New York skyline and picture of Attorneys
Former New York ProsecutorsAggressive Representation With Over 30 Years of Experience
Published on:

Earlier this month, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., announced three new policies to further streamline the criminal justice system and reduce the backlog of cases in New York County’s Criminal Courts. As of February 1, 2018, the Manhattan DA’s Office began declining to prosecute, with certain exceptions, all New York City subway farebeat (“turnstile jump”) and unlicensed general vendor cases. That same date, the Manhattan DA’s office instituted a sweeping desk appearance ticket policy in which first-arrestees who are issued tickets for low-level, non-violent misdemeanor charges are given the option of attending a two to four-hour “pre-arraignment diversion program” in lieu of being formally prosecuted in a court of law. Upon proof of program completion, the Manhattan DA’s Office promises to then decline to prosecute entirely – meaning, no formal charges will be brought. Only those who opt out of the program (or otherwise fail to complete it) will be directed to appear in court to face prosecution. Simply put – first arrestees for low-level offenses will now have the option of going to class instead of court.

While this new policy would appear to be a noble effort on the part of the Manhattan District Attorney to benefit all, this new first-arrest policy will have an unintended but disastrous effect on arrestees who (a) work for FDIC-insured banks or intend to do so in the future, and (b) are charged with petit larceny (or any theft-related offense). Whereas our lawyers normally strive to secure adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (“ACD”) for first-arrestee clients charged with low-level theft-related offenses, these delayed dismissals can have a disastrous effect on current or prospective employees of FDIC-insured institutions.

As we have explained carefully in a previous blog, Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act prohibits, without the prior written consent of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a person convicted of a criminal offense involving dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering,

Published on:

Understanding Domestic Violence and the Criminal Justice System

Some of the most common types of cases in New York City’s criminal courts are those involving domestic violence. The criminal courts classify as “domestic violence” those crimes allegedly committed against family members, spouses, and/or current or former romantic partners. Those crimes can include actual violent acts like assault and/or rape, threatening behavior like menacing or harassment, and violations of orders of protection (criminal contempt), among other things. Typical charges might include Assault in the Third Degree (Penal Law 120.00, a class A misdemeanor), Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree (Penal Law 240.30, a class A misdemeanor), Strangulation in the Second Degree (Penal Law 121.12, a class D felony), and Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree (Penal Law 215.50) (a class A misdemeanor).

Many victims of domestic violence are surprised to learn that they cannot simply “drop the charges” against a defendant, or voluntarily and immediately terminate the criminal case they helped initiate. Quite frequently, a dispute between family members or spouses leads to someone calling the police, and when the police arrive, one of the participants in the argument (or the victim) reports that they have been assaulted or threatened. That report alone provides probable cause for the police to make an arrest, and, generally, police are in fact required to make an arrest under such circumstances. The complainants frequently regret having made the reports leading to the arrests, but after the arrests, the decision about whether the case proceeds or not is not the complainant’s decision to make.

Published on:

The viability of the Paz de la Huerta rape case against Harvey Weinstein

Recently, numerous media outlets have published stories suggesting that the NYPD has built a “viable case” of rape against Harvey Weinstein based upon a complaint made by actress Paz de la Huerta. (Specifically, according to a recent Vanity Fair article, the actress claims that Harvey Weinstein raped her in her apartment on two occasions in 2010). Given that dozens of women – mostly Hollywood actresses – have now publicly complained of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein, the public’s desire to see Weinstein punished is incredibly high. The Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, is deservedly under considerable pressure to bring Weinstein to justice. After all, his office made a basically indefensible decision to dismiss a strong sexual assault case against Weinstein based upon a timely and straightforward complaint by a victim which was corroborated by an audiotaped confession and a prompt outcry to a friend. This decision is especially ripe for criticism since Weinstein’s defense attorneys donated money to Vance’s re-election campaign.

However, bringing this new rape case against Weinstein may actually be far more difficult and problematic than this prior sexual assault case against Weinstein that the D.A.’s office chose not to prosecute. What follows is the objective and detached opinion of Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor in the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Published on:

Earlier this week, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations announced the arrest of 10 individuals in connection with allegations of bribery, corruption and fraud in intercollegiate athletics. The arrests – which included that of four Division 1 NCAA men’s basketball coaches – were handed down as a resulted of a two-year joint investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney into the illicit influence of money on coaches and student-athlete relationships in the NCAA.

