Two Chicago-Area Defendants Charged with Alleged Commodities Fraud in Separate Federal Criminal Cases

October 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 25, 2012 released the following:

“CHICAGO—Two defendants were charged with commodities fraud in unrelated cases, federal law enforcement officials announced today. In one case, an investment firm officer was charged with defrauding customers of approximately $2.5 million. In the other case, a former clerk for a lean hogs futures trader was arrested today and charged with manipulating trades to generate a profit of more than $225,000 for herself.

Joshua T. J. Russo, 30, of Chicago, a former vice president of alternative investments for Olympus Futures Inc. (previously Peak Trading Group), was charged with a single count of commodities fraud in a criminal information filed today. In a separate case, Nicole M. Graziano, 32, of Roselle, a former trading clerk, was charged with four counts of commodities fraud in an indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury.

Graziano was arrested this morning and later released on a $10,000 unsecured bond after pleading not guilty before U.S. District Judge James Zagel. Russo was not arrested and will be arraigned at later date in federal court.

The charges were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Each count of commodities fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented in both cases by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher McFadden.

The investigation falls under the umbrella of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

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.

The details of each case follow.

United States. V. Russo, 12 CR 836

Between March 2007 and April 2011, Russo fraudulently obtained approximately $2.5 million from at least six investors and caused losses of more than $1.3 million, including approximately $208,000 in commissions for himself that he spent on gambling, vacations, clothing, theater tickets, meals, and entertainment, the charges allege. Russo obtained the funds by misrepresenting to investors that their funds would be used to purchase various investments, including shares of the Peak Performance Fund, which he knew had never accepted individual investors, and no money was ever invested with the fund. Russo allegedly made false statements about his prior performance investing in commodity futures, the level of risk, the existence and trading performance of the Peak Performance Fund, and the uses of the funds he obtained from investors. He concealed the fraud by creating and distributing false e-mails, spreadsheets, statements, and audit reports, the charges allege.

Instead of investing the funds as he purported, Russo misappropriated the money to make speculative trades—and regularly lost money—in various commodity futures, including energy sources, precious metals, agriculture products, foreign currencies, and stock indices. After providing one investor with false information about positive returns, Russo successfully encouraged that investor to refer friends and relatives to open accounts through him, resulting in additional victims.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association assisted in the investigation.

United States. V. Graziano, 12 CR 834

Between September 2009 and August 2010, Graziano, who was a clerk for a floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now CME Group, secretly inserted trade cards for her own personal orders into the decks of trade cards submitted by public customers that she provided to floor traders to execute during the opening and closing brackets of trading in lean hogs futures contracts, the charges allege. She then fraudulently allocated lower purchase prices to her buy orders, and higher prices to her sell orders, to the detriment of public customers, according to the indictment. Graziano allegedly submitted at least 104 fraudulent trade cards to the appropriate clearing firms, resulting in illegal profits to her of $13,390 during the opening bracket and $213,680 during the closing bracket.

The CME Group assisted in the investigation.”

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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.


Federal Prosecutors Recommend in Federal Court in Chicago that William Cellini Deserves a Federal Sentence of up to 8-years

July 13, 2012

Chicago Tribune on July 12, 2012 released the following:

“8-year sentence recommended for fundraiser, lobbyist Cellini

By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune reporter

Longtime state power broker William Cellini deserves to go to prison for up to eight years for attempting to extort a campaign contribution from a Hollywood producer, federal prosecutors argued for his upcoming sentencing.

But prosecutors went on to say they understood if U.S. District Judge James Zagel imposes a lower sentence given Cellini’s age — 77 — and health problems.

“The government agrees that the combination of Cellini’s health and age makes this one of the relatively rare situations where it may well be appropriate to impose a sentence below” the 61/2 to eight years in prison called for under federal guidelines, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

Cellini was admitted twice last month to a hospital in Springfield after first suffering a heart attack and then after his doctors discovered a blood clot, according to his lawyers.

Cellini is scheduled to be sentenced July 23 in federal court in Chicago.

