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Woman Convicted Of Embezzlement Keeps Judge Picked Lawyer And Will Testify in EDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

EDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 6 – Wafa Abboud was convicted of stealing from Human First, in a 2019 trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. But she has sent to be sentenced.

Trial judge Edward R. Korman now largely working from home due to the pandemic and age, appointed defense lawyer Sarah Kunstler to replace Abboud's trial counsel, whom Abboud says "betrayed" her.

  On January 6, Judge Korman held a proceeding with Abboud and Kunstler, and Inner City Press covered it.

Kunstler was asking out of the case, stating that she and Abboud have irreconsilable differences about Abboud's desire to testify, seemingly about her prior counsel. 

 Judge Korman told Kunstler, You have a duty to do what the client wants. Admittedly this is not about the absolute right to testify at trial. But it is still the client's decision, Judge Korman said.

  Abboud spoke up and said that she wants to testify, if not for herself, maybe to help others.

 Judge Korman took the extraordinary step of saying that even if he were to conclude that she lied when she testified, he would not hold it against her in sentencing guidelines calculation or in sentencing. 

  You have made it easy for me, Abboud said. I will testify even if I don't have a lawyer.  

But she will have a lawyer.

Judge Korman denied Kunstler's motion to be relieved, telling her had speficially chosen her rather than the CJA lawyer on duty because she is a good writer, for purposes of appeal.

  At the time of conviction, Richard P. Donoghue, then United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said, 'With today’s verdict, Abboud has been held accountable for abusing her position of trust as the Executive Director of a charity and funding her elaborate lifestyle with money  intended to serve the needs of vulnerable individuals in the community.' Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, the New York State Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Office of the Inspector General for their work on the case.  From January 2011 until she was terminated on May 27, 2016, Abboud was Human First’s Executive Director and authorized the disbursement of all of the charity’s funds.  Between May 2011 and February 2016, Abboud caused Human First to issue approximately $16,000 a month in purported consultant fees to MPB Management Services LLC (MPB), a company controlled by co-conspirator Marcelle Bailey."

Inner City Press will continue to follow this case in the EDNY. It is US v. Abboud, 16-cr-363 (Korman)



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