Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Published on:

Recently, Matthew Galluzzo obtained an excellent result for a client in federal court. One of four co-defendants in a conspiracy to ship stolen cars to Africa, our client was charged with violating 18 USC Section 2312. As alleged in the indictment, the group shipped millions of dollars of stolen and fraudulent-obtained cars to Africa (primarily Ghana). Galluzzo’s client pleaded guilty and faced a sentencing range of 10-16 months under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (offense level 12 and Criminal History Category I).

Mr. Galluzzo submitted to the court a detailed sentencing memorandum describing the client’s difficult upbringing and hard work providing for his family. Mr. Galluzzo submitted character letters from the client’s family, friends and pastor in support of his good character and reputation. The court reviewed these submissions and, after a sentencing hearing in the Southern District of New York, decided not to impose an additional prison sentence upon him. The client will be on supervised release and able to continue with his current employment. (The client spent about six days in prison before arranging for the posting of his bail at the outset of the case and following his arrest.)

In addition, the client could have been subject to millions of dollars in restitution, meaning he might have been ordered to pay back money to the conspiracy’s victims to compensate them for the crimes. However, Mr. Galluzzo argued to the Court that such an award would have been unfair in his client’s case, given his minor role in the offense and his limited finances. The Court agreed not to impose any forfeiture or restitution penalties, as well.

Published on:

This week, American law enforcement officers arrested Aurelien Michel, a French national living in the UAE, as he passed through JFK International Airport in New York City. He has since been arraigned before a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) on federal wire fraud charges, pursuant to 18 USC Section 1343. A complaint unsealed in federal court alleges that Mr. Michel advertised and marketed a series of Mutant Ape NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and collected nearly three million dollars in sales of various cryptocurrencies from numerous buyers and investors. However, it is further alleged that Mr. Michel never delivered the NFTs to his investors, but instead transferred this money to various accounts controlled by him. The complaint alleges that he later apologized on the platform Discord for the “rug pull” (i.e. a slang term for failing to deliver after receiving funds) because the community had become too “toxic.”

It would appear from the complaint that Mr. Michel has an obvious defense that he did not intend to defraud anyone, and that he fully intended to give his customers their NFTs eventually. He may have received the funds and then encountered difficulty in acquiring the NFTs for his customers due to volatile market conditions or other issues.

It is always difficult to estimate sentencing exposure at this stage of a criminal case, but preliminary estimates might suggest the following for Mr. Michel:

Published on:

On December 14, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced two new indictments against several individuals accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering through alleged phony cryptocurrency schemes called Forcount and IcomTech. These cases present interesting challenges for both prosecutors and defense attorneys, however, because of the high volatility of the cryptocurrency market and the oftentimes lax regulation of the industry.

The allegations in these cases suggest that the defendants used the public enthusiasm and fervor around cryptocurrency investing to run what amounted to a Ponzi scheme with a crypto appearance. The defendants allegedly went to crypto conventions and investor events and flashed conspicuous wealth in order to persuade people to invest in their cryptocurrencies. The defendants allegedly used a software platform to allow investors to see their investments growing, but the defendants would not allow the investors to withdraw funds. Meanwhile, these defendants allegedly used the investor funds for their own purposes and spent the money lavishly.

The defendants might argue that there was in fact a real cryptocurrency investment that simply failed, as so many cryptocurrencies have. (Some reputable economists might even argue that the entire cryptocurrency industry is, at base, a Ponzi scheme in and of itself.) Prosecutors will use bank records and other evidence to show that these investor accounts ran dry because they were emptied by the defendants.

Published on:

Most defendants charged with narcotics trafficking in federal court are charged with violations of 21 U.S.C. Section 841 and 846. The potential penalties for those offenses generally depend upon the type of narcotic at issue, the quantity trafficked, and whether anyone died as a result of consuming those narcotics.

A similar federal statute relates to the importation of narcotics into the country from outside the country. 21 U.S.C. Section 952 makes it a federal felony to import controlled substances from any place outside of the United States. The maximum and minimum penalties for committing these crimes are set forth in 21 U.S.C. Section 960, and again generally depend upon the type and quantity of narcotic imported into the United States, and whether anyone died as a result of those narcotics.

