Signifcant Cases

The word "significant" has a different meaning to different people. It would be easy for me to list ten cases where my client was acquitted or the charges dismissed and claim that case was "significant" because of the result. In actuality, some of the most "significant" cases I handled were significant because of how the outcome impacted me personally or how the outcome made a difference to my client. The following contested cases are the most significant to me because from a personal standpoint they impacted me, or because of the effect my hard work had on my client's life. Really, these cases run the gambit of my career beginning with Ronnie Blade in 1994, who I was appointed to represent while I was a "green attorney" working at my Dad's office. They end with me being a "force" whose reputation for honesty and hard work made a difference for my client before I even began working on my client's case. What these cases have in common, and what truly makes me proud, is that in the past 20 years my passion and zeal have not ebbed.

U.S.A. v. Blade
U.S.A. v. Thomas
U.S.A. v. Hector Solares
Griffen v. Bowsersox
U.S.A. v. Glen Hopkins
U.S.A. v. Norberto Laurel
U.S.A. v. Nikkie Kerins
U.S.A. v. Rodrigo-Rodriguez
U.S.A. v. Kolb
U.S.A. v. Banegas-Fernandez
U.S.A. v. Singh
U.S.A. v. Wabash
U.S.A. v. Wiley
U.S.A. v. Akumu
U.S.A. v. Doyle
U.S.A. v. Cortez
U.S.A. v. Davidson
U.S.A. v. Prince
U.S.A. v. Banks
U.S.A. v. Gardea
U.S.A. v. Priestly
U.S.A. v. Owens
U.S.A. v. Hicks
U.S.A. v. Wells
U.S.A. v. Nelson
U.S.A. v. Bassett
U.S.A. v. Hodge
U.S.A. v. De La Torre-Del Real
U.S.A. v. Christian
U.S.A. v. Schwank
U.S.A. v. Yaney
U.S.A. v. Smith



  • U.S.A. v. Blade
    Presiding Judge: N/A
    Approximate dates of representation: 1994
    Brief summary: Mr. Blade's case was significant, because this was my first "victory" in the federal system. I was appointed to represent Mr. Blade while still working at my Dad's office and because of my youth and inexperience was not given any "real" cases to defend. Mr. Blade was charged with a probation revocation and I diligently researched each and every angle available and was able to prevail at the Hearing on the Motion to Revoke Probation. There was no judge or opposing counsel, but the significance of Mr. Blade's case was that for the first time I saw that I had a unique talent regarding my ability to represent a criminal defendant, and through hard work to get a good result. My success in Mr. Blade's case convinced me that because of my fluency in Spanish and talent in presenting a case to a fact finder that I could be successful if I devoted myself to federal criminal law. Shortly after representing Mr. Blade I made the very difficult decision to leave my Dad's office and strike out on my own, which is the most significant thing I have done as an attorney.

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  • U.S.A. v. Thomas, No. 95-40003
    Presiding Judge: Paul E. Riley
    Approximate dates of representation: 1995-1998
    Brief summary: While on my own for approximately six months I had a smattering of success, but I was becoming frustrated and having self doubts as to whether or not I had made the right decision leaving the comfort of my Dad's office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Leggans had a very strong case against all of the Defendants, and my client was alleged to be the "ring leader." Mr. Thomas' case was "significant" because this is the case where I met Burt Shostak, who represented a co-defendant. Burt Shostak is a nationally renowned criminal defense attorney who was essentially representing his client pro bono. Each morning, Burt and I arrived nearly two hours before the trial started and in the three weeks that the trial lasted Burt and I spoke every morning before trial and every evening after trial. Burt taught me what it meant to fight even when the odds seemed insurmountable. After I gave my closing argument in Thomas, Judge Paul E. Riley, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Leggans, and Burt Shostak all complimented me on the fine job I did and Thomas was the springboard to most of the success I have enjoyed as an attorney.

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  • U.S.A. v. Hector Solares, No. 94-30064
    Presiding Judge: William D. Stiehl
    Approximate dates of representation: 1994-1995
    Brief summary: Prior to this jury trial I had been co-counsel with Assistant Federal Public Defender Phil Kavanaugh in two other federal jury trials which resulted in acquittals, and this was the first "Not Guilty" verdict I received while representing a Defendant on my own. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Quinley, who was my trial advocacy teacher in law school was my adversary and Mr. Solares was the only one of the four co-defendants to be found "Not Guilty" by the jury. I had not been on my own for very long and discovery in Mr. Solares' case consumed two or three banker's boxes, yet I was able to devote the time necessary to master the discovery and convince the jury after a six week trial that the Government had not proved Mr. Solares guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After the verdict, Mr. Quinley told me that he was proud of me, and that I had done a good job for my client. This sentiment was echoed by Judge Stiehl and this case gave me a great deal of confidence in my abilities as a trial lawyer.