The takedown highlights a problem which has seemingly occurred under the nose of the NCAA for years: the exploitation of future NBA player prospects by their coaches – who happen to be those that have the greatest degree of influence and control over them and their future careers. According to the first of two complaints which were unsealed earlier this week, these coaches took bribes from athlete advisors – including business managers and financial advisors to professional atheletes – in exchange for convincing promising college players “under their control” to retain the services of the bribers. As stated in this complaint, “many…coaches have enormous influence over the student-athletes who play for them, in particular with respect to guiding those student-athletes through the process of selecting agents and other advisors when they prepare to leave college and enter the NBA.” The scheme targeted top high school and college prospects with lucrative contracts on the horizon.

The second complaint alleges that a high-level executive at an athletic apparel company – confirmed by the media to be Adidas – paid bribes to high school prospects and their families for the purpose of inducing them to commit to universities which are sponsored by Adidas as opposed to those that are sponsored by their rivals. In describing the allegations at a press release, Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated “the picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one…Month after month, the defendants allegedly exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”

Published on:

Sexual assault charges and medical doctors/therapists

The attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have significant experience defending a wide variety of professionals against criminal and civil accusations of rape and sexual abuse (Matthew Galluzzo, in particular, is a former sex crimes prosecutor in Manhattan with a long track record of success in defending against sex crimes cases). These sorts of allegations are devastating for anyone to endure, but they can be particularly consequential for medical doctors and mental health practitioners.

First, accusations of sexual abuse involving medical doctors can be press-worthy affairs. Recently, an emergency room doctor in New York City was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually abusing patients at his hospital, and his case received considerable media coverage. Needless to say, the media coverage has permanently destroyed his reputation.

Published on:

A significant percentage of police reports and lawsuits alleging sexual abuse involve people accusing co-workers of having committed the offense. However, unlike complaints involving sexual abuse allegedly committed by strangers or acqutainances, these sorts of matters tend to take a more circuitous route through the court system (if they even arrive there at all). Individuals accused of sexually assault or harassing co-workers face a host of complicated issues, and need experienced attorneys wholly devoted to defending their interests and future.

Thorough investigation of these cases is the key to success. Individuals that allege that they have been assaulted or harassed by co-workers frequently (perhaps, typically) report the incident to management before they contact the police or plaintiffs' attorneys. One of the keys to defeating these allegations is by highlighting the inconsistencies in the reports. Accordingly, determining what exactly the accuser said to management – as well as to other co-workers – about the alleged incident can be crucial to undercutting the allegations later brought in a police complaint or lawsuit. Significant inconsistencies can be devastating to the complaining witness' credibility and must be uncovered as soon as possible.

Plaintiffs also oftentimes threaten to file police reports unless their civil settlement demands are met by the accused individuals or their employers. A skillful and trusted advocate may be able to pre-emptively undermine the credibility of such a plaintiff by communicating with the prosecutor after the criminal complaint has been made but before an arrest has been authorized. Matthew Galluzzo is a former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor and understands some of the concerns and reservations that prosecutors sometimes have about civil plaintiffs in this arena, and has the respect of many prosecutors specializing in this area of investigation.

Published on:

After an incredibly long period of deliberation – 52 hours – a Pennsylvania jury recently announced that it could not reach a unanimous decision regarding any of the criminal charges against Bill Cosby involving his alleged sexual assault of Andrea Constand. The judge was forced to declare a mistrial and the prosecutor has already declared that their office intends to retry the case with a new jury. Of course, this now begs the questions: 1) what went wrong for the prosecution, and 2) what could they do differently to get a conviction? Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor, offers a few thoughts on the subject.

First and foremost, sex crimes cases involving acquaintances are among the most difficult cases in which to secure convictions. Some talking heads in the media seem to think that this case should have been an easy conviction but that presumption simply belies the reality of what happens in criminal court. These types of cases are inherently challenging for prosecutors for several reasons that were at issue here.

