Judge won’t bar evidence of other crimes allegedly committed by defendant in death-penalty case

June 15, 2012

Chicago Tribune on June 15, 2012 released the following:

“Prosecutors plan to connect man charged with killing Navy officer to rape in Virginia, murders in Lake County

By Dan Hinkel

A federal judge has denied defense lawyers’ efforts to bar potentially damaging evidence at the sentencing phase of the death penalty case against Jorge Torrez, the former Lake County man charged last month with murdering two young girls in Zion in 2005.

Federal prosecutors plan to seek Torrez’s execution if he is convicted of killing 20-year-old Navy petty officer Amanda Snell in 2009 on the Virginia military base where they both lived. To aid that push, prosecutors plan to offer evidence that Torrez raped a woman in Virginia in 2010 and killed Laura Hobbs, 8, and Krystal Tobias, 9, seven years ago in Illinois.

Jerry Hobbs, Laura’s father, had confessed to the killings and spent five years in jail before DNA pointed to Torrez, according to court records. Hobbs was freed in August 2010, but nearly two more years passed before Lake County prosecutors tacitly acknowledged his confession was false when they charged Torrez with the crime last month.

Torrez, 23, is serving five life sentences for a series of attacks on women in Virginia, including the rape.

In the federal case, Torrez’s lawyers had asked the judge to bar prosecutors from using his convictions in those attacks as “aggravating factors” at sentencing, arguing that the attacks happened after the petty officer’s murder. His lawyers also asked the judge to strike other factors proposed by prosecutors, which range from the charge that he killed the Zion girls to contentions that he viewed violent pornography and tied up a female friend with a dog leash.

U.S. Judge Liam O’Grady put off ruling conclusively on whether he will allow the Zion killings and other alleged acts to be used as factors until after a hearing in December, though he denied the defense lawyers’ call to have the factors immediately stricken.

The judge denied Torrez’s lawyers’ attempt to block prosecutors from using Torrez’s convictions in the attacks in Virginia as factors at sentencing. O’Grady cited case law in ruling that prosecutors seeking to introduce aggravating factors can use crimes committed after the alleged crime that is the basis for the death penalty case.

Those aggravating factors are central to death penalty cases because of case law dictating that murder, absent circumstances adding to the horrific nature of the crime, does not justify execution, said David Bruck, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and an expert on the death penalty.

Even if a defendant has not been convicted of a crime — as Torrez has not been convicted of the Zion murders — prosecutors often can still introduce evidence of the alleged criminal act during the sentencing phase, Bruck said.

Federal authorities have only rarely executed defendants. In the past 35 years, federal courts have executed three men, one of whom was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Lake County authorities have said they plan to try Torrez in the Zion killings, though a spokesman for federal prosecutors said the death penalty trial will go forward first.

A lawyer for Torrez declined to comment.”

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

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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.


Federal prosecutors build case against alleged leaders of Yonkers’ Cliff Street Gangsters

April 11, 2012

lohud.com on April 10, 2012 released the following:

“Written by
ERIK SHILLING

Nine reputed members of the Cliff Street Gangsters have admitted to conspiring to sell drugs and to violently keeping rivals at bay in the Nodine Hill section of Yonkers, as prosecutors continue to build their case against a chief enforcer of the group.

An indictment detailing some of the men’s activity was unsealed last August during a sweep of dozens of city gangsters. Since then guilty pleas for many of the reputed Cliff Street Gangsters members have trickled in. Prosecutors have now turned their focus to the gang’s leaders like 21-year-old Preston “Peanut” Hardy, who, as top gang enforcer, is accused of committing multiple shootings against rival gangs, authorities said. Few, if any, of the men connected to the Cliff Street Gangsters graduated from high school, but now seven — the youngest of whom is 18 — face up to life in prison when they are sentenced in U.S. District Court in White Plains later this year.

The latest guilty plea was Monday, when 26-year-old Gene “J-Biz” Thomas, pleaded guilty to two counts of drug charges. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced July 9.

At their plea hearings, some of the men spoke plainly of gang life.

“During the conspiracy, there was a time that I carried guns to protect the money I made,” Miguel “Corleone” Marquez, 26, said in January.

Another reputed gangster, Brandon “Big Boy” Williams, implied in his plea hearing that guns were a necessary part of the trade.

“At times, they would be threatening me so I one time had a gun and displayed it to one of these guys,” Williams said March 26, referring to rival gang members. Neither Williams nor Marquez completed high school. Both pleaded guilty pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges, including conspiring to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. They face up to life in prison at sentencing.

Prosecutors have said that Cliff Street Gangsters, known commonly as the CSG, operated for at least six years selling crack, marijuana, and other drugs and threatening rivals who encroached on their turf with guns that were stashed in secret locations known only to the gang’s members.

Other stashes, for the drugs themselves — like crack, which was packed in bags known as “twists” —were in members’ mouths, underwear and other locations, prosecutors said, including nearby mailboxes.

Competition for buyers of the twists led to numerous violent clashes with nearby gangs, including two based in the Schlobohm Housing Project, the Strip Boys and the Grimy M————, or GMF, according to prosecutors. A fourth gang, the Nodine Hill-based Elm Street Wolves, was CSG’s ally in many of the clashes, which went on for years and included a number of beatings and shootings.

