Articles Tagged with New York

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Thousands of domestic and international travelers pass through John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City every day. It should be unsurprising, then, that every day, Port Authority Police officers arrest a few travelers and give them Desk Appearance Tickets. A Desk Appearance Ticket is a summons given to a person who has been arrested for a criminal offense, and it directs them to appear before a judge in criminal court at a later date. Desk Appearance Tickets are usually reserved for misdemeanor offenses and for those individuals without significant criminal records in the United States.

Common Desk Appearance Tickets from JFK Airport include 1) shoplifting offenses (Petit Larceny – PL 155.25, a Class A misdemeanor) at the JFK retail shops or duty-free stores, 2) misdemeanor possession of controlled substances (PL 220.03), 3) misdemeanor possession of a weapon, such as a knife or collapsable baton or brass knuckles (PL 265.01), 4) theft of services, such as failing to pay a bar or restaurant tab (PL 165.15), and 5) assault (PL 120.00, a Class A misdemeanor). However, there are many other possible offenses at JFK Airport that could result in Desk Appearance Tickets.

A Desk Appearance Ticket is the same thing as a criminal arrest and a conviction for a misdemeanor can give you a permanent and public criminal record. It can also potentially result in jail time, probation, fines, loss of employment, loss of immigration status, and loss of licensure, depending on the circumstances. These DATs must be taken seriously, as should any criminal arrest. Matthew Galluzzo has successfully helped over 100 clients earn dismissals in cases involving Desk Appearance Tickets, and has specifically helped over a dozen clients with charges stemming from JFK Airport.

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One of the most serious charges in New York state criminal law is Operating as a Major Trafficker, in violation of Penal Law 220.77. That charge makes it a Class A-I felony to traffic in controlled substances worth $75,000.00 or more. This can be accomplished in three different ways:

1. act[] as a director of a controlled substance organization during any period of twelve months or less, during which period such controlled substance organization sells one or more controlled substances, and the proceeds collected or due from such sale or sales have a total aggregate value of seventy-five thousand dollars or more; or
2. As a profiteer, such person knowingly and unlawfully sells, on one or more occasions within six months or less, a narcotic drug, and the proceeds collected or due from such sale or sales have a total aggregate value of seventy-five thousand dollars or more, or
3. As a profiteer, such person knowingly and unlawfully possesses, on one or more occasions within six months or less, a narcotic drug with intent to sell the same, and such narcotic drugs have a total aggregate value of seventy-five thousand dollars or more. Operating as a major trafficker is a class A-I felony.
Unlike most of the other charges in Chapter 220 of the Penal Law, this particular charge focuses on the value of the narcotics, rather than the weight or quantity of the narcotics. Of course, the value of a quantity of narcotics can be easily disputed. Interestingly, this charge also aggregates the narcotics trafficking over time, whereas most state-court drug cases involve single transactions. Also, many times, charges are brought without sufficient proof that the accused played a supervising role in an actual organization.
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Last week, criminal defense attorney Matthew Galluzzo successfully persuaded a federal judge in Manhattan to sentence his client to a very favorable sentence. The client was guilty of selling fentanyl that led to the overdose death of a customer. Though there was no mandatory minimum for this offense, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines recommended a sentence of between 234 and 240 months in prison (i.e. approximately 20 years). The client had an extensive criminal record including, among other things, two prior felonies for drug trafficking and a conviction for a violent felony assault.

Mr. Galluzzo worked with a social worker to describe the client’s extremely difficult upbringing, which included parental abuse, poverty, homelessness, the foster care system, and drug abuse as a pre-teen. Mr. Galluzzo convinced the judge that pursuant to the recent Second Circuit decision in US v. Gibson, the client was not a Career Offender under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines despite his two prior convictions for NY Penal Law Section 220.39, resulting in his classification as a Criminal History Category IV instead of VI. He also convincingly described the overdose as a terrible accident and expressed his client’s remorse to the judge.

Ultimately, the Court granted a significant downward variance and gave him a sentence equal to roughly half that recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines, 120 months (10 years). The client was pleased with the result and felt that his voice had been heard. The case was US v. Huertero, 20-cr-580 (ER) before Judge Ramos.

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This week, Mr. Galluzzo obtained an excellent result for a client charged with a federal misdemeanor crime in Central Islip (EDNY) federal court.

The client, an attorney, was originally issued a summons by a park ranger for allegedly engaging in obscene conduct in a federal park in Fire Island. The summons suggested that he should resolve the case by paying a fine. However, such a guilty plea through the mail would have resulted in him being convicted of a federal misdemeanor crime. The client instead elected to go to court with Mr. Galluzzo as his counsel.

