Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Irfan Khan Strikes Back

You remember Irfan Khan, the supposedly big terrorism case that was dismissed a few summers ago. Well, Khan is seeking revenge. From the AP:

Irfan Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan with a wife and two children, worked hard to realize the American dream after arriving in this country in 1994. He held jobs in South Florida as a taxi driver, service technician and operated a limousine company. He was an avid cricket player. Then he stepped up to a California computer industry job in 2011 that promised a good living.

A short time later, Khan was indicted along with his father and brother - both Muslim imams at South Florida mosques - with conspiring to provide up to $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban terror group. Khan spent 319 days in solitary confinement before federal prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges in June 2012.

"It was very, very hard," Khan said of his days spent praying and reading in that lonely cell.

Later, a federal judge ordered the acquittal of Khan's brother for lack of evidence, although their elderly father, Hafiz Khan, was convicted at trial and sentenced to 25 years behind bars. He's serving that time at a federal prison in North Carolina.

Now, Irfan Khan is suing the U.S. government for malicious prosecution, accusing authorities of essentially manufacturing a non-existent case against him. He is seeking potentially tens of millions of dollars in damages. A Miami federal judge refused the Justice Department's attempt to get the case dismissed, and it's headed for a June 2015 trial date.

I simply look at this as another opportunity to post one of my favorite clips:

Poll on Judge Fuller

The Daily Report is running a poll on what should happen to Judge Fuller.  Here's the poll, and here's the latest from Alyson Palmer of the DR on what's going on:

The Associated Press reported that it obtained a recording of the 911 call made by the woman, identifying herself as Kelli Fuller. According to the AP, the woman said she needed paramedics, saying, "He's beating on me. Please help me."
Fuller agreed to spend up to 24 weeks in a domestic violence intervention program and undergo an alcohol and substance abuse assessment to resolve the resulting misdemeanor battery case against him. His criminal defense lawyer has said that Fuller made no admission of guilt and that if Fuller completes the program, the case against him will be dismissed and his arrest record expunged.
Fuller said in a statement issued then that he regretted the incident, calling it embarrassing. He said he agreed to pre-trial diversion "after consulting with my family, and deciding that it was in everyone's best interests to put this incident behind us. While I regret that my decision means that the full and complete facts regarding this incident will likely not come out, I have no doubt that it is what is best for all involved."
Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has initiated an investigation into the matter. Although only Congress can remove a judge from office through the rarely-used power of impeachment, the federal courts by statute have some power to discipline their own judges.
Each federal appeals court's Judicial Council, made up of appellate and district court judges, can impose a range of punishments that include censure and asking a judge to retire voluntarily. If a Judicial Council concludes that a judge may have engaged in conduct that might constitute grounds for impeachment, the council must refer the matter to the national Judicial Conference, which in turn can send the matter to the U.S. House of Representatives for possible impeachment proceedings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“Miami is replete with people who utilize illegal funds and live a luxurious, unbelievable lifestyle.”

That was Judge Lenard, sentencing Alvaro Lopez Tardon --convicted of spending in Miami, drug proceeds earned in Spain -- to 150 years in federal prison.  From the Miami Herald:
A federal judge put a uniquely Miami spin on the $20 million shopping spree of convicted money launderer Álvaro López Tardón before sending the accused Spanish drug kingpin to prison for 150 years on Monday.
“I call it funny money, and we have a plethora of funny money here,” U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard declared, as she described López Tardón's use of cocaine proceeds from Spain to purchase exotic cars and waterfront condos. “Miami is replete with people who utilize illegal funds and live a luxurious, unbelievable lifestyle.”
Before Monday's final sentencing, Lenard had conducted a series of hearings in which she spoke about shadowy characters like López Tardón who hang out in sunny places like South Florida. During those hearings, a federal prosecutor and defense attorneys debated the relative harm that the 39-year-old Spaniard actually did to the community by blowing drug money made in Spain on high-priced cars, condos, jewelry and watches in Miami.
In June, López Tardón was found guilty of a single conspiracy charge that carried up to 20 years in prison and guilty of 13 money-laundering charges that carried up to 10 years each. Under sentencing guidelines, the judge had the authority to craft a prison term that effectively added up to life in prison for the Spaniard.

Meantime, Judge Altonaga sentenced a pimp to 29 years in prison:
A Miami federal judge did not believe Damion St. Patrick Baston told the truth when he took the witness stand in his sex-trafficking trial this summer. She also did not detect any sense of guilt or remorse after the jury convicted him.
At his sentencing hearing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga said Baston has a “deviant” and “delusional” personality with a “warped sense of reality.”
Despite her low opinion of the 37-year-old Jamaican, the judge refused to give him a maximum life sentence, instead sending Baston to prison for 27 years. The judge said that, although the trial evidence proved Baston repeatedly victimized young women in the sex trade from Australia to Dubai to Miami, he didn’t kill anyone and, therefore, a “sentence of life would not provide just punishment.”

What do you all think about these very long sentences after trial?  What would they have gotten had they pleaded guilty?

Meantime, down the street, there is a big push to get a new civil courthouse.  It's obviously needed.  Judge Soto looks great in the ad, while the courthouse looks just awful:

Monday, September 29, 2014

RIP Mike Beck

Judge Ed Davis' longtime courtroom deputy and then Northern Division Manager Michael Beck unexpectedly passed away over the weekend.  Mike was a great guy and really funny once you got to know him. 

He knew more about the clerk's office and how things ran than anyone I knew. 

Most people will remember his booming voice -- he would introduce court for Judge Davis every morning with the traditional OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ call.  It was really impressive how he did it.  So the judges started using him for en banc hearings and the like. 

Judge Davis' tight-knit federal family has had a rough go of it the last couple of years.  Mike was a big part of that family.  He will be missed.

If you have a good Mike Beck story, please remember him in the comments.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

“This is really a story about redemption.”

A great quote on Rosh Hashanah from Bill Barzee about his client, lobbyist Richard Canadia.  Judge Cooke sentenced him to probation and four months of home confinement. From the (newly designed) Herald:

Cooke said she recognized his remorse and the significance of his help. She also recognized he was a vulnerable man who had gone through financial difficulty, a divorce and the death of his parents when he decided to participate in an FBI-orchestrated grant scheme to rip off the federal government.
Cooke, known for her folksy expressions, said the “wheels fell off the bus” in describing Candia’s dire situation. Before that, “I don’t think this was anything you were capable of or thought you would do,” the judge told him.
Pizzi surely hasn't kept his head down since his acquittal.  Here are his comments after the sentencing:

After Thursday’s sentencing, Pizzi called Candia’s deal an “outrage.”
“After three years and millions of tax dollars spent, lying lobbyist Michael Kesti is doing talk shows and lying lobbyist Richard Candia is home watching footballs games,” Pizzi said. “These are two lobbyists who lied to and wanted to corrupt every city in the state in order to make money. One got a big paycheck by conning the government and the other, Candia, a free pass. This is how this operation ended.”