A person does not have to be physically transporting narcotics to be guilt of this crime. Federal prosecutors routinely pursue people for conspiring with others to commit this crime, such that one defendant might be accused of physically transporting narcotics while other members of the members of the conspiracy play different roles in the planning and delivery of the narcotics or its proceeds. Indeed, these crimes are frequently charged along with 21 U.S.C. 846, the conspiracy statute.

Published on:

Extradition is the process by which a person wanted for (or convicted of) a crime in another country is seized by local law enforcement and delivered to the nation seeking to prosecute. The United States has extradition treaties with most of the other nations of the world. See 18 U.S.C. 3181. Each of these treaties is unique, however. So, before determining whether a person on American soil can or will be apprehended and extradited, the applicable treaty must be read and examined.

Generally speaking, if a foreign nation suspects that a person it wants to prosecute is currently on American soil, it will send a request for an arrest of that person to American federal law enforcement. If the U.S. government determines that its treaty with the other nation requires it to deliver to that nation a person currently on American soil, an American federal prosecutor will seek an arrest warrant and then an extradition certification for that person.

Once the person is in custody, the accused can attempt to prevent the transfer to the requesting nation. As a practical matter, it is normally difficult to succeed in preventing the transfer. The trial of the person’s guilt or innocence is not had on American soil – that happens in the requesting nation. In deciding whether to certify an extradition, an American court’s review is limited to determining: (1) whether the court has jurisdiction; (2) whether the offense charged is covered by the applicable treaty; (3) whether that treaty is in force; and (4) whether there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause for the charges. 31 U.S.C. § 3184.

Published on:

If you or a loved one have been charged with a federal crime in Connecticut, you need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to assist you as soon as possible. Matthew Galluzzo, a former Manhattan prosecutor with over twenty years of experience, has lived in Connecticut for a decade. He specializes primarily in defending against federal criminal charges, and has successfully represented numerous clients charged in federal court with crimes relating to:

Narcotics (21 U.S.C. 846 and 21 U.S.C. 841)

Wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343)

Published on:

The Assimilative Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 13, makes state law applicable to conduct occurring on lands reserved or acquired by the Federal government (as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 7(3)), when the act or omission is not already a crime under Federal law. For example, a person who commits the New York state law crime of Assault in the Third Degree on federal property might actually be prosecuted in federal court for, essentially, a violation of that state crime. The Assimilative Crimes Act could also possibly provide for the prosecution of sexual assault, burglary, and theft cases on federal property, to name a few examples. See e.g. Hockenberry v. United States, 422 F.2d 171 (9th Cir. 1970). See also United States v. Bowers, 660 F.2d 527 (5th Cir. 1981) (child abuse); United States v. Smith, 574 F.2d 988 (9th Cir. 1978)(sodomy); United States v. Johnson, 967 F.2d 1431 (10th Cir. 1992)(aggravated assault); United States v. Griffith, 864 F.2d 421 (6th Cir. 1988)(reckless assault); United States v. Kaufman, 862 F.2d 236 (9th Cir. 1988)(assault); Fesler v. United States, 781 F.2d 384 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1118 (1986)(child abuse).

Finally, it should be noted that although many crimes can be prosecuted in both state and federal court without violating the principle of Double Jeopardy, a state law crime prosecuted in federal court via the Assimilative Crimes Act cannot also be prosecuted in state court. See Grafton v. United States, 206 U.S. 333 (1907).

If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with a crime occurring on federal property in the New York City area, you should strongly consider contacting the Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo PLLC. Many defense attorneys know state law but are unfamiliar with the unique procedures of federal practice. Matthew Galluzzo, however, is a former Manhattan state prosecutor with over twenty years of experience who now specializes primarily in the defense of federal crimes. Give him a call to discuss your case and his possible representation of you.