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  • Griffen v. Bowsersox, No. 96-3678
    Presiding Judge: Carol E. Jackson
    Approximate dates of representation: 1996-1997
    Brief summary: I was appointed with Jerry Sims, to represent Milton Griffen who was sentenced to death for murdering an innocent victim. The Missouri Attorney General's office, represented by Michael Spillane, prevailed and Mr. Griffen was put to death. This case gave me a profound respect for what the ultimate penalty is in our society, and the protections we as Americans enjoy as a result of due process. It is very powerful to actually represent someone on death row, whose life is literally in your hands. Mr. Griffen's case taught me the effect law has on society and the value of life. I worked extraordinarily hard for Mr. Griffen, and part of my work included going to the victim's family and this was the most powerful experience I have had as an attorney, and while Mr. Griffen was ultimately put to death for his actions, he was afforded every bit of protection afforded by the due process clause of the Constitution.

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  • U.S.A. v. Glen Hopkins, No. 94-40011
    Presiding Judge: Paul E. Riley
    Approximate dates of representation: 1996-1997
    Brief summary: This case was significant to me, because it is where all of my skills began coming together. Glen Hopkins was acquitted by a jury after approximately 40 witnesses testified on behalf of the Government. I was so sure of my client's innocence and was able to effectively prove to the jury that all 40 of these witnesses were lying to obtain a Rule 35 Downward Departure, or that they had faulty memories. My client was unable to leave the courtroom after the verdict because he was crying so much. Assistant U.S. Attorney Coleman, who is deceased, told me that he was sure of his evidence but that my defense created some doubts in his own mind as to my client's guilt. Mr. Hopkins remains a productive member of society and every few years we speak, and it is with great pride that I was able to help this wonderful gentleman. It was an extraordinarily difficult case, but I was fortunately able to convince the jury that the Government had not proven my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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  • U.S.A. v. Norberto Laurel, Dist. No. 92-40004, Appeal No. 97-4205
    Presiding Judge: James L. Foreman/Seventh Circuit
    Approximate dates of representation: 1997-1998
    Brief summary: The appeal was based on a conditional plea under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph Friederich agreed to dismiss the Indictment against Mr. Laurel after the Seventh Circuit entered an order affirming U.S. District Court Judge Foreman's ruling denying my Motion to Dismiss the Indictment for a double jeopardy violation. I thought the Seventh Circuit's decision was wrong, so I prepared a Petition for Rehearing En Banc and before the Seventh Circuit ruled on this Motion the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois dismissed its indictment against my client. Because of this Mr. Laurel's sentence was effectively cut in half and he was released from the Bureau of Prison shortly after the Southern District of Illinois Indictment was dismissed.

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  • U.S.A. v. Nikkie Kerins, No. 98-30136
    Presiding Judge: G. Patrick Murphy
    Approximate dates of representation: 1999
    Brief summary: During the week preceding the President Day Holiday, I learned that Rod Irvin, a newly appointed attorney to the Criminal Justice Act Panel had grave reservations about entering into a cooperating Plea Agreement with the Government where his client, Nikkie Kerins, was going to be required to plead guilty to an Offense Level 38 which would have produced a sentence of approximately 18 years. Nikkie had never been in any "real" trouble before, was almost murdered while assisting Government agents and gave a "confession" while she was high on drugs. The Government was attempting to use Nikkie's post arrest statement to ratchet up her Offense Level and Mr. Irvin did not know how to proceed. I called him and offered my services on a pro bono basis, worked through the President Day weekend and prepared a sentencing memorandum. After a contested sentencing, we were victorious and Nikkie was sentenced to the mandatory minimum five year sentence and eventually a Rule 35 was filed on her behalf so that she received the sentence she deserved. But for me, Nikkie would have been sentenced to an excessive amount of time and Chief Judge G. Patrick Murphy was complimentary to me for the amount of work I did in such a short period of time. I believe Nikkie is now out of jail, drug free, and a productive member of society. It is gratifying to know that my efforts truly made a difference in her life. After her sentencing she cried because of the outcome and no words can express the feeling of pride that I felt when I saw the effect my hard work had on Nikkie. I have a great deal of respect for Rod Irvin who was not afraid to call me and say that he needed help.