“We went after the biggest folks we could find,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said last August, before another law enforcement official estimated that around 20 gangs operated in Yonkers.

Reputed Cliff Street Gangster Joshua Jenkins, who pleaded guilty March 29 to conspiracy and firearms charges, said that CSG moved more than 220 pounds of marijuana between 2005 and 2011. Among other things, Jenkins was accused of driving other gun-toting gang members around in his mother’s car.

“When I was doing all this, I knew that I was wrong,” Jenkins told Judge Cathy Seibel at his plea hearing, according to court records.

Some of the reputed gangsters who pleaded guilty included a few who admitted to having drug abuse problems themselves.

“I smoked weed, and I popped pills, and I drink,” said Michael “Mike-Mike” Glover, 21, adding that he spent time in treatment in 2008. Glover faces up a minimum 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug and firearms charges March 29.

He admitted then that he conspired to deal drugs from 2005 until his arrest in June 2011.

“Until I got caught,” he said.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment on trial strategy or whether the cases against three men who haven’t pleaded guilty — James “Tone” Glover, Audai “Buck” Howard, and Preston Hardy — were in negotiations with prosecutors.

But David Gordon, the lawyer for Hardy, said that he expected the case to go to trial. No dates have been set, but jury selection in the case could start later this month.

All the defendants remained in prison without bail Tuesday.”

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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 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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Hollenbeck attorney up for sentencing Wednesday

April 4, 2012

Winston-Salem Journal on April 4, 2012 released the following:

“By: WESLEY YOUNG

Federal prosecutors are recommending a 90-year sentence for Atlanta securities lawyer Gregory Bartko, who was convicted in 2010 of securities fraud in a case that involved the testimony of convicted Kernersville investment counselor Scott Hollenbeck.

Bartko’s attorneys are arguing in federal court that Bartko instead should have a “reasonable” sentence that would free him immediately. They say Bartko would still be barred from law and the securities industry, and that court-ordered restitution would, “for all intents and purposes, impoverish him.”

Bartko has been in jail since his conviction, awaiting sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. today in Courtroom 1 on the seventh floor of the Terry Sanford Federal Building at 310 New Bern Ave. in Raleigh.

Bartko is best known here for his role in representing a court-appointed receiver in a successful effort to obtain the return of millions of dollars raised by Hollenbeck from mom-and-pop investors and placed with a Montana coal mine. Bartko negotiated the return of $20 million from the mine operators, though he and another lawyer received criticism for taking $4 million in legal fees from that amount.

Bartko’s conviction relates to two investment plans that involved Hollenbeck raising money in a fraudulent way. Prosecutors say Bartko involved the Hollenbeck investors in losses of $3.4 million and knew about Hollenbeck’s fraudulent sales methods.

They also fault Bartko’s role in the coal mine recovery, saying that Bartko was actually defrauding the coal mine investors because he never repaid the part of the money that went toward a Bartko investment, not the coal mine.

Bartko’s lawyers say Bartko did not know that any of the money in either of his two investment funds had been raised illegally.

The defense attorneys say giving Bartko a 90-year sentence would be out of proportion to the crime, pointing out statistics that show that Bartko’s sentence would be longer than those handed out to convicted murderers, kidnappers and other criminals.

Hollenbeck, sentenced in 2008 to 14 years in prison, received a reduced sentence for testifying against Bartko and John Colvin, another Hollenbeck associate convicted in 2010 of fraud. Hollenbeck is slated for release in October 2015.”

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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

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Barry Bonds avoids jail, gets 2 years’ probation, home confinement

December 16, 2011

Los Angeles Times on December 16, 2011 released the following:

By: Maura Dolan in San Francisco

“Barry Bonds, baseball’s home run king, was sentenced Friday to two years’ probation with home confinement, plus a $4,000 fine, for giving evasive testimony to a federal grand jury eight years ago during an investigation of doping in sports.

Bonds, 47, was charged with several counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying during the grand jury’s probe of the Burlingame, Calif.-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, which sold banned substances to athletes.

A trial jury last April deadlocked on the perjury charges, returning only one conviction for felony obstruction. Jurors said Bonds obstructed justice by being intentionally evasive in his testimony.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend 15 to 21 months in prison for obstruction, but probation officials told Judge Susan Illston that Bonds’ offense warranted much less: two years’ probation, a $4,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and “location monitoring” or home confinement.

Probation officials cited Bonds’ history of charitable and civic works — works that Bonds’ attorneys said he kept private even though they would have enhanced his reputation.

Prosecutors countered that the former San Francisco Giants star deserved 15 months in prison for his “pervasive efforts to testify falsely, to mislead the grand jury, to dodge questions, and to simply refuse to answer questions in the grand jury.””

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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.


Judge set to sentence Barry Bonds

December 16, 2011
Barry Bonds

CNN on December 15, 2011 released the following:

“(CNN) — Baseball legend Barry Bonds is scheduled to be sentenced Friday for his obstruction of justice conviction.

