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In SDNY Sebastian Pinto Thomaz Gets 14 Months For Insider Trading Day Before Millul

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope, Photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, July 29, updated – Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz was found guilty of insider trading on April 26; on July 29 he was sentenced to 14 months in prison. During the sentencing proceeding a woman - not, we now emphasize, his mother Nathalie - stood up sobbing and ran out. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff noted during the sentencing that Pinto-Thomaz's lawyer's argument in the trial had been to "throw his mother under the bus." The lawyer, Henry Mazurek with another client facing a jury across the hallway, said it was more complicated that that. And complicated it is.

   Sentencings in the SDNY often involve the invocation of the sins of the father, absent fathers, abusive fathers. This absent father was different than the norm: a Brazilian industrial magnate. Equally absent, even as Sebastian's mother sent to open luxury stores in Asia. Call it the Nanny Diaries.

  When Sebastian spoke, just before sentencing, it was strange to hear his voice after weeks of the trial, him sad faced in the 500 Pearl Street lobby or working his cell phone in the plaza outside. Then it was said he was looking for work in Houston. Now he is also an EMT, and offering to do community service.

  Judge Rakoff was his usual erudite self, calling the sentencing guidelines irrational and saying that these days, AUSAs probably wish more defendants went to trial rather than, like 97%, pleading out. The AUSA here, Christine I. Magdo, spoke of the need for general deterrence. Co-defendant Jeremy Millul is to be sentenced on July 29 - Inner City Press aims to be there, watch this site.

 He was barely 30 years old but was publicly traded paint company Sherwin Williams' main contact at S&P when it moved to acquire Valstar in 2016. Mysteriously a hairdresser Abell Oujaddou linked to both Sebastian and to his mother Nathalie Pinto-Thomaz made large purchases of Valspar stock and options and fell under suspicious by FINRA. A Jeremy Millul made even larger trades, of options. On April 24 the defense was barred from putting Millul's mother on the stand, to testify about another bank account and more, Inner City Press was informed.

  Late morning on April 26 the the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York courtroom of Judge Jed Rakoff, the jury was read the elements of the crime and told that if they did not decide today, the next day would be Tuesday. The marshall was sworn, to take them to a "private and convenient place" - an adjacent room. Where well before the 2:30 pm knock off time for the more covered college basketball prosecution upstairs, the jury decided guilty. The sentencing will be in July. We'll have more on this.

On April 25 prosecutor Christine I. Magdo called the defense shatter-shot and desperate. She showed that Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz was in the WhatsApp and Viber contracts of jewerly dealer and Valspar options trader Jeremy Millul. But as defense lawyer Henry Mazurek pointed out after the jury was gone for the day, this doesn't prove that the two men communicated over the platforms, which when installed demand or trick a user into importing all of their contacts from email, for example.

  Judge Rakoff said the jury could make a reasonable inference from the contacts information, adding that in the view of one reasonable observer Mazurek has engaged in his summation in gross speculation. Mazurek asked, Who is that reasonable observer? Rakoff shot back, you'll have to speculate. He will instruct the jury for a half hour on April 26 then they will deliberate. According to the government, the health and safety of the stock market is on the line. Watch this site - more here on Patreon.

  Earlier on April 25 the defense put on the stand an IT consultant who showed charts he's made of hairdresser and tipee Abell Ajouddou's stock trades including Citigroup, JPM Chase and Bank of America, twice, and compare the volume of his communications, cell phone and text message, with the mother (65%) and son (35%).

  The government counter-punched by noting that WhatsApp and Viber calls were not included, and that Bank of America, Sprint and Blackberry / RIM were double counted. It was a strange ending to the evidence. After summations, the jury will begin deliberating early on April 26. Watch this site, and @SDNYLIVE.

Back on April 18, before the disenchantment, an issue arose after the jury left for lunch as to whether Oujaddou had told his then-lawyer Robert Anello to tell the government he had paid Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz about of a "tip fund" from his salon, or as he claimed earlier in the week from cash he and his wife kept in the apartment after the power outrages in Super Storm Sandy. Judge Rakoff asked for Anello's telephone number, dialed it and put him on speaker phone. There, with the consent of Oujaddou's current lawyer, Anello said, yes, his client had told him to convey that. So Oujaddou can be cross examined about that, and about the unredacted PSR report the government must now give to defense counsel. The jury will not sit on Good Friday, so things may come to a head on the afternoon on Thursday, April 18, between an equity analyst and a FINRA witnesses up from Baltimore. Watch this site.

the second day of the trial of Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz on four felony counts proceeded, with Oujaddou in the stand. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine I. Magdo walked him through his Charles Schwab accounts, and photos from the Home Depot on 23rd Street where he said he handed Sebastian $7,500 in cash he kept in his apartment with his wife, since Hurricane Sandy.

