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In SDNY Predatory Lending Defendants Get Free Lawyers Sullivan and Cromwell $2000 a Week

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, Periscope

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 23 – Two defendants arrested at Newark International Airport for an advance fee scheme, essentially predatory lending, were presented late on April 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York arraignments courtroom, presided over by this week by retiring Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman. One of them, Omar Young of 107 West Fourth Street, Granton, Wisconsin, was given a free / publicly funded lawyer despite having $215,000 in a business checking account. The other, a Mister Perlman of northern Georgia, has $161,000 in the bank but his counsel, from the white shoe firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, argued that he should be given a free lawyer - and that the whole proceeding should be sealed. But it was held in open court, and Inner City Press was there, albeit the only media present. Why is a corporate law firm like Sullivan & Cromwell representing a predatory lender -- alleged, of course -- and arguing they should be paid, and it should be sealed? Inner City Press aims to have more on this case. For now we note that in the open court proceeding it was said that no hotel can be found in or around New York City for less than $250 to $300 a night, and each defendant was allowed while getting publicly funded counsel to spend $2000 a week while in New York. That's $102,000 a week, deemed reasonable by the court and Sullivan & Cromwell, in a District where many families don't make that in a decade. Inner City Press will have more on this.

   Earlier on April 23, also by Judge Pitman, a defendant accused of selling fake IDs over the Dark Net was told to stop using that platform while given bail on April 23. The defendant, apparently also an Italian citizen and a restaurant consultant, has social media showing his shooting guns and has, according to the government, purchased "SWAT-ing" services (Google it). But Judge Pitman told him not to use the TOR net, while asking rhetorically if they even make phones anymore without the Internet, other than those advertised in the back pages of AARP Magazine. Indeed.

Earlier on April 23 a man was denied bail after naming his Instagram account "Catch Me If You Can."  A Mister Crowder, wearing a "World Sacrifice Tour" t-shirt, was requesting bail. But Judge Pitman asked about the naming of his Instagram account, and the two excuses given, that it was named after a Leo DiCaprio movie ("I've seen it," Judge Pitman said) and that he later changed "if you can" to "if you could," were unavailing. The marshals took him back into the cell block Judge Pitman said to close the door to, less than an hour before affluent opioids distributor Laurence Doud was released on $500,000 bail and walked with his lawyer Mister Gottlieb across Foley Square with Inner City Press asking questions, Periscope video here. We'll have more on this.

Back on April 18 a defendant pled guilty to selling marijuana and having a gun in Manhattan, to a plea agreement specifying 37 to 46 months. Magistrate Judge Moses asked the defendant if he had written his allocation himself. Sporting an ACE bandage on his right wrist, he said Yes. Moments later a Mr. Butler, with neck tattoo, stepping up with a financial affidavit and a lawyer, to be appointed as he is a material witness. So you work construction? Judge Moses asked. The answer was yes, and that it was seasonal - he was not going to work tonight because it was going to pour rain. Judge Moses asked, Is it? And by 6 pm, there was still no rain. But her week was over, and not uninteresting, including disputes with both the Federal Defenders and, less so, with the government. We will continue to cover this.

A defendant accused in New York courts of attempted murder but released because not indicted in six days was denied bail on April 17 by SDNY Magistrate Judge Moses  after a contentious 5 p.m. proceeding with Inner City Press the only media present. The Federal Defender argued that the NY ADA's inability to indict within the six day time frame of NY CPLR 3030 meant there really is no evidence. The Federal Assistant U.S. Attorney said she had called her state counterpart who assured they are investigating. Federal Magistrate Judge Moses said she would not credit anything not actually before the court - but that attempted murder sounds serious. The defendant is being remanded and held, it seems, until a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Keenan. Inner City Press will cover that as well.

The day before on April 16 a  strange proceeding took place in which a material witness was assigned a free lawyer by SDNY Magistrate Judge Moses. His financial affidavit had to be updated - as it turned out, because he was paying his taxes. Then Judge Moses accepted it and assigned him a lawyer and he disappeared. No index number was read out, and his name to Inner City Press the only media present sounded like Teepee. They acted like it was a private proceeding, like the visits by Assistant US Attorneys and FBI agents through the fire door to see the week's Magistrate judge. But these are public proceedings, until they are not. Inner City Press will have more on this.... A Dominican defendant charged with fentanyl was the last case on April 16 SDNY Magistrate's Court. There was more preamble that usual, as the Assistant U.S. Attorney asked the FBI if they had the defendant's wallet - they did - and if it contained his Green Card. It did, but there still a dispute of whether this was the same defendant who pled guilty to narcotics felony in 2009. It is a common name: Juan Pablo de la Cruz Mendoza. And for that reason, apparently, the defendant will spend at least until Monday, April 22 in the MCC. Inner City Press, the only media present in the presentment, wondered why the issue of his green card, uncontested by the government, became entwined with this doppelganger's plea. The person present on April 16 said audible, in Spanish, that he makes only $500 a week, and sends $100 to a daughter in Santo Domingo. He has four children. It was like observing in an operating room when the surgeons don't know what to do. Delay it until Monday was the decision. Inner City Press will be there.

