Thursday, September 03, 2015

Former AUSA Michael Garofola (and Bachelorette contestant!) back in the news

S.F. Lawyers beat me to it
Earlier this year, Garofola, a former Davis Polk & Wardwell associate and federal prosecutor, took a break from his job as general counsel for Trans Pacific Polymers and Gulf Energy and Chemical Company to appear on "Bachelor in Paradise," a spinoff series of the reality TV hit "The Bachelorette." In 2013, he took an even longer break from the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami to appear on a season of the original show featuring fashion designer Desiree Hartsock.

Garofola was eliminated from "The Bachelorette" in the seventh episode, when Hartsock passed him over for other suitors. His run on "Paradise" ended just two weeks ago, when he was edged out by other contestants vying for the attentions of Tenley Molzahn. ("She's just not that into [I.Q.],” Garofola tweeted to his nearly 16,000 followers.)

If Garofola is smarting from the rejection, he doesn’t let on. “I’m proud of all of my decisions,” he said in an interview after the show. “They’ve all been net positive, and I really wouldn’t change a thing.” And he has no patience for those who would question the choice to flaunt the search for love.
Lawyers enjoy reality shows as much as everyone else, Garofola said. But among reality TV’s critics, they’re “the most hypercritical and judgmental group.”

"I don’t fit that mold,” said Garofola, insisting that he’s always embraced risk. His biggest fear, he said, is having regrets.

PB Post live tweeting federal trial in WPB (UPDATED)

Joe Zada is waiting for a verdict in West Palm Beach. Big fraud case with lots of shenanigans.  The Palm Beach Post live tweeted closing arguments here.  And here's a nice summary from the online paper:
Joseph Zada didn’t show the best judgment when he used other people’s money to buy jewelry, sports cars and palatial homes in Wellington and Michigan, where he threw lavish parties featuring acrobats swinging from trapezes and performing stunts rivaling Cirque du Soleil, his attorney told a federal jury on Tuesday.
In fact, attorney Richard Lubin said, it was downright dumb.

But, he told jurors on the final day of Zada’s month-long fraud trial, the former Wellington high-flier fully intended to repay those who gave him as much as $55 million. Once he received a more than $250 million inheritance from an overseas businessman, everyone would be made whole, he said.
“He put the cart before the horse,” Lubin said of Zada’s decision to take millions from people before he had the inheritance check in hand.
“There’s no question Joe Zada spent the money before he had it,” Lubin said. “He was so convinced he was going to get this huge amount of money that he spent it before he had it. … It’s not a smart thing to do, but it’s not a crime."

Federal prosecutors, who are asking jurors to convict the 57-year-old of 15 counts of mail fraud and three counts of bank fraud when they begin deliberations today, scoffed at the notion that Zada made an innocent mistake.
Since the late 1990s, Zada has been duping people into believing that he was a wildly successful businessman who had befriended a variety of preposterously rich men, who left him their fortunes when they died, federal prosecutors said.
First, he claimed he got a windfall from a man who died from AIDS, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rabinowitz. Then, it was a enormous check from his oil-rich Lebanese father, who felt guilty about abandoning his family after they moved to the U.S. Later, he told people he was inheriting money from a man named Wolfgang, a member of a secret committee in London that had access to global investment opportunities. In another twist, he said he was waiting for a $1.5 billion check from the estate of a Saudi oil sheik.
Rabinowitz blasted claims by Lubin that bankers, lawyers and accountants had verified that foreign banks were processing a multi-million-dollar inheritance for Zada.
“The evidence is overwhelming that the defendant isn’t getting an inheritance,” she said. “They’re lies.”

UPDATE -- Zada was found guilty this morning and remanded into custody.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

SCOTUS: Bond for ex-Governor

I've never seen the Supreme Court do this before, but it granted bond for former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell yesterday in this order.  From the Richmond Times-Disptach:
In a surprise to some observers, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed former Gov. Bob McDonnell to remain free while the justices decide whether to take up his appeal.
In a one-paragraph order, the high court told the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hold off on making its July 10 ruling upholding McDonnell’s 11 corruption convictions final, permitting McDonnell to remain on bond.
Should the justices not take the case, the stay ordered on Monday will end automatically. If the court takes the case, the stay will continue, the court ordered.
“Wow,” said Randall Eliason, former chief of the Public Corruption/Government Fraud Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington. “It suggests there is some level of interest at the Supreme Court in reviewing the case, even though not a single appellate judge in the 4th Circuit agreed with his arguments.”
Henry Asbill, one of McDonnell’s lawyers, said, “We’re very grateful for this order and we’re gratified that the justices recognize that this case raises substantial and important legal questions and we look forward to a full merits briefing.”
Lower courts should take a cue from the High Court that appellate bonds are okay!