At the first appearance in federal court, Mr. Galluzzo spoke to prosecutors about the client’s exceptional background and the impact that a criminal conviction would have on his future and his career. The prosecutor was thus persuaded to dismiss the criminal charges in exchange for a $50 fine, which the client was happy to pay to resolve the matter.

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It was recently announced by the New York Attorney General’s Office that disgraced former New York governor Andrew Cuomo would be criminally prosecuted for an alleged groping of a female staffer at the governor’s mansion in Albany. 

Specifically, Cuomo will be charged with one count of Forcible Touching, in violation of Penal Law Section 130.52.* That code makes it a class A misdemeanor to intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose:

1. forcibly touch the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire;  or
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Today, New York-area.news outlets reported that an Instagram model with about 34,000 followers, Genie Exum, had been arrested and was awaiting arraignment in Manhattan on felony charges. Allegedly, she stabbed her boyfriend (ex-boyfriend) numerous times during an argument. The author of this post, Matthew Galluzzo, is a former supervising attorney in the domestic violence unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and has defended dozens of people charged with felony domestic violence. This is his analysis of what might happen to Ms. Exum and her case, and why.

Ms. Exum is being charged with one count of Assault in the Second Degree, a class D violent felony in violation of New York Penal Law Section 120.05. A person is guilty of it when they intentionally cause injury to another person by means of a weapon or dangerous instrument. Stabbing someone definitely qualifies (indeed, if the injuries were more serious, she would be looking at Assault in the First Degree). This the appropriate charge here.

At arraignments, the judge will issue an order of protection in favor of the victim of the stabbing (i.e. Ms. Exum’s boyfriend/ex-boyfriend), precluding her from having any contact with him whatsoever. She cannot contact him electronically, through social media, in person, or through third parties (some judges even go so far as to say that you cannot like the other person’s social media postings). Even if Ms. Exum’s boyfriend forgives her and tries to call her, for example, she cannot speak with him or communicate with him without violating the order of protection and risking a re-arrest by the police. The order is not the victim’s to apply as he sees fit – it is issued by the court and must be obeyed. These sorts of orders are particularly complicated when the parties lived together, as the criminal defendant simply has to vacate and find somewhere else to sleep.

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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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Today, the prosecutors in the case against Lori Loughlin filed with with the court a signed copy of her plea agreement, thereby indicating that Mr. Loughlin intends to plead guilty in connection with the “Varsity Blues” case involving college admissions fraud. (Her actual plea hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow, May 22, via videoconference). The agreement that she has entered into is somewhat rare in federal court, and has certain advantages for her.

Normally, in federal court, when a defendant chooses to plead guilty, he or she enters into a plea agreement with the prosecutors to establish certain terms and parameters for the sentencing. Plea agreements look like contracts and are usually at least five single-spaced pages long. A defendant acknowledges in the document that he/she is pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily, and that he/she cannot take back the guilty plea once it has been entered before the court at a plea hearing. The agreements usually set forth the minimum and maximum possible penalties for the charged offenses, so that the defendant can acknowledge that he/she understands them. Also, a defendant agrees to plead guilty to certain charges in the indictment, and admits to certain conduct (for example, an amount of money fraudulently stolen, or a quantity of narcotics trafficked) that impacts the sentencing. Then, the parties to the plea agreement (the prosecutor and the defendant) agree to certain other factors (such as the defendant’s role in the offense, for example) that may establish where on the sentencing chart (for the Federal Sentencing Guidelines) that defendant’s sentence is likely to be. But, the agreements explicitly state that the ultimate decision as to the defendant’s sentence will be up to the sentencing judge to determine, based upon these established facts and parameters within the plea agreement, as well as the judge’s own considerations of the defendant and the defendant’s crime.

Here, in Ms. Loughlin’s case, the sentence has already been established by the agreement. This fact makes the agreement quite unusual for federal court, though hardly unprecedented. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), Ms. Loughlin has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and in exchange, she will receive a sentence of two months in prison, a fine of $150,000.00, 24 months of supervised release with 100 hours of community service, and a special assessment of $100. The prosecution also will agree to dismiss the remaining charges against Ms. Loughlin and not pursue any further charges in connection with what it knows about this affair.  This all depends, however, upon the court accepting the agreement and Ms. Loughlin’s guilty plea.

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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.

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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.

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