In the 29-page court filing, prosecutors argued that any break given to Cellini “should be relatively modest” and rejected calls by the defense for probation.

“Cellini’s medical condition, however, is not a basis to excuse him from a meaningful sentence of incarceration,” the prosecution filing said.

A federal jury convicted Cellini in November of conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting in the solicitation of a bribe for trying to extort a contribution for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign from a Hollywood producer who wanted to keep his lucrative business with the state.

In their filing, prosecutors recounted how for decades Cellini, a powerful Republican lobbyist and fundraiser, allegedly used his clout to exercise “considerable influence over governmental functions despite the fact that he held no official title.”

“Cellini goes too far … by suggesting that his age and health justify a sentence of probation,” the government wrote. “In contrast, a meaningful sentence of incarceration would send a strong message of deterrence to those who are tempted to corrupt governmental functions. Such a sentence would demonstrate that, no matter how much money you accumulate, or how many friends and supporters you enjoy, there is no protection from prison when you are caught corrupting public institutions.”

Cellini’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.”

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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 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.


Blagojevich to serve sentence in Colorado prison

February 15, 2012

Chicago Tribune on February 15, 2012 released the following:

“By Annie Sweeney and Andy Grimm
Tribune reporters

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will serve his 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado as he had sought, sources said Tuesday.

Blagojevich, who is due to report to prison by March 15, received word from federal prison officials in recent days that he will be assigned to a low-security prison near the Denver suburb of Littleton in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, the sources said.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who sentenced the former governor in December, agreed to recommend to prison officials that Blagojevich do his time at the Colorado prison, known as Federal Correctional Institution Englewood.

The former governor hopes to enroll in a substance-abuse program at the prison, which could shave off up to a year of his sentence.

Blagojevich’s legal team had requested he be sent Englewood, which has a reputation for being less crowded and violent than other facilities in the federal system. There also is an adjacent work camp, which offers more freedom of movement for prisoners and which Blagojevich could transfer to at some point while serving out his sentence.

Local poltical figures familiar with the federal prison system were divided on the wisdom of Blagojevich’s choice. Lawrence Warner, a co-defendant of Blagojevich’s predecessor, convicted Gov. George Ryan, served most of his 18-month sentence at the work camp at Englewood.

Englewood gets high marks from inmates for its location. The area is surrounded by lakes and golf courses, and the more than 300-acre compound is wooded and filled with wildlife, all framed by distant Rocky Mountains, Warner said.

But only inmates of the camp get to enjoy the majestic setting, he pointed out. Inmates in the low-security prison, which was built in the 1930s, don’t get to work on the grounds as the camp inmates do. Their time outdoors is limited to an hour or so per day.

“When I was there, I saw eagles, I saw coyotes. It was just beautiful,” Warner said. “He’s not going to get that. He’s going to see it maybe through a window or the prison yard.

“I don’t know why he wanted to go to (the prison) at Englewood. There are prisons in the system that are newer and nicer.”

Perhaps more important, unlike many prisons, Englewood is located in the suburbs of a major city—and a major airport, with more frequent, affordable flights than a penitentary in a remote, rural setting, pointed out Scott Fawell, another Ryan co-defendant.

Fawell requested assignment to a federal prison in Yankton, S.D., spending most of his 52-month sentence there, along with shorter stints at prisons in Terre Haute and the spartan Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

“I’ve seen a bit of what the federal prison system has to offer,” Fawell said. “Most of the guys I knew (that were familiar with Englewood) said it was nice.

“It beats being in the middle of cornfields. Most places where they build prisons are not nice. They’re (dumps).”

Fawell said his wife spent more than $20,000 on travel to and from Yankton, which typically included a flight into Omaha, a car rental, a two-hour drive to Yankton and an overnight hotel stay. Littleton, just south of Denver, would be far easier to get to for Blagojevich’s family to visit.

“If I’d had it to do over, maybe I would have stayed there. But I didn’t even know where Yankton was. I didn’t do much research,” Fawell said. “I assume (Blagojevich) did his research.”

