Wednesday, December 14, 2016


America's harsh federal drugs laws continue to destroy not only the lives, families and loved ones of those convicted and sentenced to long prison terms, but also those who carry out the drug war on behalf of the federal government. In fact it's never been truer than now that corrupt sentencing corrupts prosecutors as well as law enforcement officers. In the Middle District of Florida a federal judge recently sentenced a former federal DEA agent to a year of imprisonment because he'd demanded $700,000 from the family of an imprisoned man whom he'd helped convict many years before. 

As the convicted drug defendant wasted ten years of his life languishing in jail the DEA agent lived a full & happy life until eventually retiring Then the DEA agent agreed to help the defense for ready cash despite federal rules that prohibit this. The agent made it clear in an email to the family that "...if we can't come to some understanding then you guys get to keep your money and he stays in jail because good luck getting him out without my testimony."

This quote in essence damns the entire federal criminal justice system as it relates to drug investigations for trafficking amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. Clearly this statement establishes a motive for DEA and FBI agents to pump up charges and to convict defendants so that they can later come back and reap the full rewards of their investigations. The problem is that investigators even on a local level are not shielded from corruption as a recent internal affairs investigation of the Pinellas Sheriff's office led to resignations of drug Detectives without jail time. 

Because of this inherent bias of federal and state prosecutions based on testimony from law enforcement officers, DEA agents and FBI agents, federal judges especially in the Middle District of Florida and in state courts in Clearwater, Florida should allow all drug testimony from these agents to be cross-examined with what knowledge the agents have of the $700,000 demand made by the retired DEA agent. It clearly goes to their potential bias in favor of harsh prosecutions resulting in the most possible time in prison for defendants in high profile drug cases so that they can later benefit financially once they leave law enforcement.

Monday, December 05, 2016


Security Fraud as defined by Federal Statutes at 15 U.S.C., Section 78J(B) can surprisingly encompass a wide range of activities that one might not readily believe are criminal. In fact the statute is purposefully vague so as to be a catch-all clause that prevents fraudulent practices in general. Despite this under the harsh Federal Sentencing Guidelines a conviction for Security Fraud often results in many years of federal prison even when someone can prove that he did not know that his actions were unlawful as all that is required under the federal criminal code is that it be shown he acted willfully. 

Securities Fraud does not require
Knowledge it's Unlawful
The statute delineates that it's unlawful to "directly or indirectly ... use or employ in connection with the purchase or sale of any security ... any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance of such rules and regulations as the SEC may prescribe." 

So we go to the SEC to find Rule 10b-5 that forbids the following:
1. Using any scheme or artifice to defraud.
2. Making any untrue statement of material fact or omitting a necessary statement of material fact that would make the statement not misleading.
3. Engaging in any act practice or course of business that operates as a fraud or deceit to a person.

As you can see this is a poor way to circumscribe what the bad behavior actually is using such a broad stroke so Federal Courts have come into play to fill the gaps. Anyone with a fiduciary duty who fails to disclose germane information before a trade is made is likely liable as would someone who self deals. 

Courts have found that the statute encompasses the following activities: churning stock accounts, directed orders, wash sales, matched orders, rigged pricing, artificial markets, market manipulation, wooden tickets, parking and boxing in the stock. All of these practices are unlawful and therefore indictable offenses even if there's no actual monetary loss for the victim. Brokers are often at risk of being falsely accused of securities fraud (or of grand theft and scheme to defraud with huge loss amounts in the state courts of Florida) just because the alleged victim lost money on a known transaction that happened to go wrong. 

However, where there is a monetary loss that loss amount will be used in federal guideline calculations at sentencing and presented to the Court by the federal probation officer who writes the Presentencing Report. The relevant Sentencing Guidelines for Security Fraud are found at Section 2B1.1 (fraud) and 2B1.4 (insider trading). These provisions provide that the dollar amount of the alleged fraud will be the chief driver for sentencing. To find the best possible results in these complicated fraud cases it's important to contact as early as possible a Federal criminal defense lawyer who is well versed in the federal courtrooms of the Middle District of Florida.

Friday, December 02, 2016


I've gotten my greedy hands on the latest 2016 edition of Defending A Federal Criminal Case by the Federal Public Defenders of San Diego priced at $399.00 for three volumes. It is - as were the previous editions of this book - a definitive legal guide for federal defense lawyers and something every defense lawyer should have in that arsenal of last resort, the firm's legal library where the Jack Daniels whiskey is stored. 

It also makes for for some heavy lifting in lieu of your gym membership that lapsed some time ago should you heft them all together and throw them in your briefcase to say, fight some battle in federal court. I suggest carrying large helium balloons to help carry the load. Though I suppose the makers of this fine edition have solved that potential problem by also providing the book as a searchable PDF download. For a limited time certified CJA defense lawyers may get the books free of charge, after that you'll need to burglarize the Middle District of Florida Federal Defenders Office or try to buy mine page by page if it comes to that.

So why is this set of books so useful for Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers? It covers everything from that federal arrest, to federal indictment, to federal bond hearing arguments, to an analysis of every major federal criminal violation, to federal trial and finally to that federal appeal you were hoping you'd avoid before that fatal federal verdict. Although these books were created in California they cite the latest law from a variety of Federal Jurisdictions especially where there are inconsistencies. This allows the user to not only have some ground level working knowledge of the relevant legal arguments from his or her jurisdiction, but some ideas as to the best standard arguments from more progressive parts of the country, which as we all well know is any place not part of the Eleventh Circuit.

The books are clearly a labor of love for the Public Defenders of San Diego, Inc who offer their cumulative years on how the federal criminal law is changing for a better idea of how federal criminal law is in actual practice now. In the best way these books are what you'd hope they'd be, a definitive voice giving unbiased advice for every step in a criminal case with the goal of always finding the best possible result for every issue.