  But when the jury left, questions were raised. Oujaddou had been threatened with a lawsuit for sexual assault by a woman whom he fired from the salon, just before marrying his Superstorm Sandy co-hoarder wife. This information, who said on the record, was deemed too prejudicial for the jury to hear.

   Sebastian's lawyer Henry Mazurek argued that it was relevant, that Oujaddou's need for hush money for the threatened lawsuit explained his trading. Even when this was denied, he made a point of saying that hush money is in the news, and that being an alleged sexual assaulter may not be so prejudicial, given that the current US President was elected. Judge Rakoff riffed, I am interested in your political analysis - but not as a lawyer. And thus ended Day Two of US v Pinto.

 Career not destroyed, Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz asked the court this year to travel to Houston for a possible new job. But for two week he's set to be in Judge Rakoff's courtroom - and after that, nobody knows. At the lunch break on April 17 he was out in front of 500 Pearl Street working his cell phone. Watch this site.

Back on April 10 a defendant awaiting sentencing on hedge fund fraud appeared to change lawyers on April 10 before SDNYJudge William Pauley. First his outgoing lawyer Edward Little visited him in the green brick hallway outside the courtroom, then his prospective or potential replacement counsel, Jonathan Halpern, went into the hall to see him. When the defendant Nicholas Genovese was brought out in shackles he was thin and bespectacled, guarded by two marshals. In between the two counsel recounted their histories working in the U.S. Attorney's Office, Little from 1982 to 1990 then on Wedtech cases, Halpern from 1989 to 2004 (yes, they overlapped one year.) Still when Judge Pauley took the bench he said as early as April 18 he will appoint a CJA lawyer if the connection between Genovese - fees paid by his mother - and Halpern doesn't take. According to the U.S. Attorney, "NICHOLAS JOSEPH GENOVESE pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to securities fraud for inducing investments in a hedge fund that he founded, Willow Creek Investments LP (“Willow Creek”), by misrepresenting his qualifications and professional background and concealing that he had prior felony convictions for fraud-related crimes. In February 2018, GENOVESE was charged and arrested for perpetrating this fraud. Today, GENOVESE pled guilty to one count of securities fraud before United States District Judge William H. Pauley III. As part of his guilty plea, GENOVESE agreed to forfeit more than $13 million of proceeds of the securities fraud, including his interest in two watercraft that GENOVESE purchased with funds that he obtained from his victims." Inner City Press will continue to follow this case, so different than another recent change of counsel in the SDNY.

  On April 8 a defendant accused of four armed robberies of livery cab drives in The Bronx asked for bail - and when it was denied, he fired his lawyer, who told the court the defendant was bipolar and heard voices. It wasbefore SDNY Judge Paul Crotty, who denied bail and then assigned the defendant James Jackson a new CJA lawyer. Before the switch off, Jackson's Federal Defenders lawyer argued that Jackson has a friend who makes $100,000 a year working construction and would put up $5000, and that Jackson's mother said if he fled the U.S. Marshals wouldn't have to chase him down, she would. Crotty was unmoved. The Assistant US Attorney Thomas Wright told Crotty that Jackson had confessed to all four Hobbs Act robberies and to brandishing a weapon, which the government believes he still has access too.

  Wright said Jackson during interrogation spoke of suicide and of hearing voices. His Federal Defender lawyer Philip Weinstein, before he learned he would be fired, said Jackson had swallowed bleach at age 20 and needed time on bail to say goodbye to his seven year old who does not live with him but whom he still fathers. Weinstein waved a plea offer then government has made with a deadline of May 3. That has now been pushed back at least until 8. Inner City Press, the only media in Judge Crotty's courtroom, albeit still without electronics, will continue to follow this case.