Blagojevich’s preference for Englewood, and the duration of his sentence, might be a hint that the former governor’s family is considering moving from their Ravenswood home to Littleton, Fawell suggested. The area is far more cosmopolitan than most prison towns, with decent schools.

“When you’re going away as long as he is, that would be something to think about,” Fawell said.

The flamboyant former governor will become the most famous resident, though Englewood also houses disgraced Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling. Prison staff tend to take a hard line with high-profile inmates, especially early in their sentence, Fawell said. Being in an area where the staff will know less about him might mean he gets a little kinder treatment, Fawell said.

Getting his wife, Patti, and two daughters away from the media scrutiny in Chicago might also be better for the Blagojevich family, Fawell offered.

“But you never get away from Chicago media entirely,” Fawell said. “The problem is… there’s always someone in with you from Chicago, and no one really cares what’s on TV at noon, so someone always puts on the WGN news at noon.””

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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 Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Funds to Support al Qaeda in Pakistan

February 7, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 6, 2012 released the following:

“CHICAGO—A Chicago man, who personally provided hundreds of dollars to an alleged terrorist leader with whom he had met in his native Pakistan, pleaded guilty today to attempting to provide additional funds to the same individual after learning he was working with al Qaeda. The defendant, Raja Lahrasib Khan, a Chicago taxi driver and native of Pakistan who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, resolving charges that have been pending since he was arrested in March 2010.

Khan, 58, of Chicago’s north side, never posed any imminent domestic danger, law enforcement officials said at the time of his arrest. He remains in federal custody while awaiting sentencing, which U.S. District Judge James Zagel scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 30, 2011.

Khan faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. His plea agreement calls for an agreed sentence of between five and eight years in prison, and it requires Khan to cooperate with the government in any matter in which he is called upon to assist through the termination of his sentence and any period of supervised release.

The guilty plea was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI.

Khan, who was born and resided in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan before immigrating to the United States in the late 1970s, admitted that he met with Ilyas Kashmiri, a leader of the Kashmir independence movement, in Pakistan in the early to mid-2000s and again in 2008. At the time of the second meeting, Khan knew or had reason to believe that Kashmiri was working with al Qaeda, in addition to leading attacks against the Indian government in the Kashmir region. During their 2008 meeting, Kashmiri told Khan that Osama bin Laden was alive, healthy, and giving orders, and Khan gave Kashmiri approximately 20,000 Pakistani rupees (approximately $200 to $250), which he intended Kashmiri to use to support attacks against India.

On Nov. 23, 2009, Khan sent approximately 77,917 rupees (approximately $930) from Chicago to an individual in Pakistan, via Western Union, and then directed the individual by phone to give Kashmiri approximately 25,000 rupees (approximately $300). Although Khan intended the funds to be used by Kashmiri to support attacks against India, he was also aware that Kashmiri was working with al Qaeda.

In February and March 2010, Khan participated in several meetings with an undercover law enforcement agent who posed as someone interested in sending money to Kashmiri to purchase weapons and ammunition, but only if Kashmiri was working with al Qaeda, as well as sending individuals into Pakistan to receive military-style training so they could conduct attacks against U.S. forces and interests. On March 17, 2010, the undercover agent provided Khan with $1,000, which Khan agreed to provide to Kashmiri. Khan then gave the funds to his son, who was traveling from the United States to the United Kingdom (U.K.), intending to later retrieve the money from his son in the U.K. and subsequently provide it to Kashmiri in Pakistan.

On March 23, 2010, Khan’s son arrived at an airport in the U.K. and a search by U.K. law enforcement officials yielded seven of the ten $100 bills that the undercover agent had provided to Khan. After learning of his son’s detention, Khan attempted to end his involvement in the scheme to provide funds to Kashmiri by requesting an urgent meeting with another individual who was also present at Khan’s earlier meetings with the undercover agent. During their meeting, Khan demanded to return the undercover agent’s funds by providing $800 to this other individual.

The investigation was conducted by the Chicago FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, with particular assistance from the Chicago Police Department, the Illinois State Police and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Veatch and Heather McShain and trial attorney Joseph Kaster, of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.”

