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In SDNY Judge Buchwald Releases Bank Fraud Suspect On Bond As Step Father Works At West Point

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 1 – When Albert Atkins appeared in shackles seeking release on bond on July 1, his mother and step-father were in the small courtroom, with Inner City Press the only media present, of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald. In the end it made a different.

  First, Atkins CJA Daniel A. McGuinness, PC, argued that the judge would not consider the danger to the community posed by his client. This was quickly shot down. Then he argued that Atkins was unlikely to again attempt an identity theft bank fraud, since his co-defendant Tyson Burnett had been arrested.

 Ultimately Judge Buchwald asked what his parents, in the courtroom, did. His mother has worked for a non-profit, albeit one that has been de funded; his step father is a custodial worker at West Point. That seemed to tip the balance. Judge Buchwald ordered Atkins released on $75,000 bond, absconding on which she emphasized would hurt his mother and step-father.

Magistrate Judges are the frontline of the Federal judicial system, dealing with initial criminal presentations, discovery disputes and settlement conferences. In the SDNY, where Inner City Press daily covers the Mag Court, a Mag Judge's Deputy recently told it that the one week out of eleven when they take over presentations is the most work and fun they have, see below.

  Now the SDNY has a new Magistrate Judge, taking over for the retiring Judge Henry Pitman. We wish her well and await seeing her running the delicate and brutal ballet that is Mag Courtroom 5A. A few pointers: the best practice is to have the Deputy read out the case number when calling cases. These should be provided to the District Executive's Office and then to the press.

 Another best practice: to post the day's proceedings outside the courtroom, like Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses does, and District Judge Andrew Carter across Pearl Street in 40 Foley. There should be no secret or sealed sentencings, and those that complain or pursue should not be treated differently. Longer term, the strange practice of not making warrants public should cease.

  Here's District Executive Edward Friedland's Office's press release: "The Board of Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) has selected Sarah Cave to serve as Magistrate Judge for a term of eight years. Magistrate Judges assist District Court Judges with the work of the Court by facilitating the disposition of certain civil and criminal cases. She will assume the seat presently occupied by Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman, who is retiring after 23 years of service.   Ms. Cave, a graduate of Colgate University and the University of Michigan Law School, is a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, where she has developed experience in a wide range of practice areas, including contracts, antitrust, securities class actions, accountants' liability, and commercial litigation. She has worked extensively on several of the largest litigations arising out of the financial crisis, handling major proceedings in the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers, MF Global, and Bernard L. Madoff Securities, among others. She is currently representing the Kingdom of Denmark in a billion-dollar tax fraud case.   Ms. Cave's experience extends broadly beyond commercial litigation. She has participated in and tried cases on behalf of corporation counsel, and she has represented a prisoner in a successful habeas action that resulted in his being freed after 24 years in prison. She has completed the New York State Unified Court System's 30-hour mediation program, and she has been active in various bar associations and legal organizations, including the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Council. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of New York and Co-Chairs the Board's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In addition, she is the Vice President of the Board of the Federal Bar Foundation.   Ms. Cave co-chairs Hughes Hubbard & Reed's Personnel and Pro Bono Committees. Her efforts have earned her recognition from the legal community. In 2012, she was named a New York Law Journal "Lawyer Who Leads by Example," and in 2015, she received the Legal Aid Society's Public Interest Law Leadership Award. Ms. Cave is also a ten-time recipient of the Legal Aid Society's Pro Bono Publico Award.   "Once again, our Merit Selection Panel sent five exceptional candidates -- any one of whom would have made a wonderful Magistrate Judge -- for the court's consideration," said Chief Judge Colleen McMahon. "Sarah Cave has a breadth of experience that equips her well for service on the Southern District of New York: she has handled both private and public sector litigation, trained as a mediator and amassed a record of leadership in the organized Bar. We welcome her as our newest colleague."   Ms. Cave served as a law clerk to the Honorable Joan A. Lenard, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, and as a staff law clerk to the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. She will sit in the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street."

   While many even most cases in the Magistrates Court of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York are sealed, on June 27 before Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein a defendant was brought in shackled but in a polo shirt and khakis, promoted by the prosecutors, and ultimately released.

  His name is Paul A. Rinfret and he has been living in a foreclosed on house on Long Island for some time. The US Attorney's Office call him a former Wall Street trader, but at this point his children might not sign on to his bail and he has a Federal Defenders lawyer. With Inner City Press the only media in the Magistrates Court, the government wanted $500,000 in equity signed on to for the bond. But after some phone calls that wasn't possible.

Judge Gorenstein upped the bond to $1 million, secured by whatever equity his mother in law's house has, and three signers. Will these include his children? The charging document says Rinfret gave them money, but at the bond hearing the government said he stole their money too. They said he confessed to running a Ponzi scheme.

  He was released, while a homeless man with a gun maybe or maybe not in his bag in Battery Park was detained. And so it goes in the SDNY Murky Mag Court.

  Cynthia Jordan, now 61, was arrested in March for stealing from the Wall Street firm in which she worked in the accounting department, to the tune of $688,142. Only $73,000 of this was by wire transfers, it emerged in the Mag Court with Inner City Press the only media present. There were also 59 false overtime payments, 111 paychecks and other hard copy checks. But it's all under wire fraud. The maximum sentence in 20 years in prison but there is a plea agreement, with the sentencing set for October 3. Inner City Press will continuing to follow this and other Mag Court cases.   u

    On June 25 Magistrate Judge Lehrburger ordered detained a defendant named Martinez charged with 33 kilograms of cocaine, a first name - Eliot - and a case number were provided: 19-mj-5950.

  But by 5 pm, even after Judge Lehrburger had detained Mr. Martinez and set a July 8 hearing, PACER said "Cannot find case 19-mj-5950." So Inner City Press reports: Judge Lehrburger said he did not find a risk of flight, but given the heavy weight of coke, and that Martinez violated the terms of his probation in New Jersey, he would be detained. This came four hours after an appearance before Judge Castel of a defendant accused of offenses against children, a defendant who unlike Martinez was allowed free on bond, to his mother's house in Freehold, New Jersey... 



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