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Today in Queens Supreme Court, multi-platinum selling artist Belcalis M. Almanzar  – better known to the world as rapper “Cardi B” – is expected to be arraigned on a 12-count indictment stemming from a 2018 fight in a strip club. Cardi B now faces two “violent” felonies and a handful of misdemeanor and violation offenses after being accused of throwing bottles, chairs, and ‘Hookah’ pipes at club employees after a verbal altercation spun out of control. Cardi B is also accused of soliciting and facilitating members of her entourage to participate in the fracas. Two of the complaining witnesses are bartenders employed at the club, one of whom was accused by Cardi B of having an affair with her husband ‘Offset’ from the rap group ‘Migos.’ According to news sources citing criminal court documents, one of these complaining witnesses claims to have suffered “burning, itching and temporary blindness in her eyes” after being hit in the face with a drink.

Cardi B is expected to enter a plea of “not guilty” to the following indictment charges:

  • Attempted Assault in the Second Degree, in violation of Penal Law 110/120.05(1);
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A federal law enforcement investigation codenamed “Operation Varsity Blues” recently resulted in the arrests of dozens of people for allegedly conspiring to fraudulently obtain admissions into selective universities. Fifty people have been accused of working together to bribe university athletic coaches, submit fraudulent college applications, cheat on college entrance exams, and otherwise bribe college officials into admitting otherwise undeserving applicants. The accused individuals include two former Hollywood actresses – Felicity Huffman and Lori McLaughlin (who famously portrayed “Aunt Becky” on the TV show “Full House”) – as well as wealthy hedge fund managers and the chair of international law firm Wilkie Farr & Gallagher, among others. Wealthy parents paid as much as $6.5 million in bribes and fraudulent payments to get their children into the universities of their choice, including Stanford, Yale, USC and others. The case has seized the national attention as an example of the privileged elite abusing their power and influence, and the Department of Justice states that this is the largest college admissions scandal that it has ever prosecuted.

The case began as many federal investigations do – with an undercover cooperator. Somehow, law enforcement investigators with the FBI identified William Rick Singer, the founder and chief executive officer of a nonprofit “college placement organization” called the Key, as a person engaged in unlawful activity.  Though the precise details have not yet been shared, it is clear that they ultimately confronted him with the evidence of his illegal activity and made a deal with him: cooperate against the people who had enlisted his help in order to minimize his eventual punishment.

Mr. Singer then started recording his telephone calls and conversations with his criminal clients. Those calls apparently revealed a wide-ranging series of scams designed to get students into the schools of their choice. For example, Singer arranged for students who had struggled on the college entrance exams to get favorable disability diagnosis from an enlisted medical professional so as to get more time to take their tests. Then, he also arranged for the prospective students to take their college placement tests under the supervision of a paid-for proctor who either corrected their answers or permitted someone else to take their tests for them. Singer made arrangements to have students appear to be successful athletes when they were not, or flat-out bribed college athletic coaches into agreeing to tell the admissions office that they needed the students for their college sports teams. Some of the college coaches were allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraudulently accept students onto their teams (and therefore, into the school) without the relevant athletic credentials.

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The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have successfully represented dozens of individuals accused of violating Penal Law Section 265.01 (Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree). In New York City, these cases are often brought as Desk Appearance Tickets, and the arrests are oftentimes made during routine examinations during traffic stops, in the subway system, or at the airport.

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or “Kung Fu star”;  or
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The criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have successfully represented many people charged with money laundering in federal court. This serious accusation can result in very significant penalties, including huge fines and lengthy prison sentences. However, these charges are also frequently quite defensible, too. As such, if you or a loved one have been accused by federal prosecutors of money laundering, you should strongly consider contacting Galluzzo & Arnone’s team of former prosecutors.

Money laundering charges typically go hand-in-hand with other related criminal charges brought by law enforcement. Individuals involved in narcotics trafficking, loansharking, racketeering, or Medicare fraud, for example, usually conduct their business in cash for understandable reasons. The problem that these people oftentimes face, however, is that they cannot use their criminal proceeds to purchase things that they want to buy, like real estate for example. This is when money laundering becomes relevant.

Typically, money laundering charges arise when a person with a quantity of illegally-derived cash wants to put the money into a bank account or buy assets with it. A criminal might seek to launder his or her own illegal money by depositing it into a bank account or wiring it to another account. He or she might also enlist the assistance of a professional launderer who takes a percentage of the laundered funds in exchange for depositing them into an account or investing them in some business or asset. The criminal with cash may also manipulate an unwitting novice into laundering it for them, so as to escape responsibility in the event the laundering is discovered.

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Multiple news sources across the Nation are reporting that New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft has been charged with – but not yet arrested for – two counts of solicitation of a prostitute in Jupiter, Florida. The charges apparently stem from a months-long investigation into prostitution and human trafficking activity alleged to have occurred at a Day Spa Kraft is alleged to have attended. While the New England Patriots vehemently deny Kraft’s guilt, Jupiter law enforcement says otherwise, and claims to have video surveillance depicting Kraft being driven to and from the spa, as well as engaging in sexual acts inside of the spa. If what the police in Florida are saying is accurate, there should be relatively damning evidence which would militate in favor of Kraft seeking to negotiate a favorable plea as soon as possible.