Published on:

Strictly speaking, the criminal justice system does not require that victims of crime have lawyers. Prosecutors are responsible for pursuing criminal cases against perpetrators and are generally expected to at least consider the victims’ expectations or hopes regarding the outcome. However, over the years, Matthew Galluzzo (a former Manhattan prosecutor) has represented, advised, advocated on behalf of, and assisted dozens of crime victims in a wide variety of matters – most commonly sexual assault, domestic violence, and fraud. If you or a loved one have been a victim of a crime, you might benefit from a consultation with Mr. Galluzzo for the reasons set forth in more detail below.

  1. Understanding the Process

The criminal justice system can be intimidating for a victim, so much so that many crime victims decline to even make a report or complaint. As a longtime former Manhattan prosecutor, Matthew Galluzzo can answer questions a crime victim might have about the process, including: 1) whether, and how the perpetrator will be arrested, 2) what the perpetrator might be charged with and what penalties he/she would face, 3) whether the crime victim will have to testify, and/or when and how often, 4) whether the crime victim will ever have to confront the perpetrator in court, 5) whether the crime victim’s identity will ever be known to the perpetrator, and 6) what sort of outcome the crime victim might reasonably expect. Many crime victims have found these sorts of consultations with Mr. Galluzzo to be invaluable, in that it relieves some of the stress in the process and helps them decide what course of action to take.

Published on:

The Department of Education recently released new policies and procedures for American colleges and universities to follow in investigating allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment involving its students. Generally speaking, the new policies afford more protections for accused students than were required under the Obama-era Title IX policies, and victims’ rights advocates are already decrying the changes.

The biggest changes in the policy involve 1) granting accused students the right to cross-examine and confront their accusers (though not personally), 2) establishing that the standard of proof for a finding of guilt may be either “clear and convincing” or a “preponderance of the evidence,” (matching civil law standards, generally) , and 3) and redefining the meaning of “sexual harassment” to align with the U.S. Supreme Court’s definition: “sexual harassment” is unwelcome conduct that is “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access.” (Under the Obama administration, sexual harassment was more broadly defined as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”)

These changes will have a huge impact on Title IX sexual harassment/assault proceedings on college campuses. Previously, in connection with complaints of sexual assault to school administrators, student/complainants would give their version of events (one way or another) during an investigation and/or hearing, and the accused would have the ability to give his/her version of events. However, there would be no confronting of the witnesses by the adverse parties. Moreover, the standard of proof was so low, the administrators so risk-averse and generally sympathetic to victims, and the elements of an actionable offense were so broad that successfully defending against these accusations was exceptionally difficult. As a practical matter, accused students generally lost and were disciplined or expelled. However, many students complained that the trials were akin to the Salem witch trials, with no due process and no real chance to win. Indeed, lawsuits were filed by accused students in federal courts across the country, and so many of them persuaded courts that they had been denied due process during Title IX investigations that these changes by the current administration may have been an inevitable response to the litigation.

Published on:

Federal law enforcement agents from the DEA routinely seize quantities of cash that they suspect to be tied to or derived from narcotics trafficking. Frequently, these seizures happen in conjuncture with the arrests of those in possession of the cash, or pursuant to indictments. But most of the time, agents seize cash – even huge sums of it – without arresting anyone. In those cases, the owners or possessors of that seized cash have some difficult decisions to make.

In these cases, federal law generally requires the agents to send a notice to the person from whom the cash was seized. The person who receives the notice is typically given the opportunity to make a claim for the cash, which includes an explanation as to the source of the cash. This response must be made under penalty of perjury, and can include supplemental documentation from a related business (such as tax returns or bank statements), or sworn statements from other people, among other things. Every once in awhile, the agents return the cash to the claimant based upon the representations made by the claimant, or based upon the evidence demonstrated to the agency. Our attorneys have successfully assisted clients in getting cash returned by federal agents this way.

If, however, the agency refuses to return the money based upon these representations, then they must commence a civil forfeiture action in federal court. The precise procedures for doing so are outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 983. Ultimately, in a civil court proceeding, the federal agency (DEA) must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the seized cash represents proceeds of illegal activity. This is the civil standard for proof and it is much lower (easier) than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard necessary to prove a person’s guilt of a crime.

Contact Information