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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 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 recommends Colorado low-security prison for Blagojevich

December 13, 2011

Chicago Tribune on December 13, 2011 released the following:

“By Cynthia Dizikes
Tribune reporter

A federal judge today agreed to recommend that Rod Blagojevich serve his 14-year prison sentence at a low-security federal prison in Littleton, Colo.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel also agreed to extend Blagojevich’s surrender date to March 15 unless the former governor is able to sell his Ravenswood Manor residence before then. Last week, the judge had ordered Blagojevich to report to prison on Feb. 16.

Although Blagojevich would rather have been sent to a minimum-security prison camp, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will not usually consider that option for defendants sentenced to 10 or more years in prison, said Blagojevich’s attorney, Sheldon Sorosky.

“It’s kind of like applying to school,” Sorosky said of deciding to request a low-security facility instead of a camp. “If the kid who’s got all C’s asks to go to Harvard, he’s probably not going to get in.”

Prison camps are the lowest security in the federal prison system and generally feature unsecured perimeters and dormitory-style living. The nearest prison camp to Chicago is in Oxford, Wis.

Low-security facilities, meanwhile, have secured perimeters, but instead of prison cells, they usually have dormitory living facilities, according to the Bureau of Prisons. The low-security facility in Littleton – officially known as the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood — is located 15 miles southwest of Denver, according to the Bureau of Prisons web site.

In sentencing Blagojevich last week, Zagel agreed to recommend that Blagojevich serve his time at a low-security prison and asked his attorneys to suggest a location.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will make any final decision on where Blagojevich will be incarcerated.”

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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.


Stiff sentence appears likely for Blagojevich today

December 7, 2011
Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich

Chicago Tribune on December 7, 2011 released the following:

“By Bob Secter, Jeff Coen and John Chase
Tribune reporters

Two things were clear Tuesday by the close of the first day of Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing: The former governor was likely going to be hit with a stiff sentence, and his legal team had abandoned its early hope of him avoiding prison altogether.

At the same time, Blagojevich’s lawyers went to lengths to portray their client as an extraordinarily devoted family man at heart as well as a sensitive, caring politician who deserves leniency.

“Be merciful,” Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, wrote to U.S. District Judge James Zagel in excerpts from a letter read in court.

“Be merciful,” Blagojevich’s lawyer Aaron Goldstein also repeated as he closed a lengthy argument that for the first time acknowledged wrongdoing by Blagojevich but also sought to minimize the damage it caused.

Blagojevich has yet to speak on his own behalf. That will come today before Zagel formally decides on how much time to give the ex-governor for convictions on 18 criminal counts involving the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, illegal shakedowns for campaign cash and lying to federal agents.

Zagel made it clear that he plans to take a hard-line approach to interpreting sentencing guidelines, siding with prosecutors in their calculation that Blagojevich hoped to squeeze more than $1.6 million in campaign cash from schemes on which he was convicted. Blagojevich’s lawyers argued that the numbers weren’t real because none of the money was paid and some of the shakedown targets testified they never had any intention of doing so.

The judge also said he did not buy defense arguments that the impeached governor was manipulated by aides and advisers into committing crimes. Zagel said he considered Blagojevich to be the ringleader of a criminal conspiracy, a designation that can lead to a significant increase in prison time under the guidelines.

Prosecutors are asking for a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison for Blagojevich, and Zagel’s comments suggest he could easily settle on something within that range.

“I do believe that is absurd to contend that his staff and advisers would devise criminal schemes whose only aim was to benefit the defendant,” the judge said. “He promised them nothing. He was interested in himself.”

It was a deeply chastened and somber Blagojevich who appeared in court Tuesday, a stark contrast to the defendant who entered and left court with a swagger during his two criminal trials. Back then, he acted almost as if he was still in campaign mode, glad-handing supporters in and out of the courthouse, waving to cameras and often stopping to proclaim his innocence and attack prosecutors for persecuting him.

On Tuesday, Blagojevich went out of his way to avoid the limelight. He was ushered in and out of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse through a passage not accessible to the public and away from the media glare.