The hearing at 11 a.m. (2 p.m. ET) will take place in a San Francisco federal courtroom less than two miles from the ballpark where Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s major league home run record in August 2007.

Federal prosecutors want Bonds, 47, to serve 15 months in prison, according to a sentencing memo filed in court earlier this month.

Defense lawyers argued in their filing that the judge should accept the probation office’s recommendation that Bonds be sentenced to two years’ probation, fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

Jurors who found Bonds guilty in April said he was “evasive” in his testimony to the federal grand jury investigating illegal steroids use by pro athletes.

“Because Bonds’s efforts were a corrupt, intentional effort to interfere with that mission, a sentence of 15 months imprisonment is appropriate,” the prosecution said in its memo to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.

But jurors, who were deadlocked on three perjury counts, said that it was not proven that Bonds lied when he testified that he had not knowingly used steroids. Prosecutors decided not to pursue a retrial.

Prosecutors still argued in the sentencing memo that Bonds’ denial that he was “taking steroids and human growth hormone were patently false.”

Bonds’ testimony in December 2003 was part of the investigation that targeted Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson and employees of the California drug testing laboratory known as the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO).

The testimony that led to Bonds’ conviction came when a grand jury prosecutor asked Bonds if Anderson ever gave him “anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with.”

Bonds told the grand jury that only his personal doctors “ever touch me,” and he then veered off the subject to say he never talked baseball with Anderson.

Defense lawyers argued that Bonds thought the creams and ointments Anderson was giving him were made of flax seed oils.

Sentences for other athletes convicted in connection with the BALCO investigation have not included prison time.”

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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.


Bradley Whitsell Charged with Mail Fraud was Sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol

November 8, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on November 7, 2011 released the following:

“Sioux Falls Man Sentenced for Mail Fraud

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Sioux Falls man charged with mail fraud was sentenced on November 7, 2011, by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol. Bradley Whitsell, age 46, was sentenced to 24 months in custody, a $10,000 fine, three years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $476,184.77 which the defendant has paid in full, and a $100 Victim Assistance Fund assessment.

Whitsell was indicted for mail fraud and wire fraud by a federal grand jury on June 7, 2011. Whitsell pled guilty to mail fraud on August 22, 2011, and count two of the indictment, wire fraud, was dismissed.

Whitsell, a former management employee of SDN Communications, used his various oversight positions to embezzle funds totaling approximately $392,111.65 from SDN over approximately 10 years beginning in 2000.

As part of his plea agreement, Whitsell agreed to make full restitution to SDN Communications of $476,184.77 which includes the amount he stole, plus the amount SDN spent on a forensic audit that uncovered the theft.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Koliner prosecuted the case.

Whitsell will be allowed to self-surrender to the U.S. Marshal on November 28, 2011.”

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

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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.


Houston Doctor Sentenced in Federal Court to 11+ Years in Health Care Fraud Scheme

October 31, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on October 28, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON – Houston doctor Christina Joy Clardy, 61, has been sentenced to 135 months in federal prison for her role in a massive health care fraud conspiracy that billed the federal Medicare and Texas Medicaid programs for $45,039,230 over a 2 ½-year-period, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Clardy was sentenced just a short while ago in federal court in Houston.

Clardy is the third defendant to be sentenced in this matter. Last week Umawa Oke Imo, the owner of City Nursing Services of Texas, Inc., was sentenced to 327 months for his role in the conspiracy and health care fraud. Clardy, who was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 14 counts of health care fraud and three counts of mail fraud on May 27, 2011, after an 18-day trial in front of U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, was also ordered to pay $15,626,084.01 in restitution to Medicare and Medicaid. In arriving at Clardy’s sentence today, Judge Harmon considered the pivotal role Clardy played in abusing the trust of the Medicare and Medicaid programs by allowing the fraudulent billing under her provider numbers.

City Nursing billed more than $25 million worth of physical therapy services under Clardy’s physician provider numbers between January 2007 and August 2008. The United States introduced a letter at trial, sent by Clardy to Imo in July of 2007 – a year before she left the clinic, showing her knowledge of the fraudulent activities at the clinic, ordering Imo to immediately cease billing Medicare under her provider number, to notify Medicare of the prior fraudulent billing and threatening to notify Medicare of the fraud if he did not. Clardy testified at trial that after Imo received her letter they had a private meeting at her house and after that she never contacted Medicare about the fraud and never asked Imo if he contacted Medicare or stopped the fraudulent billing. Other evidence introduced by the United States showed that beginning in August 2007, a few weeks after Clardy’s letter, Imo began making large cash payments to Clardy and continued to bill approximately $21 million worth of false and fraudulent physical therapy services.

City Nursing employee Joann Michelle White, who played a minor role in the health care fraud conspiracy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February 2010 and testified for the United States during the trial. She was sentenced to 46 months on Oct. 14, 2011. The last convicted defendant, Kenneth Anokam, will be sentenced later next month.

The investigation into City Nursing was the result of the joint efforts by special agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Office-Medicare Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Redlinger and Mark Donnelly prosecuted the case. Assistant United States Attorney Kristine Rollinson assisted with forfeiture and restitution.”

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

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.