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The New Frontier of Drug Crimes: Silk Road, Agora, and the Dark Web

The traditional business model of drug trafficking, though potentially lucrative, is fraught with peril and obstacles for its participants at all levels. Thanks to fantastic television programs like The Wire and Breaking Bad, many Americans already have a basic understanding of this business model: Transactions are conducted using cash, and regulatory safeguards at banks and other institutions make it difficult for dealers to use their income to make large purchases (thereby necessitating the risky business of money laundering). Transactions are also generally made face-to-face and hand-to-hand, meaning that the dealers and buyers can be fairly easily identified or apprehended by law enforcement.

These sorts of traditional drug dealing operations use levels and levels of intermediaries to protect the chiefs from being directly implicated, but law enforcement officers have routinely been able to force low- and medium-level dealers to “snitch” on their suppliers. Moreover, this business model’s need for a human being to personally deliver contraband makes the buyers and sellers potentially subject to violent acts by thieves or competitors.

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University Campus Sexual Assault Disciplinary Proceedings

Sexual assault on university campuses has long been a huge and underreported problem, but recently, the topic has received a tremendous amount of press coverage. As a result of this – as well as a spate of Title IX lawsuits alleging that universities have failed to make campuses safe from rape – schools have been frantically overhauling their investigative procedures and retraining its investigators. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that the rights of the accused are being trampled and false or trivial accusations are oftentimes now presumed to be legitimate. False accusations do happen – consider the cases of the Duke lacrosse team or the recent accusation at the University of Virginia – and they can ruin innocent lives and reputations.

Of course, an accusation of sexual misconduct can have huge consequences for the accused beyond mere academic suspension or expulsion: criminal charges or civil lawsuits can ensue and be even more terrifying and damaging. Thus, it’s critical for an accused to mount a vigorous defense from the outset to both prevent career-derailing academic punishments and discourage the complainant from pursuing the matter in any other forums (such as the criminal justice system).

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G&A defense attorney Matthew Galluzzo appeared in the New York Daily News on Monday in connection with a story about his client who pleaded guilty in federal court to sexual abuse on an international airplane flight. The Sentencing Guidelines and the prosecutor recommended a sentence of between 6 to 12 months in jail, but Mr. Galluzzo was able to successfully persuade the judge to sentence him to time served, or zero days in jail. The client is now on his way home.

The article is available here: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/plane-passenger-apologizes-nyc-court-woman-groped-article-1.2029296

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Over the course of two days (yesterday and today), Judge Masipa issued her verdict in the South African murder trial of former paralympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius. After a lengthy explanation of her factual findings and legal conclusions, she declared him not guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, but convicted him of a lesser charge called culpable homicide. To begin to understand this verdict, we have to consider first South African trial procedural.

The verdict itself was delivered in a way unfamiliar to most American audiences. In the U.S., when a verdict is reached by a judge or jury in a criminal case, the verdict is simply read aloud by the judge or jury foreperson: “Guilty” or “Not Guilty.” These verdicts come without explanation. Not so in South Africa; the judge reads aloud pages and pages of factual findings and conclusions about the evidence that was presented (with this process sometimes taking days) while the defendant agonizingly waits for the verdict at the end: guilty or not guilty.

Also, unlike in the United States, in South Africa, there are no jury trials (they were abolished in response to concerns that the country’s history of apartheid would often make fair jury trials nearly impossible). Thus, judges always decide the verdicts in criminal cases. (In the U.S., defendants can typically waive juries and request that their judges decide guilt or innocence in a similar fashion).

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When a person is arrested for a crime in New York State, the immediate concerns are to avoid jail time and to protect against criminal conviction. However, for certain licensed professionals and employees of banks and other FDIC-insured institutions, other collateral concerns must be addressed at the earliest possible time. In fact, critical mistakes can be made with respect to these concerns at the earliest stages of criminal prosecutions. Even a seemingly beneficial disposition offer at the arraignment proceeding can lead to disastrous consequences down the road. Thus, if such individuals find themselves under arrest and being processed through the system to arraignment, it is important to retain FINRA and FDIC knowledgeable counsel prior to any arraignment or court appearance, even if it takes place hours after the initial arrest and detention.

FINRA Concerns

As set forth on FINRA’s website, Form U4 is the Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer. Representatives of broker-dealers, investment advisers, or issuers of securities must use the form to become registered persons in appropriate jurisdictions. See http://www.finra.org/web/groups/industry/@ip/@comp/@regis/documents/appsupportdocs/p015111.pdf.

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Today, it was announced that the New York State Senate passed legislation criminalizing the act of “revenge porn”. The bill needs to be approved by the New York Assembly in order to become law, but we suspect that it will. We have previously written about revenge porn and New York state’s need for a criminal statute that applies, so we consider this a welcome development, generally. Also, in theory, victims of this crime will have an implied cause of action in civil court for damages against the perpetrators, which we think is of critical importance and ideally would have been explicitly added to New York state law as a civil cause of action.