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  • U.S.A. v. Rodrigo-Rodriguez, Dist. No. 95-22, Appeal No. 96-1292
    Presiding Judge: Jean C. Hamilton/Eighth Circuit
    Approximate dates of representation: 1995-1996
    Brief summary: I tried this case solely for sentencing purposes, meaning that each question I asked dealt with a different aspect of sentencing which is an extraordinarily difficult task for any trial attorney to attempt to do. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ware and I could not reach an agreement as to relevant conduct and I was concerned that because other co-defendants were going to trial, my client's sentence could be greatly increased if he entered a "straight-up plea" and did not go to trial. I knew that I risked losing three points for Acceptance of Responsibility by going to trial, and at sentencing Chief Judge Jean C. Hamilton sided with the Government as to what she felt Mr. Rodriguez' relevant conduct was. I was successful on appeal where I used the Sentencing Memorandum I prepared as a basis to show why we should prevail. Mr. Rodriguez was re-sentenced to a sentence which he would have pleaded guilty to originally, and this was significant for him because I was able to use my "expertise" in federal criminal law to go to trial, lose but ultimately win on appeal.

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  • U.S.A. v. Kolb, No. 00-40047-JPG.
    Presiding Judge: J. Phil Gilbert
    Approximate dates of representation: 1999-2001
    Brief summary: Mr. Kolb is housed at the maximum facility prison located in Marion, Illinois, and he was charged by the United States with possessing weapons. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Cutchin and I were in a two day trial before the Honorable J. Phil Gilbert and on January 18, 2001, the jury returned a verdict of "Guilty" on Count 1 and "Not Guilty" on Count 2. There were three or four related cases with similar facts and Mr. Kolb was the only Defendant who was acquitted on any Count and this case was significant because it reaffirmed to me the value of the jury process in our country. Mr. Kolb requested and was given a fair and impartial trial. I was able to convince the jury to acquit Mr. Kolb of a very serious charge which none of the other attorneys were able to do. I was proud to be able to be of assistance to him and I believe it confirmed to Mr. Kolb that even prisoners at the maximum facility in Marion will be treated fairly.

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  • U.S.A. v. Banegas-Fernandez, No. 99-30174-GPM.
    Presiding Judge: G. Patrick Murphy
    Approximate dates of representation: 1999-2000
    Brief summary: Mr. Banegas was charged with possession of a false green card and social security card and would have been a routine case. However, Mr. Banegas was a native Honduran who entered the United States illegally, while literally walking from Honduras to the United States. After hurricane Mitch ravished Honduras in 1999, he was granted Temporary Permanent Status, meaning that at the time he was indicted, Mr. Banegas was technically in the United States "legally." Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Garrison and I fought very hard over the impact that Mr. Banegas' Temporary Permanent Status would have on the case. Chief Judge G. Patrick Murphy had a long Hearing and even though he ruled against us he appreciated the unique argument I was making in my Motion to Dismiss Indictment and Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss Indictment. Mr. Banegas told me that I was the only person who had ever fought for him and it was very significant for him to see that I was taking my job so seriously to ensure that he received a just and fair trial, which he did.

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  • U.S.A. v. Singh, No. 04-40047-JPG
    Presiding Judge: J. Phil Gilbert
    Approximate dates of representation: 2004-2005
    Brief Summary: Mr. Singh is a truck driver who was born in India and resided in California. While driving a load of tomatoes—and 50 kilograms of cocaine—from California to the East Coast he was stopped in the Southern District of Illinois. Mr. Singh was denied bond and was ordered detained by the U.S. Magistrate. After the detention hearing, Mr. Singh hired an attorney from Texas who immediately began negotiating with the Government for a cooperating plea agreement. Mr. Singh hired California attorney Tony Capozzi who in turn hired me as local counsel. The first thing Tony and I did was to file a Motion to Reconsider Bond. Fortunately we were successful and Mr. Singh was released on pre-trial bond. We then filed a Motion to Suppress the traffic stop and at the hearing I used the videotape of the traffic stop in such a way that we were able to show that the Trooper had lied in several portions of his police report. Judge Gilbert agreed with our position and suppressed the evidence seized during the traffic stop. As a result the Government dismissed its case against Mr. Singh. Tony Capozzi couldn't believe how hard I worked on the case—essentially doing all the work on the Motion to Suppress—even though I was only local counsel. The Singh case shows how hard I'll work hard on a case even though I'm not lead counsel.

