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In SDNY Brooklyn State Judge Ash Faces Curcio Hearing and Culture Clash Attack

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Alamy photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 4 – A now suspended Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Sylvia Ash was first brought by US Marshals on October 11 to be presented in SDNY Magistrates Court on charges of obstructing the investigation of fraud at the Municipal Credit Union, where she was a board member.

  Then on November 4 she appeared with her Court Street lawyer Roger Archibald before SDNY Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. Things did not go well.

  Assistant US Attorney Richenthal argued that since Archibald signed one of the letter cited in the indictment, he might be a witness, and conflicted out as Ash's lawyer. He requested a so-called Curcio hearing.

  Archibald responded that of course Ash could waive the conflict if it caused her hardship. But Richenthal retorted, and Judge Kaplan agreed, that what Archibald said is not the law, at least not in the SDNY.

  Next Archibald got played on the exclusion of time. First he requested a delay in trial from May 2020 to September - then he opposed any exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act.

 Judge Kaplan pounced, saying Fine then, we'll start the trial in January. He said archly that he'd never seen Archibald in his 25 years on the bench. The AUSAs including Eli Mark played into it, making of the SDNY a sort of elite club, far removed from the world of Court Street, Brooklyn corruption. But is it? We'll continue to follow these cases - watch this site.

  Back on October 11 after a proceeding replete with State versus Federal court and Brooklyn versus Manhattan cultural clashes, Sylvia Ash was freed on $500,000 bond with a GPS location monitoring bracelet.

  Her Court Street lawyer Roger Archibald told reporters that she must be presumed innocent, then went back into the SDNY Magistrates Court to work on the logistics of his client's release.

  The release had not been sure. Assistant US Attorney Eli Mark complained that Ash's lawyer Archibald had inaccurately told prosecutors that Ash was on her way to Africa. Then that Archibald, when he learned Ash was instead on the way to Miami, had not updated or corrected the false information.

 Archibald for his part said Ash she be released without condition, given what he called her "pedigree." SDNY Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang quoted this back in her decision, saying that accepting that logic would mean unconditional release for any defendant with a degree.

  When Judge Wang asked Archibold to make his arguments under the applicable Federal statute under the Bail Reform Act, Archibald said he did not have a copy. Later he asked for the preliminary hearing on October 21, when the government has at least 21 days for defendants who are bailed.

   It was state versus Federal, Brooklyn versus Manhattan. Inner City Press, which reported on the presentment of a related defendant alone the previous evening, will continue to follow these cases as it has the underlying case of the MCU's Kam Wong, see below.

 before Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang around 7 pm a defendant was brought in by US Marshals and charged with the rare mix of embezzlement from a credit union and narcotic    The US Attorney's office said of Ash that she is "presiding judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Commercial Division, and former chair of the board of directors of [MCA and] was charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, arising from a scheme to seek to influence and impede an ongoing federal investigation into fraud and corruption at MCU, a non-profit, multibillion-dollar financial institution. 

U.S. Attorney Berman also announced today that JOSEPH GUAGLIARDO, a/k/a “Joseph Gagliardo,” a former New York City Police Department Officer and former member of MCU’s supervisory committee, was charged separately with embezzlement, fraud, and controlled substance offenses arising from abuse of his position as a member of the supervisory committee.  GUAGLIARDO was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, yesterday afternoon and was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang in Manhattan federal court.

For that later night October 10 presentment, Inner City Press was there: They called him Mister Guagliardo and everyone seemed to know his (retained) defense counsel.  Inner City Press was the only media in the Mag court and published a story, here AUSAs Eli Mark and Daniel Richenthal agreed he could be bailed if he agreed to only get drugs from a legitimate doctor; Richenthal personally took his passport and gave it to pre-trial services.

  But even an hour later the case was not listed in PACER. That remained the case on PACER even at 3 pm on October 11, by which time the US Attorney's Office emailed out that complaint and one, one docket number higher. To SDNY's credit, once raised at Ash's presentment, the earlier complaint went online. It is a work in progress.

 Back on June 4 when Kam Wong came to be sentenced for stealing nearly $10 million from New York City's Municipal Credit Union on June 4 before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl, the courtroom was full, including Stella M. Mendes, Administrator of the MCU as it went into NCUA conservatorship.

  Judge Koetlt repeatedly asked if the conservatorship was based on financial condition - that is, the theft of funds by Wong - or the management. At one point Assistant U.S. Attorney Eli J. Mark stood up to answer, until his colleague Daniel C. Richenthal stopped him. Ultimately, no one from the NCUA or New York State Department of Financial Services spoke at the sentencing.

  While the Guidelines called for 97 to 121 months, Judge Koeltl imposed a sentence of 66 months, still longer than those bank executives responsible for the subprime financial meltdown. Judge Koetlt also recommended Wong for the Bureau of Prison's drug problem, over the government's objection.

  Wong' defense lawyer Jeffrey H. Lichtman said he'd never seen the government take such a position in his 28 years as an attorney. AUSA Richenthal called it "offensive" to say the government merely wanted to avoid any shortening of Wong's sentence.

  Lichtman wrote in his sentencing submission that "with help from his dentist and a crooked member of the MCU's Supervisory Committee, [Wong] put himself on a daily regimen of judgment suppressing opiates, popping hydrocodone pills and sipping from a bottle of codeine laced syrup at his desk," citing PSR Paragraphs 43, 93-96. But who might that be? More on Patreon, here.


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