  Back on March 27 a defendant brought before SDNY Judge Crotty also 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? After a long trial for a Bronx murder 22 years ago in 1997, on March 27 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Kevin Castel read instructions for the jury and told them, "And with that, you may discuss the case among yourself." After the jury went into their room, with marshal in the hall outside, Judge Castel told the seven lawyers they were all welcome to come back and appear before him. He said only a grueling work load for lawyers on trial keep the jury trial system going, so the jury service is tolerable in terms of length. Then he added his eight minute rule - that they should not go back to their offices (except maybe the prosecutors, to St. Andrew's Place), so they can return to court on eight minutes' notice in case the jurors send a note out. The US v. Latique Johnson trial Inner City Press has been covering or trying to cover across Pearl Street in 40 Foley Square, it remains unclear if the exhibits will be put online or notice given. Earlier this week Inner City Press dropped by and asked one of the defense lawyers, the one who waved a gun around during summation, if there had been jury notes. Yes, he said. But what did they say? In the Bronx cold case, two days before on on March 25 a government witness described how his van was shot at on Thanksgiving 1997 as he drove away from a disco he found too crowded. The defense quizzed him if he had been selling drugs on 26 March 1999 and 29 January 2000 and 2 February 2001 before being deported to the Dominican Republic. "I would just sell them when I needed a couple of bucks," he said. As to who killed his brother, witness Ventura said, "I know who did it." While Inner City Press had to leave to cover the Michael Avenatti presentment 12 stories higher in the SDNY courthouse, a person watching the entire trial marveled to Inner City Press that "the defendants wife came, she works for Immigration, how is that possible." We'll have more on this ongoing trial. Back on March 21 a former NY police officer now working in Florida testified about stopping a white van with a gun in it on 188th Street and the Grand Concourse on 29 August 1991 and, along with Officer Serge Denecko, arresting for men in the van. Earlier a woman who was shot at and grazed on the chin described seeing a gun sticking out the passenger's side, and that Hinton, her ex boyfriend, sold drugs on 149th Street under the direction of "Rob," presumably the defendant Roberto Acosta a/k/a Mojica. More and more facts are coming in - maybe too many? Back on March 20 a now elderly man who had moved tens of kilos of cocaine in 1998 was cross examined about how much times he has met with the prosecution to prepare this testimony. It got repetitive, as pointed out by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Kevin Castel. Did he meet Detective Vasquez on January 26, 2018? He couldn't remember the date but yes, many times. Did Detective Vasquez drive him around and take photographs of the sights and stash-houses he pointed out (presumably including 156th and Broadway)? Yes. Later on March 20 there were two forms of testimony about University Avenue in The Bronx. There was the double murder, on 22 December 1997, Carlos Ventura and another. By 1999 there were payments into the prison commissary account of Jose Diaz a/k/a Cano, a full $200 from Joyce Pettaway who lived in Apartment 4-G of 2769 University Avenue from September 1992 to November 5, 2001, according to a stipulation by the landlord Jonah Associated. There was a long sidebar about an objection to double hearsay; there was a reference to two cassette tapes of recorded conversations between Robert Acosta a/k/a Mojica and a person whose name was redacted, and a description of how evidence is destroyed. Two days before, the now-old man testified about picking drugs up in Jackson Heights, Queens and Lodi, New Jersey and cooking it into crack in an an apartment on the aforementioned (and photographed) 156th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. At day's end under cross examination he described in detail buying a kilo of coke for $40,000 and selling it for $125 a gram - a mark up for nearly 300%. The goal seemed to be to get the jury to see the witness as a predator, not exactly difficult, despite how he has aged.

  He said he would fly to Miami and buy the cocaine from " a Colombia gentleman" named Jose Picardo; he described without objection "un africano" named Mike and two Dominican women paid $10,000 each to flying into Newark from the Dominican with heroin strapped to their bodies. The money to pay them exchanged hands in a restaurant on 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue, "on the way to Yankee Stadium." Where the old Polo Grounds used to be...