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  • U.S.A. v. Wabash, No. 05-CR-40029-JPG
    Presiding Judge: J. Phil Gilbert
    Appoximate dates of representation 2005-2006
    Brief Summary: In my opinion the Environmental Protection Agency decided to make an example out of a Farm Services Company for alleged pesticide drift. Ultimately, myself and co-counsel were able to have the case dismissed because we were able to convince Judge Gilbert that the Statute under which Wabash was charged was vague. About a week before the Statute of Limitations was going to run, the U.S. Attorney's Office filed criminal charges against Wabash and two of its employees. This was the first time in the United States that anyone had ever been charged with violating the Aatrex and Bicep II Magnum label. After working on Wabash for the better part of a year we put together a Motion to Dismiss which the Government responded to. After a Hearing U.S. District Court Judge Gilbert entered an Order dismissing the case due to the vagueness of the Statue at issue. This is a case which was hard fought by myself and the other two defense attorneys. Fortunately Wabash and the other Defendants had attorneys who were willing to put forth the effort to ensure a positive outcome. Since it was a first of its kind in the United States to be charged everything was new including the arguments we made to have the Statute declared unconstitutional.

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  • U.S.A. v. Wiley, No. 04-CR-30144-DRH
    Presiding Judge: David R. Herndon
    Approximate dates of representation: 2004-2005
    Brief Summary: After his arrest, Victor Wiley gave a full confession to Alton Police Department detectives. Mr. Wiley confessed that the 50 grams of "crack" cocaine and $10,000 cash found on his possession were his. From the beginning of my representation of Mr. Wiley I noted that he had extraordinarily odd behavior and that something didn't "fit." Jury selection was difficult because I had to select jurors who would understand that all confessions are not truthful and that Mr. Wiley suffered from a diminished capacity. The jury understood our defense and acquitted Mr. Wiley of all the Counts against him. Victor Wiley’s case is the perfect example of the difference an attorney with federal criminal trial experience makes. Had a less experienced attorney represented Victor I am certain he would have been convicted.

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  • U.S.A. v. Akumu, No. 05-CR-30157-MJR
    Presiding Judge: Michael Reagan
    Lead Counsel: Steve Wiliams
    Approximate dates of representation: 2006
    Brief Summary: Another first of its kind case in the Southern District of Illinois, USA v. Akumu, I volunteered my time and effort to help Assistant Federal Public Defender Steve Willams represent an individual charged with making terrorist threats against the United States. Mr. Akumu is a Kenyan native who on an earlier occasion in Texas had threatened to blow up a plane flying to Africa and made the same type of threats against the Arch and Adams Mark Hotel, which are located in downtown St. Louis. While mentally fit to stand trial, Mr. Akumu had a great deal of mental problems. With my help, Steve Williams was able to show the jury that the threats made against the Arch and Adams Mark were not credible due to the fact that the Government had not taken the terrorist threats in Texas seriously. Our theory was that Mr. Akumu was nothing more than a troubled young man, not a terrorist and as such should be acquitted. After a four day trial, the jury was convinced that Mr. Akumu was not guilty and they returned a not guilty verdict, which is a big accomplishment, especially in today's post-911 world.

