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March 2023


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Tag: guilty plea

Report: Just 3% of Drug Defendants in Federal Cases Chose Trial Over Guilty Plea

Steve Neavling 

A tiny fraction of drug defendants in federal cases chose to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.

A new report from Human Rights Watch indicates that just 3% of defendants charged with drugs choose to go to trial, the Huffington Post reports.

The reason: The excessive penalties for drugs, according to the report.

“Prosecutors can say, ‘Take these 10 years or, if you get a trial and are convicted, you’re going to look at life,’” said Fellner, an attorney who specializes in criminal justice issues at Human Rights Watch. “That’s a pretty amazing power that unfortunately they are more than willing to wield.”

In effect, defendants feel forced to plead guilty in plea agreements to avoid lengthy prison sentence, whether they’re guilty or not.


Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Appeared in Court, Yawned As He Pleaded Not Guilty

 Steve Neavling

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev yawned Wednesday as he pleaded not guilty on 30 charges in federal court, the New York Daily News reports.

At times, the 19-year-old appeared to be fidgety; other times he appeared to be nonchalant, the News wrote.

One victim expressed feeling uneasy at the hearing.

“It was kind of eerie. Kind of upsetting,” said Mildred Valverde, 44, who was on crutches and suffered torn leg ligaments, nerve damage and hearing loss when one of the bombs detonated as she waited for her son to cross the finish line. “But it felt good I could be there.”

Flip-Flop Bandit Pleads Guilty for Illinois Stick-Up

Shoshanna Utchenik

Carla R. Walker, 43, of Lebanon, Ill. must not have listed “running away” in her escape plan when she wore flip-flops to rob her hometown bank.

Walker pled guilty Thursday in federal court on one count of bank robbery, announced the Justice Department in a press release.

They must have heard Walker coming when she entered Lebanon’s First Federal Savings Bank sporting bright green flip-flops in March. She held up tellers with a pellet gun, nabbing between $14,000 and $16,000. That’s plenty to buy more practical get-away shoes for next time.

There may not be a next time though; she potentially is facing some serious prison time.

Colombo Mob Boss Pleaded Guilty to Racketeering and Firearms Charges in Boston Fed Court

Shoshanna Utchenik

Mob boss DeLeo’s been off the streets for a while, but that hasn’t kept the feds from coming after him.

The 69-year-old Colombo Family ‘Street Boss’, of Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in Boston Federal court Thursday to racketeering conspiracy and illegal possession of firearms, the Justice Department announced in a press release.

As head of the DeLeo Crew based in Somerville, Mass., DeLeo led cocaine and marijuana trafficking operations between Massachusetts, Arkansas, Florida and New York. In addition to weapons and drugs, he was busted with a stash of costumes including police uniforms.

At the sentencing set for  Sept. 6, DeLeo will face up to nearly 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release. According to the Wall Street Journal, DeLeo’s already serving a 12 year sentence in federal prison for related drug crimes in Arkansas.

To read more click here.


Seattle Couple Living in Million Dollar Lakehouse Plead “Guilty” to Collecting Welfare

Shoshanna Utchenik

A Seattle couple busted for welfare fraud pleaded guilty Thursday. Apparently they had a lot more to lose than met the eye.

Chiropractor David Silverstein, 60, was the lover of Lyudmila Shimonova, 53, but told authorities he was her landlord of the million dollar home near Pritchard Beach on Lake Washington in South Seattle.

Consequently, he collected $1,250 a month in federal HUD rent subsidies on behalf of his girlfriend Shimonova, 53, who lived with Silverstein and her two children. Silverstein raked in more than $135,000 in housing benefits over the course of the ongoing scheme.

As part of the scheme, Silverstein gave his business address as his home address to make it look as if he didn’t live in the home.

Shimonova had jewelry, insurance and CD’s worth more than $30,000, though on applications for public assistance she claimed to have no assets but her small checking account, authorities said. The couple lied on at least 7 applications over the years, and received food, medical and disability benefits from the state and Social Security.