Monday, August 31, 2015

SCOTUS: "Long Conference" on 9/28

The NY Times has an interesting piece this morning on the "long conference" where all of the summer petitions will be considered.  The odds of a grant from the long conference are particularly low.  Can't the Court meet a few times over the summer to consider the filed cert petitions?  Would that be such a burden in addition to the 70-75 cases that they hear a year?

Four weeks from now, on Sept. 28, the Supreme Court justices will gather in private for an annual ritual called the “long conference.” They will consider the roughly 2,000 petitions to hear appeals that have piled up over the summer. And they will reject almost every one.
“The summer list is where petitions go to die,” said Gregory G. Garre, a solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration who is now at Latham & Watkins.
The odds of persuading the Supreme Court to hear a case are always long. At the conferences held on many Fridays during the term, which lasts from October to June, the justices consider perhaps 200 petitions at a time and grant about 1.1 percent of them. At the long conference, the rate is roughly half of that, around 0.6 percent.
That difference is significant. “For the majority of petitioners, the most important moment is trying to get in the door,” said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford who argues frequently before the court. “Once you’re in, the statistics say, you have a two-thirds chance of winning. So the difference between a grant and a deny is truly the difference for a handful of cases on the summer list between winning and losing.”
Lawyers and scholars have various theories about why the long conference is so inhospitable. One is that the justices, who decide about 70 cases a year, do not want to grant too many petitions right away for fear of having to turn down better ones later on.
“It’s like the beginning of a long buffet,” Professor Fisher said. “You don’t want to fill your plate with too much stuff, lest you not have room for some delicious items at the end of the line.”

Meantime Liptak (the author of the article) and Orin Kerr are fighting about whether Justice Thomas here.  Here is the original NY Times piece that Kerr take on. Who has the better of the debate?  Kerr seems to make valid points about the flimsy statistics cited by Liptak.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flakka and butt implant deliveries from overseas to be delayed due to Erika

Your 8am death cone:

Paula McMahon covers this big Flakka importation case:
Two men pleaded guilty Thursday to importing more than 24 pounds of the main ingredient in the street drug flakka from China to Broward County.

Federal authorities arrested Michael J. Hernandez, 25, of Orlando, and Jonell Vega-Mercado, 21, of Clermont, in June when they tried to pick up packages from a shipping and mailbox store in Hollywood.
Michael J. Hernandez and Jonell Vega-Mercado

Homeland Security Investigations agents said the packages contained the key ingredient for making the synthetic stimulant, which often causes hallucinations and psychosis.

The packages were addressed to fake names and were intercepted while being shipped to commercial mailboxes in Weston and Hollywood, authorities said.

The men ordered large amounts of the drug to be shipped from labs in China and the conspiracy went on from January to early June, according to the plea agreement. The men paid cash for mailbox services and used fake identities when they picked up the shipments.

Both men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to import the drug ingredient at a hearing in federal court in West Palm Beach. The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

And what's Friday news without Hurricanes, Flakka, and.... Butt Implants:
Peruvian woman who admitted she illegally smuggled a product into South Florida to perform an illegal "buttocks enhancement" procedure was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison on Thursday, court records show.

Teresa Nunez Orrego, 46, was arrested in May during an appointment with an undercover federal agent who posed as a client who wanted a "buttocks enhancement." The arrest was made at the Hallandale Beach apartment of Nunez's South Florida contact who scheduled her appointments.

Teresa Nunez Orrego, 46, was sentencd to 10 months in federal prison after admitting she traveled from Peru to Broward County with silicone, large hypodermic needles and syringes to perform an illegal cosmetic procedure, or "buttocks enhancement." (Handout, Broward Sheriff's Office)

Nunez had promised she would boost the woman's rear end with injections of a top-quality Swiss product for the bargain price of $1,000, according to court records.

Federal authorities said Nunez hid vials of silicone, with fake labels that claimed it was more expensive hyaluronic acid, in her luggage on a flight from Lima, Peru to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Also concealed in her luggage were large hypodermic needles, syringes and vials of lidocaine to help treat reduce the pain involved in the procedure, according to agents from the Food and Drug Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.