done it,” Sorosky said. “That crime does not call for a 15-year jail sentence.”

A second Blagojevich lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, then argued that general deterrence should not factor into the punishment given the former governor.

“I would suggest your honor that it does work,” said Goldstein, rattling off a series of public corruption cases in which politicians who pocketed tens of thousands of dollars received shorter sentences than what the government is proposing for Blagojevich.

Blagojevich doesn’t warrant punishment anywhere near the 15 to 20 years in prison that the government is seeking, Goldstein said. Even if Blagojevich gets a 5-year prison term, no other politician is going to think he got away with a free pass, he said.

Prosecutors have cited Blagojevich’s publicity campaigns as something the court might consider in handing down a sentence. But Goldstein said Blagojevich said things he was entitled to say in the media and some other things that maybe he shouldn’t have said, but in no way did Blagojevich intend to attack Zagel as a judge or the court process.

Goldstein also encouraged Zagel to consider certain figures in the investigation who were never charged despite their wrongdoing, citing Raghu Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, who allegedly offered $1.5 million in exchange for appointing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat.

The government thinks of Blagojevich as a shark, he said.

“But he wasn’t swimming with guppies,” Goldstein told the court.

Another lawyer for Blagojevich, Carolyn Gurland, asked Zagel not to sentence Blagojevich to a stiff term to send a broader message to other politicians. Blagojevich should not be given more years because it seems that prosecutions of public corruption cases have done little to stop elected officers from crossing the line, she said.

Blagojevich should be considered alone and not sentenced for the “historical political corruption in Illinois or anywhere else,” she said. “He is an individual who has and will suffer his punishment as an individual.”

All of it should be weighed against what will be suffered by “a man and his family,” Gurland said.

Zagel asked the lawyers exactly what sentence they were recommending because a specific request for probation was not part of defense filings even though that’s what the former governor’s legal team had been calling for weeks.

Goldstein avoided asking for probation, telling the judge the defense seeks “the lowest sentence possible.””

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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 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.


Chicago Federal Grand Jury Indicted Five Chicago Individuals on Federal Fraud Charges for Allegedly Receiving Kickbacks totaling at least $800,000

July 15, 2011

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

“FORMER NORTH CHICAGO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER AND TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR AMONG FIVE DEFENDANTS INDICTED FOR ALLEGED ROLES IN $800,000 KICKBACK SCHEME INVOLVING STUDENT BUSING CONTRACTS

CHICAGO — A former North Chicago school board member and the district’s former transportation director were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly receiving kickbacks totaling at least $800,000 from three co-defendants who controlled several different companies that received at least $21 million in student bus contracts over nearly a decade. All five defendants were charged in a 26-count indictment alleging that, between 2001 and August 2010, they schemed to defraud and deprive the citizens of North Chicago, located in Lake County, and the approximately 4,000-student North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 (NCSD) of the honest services of former school board member Gloria Harper and former transportation director Alice Sherrod. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury late yesterday and announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The North Chicago School District cooperated with the investigation.

Harper, 59, of North Chicago, who was a member of the NCSD board from 1999 to May 2009, and Sherrod, 59, of Gurnee, who was District 187’s transportation director from 2001 to July 2010, allegedly used their positions to enrich themselves secretly by soliciting and accepting gifts and cash from their three co-defendants in exchange for favorable official action regarding student transportation contracts. Initially, Harper and Sherrod allegedly received kickbacks of approximately $4,000 to $5,000 a month but, by 2003, they were collecting approximately $20,000 a month, the indictment alleges.

Also indicted were: Derrick Eubanks, 47, of Lake Villa; Tommie Boddie, 66, of Wadsworth; and Barrett White, 52, of Matteson. All five defendants were each charged with six counts of wire fraud and various counts of soliciting or paying bribes. All but White were also charged with multiple counts of filing false federal income tax returns. All five defendants will be arraigned on dates still to be determined in U.S. District Court.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $9.67 million, as well as 48 buses and vans and seven personal automobiles.

According to the indictment, from the late 1990s until mid-2003, the NCSD contracted with various companies to provide student transportation, including T&M Transportation, which was owned at least in part and controlled by Boddie, and Eubanks Transportation, which was owned at least in part and controlled by Eubanks. In approximately 2001, Harper and Sherrod met with Boddie and told him they would arrange for the NCSD to increase the number of students that T&M transported if Boddie agreed to pay them in return, and Boddie agreed. At Harper’s request, White began acting as an intermediary, or “bagman,” receiving cash from Boddie, keeping some for himself, and providing the bulk to Harper, who, in turn, shared the money with Sherrod, the indictment alleges.

To facilitate his role as the scheme’s bagman, White established D’Amoto Transportation, which he used to funnel money from Boddie’s T&M company to Harper and Sherrod. Sometime in 2002 or 2003, White established BWT Transportation to replace D’Amoto. In approximately May 2003, Harper allegedly suggested to Boddie and Eubanks that they join together to form one company to bid on NCSD transportation contracts. Both Harper and Sherrod told Boddie and Eubanks that if they won the contract they would have to split the profits with the two school officials, and the two men agreed to do so, the charges allege. As a result, Boddie and Eubanks created Safety First Transportation, Inc., which won the NCSD’s transportation contract in 2003. Once Safety First began to receive school district payments, White allegedly converted Safety First’s funds into cash to pay Harper for her to share with Sherrod, while White kept a portion for himself. Neither White nor his company, BWT, did any work for Safety First and their sole role was to funnel cash to Harper
and Sherrod, according to the indictment.

As a result of an IRS audit of Safety First in 2006-2007, Safety First began providing funds to White as an employee, as well as continuing to provide him with funds as a contractor, in late 2006, even though he continued to provide no service other than paying kickbacks as an intermediary.