Back on April 9 a defendant pleading guilty to entering the U.S. after a prior deportation for drugs asked for an expedited sentencing, and presumably second deportation to the Dominican Republic in the SDNY, before Judge Deborah Batts. But Judge Batts declined to give earlier dates, saying that the Probation Department is understaffed and underfunded. Defendant Daniel Francisco Portes' lawyer told the court and his client's family that he will nonetheless ask Probation to expedite things. Judge Batts said she will wants the parties to comment on the draft pre-sentencing report. It was a moment in an ongoing social debate, in a large courtroom with only one media present: Inner City Press. We'll continue to follow this case - but not this one: Abdul Odige's criminal case began in 2004 but on April 9 his supervision was removed. He has passed his marijuana tests; he has gotten a job in health care. He was arrested for driving with a suspended lisence - but it was for a fine he didn't know he owed. Probation spoke up for him, and even the Assist US Attorney. And so it was over, a too rare positive story. The case is, or was, US v. Odige, 04 Cr. 196 (DAB)....

  A defendant brought before SDNY Judge Paul Crotty on March 27 wanted to change lawyers. Then he told Judge Crotty that his outgoing lawyer had taken his Honduran passport and ID and he wanted it returned. The matter was not resolved on the record; the lawyer being relieved, seeing Inner City Press with a reporter's notebook, came over and asked, Why are you covering this? Well, there is an absolute right to cover the courts. And when the allegation is that legal identity documents are taken and not returned, it should be pursued. To belatedly answer the inappropriate question of the lawyer being replaced, who after Inner City Press' answer of "Here I am" went and whispered with the judge, there was a break in the jury instructions in a case elsewhere in the courthouse that Inner City Press is covering. But really there is no need for the press or public to answer. Rather, where are the documents?

On March 1 when Statue of Liberty climber Patricia Okoumou appeared in the SDNY , it was to face revocation of bail for more recent climbs, all to protest the separation of immigrant families. SDNY Judge Gorenstein did not revoke bail but imposed house arrest. He jibed that it appeared Ms. Okoumou could only support herself by donations garnered by climbing. Afterward Inner City Press asked her lawyer Ron Kuby about this argument. He said the judge has it precisely wrong, or in reverse: she raised money because she is an activist, she is not an actively in order to make money. Ms. Okoumou raised her fist, and headed to Staten Island. Photos here. Inner City Press, which interviewed Okoumou on December 5 just after another SDNY decision, in the Patrick Ho / CEFC China Energy UN bribery case, headed out and streamed this Periscope, and this Q&A, with more to come, on this case and others.

The Bangladeshi Central Bank which was hacked for $81 million in February 2016, on January 31 sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Now the first pre-trial conference in the case has been set, for 2 April 2019 before SDNY Judge Lorna G. Schofield. Inner City Press will be there.

In Dhaka, the Criminal Investigation Department which failed to submit its probe report into the heist on time has now been ordered by Metropolitan Magistrate Sadbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury to do so by March 13 in Bangladesh Bank cyber heist case.

In the U.S. District Court for Central California, the unsealed criminal complaint against Park Jin Hyuk lists four email addresses involved in spear-phishing Bangladesh Bank and among others an unnamed "African Bank;" one of these addresses is said to also have communicated with an individual in Australia about importing commodities to North Korea in violations of UN sanctions.

To the Federal Reserve, Inner City Press has requested records relating to the Fed's role with response due in 20 working days - watch this site. In the SDNY, the case is Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983. On February 3 in Dhaka Bangladesh Bank's lawyer Ajmalul Hossain said it could take three years to recover the money. The Bank's deputy governor Abu Hena Razee Hasan said those being accused -- in the civil not criminal suit -- include three Chinese nationals. Ajmalul Hossain said the Bank is seeking its hacked million plus interest and its expenses in the case. He said US Federal Reserve will extend its full support and that SWIFT, the international money transfer network, also assured of providing all the necessary cooperation in recovering the hacked money...

It is an interesting twist on the SDNY as venue for the money laundering and FCPA prosecution of Patrick Ho of CEFC for bribery in Chad and to Uganda - in this case, too, the money flowed through New York. Inner City Press intends to cover the case.


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