Presumably, Kraft has been charged under Florida Statute796.07(2)(f) – Solicitation of Prostitution – which is committed when a person solicits, induces, entices, or procures another person to engage in prostitution, lewdness, or assignation. Assuming Kraft is indeed a first offender, he faces up to one year jail, 1 year of probation, and up to $1,000.00 in fines. It’s worth noting that under Florida law, both second and third-time solicitation offenders can be charged with felonies which obviously have enhanced penalties.

So, what charges would apply if the same crimes Kraft is alleged to have committed occurred here in New York? Kraft would likely face charges under Penal Law 230.04 – Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the Third Degree – which is a Class “A” misdemeanor. Penal Law 230.03(a) defines patronizing a person for prostitution as the payment of a fee to another person as compensation for such person or a third person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her. Subsection (b) includes paying or agreeing with another to engage in sexual conduct with another, while subsection (c) includes the mere solicitation or request to do so.

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In late 2017, we reported on the enactment of CPL Section 160.59, New York’s newest sealing statute. According to a recent New York Daily News article, however, the benefits of the statute have been largely ignored, which is unfortunate.

In a nutshell, CPL Section 160.59 allows people with certain non-violent/non-sex offense convictions to apply for judicial sealing of their records after a ten year waiting period. The law also allows people with criminal records to apply for sealing for up to as many as two convictions, one of which may be a non-class “A”/non-sex offense/non-violent felony, while those who have been convicted of more than two crimes or more than two felonies are ineligible. The effect of the statute is to render records of convictions unavailable to the public and remove the stigma of having a criminal record after an apparent and demonstrable period of rehabilitation.

While we have personally expressed that the sealing statute did not go as far as it should have in truly expunging the records of low-level offenders, the reality is that passage of CPL 160.59 was unprecedented for the state of New York and has constituted a much needed step in the right direction towards giving people who makes mistakes a much needed second chance. As the Daily News reports, less than 1% of the estimated 600,000 people considered to be eligible for sealing under CPL 160.59’s have taken the opportunity to petition the Courts for help, unfortunately. We would like this to change by creating awareness of the laws passage.

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As criminal defense attorneys, we defend people from all walks of life who have been accused of committing a wide variety of crimes. Here, we discuss two of the more embarrassing charges some of our clients face: Public Lewdness (P.L. § 245.00) and Exposure of a Person (P.L. § 245.01).

P.L. § 245.01 – Exposure of a Person

We’ll deal with this one first. Simply put, Exposure of a Person makes it a violation to expose one’s private parts in public. This statute is fairly straight forward enough.

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Our attorneys have represented dozens of people arrested and/or given Desk Appearance Tickets for cases involving assault allegations. The recent disposition of actor Alec Baldwin’s (most recent) case provides an excellent example of what can happen in a straightforward assault case.

Mr. Baldwin was arrested in November after allegedly punching someone over a parking spot in Manhattan. Mr. Baldwin generally denied punching the other person though he admitted to pushing him. Baldwin was actually given a Desk Appearance Ticket and eventually charged with Attempted Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law 110/120.00), a Class B misdemeanor, and Harassment in the Second Degree (Penal Law 240.26), a violation. Prosecutors reviewed video surveillance footage, spoke to witnesses, and considered the complainant’s medical records before ultimately making a plea bargain offer to Mr. Baldwin. Under the terms of that deal, which Mr. Baldwin accepted in January 2019, Mr. Baldwin pleaded guilty to Harassment in the Second Degree and will undergo a short anger management program.

By pleading guilty, Mr. Baldwin was convicted of Harassment in the Second Degree. However, this conviction is not a “crime” under New York state law, it is a violation and/or criminal offense. As such, in response to the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime,” Mr. Baldwin could answer “no”.  Also, upon completing this short anger management course (typically completed within one day), Mr. Baldwin’s records will be sealed to the public after one year. The most important benefit to this deal, of course, is that Mr. Baldwin avoids the possibility of being convicted of the misdemeanor charge and receiving a possible (though unlikely in this case) sentence of jail.

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This week especially, we observe the life of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The day should serve as a stark reminder that we must continue to fight against many of the same injustices that Dr. King did. A substantial portion of these injustices acutely manifest themselves in the criminal justice system. As such, we must continue to focus on bail reform, ending the mass incarceration of minorities, evening the criminal justice playing field by instituting better discovery provisions, appointing Judges who come from and understand the dynamics of the communities they preside over, helping prisoners obtain education so they may readjust to life after prison, enacting true expungement mechanisms to remove the life-long handicap of certain criminal convictions and allow for second chances, and more… Much of Dr. King’s Dream has yet to be realized. We all must do our part to ensure that justice is applied equally. Today we should reflect upon and honor everything Dr. King stood for, as well as ask ourselves how we can participate in fulfilling every aspect of his dream. -Galluzzo & Arnone.

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With the advent of smartphones – which arm practically every citizen with a readily available high-definition camera – Unlawful Surveillance has become an incredibly common charge in New York, especially in the populated City. In a nutshell, the charge applies when someone inappropriately records, views or broadcasts another without their consent. And it’s a serious one.

Those who are accused of using cameras of any kind to record into dressing rooms, for example, are generally charged under Penal Law Section 250.45(1) and/or 250.45(2), which applies where a defendant surreptitiously views, broadcasts or records a person dressing or undressing, or the sexual or other intimate parts of a person when such person expects to be in private.

Those who surreptitiously view, broadcast or record someone in a bedroom, changing room, fitting room, restroom, toilet, bathroom, washroom, or shower, among other places, are charged under PL 250.45(3)(a).