Also as a result of the audit, Harper allegedly agreed that White’s portion of the proceeds should be increased to compensate him for the tax debt White owed the IRS. All five defendants agreed that an amount of Safety First’s revenues from the NCSD would be excluded from the profits to be split with Harper and Sherrod and instead would be used to repay tax debts owed by Boddie, Eubanks and White, the charges allege.

The fraud scheme and individual tax counts allege that Boddie and Eubanks filed false federal tax returns for Safety First claiming that they paid White hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees and wages for assisting them in obtaining the transportation contract with NCSD. In fact, the indictment alleges that money paid to White was intended solely to fund the kickbacks to Harper and Sherrod in exchange for helping them win and maintain the transportation contract.

In April 2008, the defendants allegedly agreed to set up a new company, Quality Trans, LLC, to replace Safety First and to assume its contracts with the school district. All five allegedly agreed to split among them Quality Trans’s profits, and Boddie, Eubanks and White continued to make cash payments to Harper and Sherrod. In June 2009, Quality Trans won a five-year contract to provide NCSD with transportation services.

Various tax counts allege that Boddie and Eubanks took false deductions for the money that Safety First paid to White and which White then funneled as kickbacks to Harper and Sherrod. Other tax counts allege that Harper and Sherrod filed false individual tax returns failing to report the kickbacks they received as income.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Getter and Greg Deis.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and each count of soliciting or paying bribes carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine. As an alternative, the Court may impose a maximum fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to any defendant, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. Filing a false federal income tax return carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, a defendant convicted of tax offenses faces mandatory costs of prosecution and remains civilly liable to the Government for any and all back taxes, as well as a civil fraud penalty of 75 percent of the underpayment plus interest. If convicted, the Court must determine a reasonable sentence to impose under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt 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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Operation of Two Home Health Care Businesses Indicted in Alleged $20 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

June 30, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois on June 29, 2011 released the following press release:

“CHICAGO — A Chicago man who operated two home health care businesses, one of which was among the state’s largest recipients of Medicare payments, was indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly swindling Medicare of at least $20 million over five years, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendant, Jacinto “John” Gabriel, Jr., allegedly schemed with others to submit millions of dollars in false claims for reimbursement of home healthcare services purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries, which allegedly were never provided, were not medically necessary, or were inflated in price so that he and others could profit from the fraudulently-obtained funds. Gabriel and his co-schemers allegedly used the proceeds for various purposes, including: using more than $5.5 million in cash to maintain lavish lifestyles, including gambling at casinos in the Chicago area and Las Vegas, and to buy automobiles, jewelry and real estate in the United States and the Philippines; to perpetuate the businesses by paying his employees and providing them with gifts, and to bribe physicians and pay kickbacks to others in exchange for patient referrals.

Gabriel, 43, who had no formal medical training, medical degrees, nor licenses to practice as a health care professional, was charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of health care fraud and 11 counts of money laundering in a 15-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $20 million. He has remained free on bond since he was arrested on preliminary charges in February and he will be arraigned on a date still be determined in U.S. District Court.

“The fraud alleged in this indictment illustrates complete disregard of the needs and interests of Medicare patients,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “The OIG is determined to aggressively investigate Medicare fraud and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who perpetrate these types of crimes are held accountable.”

Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Pugh announced the charges together with Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General also participated in the investigation, which is continuing. The investigation is being conducted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which expanded to Chicago earlier this year, and is part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative between the Justice Department and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws around the country.

According to the indictment, Gabriel did not identify himself as an owner, but in fact exercised ownership and control over Perpetual Home Health, Inc., based in Oak Forest, and Legacy Home Healthcare Services, which was located on the city’s north side. Both firms have ceased operating and no longer receive Medicare payments. Between May 2006 and January 2011, Perpetual submitted more than 14,000 Medicare claims seeking reimbursement for services allegedly provided to beneficiaries. As a result of those claims, Perpetual received more than $38 million in Medicare payments, making it one of the largest, if not the largest, recipients of Medicare payments for home health services in Illinois. Between 2008 and January 2011, Legacy submitted more than 2,000 claims for Medicare reimbursement and received more than $5 million.

As part of the fraud scheme, Gabriel and his co-schemers allegedly obtained personal information of Medicare beneficiaries to bill Medicare without the beneficiaries’ knowledge or consent; created false patient files to support fraudulent Medicare claims and submitted false claims based on those records; used Medicare proceeds to pay himself, co-schemers, employees, and others who assisted him in carrying out the scheme; and concealed the fraud proceeds by directing Perpetual and Legacy to issue checks payable to fictitious entities, his friends and associates.

Among other details, the indictment alleges that Gabriel authorized Perpetual and Legacy to pay various amounts, ranging between $200 and $800, to employees and others for each patient they referred and enrolled in home healthcare services. He and others also cold-called Medicare beneficiaries to try to persuade them to enroll with Perpetual and Legacy.

As part of allegedly falsifying patient records, Gabriel directed Perpetual and Legacy personnel to systematically complete standard forms by listing the same false diagnoses, including arthropathy (joint disease) and hypertension, which enabled them to claim a higher level of Medicare reimbursement, according to the charges.

In addition to the fraud counts, the money laundering charges allege that between last October and December, Gabriel cashed 11 checks in amounts under $10,000 — usually $9,000 and all involving fraud proceeds — to avoid federal currency transaction reporting requirements.

Each count of wire fraud and money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while each count of health care fraud carries a maximum 10-year prison term. Each wire fraud and healthcare fraud count carries a maximum fine of $250,000, or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. Each money laundering count carries a maximum fine of $500,000. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that charges are not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt 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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