Under a plea agreement, the couple will pay more than $261,000 in restitution plus an additional civil penalty of $216,441, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

“Today we ensured this couple will not profit from their flagrant greed,” said U. S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. “In addition to a significant financial penalty, we will ask the judge to impose prison time. They stole resources that should have gone to the truly needy, illegally taking the place of others in a housing program with a long waiting list. This conduct hurts people who need assistance and weakens public support for a vital safety net. I commend HUD and SSA for the work done to protect the public interest in this case.”

Sentencing will take place Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

To read more click here.

Israeli Mobsters Extradited to US Plead Guilty

Shoshanna Utchenik

Sometimes being a ‘friend of Israel’ means sharing criminals.

Three Israeli mobsters were extradited to the U.S. in January 2011 in the first extradition of its kind under Israel’s racketeering law, which parallels RICO, the U.S. law targeting organized crime. Two of the three pled guilty to a host of drug and murder charges in U.S. District court, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced in a press release Monday.

Charges against Itzhak Abergil, Israel Ozifa and friends filled a 77-page grand jury indictment in California in 2008. The investigation by the DEA and ICE, in cooperation with the FBI, IRS and LA Police, uncovered crimes including the importing of the club drug ecstasy from Belgium to California and  ordering the murder of Sami Atias execution-style for interfering with a 2003 drug deal.


5 Gambino Gangsters Plead Guilty to Laundry List of Dirty Deeds

Shoshanna Utchenik

Racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault, extortion, murder? Just another day-in-the-life of a Gambino mobster.

Five Gambino wise guys pled guilty this week to a range of nefarious charges, announced Preet Bharara, NY U.S Attorney in Manhattan.

Working as “soldiers” and “associates” of the Gambino crime family, Vincenzo Frogiero, Todd Labarca, John Brancaccio, Christopher Reynolds, and Sean Dunn earned millions for the Gambinos by trafficking hundreds of kilos of cocaine and marijuana, and thousands of ecstasy and vicodin pills through operations based in Queens over the past 30 years.

Labarca also pled guilty to conspiracy to murder fellow gangster Martin Bosshart in a 2002 turf war, after Bosshart made a power grab in the Gambino’s marijuana import operation. Bosshart was found shot point blank in the back of the head for his ambitions.

The 5 will face similar fates in their July sentencing as a couple dozen other Gambino members and associates snared by the FBI recently as part of a nationwide takedown of organized crime.

According to Bharara, “The laundry list of illegal conduct to which LaBarca and these four other defendants pled serves as a reminder of the scourge that is organized crime and that our efforts to root it out will continue unabated.”

To read more click here.


Would-be Bomber Pleads Guilty to 2010 Attempt to Target Chicago Hot Spots

Shoshanna Utchenik

A 2010 sting nailed a  would-be bomber for attempting to plant an explosive device in the bustling Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago. Now, he’s likely to be out of commission for a long time.

The FBI announced Monday that Sami Samir Hassoun, a 24-year-old green card holder from Lebanon, pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device.

The plea  capped the  FBI probe that began in July 2010, when a cooperating source introduced undercover agents to Hassoun.

Believing the agent and the FBI source were collaborators, Hassoun led the planning of a “series of escalating violent attacks” intended to “damage Chicago’s sense of security, its economy, and trust in leadership.”

According to the plea agreement, Hassoun’s targets included Chicago entertainment hot spots, civic buildings, commercial high-rises and transportation infrastructure. He was finally busted for planting a backpack with what turned out to be a FBI-provided inert bomb, in the heart of one of Chicago’s busiest neighborhoods in September 2010.

According to the plea agreement, the court must impose a minimum 20 year, max 30 year sentence or reject the plea agreement. Hassoun will also be obligated to cooperate with authorities at their request.

To read more click here.