Inside court, which was held in an oversize room usually reserved for public ceremonies, Blagojevich was subdued and even looked sullen on occasion. His wife sat on a spectator bench behind the lawyer’s table, sometimes tearing up as her brother and sister consoled her.

On Wednesday, prosecutors will get their chance to explain why they think Blagojevich deserves a long prison term. While Blagojevich’s lawyers disagree, they also backed off previous public statements suggesting he was a candidate for probation.

When Zagel flatly asked Goldstein if he sought probation for the former governor, the attorney avoided repeating the word and said only that the defense wanted “the lowest sentence possible.”

In legal papers filed with Zagel last week, Blagojevich’s legal team came close to suggesting that the former governor still considered himself a victim and did not accept the jury’s finding. But in court, Goldstein and other Blagojevich lawyers repeatedly sought to backtrack on that, acknowledging for the first time that he committed crimes.

The marquee allegation in the case was that Blagojevich tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat held by Barack Obama before he went to the White House. And Sheldon Sorosky, another Blagojevich lawyer, said the former governor erred when he asked for a job in return for appointing Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.

“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.”

Likewise, Blagojevich sought campaign donations from supporters of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for a Jackson appointment to the Senate seat, Sorosky said. He pointed to a 2008 undercover recording of Blagojevich telling his brother, Robert, then his campaign finance chief, that if he appointed Jackson, “some of this stuff has to start happening now.”

“He’s asking for a contribution here. And that’s wrong and he’s guilty, but I don’t know that that’s anywhere near selling a Senate seat for $1.5 million,” Sorosky said. “And once again this does not call for a sentence of 15 years in jail.”

The defense repeatedly turned to Blagojevich’s family to hit the most emotional notes of the hearing’s first day. The lawyers said the family would be devastated if its husband and father is taken away for a decade or more.

“Your honor, I ask you humbly with the life of my husband and the childhood of my daughters in your hands, be merciful,” Patti Blagojevich wrote to Zagel in a letter from which Goldstein quoted.

Goldstein also read messages that Blagojevich wrote several years ago to his now-teenage daughter, Amy, when she was on a school trip. Amy was coming home the next day, and Blagojevich described how he couldn’t wait to see her.

The attorney also read passages to the judge from a letter Amy wrote recently about her father. In a message to the court prepared as part of the defense presentation, Amy said one of the few good things about her father’s criminal case has been that he has been home a lot with her.

“He’s been here to help me with my homework,” she wrote. “He’s been here to teach me life lessons.”

She, too, asked the court for mercy, describing how her life has been turned on its head and how a long sentence would make it worse.

“It’s too drastic a change. I need my father,” she wrote. “I need him there for my high school graduation. I’ll need him there if I don’t get into college.

“I’ll need him when my heart gets broken.”

Goldstein rattled through a litany of other public corruption cases that Blagojevich contends were far worse but still yielded lighter sentences. Many involved public officials who directly pocketed bribes in exchange for government action, while Blagojevich was asking only for campaign donations, got no money and ultimately didn’t use his power to punish those who didn’t give to him.

“It wasn’t cash in an envelope,” said Carolyn Gurland, another Blagojevich lawyer.

Even the added element of Blagojevich’s nonstop publicity campaigns railing against prosecutors has been seen before — and not produced a sentence like the one the government is now seeking, the defense said.

Don Siegelman, a former governor of Alabama, was charged in a corruption case and repeatedly painted himself as the victim of a government conspiracy, Goldstein said. He received a little more than seven years in prison.

Gurland asked Zagel not to sentence Blagojevich to a stiff term in order to send a broader message to other politicians. Blagojevich shouldn’t feel the brunt of a government effort to get ever-tougher prison terms for politicians who seemingly never learn not to illegally self-deal, she said.

Punishing Blagojevich for the wrongs of figures such as former Gov. George Ryan, Blagojevich’s predecessor who is now in prison, would be “demonstrably unfair to Mr. Blagojevich,” Gurland said.”

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

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.


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.