Articles Tagged with Federal criminal law

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Recently, three men were indicted and arrested in New York City for allegedly working together to run an unlicensed money transmitting business servicing customers in the Middle East (specifically in Yemen, Turkey, Iraq, the UAE, and Jordan, among other places). Though many places in the Middle East have traditionally relied upon informal money transmitting systems known as hawala, this particular arrangement resulted in serious charges for Mohanad Al-Zubaidi, Shaker Saleh Mohammed Hauter, and Abdulkader Noori Hamza. They purportedly transmitted 65 million dollars for their clients over the years, typically keeping a few percent of each transaction for themselves as payment. Though hawala proponents might argue that this system is necessary in light of the shortcomings of the banking systems in the Middle East, it unfortunately also presents problems for American efforts to prevent the laundering of illegal proceeds from the United States, as there is no monitoring of these transactions. Money transmittal businesses can be operated legally with the proper licenses and registration, but obviously some operators prefer not to be openly registered or licensed for a variety of reasons. Each of these defendants now faces up to five years in prison for running this unregulated money transmittal business, in violation of 18 USC 1960. Notably, Mr. Al-Zubaidi also faces up to thirty years in prison for alleged bank fraud, for purportedly creating bank accounts in the names of fictitious “shell” corporations, in violation of 18 USC 1344. The government will also likely seek to impose huge financial penalties on these defendants, and to disgorge any and all profits they may have earned; indeed, they make seek to hold the transmitters responsible for the amount of money they illegal transmitted. A copy of the indictment is available here.

There are a variety of possible defenses in this case, most of which will depend upon the particular role that each individual is alleged to have played, and what if any knowledge they had of the overall scheme.

Matthew Galluzzo is an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. He has successfully represented individuals accused of operating unlicensed money transmittal businesses with connections to the Middle East. For many years, he has been one of the go-to criminal defense attorneys for the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and has represented over sixty of their citizens in criminal cases across the United States. He practices primarily in federal court.

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French developer Aurélien Michel is charged with Fraud for alleged $ 2.9 NFT’s rug pull

On January 4, 2023, French footballer, Aurélien Michel, was arrested by US authorities as he passed through JFK airport.

He was immediately taken into custody and brought before a federal judge in Brooklyn, where he was arraigned on a complaint charging him with being the leader of a scheme involving NFT fraud. He posted bail on February 1, 2023 and has been at liberty in the U.S. since that time. 

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In federal court, the sentences for narcotics trafficking can be quite severe. The maximum and minimum penalties are generally contained in 21 U.S.C. Section 841. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines also help predict a likely outcome for a federal narcotics case. Generally speaking, the charges normally can be divided into three subsections of the law: 21 U.S.C. Section 841(b)(1)(A) provides for a ten year mandatory minimum sentence, 21 U.S.C. Section 841(b)(1)(B) most provides for a five year mandatory minimum sentence, and 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(C) has no mandatory minimum sentence. However, those penalties can change significantly if a person overdoses or dies as a result of the drug at issue, and if the convicted seller has a prior conviction for selling narcotics.

For example, if a person is convicted in federal court of selling even a small amount of drugs, and one of his customers dies from an overdose, the minimum penalty immediately becomes 20 years. If the convicted person also has a prior conviction for selling narcotics, that person may face a life sentence for having sold drugs that results in an overdose.

These cases can certainly be defended against at trial. It can be difficult for prosecutors to prove which drugs a deceased person may have consumed, who they purchased them from, or whether the drugs were actually responsible for the person’s death. However, these cases are extremely serious and should be defended by an attorney with experience in these matters. Matthew Galluzzo, a federal criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor, has defended individuals accused of trafficking narcotics resulting in death. If you or a loved one are facing federal charges relating to narcotics, you should strongly consider contacting him to discuss his possible engagement.

 

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One common federal criminal charge applies to the possession of firearms by felons. 18 U.S.C. 922g includes a variety of situations involving illegal firearm possession, but subsection 1 of that provision states:

      (g) It shall be unlawful for any person – 

        (1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable

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Earlier this week, a Canadian woman from Quebec named Pascale Ferrier was arrested by American border agents crossing into the United States near Buffalo, New York. She was wanted by law enforcement for allegedly sending an envelope containing ricin to the White House. (Ricin is a potentially lethal poison) The envelope was addressed to President Donald Trump and contained a note calling him, among other things, an “Ugly Clown Tyrant”. Fingerprints from the package sent to the President matched fingerprints on file from Ms. Ferrier’s previous incarceration in Texas. The letter and its contents also appear to match several other letters sent to prison officials in Texas, which also appear to have contained ricin. At the time of her arrest, Ms. Ferrier also allegedly had a firearm in her waistband.

For now, Ms. Ferrier is charged in a D.C. federal court with one count of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 871 (Threats against the President). Among other things, this charge makes it illegal for a person to knowingly deliver a letter containing a threat to take the life of the American President. The maximum penalty for this charge is 5 years in prison.

Ms. Ferrier is likely to face additional charges soon, however. For example, should law enforcement choose to charge her for the threatening letters she might have sent to the officials in Texas, she could face several counts of 18 U.S.C. Section 2332b (Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries). Basically, if a person attempts to kill an official of a U.S. government agency through the mail in a manner transcending national boundaries, then that person can be charged with this crime. Those charges would carry potential life sentences.

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The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo recently earned an excellent result for our client in Brooklyn federal court (the Eastern District of New York). Our client was originally arrested at JFK Airport in 1990 and charged with lying to a U.S. Customs agent about a significant amount of cash that he had in his possession at the airport. Federal prosecutors indicted him for two criminal charges related to this deception, in violation of 31 USC 1536(b) and 18 USC 1001. However, rather than return to court and defend himself, he returned to his home country and remained there for the next 28 years (note: he was not our client in 1990). Later, in 2018, he attempted to come back to the United States to visit his family but was arrested at the airport pursuant to a 1990 warrant for failing to appear in the Brooklyn federal court as required.

The sentencing range for the original criminal charges under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines was 12-18 months (Base Offense Level of 13 with a two level increase for obstructing justice offset by a possible two level reduction for acceptance of responsibility following a guilty plea). Of course, the client also now faced the possibility of additional criminal charges and penalties for acting as a fugitive and failing to appear in court.  The prosecution initially submitted a proposed plea agreement whereby the client would receive a sentence of between 12-18 months in prison.

However, the attorneys at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo presented to the federal prosecutor considerable mitigating evidence of our client’s life story and family, as well as circumstances surrounding his original crimes. Ultimately, the prosecutors agreed to allow the client to plead guilty to the second count of the original indictment and avoid additional charges for acting as a fugitive. The second count of the indictment carried a 0-6 month Guidelines sentence, representing a considerable savings on the original 12-18. Then, we were able to persuade the judge to schedule an expedited sentencing hearing and ultimately to sentence our client to time served. Thus, instead of receiving a sentence of between 12-18, as it originally appeared our client would, our client received a sentence of less than four months. Obviously, the client is quite happy with the result.

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