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In Attorney Steering Case Guilty Verdicts on Dionisio Figueroa Now US Asks for 41 Months

by Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Book Substack

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 18 – On a daily basis, defendants are brought into court and either get appointed counsel or choose to pay a private attorney, if they can.

But this system can be gamed. 

   March 30, 2023 saw "charges against DIONISIO FIGUEROA, a/k/a “Dionicio,” an employee of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (“the SDNY District Court”), and TELESFORO DEL VALLE, JR., a/k/a “Ted,” a criminal defense attorney practicing in the SDNY District Court and elsewhere, for their participation in a scheme in which FIGUEROA referred criminal defendants to DEL VALLE and encouraged those defendants to retain DEL VALLE as counsel in exchange for cash payments from DEL VALLE to FIGUEROA."

  Inner City Press, which closely covers the Magistrate Court, had in 2022 reported the investigation against Del Valle.

On November 3 Inner City Press first reported the De Valle's Albany-based counsel has informed Judge D'Agostino that Del Valle "has decided to plead guilty to counts 1, 3, 5 and 7" and requests a Pimentel estimate of sentencing guidelines.

On November 16, De Valle did in fact plead guilty, in the run up to Figueroa's trial: "TELESFORO DEL VALLE, JR., a/k/a “Ted,” a criminal defense attorney who has appeared in cases in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY District Court”) and elsewhere for more than 20 years, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, bribery, paying illegal compensation to a court employee, and making material false statements to law enforcement to conceal his crimes."

On November 28, Figueroa's counsel filed his list of exhibits, including about particular cases and defendants: Perez Rosso, Abreu Gil, Pura Rosso Garcia, and Simon and Duverge proffer notes.

On November 30, the US filed its exhibit list from which we reverse engineer some of the cases at issue, but find many sealed documents in the dockets: Silva (Judge Edgardo Ramos 2012), Perez-Rosso (Judge Castel, 2018) and Gil (misspelled Gill), 2022 Kimba M. Wood, many sealed filings.

On December 7, Figueroa's lawyers filed a Rule 29 memo arguing among other things that "the government's evidence at most establishes that Figueroa referred people (not Figueroa's clients) to consider retaining Del Valle. It seems unlikely that Congress intended the statute to reach so far as to raise the prospect of a criminal violation when a court clerk (non-lawyer) refers people (not clients) to an attorney to represent the client's interest...."

On December 11, guilty verdicts, put into the docket: "Defendant GUILTY on Counts 1,2,4, and 6. Sentencing is April 8, 2024 at 12:00 p.m. in White Plains. The parties are advised that the Court is NOT inclined to seal sentencing memorandums and that if incarceration is ordered, the defendant will be remanded on the day of sentencing."

On December 27 Figueroa's Federal Defender wrote in to ask for a modification to allow him to "have direct and/or third party contact with current or former employees" of the SDNY court, to "seek and obtain character letters." The prosecutors do not object.

On March 18, the US Attorney's Office asked for 41 months, in the run-up to the April 8 sentencing, saying the defendant "undermined the integrity and impartiality of the SDNY Clerk's Office" and shows a "complete lack of acceptance of responsibility."

The case is US v. Figueroa et al.. 23-cr-161 (D'Agostino)


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