However, we have one minor quibble with the bill as it stands. The bill makes it a class A misdemeanor to disseminate “sexually intimate images or images of intimate parts of another person without that person’s explicit consent in order to harm, harass, scare or alarm that individual.” (It also makes it a class E felony for re-offenders). It seems to us that it would be better and more precise if the charge caused one count of this crime to issue for each sexually explicit image that were disseminated. Otherwise, someone might be charged with one count of this crime for disseminating dozens of images, whereas another person might be charged with the same crime for disseminating just one image.

In any event, the announcement is great news for victims of revenge porn, as it indicates that public officials have finally recognized just damaging revenge porn truly is to the mental and emotional health of victims.

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On Monday April 7, Galluzzo & Arnone LLP partner and criminal defense lawyer Matthew Galluzzo appeared on CNN with Carol Costello to discuss the latest news concerning the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in South Africa. Mr. Galluzzo formerly worked as a legal consultant for the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa and was asked to comment in light of his experience with the South African criminal justice system.

Mr. Galluzzo, a former Manhattan prosecutor, has also previously defended numerous individuals in high-stakes and high-profile criminal defense matters with an outstanding record of success. If you are interested in getting his perspective on this Pistorius case, you can follow him on Twitter at @mattgalluzzo and #Pistoriustrial.

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Blog – § 1983 Case Plan:

Given the ever increasing number of claims being filed for excessive force, false arrest, and/or malicious prosecution against the City and/or the New York City Police Department (‘NYPD’), the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York (‘SDNY’)(serving Manhattan, White Plains and Middletown, NY) came up with a case plan to ensure the timely hearing of such cases. This is known as the ‘§ 1983 Plan’. This Plan intends to facilitate the speedy disposition of such cases, however, it only applies to certain types of cases (those which are less complicated, and could be resolved quickly by following this Plan).

Service of the Complaint:

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Jumping a turnstile: How a little mistake can become a big problem.

Imagine this scenario: You’re running late for an important meeting in the city, and as you are standing at the subway turnstile you can see the subway train pulling up to the platform. In a nervous rush, you swipe your Metrocard only to get that dreaded message: SWIPE AGAIN THIS TURNSTILE. You swipe again and again to no avail. Realizing that your window is closing fast, you make the split-second decision to quickly hop over the bar. Sadly, though, an undercover police officer notices your amazing display of grace and athleticism and places you under arrest. Although it’s really only a crime worth $2.50, you’d be surprised at the consequences that you might face.

First and foremost, it is possible to spend a night in jail – or twenty-four hours – as a result of this arrest. Police officers have the authority to give first-time offenders a Desk Appearance Ticket for this sort of arrest, meaning that the arrestee gets taken back to the precinct, fingerprinted, held for a few hours, and then instructed to return to court for their arraignment at a later date (maybe about six weeks later). However, when the arrestee does not have valid ID on their person, or has been previously arrested, or has an open warrant (including even on a minor matter like a summons warrant), then that person is probably getting processed by the police as a “regular arrest,” meaning that they will be arrested and taken to Central Booking to await their arraignment straightaway. Obviously, a Desk Appearance Ticket is vastly preferable to a “regular arrest,” as the person is probably only in custody for about four hours, as opposed to maybe twenty-four hours per a normal “regular arrest”.

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New York Assmeblyman Edward Braunstein, who has previously proposed legislation to combat and criminalize the growing phenomenon of revenge porn, has proposed a new bill relating to the investigation and prosecution of sex crimes. Specifically, he has proposed legislation requiring universities to report rape allegations to local law enforcement. Although this proposal has some appeal, we think that it is important to consider its potential negative side effects.

Without question, far too many allegations of campus-based sexual assault never go anywhere. For one reason, universities and university police officers typically lack the necessary expertise, training or resources to handle these sorts of investigations as ably or professionally as local city/state police or prosecutors. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that universities are in many ways incentivized to make these cases go away. After all, no university wants to develop a public reputation as a place where rapes happen, and some administrators might even fear that the university could be liable for failing to provide adequate security in some cases (God forbid that a star athlete or child of a wealthy alumnus be accused of such a crime). Accordingly, one should not be surprised to hear tales from some victims of university officials subtly and sometimes not-so-subtly discouraging the victims from pursuing their complaints against fellow students.

Recently, it was suggested by some (not us) that Columbia University bungled (or perhaps intentionally ignored) the investigation of a student-athlete that had had several complaints made against him for sexual assault or misconduct. This proposed bill appears to be in response to that media flap. But would making universities mandatory reporters really help decrease the problem of sexual assault on New York college campuses?