To begin, these “he said/she said” sexual assault cases depend enormously on the credibility of the accuser, and the defense attorneys did everything that they should have done as advocates for their client to raise doubts about Ms. Constand. First, they highlighted her inconsistent statements to law enforcement about the incident. Nothing torpedoes a sex crimes case faster than inconsistent reports from the accuser. After all, inconsistent statements also tend to be made more often by liars than by those telling the truth. Inconsistent statements by the complainant suggest that the complainant has little respect for the truth and thus cannot be trusted to tell it at trial under oath. They also tend to suggest that the complainant has a nefarious agenda that causes him or her to “tailor” her testimony to her audience be perceived more favorably or to increase his/her chances of success. Understandably, defense attorneys always pounce on evidence that suggests those things and they did in this case. Specifically, they argued (as they should have) that the complainant was an attention-seeking, money-grubbing liar who had attempted to minimize her prior contacts and relationship with Cosby when initially making her report to law enforcement in an obvious effort to be perceived more favorably by them. They further argued that she had had a consensual romantic relationship with Cosby and only made a report to police when she did not profit from the relationship in the way that she had hoped.

Published on:

On June 14, an article in the Washington Post announced that special prosecutor Robert Mueller was investigating whether President Trump had obstructed justice by taking steps to impede the FBI's investigation into possible collusion by his campaign with Russian intelligence agents. Matthew Galluzzo appeared as a legal commentator on Fox 5 News New York to discuss this announcement.

The link is available here:

Report: Special counsel investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice

Published on:

On June 15, after over thirty hours of deliberations and several requests for read back of testimony, the Cosby jury indicated that it was deadlocked. Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor, tweeted the night before that he expected the jury to hang (meaning, to be deadlocked). The judge told the jury to continue deliberating (this is called "giving an Allen charge") and denied a defense motion for a mistrial as being premature. However, Mr. Galluzzo expects the jury to be unable to reach a verdict.

In an American criminal case, the jury's decision as to a particular charge must be unanimous, meaning that all twelve jurors must agree as to the verdict (guilty or not guilty) for a specific charge. A jury can convict unanimously on some charges and acquit unanimously on other charges in the same trial (and that happens quite frequently). A jury indicates to the court and judge that it has reached a verdict by sending out a written note that they have reached a verdict, and the jury emerges to announce the verdict in the courtroom.

Sometimes, as is the case in Cosby's trial, a jury sends out a note indicating that the jury cannot agree as to a particular charge (or any charges). Typically, a judge will then tell the jury that they should continue to deliberate. There is a very specific text that judges are usually required to read back to their deadlocked juries, and this text is typically referred to as an "Allen charge" (based upon a Supreme Court case with that name). An Allen charge is meant to encourage the jury to continue to try to reach a unanimous verdict, and reminds the jurors of the importance of arriving at a conclusion in light of the interests of the parties and the time and resources already spent trying the case.

Published on:

"Can I seal my criminal conviction in New York?" For years, our answer to this question was generally "no," but that's about to change. New York has just enacted a piece of legislation which will greatly benefit people with criminal records: As of October, 2017, CPL § 160.59 will allow people to apply for judicial sealing of misdemeanor and some felony convictions. This is an unprecedented development for New York, and one which the attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone are looking forward to utilizing in order to achieve a fresh new start for our clients, both personally and professionally. Here are some of the highlights of this groundbreaking law:

  • People with criminal records will soon be able to apply for sealing for as many as two convictions, one of which may be a felony, except that sealing will not be available for convictions involving most sex offenses, and class "A" and violent felonies. CPL § 160.59(2)(a);
  • Anyone convicted of more than two crimes, or more than two felonies, will be ineligible. CPL § 160.59(3), as will those against whom any charges are pending. CPL § 160.59(5);
  • Sealing will become available after a 10 year waiting period. In other words, you'll have to wait 10 years, counted from the date of the imposition of sentence, or the date of release from the latest period of incarceration; before you can file an application to expunge any records. CPL § 160.59(5);
  • Once granted, sealing will render any records of conviction unavailable to the public, although they will remain available to law enforcement and some licensing agencies.

How can I get my records sealed?

Those eligibe under CPL § 160.59 will be required to make a formal application before the sentencing judge and possibly conduct a hearing where the District Attorney will be entitled to object. The application will be fairly detailed and will require an attorney to submit sworn allegations in support of sealing as well as prepare to rebut any information the prosecuting attorney submits in opposition to sealing.