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Predatory Real Estate Lawyer Maddiwar Gets 5 Years As SDNY Judge Ramos Says He Lied

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, July 19 – Real estate and lending fraud got their day in court on July 19 and it wasn't pretty. Lawyer Rajesh Maddiwar who was convicted for his role in the theft of 30 homes in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queen where he had his office, was up for sentencing. But he repeated, as he had at trial, that he was the victim and that he never knew that the people he told to just sign on the dotted line were losing their homes.  

In the gallery of Courtroom 618 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, a man vigorously shook his head.   

  Inner City Press, which has long covered the bank side of predatory lending, from CitiFinancial to Wells Fargo and beyond, waited to hear the victim impact statements. But they never came.

 After Maddiwar's defiant speech, SDNY Judge Edgardo Ramos sentenced him to 60 months in jail, stating flatly that Maddiwar had lied at trial: "He lied again and again." The case is USA v. Maddiwar, part of USA v. Alvarenga et al., 15-cr-00627 (Ramos).   

  Assistant US Attorneys Sheb Swett and Andrew Thomas said their office would later that day make the referral for Maddiwar to lose his law licence. Maddiwar told Judge Ramos when he gets out he will go to school to take up another profession. Imagine what he could do as a doctor. Wonder which one. More on Patreon here.

On July 17, hours after ordering the release of the Michael Cohen search warrant materials, US District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge William H. Pauley III conducted a sentencing proceeding for Jamel Johnson for drug dealing and possession and use of a firearm in the Edenwald Houses in The Bronx. Judge Pauley who recently presided over the graphic trial of James Felton for murder in The Bronx was admonishing Jamel Johnson to try to do better upon his release for his family. Right then Johnson was turned back toward his family in the gallery where Inner City Press was the only media. Johnson was gesticulating, in a way that connoted disinterest at least in the eight year sentence being imposed.

  Judge Pauley said, "You look at me when I'm imposing sentence. Show some respect for the Court or I'll change the sentence right now."

  Johnson nodded. Children continued to make the noise they make, not their fault; no one took them out of the courtroom. At the end the Marshals following the rules did not allow any physical contact. Eight years is a long time. We will continue to follow this, the Felton and associated Bronx cases including, it seems, a confidential sentencing by Judge Preska, and all other SDNY cases.

   Two months after Michael Cohen received a three year sentence in the SDNY, on February 7 Judge Pauley issued an order on how much information gathered during the investigation should be made public.

Now on July 17, Judge Pauley has denied the government's attempt to withhold, and ordered that it be filed on the public docket on July 18 at 11 am - an hour and a half after fellow SDNY Judge Richard M. Berman is set to issue his Jeffrey Epstein bond decision three stories below. From Judge Pauley's July 17 order: " On July 15, 2019, the Government submitted a status report and proposed redactions to the Materials ex parte and under seal. The Government now represents that it has concluded the aspects of its investigation that justified the continued sealing of the portions of the Materials relating to Cohen’s campaign finance violations. Although the Government agrees that the majority of the campaign finance portions of the Materials may be unsealed, it requests limited redactions to those portions to protect third-party privacy interests.  After reviewing the Government’s status report and proposed redactions, this Court denies the Government’s request. In particular—and in contrast to the private nature of Cohen’s business transactions—the weighty public ramifications of the conduct described in the campaign finance portions warrant disclosure. See United States v. Amodeo, 71 F.3d 1044, 1051 (2d Cir. 1995) (explaining that “financial records of a wholly owned business, family affairs, illnesses, embarrassing conduct with no public ramifications, and similar matters will weigh more heavily against access than conduct affecting a substantial portion of the public”). Moreover, the involvement of most of the relevant third-party actors is now public knowledge, undercutting the need for continued secrecy. See United States v. Basciano, 2010 WL 1685810, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 23, 2010) (“Shielding third parties from unwanted attention arising from an issue that is already public knowledge is not a sufficiently compelling reason to justify withholding judicial documents from public scrutiny.”). On balance, the “strong presumption of public access” to search warrants and search warrant materials under the common law far outweighs the weakened privacy interests at play here. See Cohen, 366 F. Supp. 3d at 621-22 (collecting cases).  3  The campaign finance violations discussed in the Materials are a matter of national importance. Now that the Government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the Materials. Indeed, the common law right of access—a right so enshrined in our identity that it “predate[s] even the Constitution itself”—derives from the public’s right to “learn of, monitor, and respond to the actions of their representatives and representative institutions.” United States v. Erie Cty., 763 F.3d 235, 238-39 (2d Cir. 2014).  Accordingly, the Government is directed to file the July 15, 2019 status report and the Materials on the public docket on July 18, 2019 at 11:00 a.m." Watch this site.

On February 20, Judge Pauley has granted an order pushing back Cohen's date of surrender to prison from March 6 to May 6, on the basis of a "more fulsome letter" submitted by his lawyers on February 12 - under seal.

  While much of the interest is in Cohen and, behind him, President Donald Trump, Pauley's order addresses the need for public oversight of Federal authorities including judges. From the SDNY decision in U.S. v. Cohen, 18-cr-00602: "the presumption of access is at its core tethered to the need for public monitoring of the federal courts and their exercise of judicial power. Cf. SEC v. Van Waeyenberghe, 990 F.2d 845, 847 (5th Cir. 1993) (explaining that “[t]he public’s right to information does not protect the same interests that the right of access is designed to protect”). As the Second Circuit explained, Monitoring both provides judges with critical views of their work and deters arbitrary judicial behavior. Without monitoring, moreover, the public could have no confidence in the conscientiousness, reasonableness, or honesty of judicial proceedings. Such monitoring is not possible without access to testimony and documents that are used in the performance of Article III functions. Amodeo II, 71 F.3d at 1050." While a fine basis, this would militate not only for the release of search warrant records but more transparency and accessibilty day to day in the courts, something lacking even the day before in the presentment of Afghan national Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai a/k/a Manaf for allegedly supporting the Taliban with heroin imports and sales, click here for that.

   Judge Pauley's February 7 order provides, "The Government is directed to submit a sealed, ex parte copy of the Materials by February 28, 2019 with proposed redactions in highlights consistent with this Opinion & Order. After reviewing the proposed redactions, this Court will direct the Government to file the redacted Materials on the public docket in this action."

   Previously from outside the Court in the Cohen case on December 12 surrounded by a sea of cameras and tripods, Inner City Press live-streamed: see Periscope broadcasts here and here. A week before that in Courtroom 12A there was a guilty verdict in the UN bribery trial...

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