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For Money Laundering Zalmund Zirkind Gets 84 Months And No 2 Week Trip To Montreal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 15 – Benzion Zirkind was arrested and released on money laundering charges on July 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He put up a $100,000 bond secured by a property at 1349 President Street in Brooklyn owned by a friend of the family, Inner City Press reported.

  Also in the family, and in the case, is Zalmund Zirkind. He pleaded guilty and was up for sentencing, in-person, on January 15. Inner City Press live tweeted it, here:

the sentencing for money laundering of Zalmund Zirkind. He had asked to have the whole proceeding sealed; still, many of the sentencing submissions are redacted.

  Judge Cote: There is agreement that the sentencing guideline starts at 135 months. Probation recommends 60 months. The defendant wants probation, citing devotion to his family and friends. And other efforts he had made since his arrest...  His brother got 4 years

AUSA: He watched his brother mount an unsuccessful defense, but continued to engage in the conduct. It shows his risk appetite. It is proof that imprisonment is necessary.

 AUSA: His prior withdrawal last a few months, then he got back into entering people contracts to move money. I think he would do it again, absent specific deterrence. Also, I don't know the ins and outs of supervised release in Canada.

Judge Cote: I want to make sure the defense is aware of the whisper phones, so you can confer while still socially distanced. Johanna Zapp: But for COVID, this courtroom would be full. But we understand.

 Zapp: His motivation for committing these crimes, $85,000 over 2 years, was to take care of his daughter, who is autistic. The care is expensive. He felt he had no other option.  Judge Cote: That's not an acceptable reason.

Zapp: Your Honor, I'm a tough cookie. I spoke to him about it. The child has regressed, the school says she is too disruptive.

Zirkind himself: God has blessed me and my wife with children. By trying to make money I thought we need, I made things worse. I was wrong.

Judge Cote: I'm not able to grant the defendant's request how to structure a sentence. The question is the length of the sentence. The defendant's family is suffering, and has been for years. I have defendants who come before me from a variety of backgrounds...

 Judge Cote: I'm going to impose on Mr. Zirkind a sentence of 84 months in prison, then 3 years supervised release.

 Judge Cote: I order forfeiture in the amount of $87,000. I enter this sentence. I know of no grounds for appeal, given the plea agreement. But you have that right. Surrender date is February 26.

Lawyer requests Otisville. Judge Cote says, By region. Northeast.

 Lawyer asks if Zirkind can travel to Montreal for 2 weeks. Judge Cote: See if you can agree with the government. Normally I would not allow a defendant to leave the US.

Lawyer: We've asked the government, without success.

Judge Cote: I am denying it.

  Earlier in the wider case, SDNY Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses held a proceeding late on July 21, and Inner City Press covered it. 

  Benzion Zirkind unlike most defendants in the SDNY at that time had retained counsel, who announced that he had "four questions."    Judge Moses joked that those should be for the youngest child.

One of the questions was how the defendant should avoid speaking with co-defendants, if some of them are sealed. More, apparently, will be family members.  

 The President Street property is valued at over $2 million.

The next court date was before District Judge Denise L. Cote. She  ordered, "ORDER as to Benzion Zirkind: ORDERED that a conference is scheduled for Friday, August 14, 2020 at 10:00 am. in which Mr. Tamir, Mr. Myers, the defendant, and counsel for the Government all must participate. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Government shall provide Mr. Tamir with a copy of this Order. (Pretrial Conference set for 8/14/2020 at 10:00 AM before Judge Denise L. Cote)."

  And late on August 14, this: "ORDER as to Benzion Zirkind. For the reasons set forth at the conference held by telephone on August 14, 2020, it is hereby ORDERED the previously retained counsel Zaki Tamir is relieved and the appearance of retained counsel Matthew D. Myers is accepted. (Signed by Judge Denise L. Cote on 8/14/2020)."

The case is US v. Zirkind, 19-cr-463 (Cote)


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