   Earlier in the day there were hearsay objections made to Judge Castel which he took to the sidebar. The courtroom was relatively full, but apparently no media other than Inner City Press. The testimony was specific: the cocaine was driving from Texas to the Lodi NJ car mechanic shop owned by a man named Wilmer. The cocaine was welded into the floor of a truck. Roberto Acosta's cars all had traps for drugs, money and guns. The now old man was paid, not by the week, but by the job: how much was moved. He used his apartment in Yonkers and the parking place that came with it. Acosta recruited him in 1997, the year of the underlying murder, in La Estrella #2. The old man couldn't remember what kind of cell phone Acosta used in those days, only that it was small.  Back on March 14 NYPD Detective Ramirez described even older friction ridge characteristics of Robert Mojica going back to 1994 on Edgecombe Avenue in Upper Manhattan. At day's end, the lawyers fought about whether the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule exists even if the conspiracy at issue is not the one charged in the indictment (the government says yes). Judge Castel told the lawyers to try to re-acquaint themselves with their families over the (three day) weekend and he'll see them Monday. And Inner City Press as well. Earlier the defense, on cross examination, wondered why Ramirez was not being asked about the 1997 crimes. Judge Castel declared a break, during which he would meet with students of a lawyer who has appeared before him. A tray of bagels was rolled in. We'll have more on this trial. Back on March 8, another shooting in The Bronx in October 2018 was the subject of an ill-attended conference in the SDNY. Jerome Jackson is described as in a white t-shirt with silver handgun on 2 October 2018 on Freeman Street - but in the SDNY courtroom of Judge Kevin Castel he was in jail house blues and shackles. His lawyer Julia Gatto questioned whether the NYPD detectives who questioned Jackson about the shooting were in fact part of a joint task force with the Feds - no, Karin Potlock for the government said, and on that basis no suppression - and questioned probable cause. There will be a hearing on that on April Fools Day and Inner City Press aims to be there. The case is US v. Jackson, 18 CR 760. A week before 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. How guns eject shell casings was the subject of expert testimony in a Bronx gang trial on February 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Before Judge Robert W. Sweet, an ATF agent traced a bullet back to Illinois; under cross examination he said a shell casing might eject feet rather than yards unless it bounced on something. Then testimony went back to 2007, a 14-year old with a gun heading from the Millbrook projects to the Mitchell Houses. The defense asked for a mistrial when the name of a second gang was introduced; the prosecution shot back (so to speak) that it came from photos on the defendant's own Facebook page. And so it goes in trials these days. Back on February 25 a prison sentence of life plus five years was imposed for a Bronx murder by SDNY Chief Judge Colleen McMahon on February 25. She presided over the trial in which Stiven Siri-Reynoso was convicted of, among other things, murder in aid of racketeering for the death of Jessica White, a 28 year old mother of three, in the Bronx in 2016. Jessica White's mother was in the court room; she was greeted by Judge McMahon but declined to speak before sentencing. Siri-Reynoso was representing himself by this point, with a back-up counsel by his side. Judge McMahon told him, "You're a very smart man... a tough guy, a calculating person... You are a coward, sent a child to do it for you... Your emissary shot the wrong person, a lovely lady... It was a vicious, evil attack against the good people of that neighborhood." When she imposed the life plus five sentence, a woman on the Jessica White side of the courtroom cried out, yes Ma'am, put the animal away! Later, after Siri-Reynoso ended asking how he can get more documents about the case, a woman on his side of the courtroom said, "No te preocupes, muchacho, Dios sabe lo que hace" - don't worry, God knows what he is doing. But does He? Earlier on February 25 when the government tried to defend its 2018 change of policy or practice on Special Immigrant Juvenile status in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl had many questions about the change. He asked, are you saying that all the decisions before 2018 were just wrong, under a policy in place but not implemented at the time? In the overflow courtroom 15C the largely young audience laughed, as the government lawyer tried to say it wasn't a change of policy but rather an agency interpretation of the statute. Shouldn't there have been notice and comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act? The government said the argument proffered for this was about the Freedom of Information Act (on which, as Inner City Press has noted, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has similarly reversed its policy 180 degrees without justification). SDNY Judge Koeltl demanded t know if the government is arguing that no juvenile court in New York, California (and maybe Texas for other reasons he said) is empowered to grant relief. The answer was far from clear - but where the ruling is going does seem so. Watch this site. 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.  The Philippines returned $14.54 million in November 2016, so $66.46 million has yet to be retrieved. Now defendant RCBC Bank of the Philippines has hired the Quinn Emanuel law firm to defend it, and it already fighting back in words. RCBC’s lead counsel on the SDNY case, Tai-Heng Cheng, said:  “This is nothing more than a thinly veiled PR campaign disguised as a lawsuit. Based on what we have heard this suit is completely baseless. If the Bank of Bangladesh was serious about recovering the money, they would have pursued their claims three years ago and not wait until days before the statute of limitations. Not only are the allegations false, they don’t have the right to file here since none of the defendants are in the US." But it seems the funds were transferred to and through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And as Inner City Press reported in the US v. Patrick Ho case last year, the wiring of funds through New York can confer jurisdiction. Inner City Press will be covering this case. The first paragraph of the 103 page complaint reads, "This litigation involves a massive, multi-year conspiracy to carry out one of the largest banks heists in modern history right here in New York City. On February 4, 2016, thieves reached into a bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”) and stole approximately $101 million (out of the nearly $1 billion they attempted to steal). The bank account was held for the benefit of Bangladesh Bank, which is Bangladesh’s Central Bank. Bangladesh Bank has had a 45-year banking relationship under which it has placed its international reserves with the New York Fed. The New York Fed is a critical component of the United States’ central banking system and its link to the international financial system." Bangladesh's lawyers on the case are "COZEN O’CONNOR John J. Sullivan, Esq.  Jesse Loffler, Esq. Yehudah Gordon, Esq." We'll have more on this.

Debaprasad Debnath, a general manager at the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit, Joint Director Mohammad Abdur Rab and Account and Budgeting Department General Manager Zakir Hossain all left Dhaka to head to New York, for the filing of the lawsuit, which Inner City Press will be following.

They say the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which on January 29 was instructed by the US State Department to allow Juan Guaido to access Venezuelan accounts, will be helping its Bangladeshi counterpart to get to the bottom of the hack.  Those eyed include Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation or RCBC and some of its officials, and Philrem Service Corporation, casino owners and beneficiaries. Ajmalul Hossain QC, a lawyer for the central bank, is with them to file the case.

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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