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  • U.S.A. v. Doyle, No. 10-CR-30057-DRH
    Presiding Judge: David R. Herndon
    Approximate dates of representation: 2010-2011
    Brief Summary: Tavis Doyle was one of the first drug dealers charged in the Southern District of Illinois with the federal crime of drug induced homicide due to some of his clients overdosing from the heroin he supplied to them. This case was prosecuted by the top trial attorneys in the U.S. Attorney's office, Bob Garrison & my former trial advocacy teacher Mike Quinley. The Doyle trial is significant because it is where my co-counsel Tom Q. Keefe, III came into his own. I am proud of the formidable challenge we gave the Government. The medical evidence of death by heroine was daunting, but Tom & I were up to the challenge. We poured through the thousands of documents produced in discovery and were able to "thread the needle" to convince the jury to acquit Tavis Doyle of one of the counts which would have resulted in a life sentence.
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  • U.S.A. v. Cortez, No. 09-CR-00382-CDP
    Presiding Judge: Catherine D. Perry
    Approximate dates of representation: 2008-2010
    Brief Summary: When I began my representation of Mr. Cortez for a charge emanating from the Eastern District of Missouri, unbeknownst to me he had already been charged in the Southern District of Illinois. As we plodded through the Eastern District of Missouri, I started getting suspicious that perhaps I was making a mistake in allowing Mr. Cortez to plead "guilty." I ended up agreeing to a "guilty" plea in the Eastern District of Missouri only if the Government would lock Mr. Cortez into a Plea Agreement in both Districts. Had Mr. Cortez not hired someone who knew how to maneuver between the two Districts he would have ended up with a 15 year sentence. Because of my hard work and ability he only ended up with a 5 year sentence which was an extraordinary result.
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  • U.S.A. v. Davidson, No. 05-CR-519-CEJ
    Presiding Judge: Carol E. Jackson
    Approximate dates of representation: 2007-2008
    Brief Summary: Bill Davidson was charged in a 31 Count Indictment with Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, Bank Fraud, Money Laundering, and Tax Evasion. The charges stemmed from Mr. Davidson's work for the Vincentians, which is a Catholic religious order. Mr. Davidson allegedly bilked the Vincentians out of millions of dollars. We had a two day contested sentencing where the Government argued for a sentence of nearly 20 years because of the alleged massive fraud involved. We were victorious at the contested sentencing and convinced Judge Jackson to sentence Mr. Davidson to 10 years.
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  • U.S.A. v. Prince, No. 09-CR-40090-JPG
    Presiding Judge: J. Phil Gilbert
    Approximate dates of representation: 2008-2010
    Brief Summary: Tara Prince's case took a toll on me emotionally because while she was "guilty" of the crime she was charged with, she did not deserve the 8-10 year sentence envisioned by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. She and I met on an average of twice a month and our original strategy was to go to trial and demand the Government prove all of its charges. We would have challenged the evidence the Government had against Tara which meant that I had to become an expert on employee leasing companies known as a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). A PEO assumes the responsibility for the human resources related functions for small businesses, handling payroll and worker's compensation benefits for their clients. Tara was President of a small PEO and would have become a "Guideline casualty" had she pleaded "guilty" to the original charges. Fortunately, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Weinhoeft filed a Superseding Indictment and Tara pleaded "guilty." I filed a Sentencing Memorandum setting forth our position and Judge Gilbert sentenced Tara to only 21 months. Judge Gilbert told Tara at Sentencing that I had done a wonderful job representing her and but for my hard work she could have easily received a 10 year sentence.
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  • Illinois v. Banks
    Presiding Judge: Ralph Mendehlson
    Approximate dates of representation: 2007-2008
    Brief Summary: Matthew Banks is a teacher at Alton High School. He was falsely accused of and charged with inappropriately touching one of his female students. Matt had 100% confidence in me and I fought as hard as I've ever fought for a client. I attacked each and every piece of evidence the State presented and showed how the alleged victim was a liar. Ultimately, the State capitulated and dismissed all charges against Matt. The State also took the unprecedented step of agreeing to expunging Matt's arrest record. Matt's case showed me that allegations of teacher abuse are just that—allegations, and that the only way to defend someone in Matt's position is to go through each and every statement made by the victim and attack it.
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  • U.S.A. v. Gardea, No. 11-CR-00464-ERW-DDN
    Presiding Judge: E. Richard Webber
    Approximate dates of representation: 2011-2012
    Brief Summary: Margarido Gardea had hired an attorney in Kansas City to represent him and was displeased because she never communicated with him. I had other clients incarcerated with Mr. Gardea, who contacted me to represent him because I would visit my clients every two weeks. I quickly developed a rapport with Mr. Gardea who was facing a mandatory minimum 10 year sentence. Because of the trust Mr. Gardea placed in me and my abilities he allowed me to negotiate with the Government. I was able to have Mr. Gardea sentenced to "time served" and his family was able to take him back to Mexico on the day of his sentencing.
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  • U.S.A. v. Priestly, No. 10-CR-30180-GPM
    Presiding Judge: G. Patrick Murphy
    Approximate dates of representation: 2011-2012
    Brief Summary: Mr. Priestly fired his previous attorneys because they recommended he accept a Plea Agreement which called for 3-4 years of incarceration. Mr. Priestly had a contract in excess of $100,000,000.00 with the Government to provide helicopters for the military operation in Afghanistan. This is a classic case of an individual getting in over his head. Because of bureaucratic red-tape it became impossible for Mr. Priestly to abide by the terms of the contract. A civil judgment had been entered against Mr. Priestly in New Orleans which would have made the criminal case more complicated to defend. Knowing the difficulty of prevailing at trial, Mr. Priestly and I developed a strategy attacking each and every element of the crime. Ultimately, the Government capitulated and offered Mr. Priestly probation which he accepted. What made me proud about Charlie Priestly's case is that he told me about halfway through that I was the first lawyer who ever listened to him and took the time to try and understand his position and not believe everything the Government said.
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  • U.S.A. v. Owens, No. 02-CR-00495-CDP
    Presiding Judge: Catherine D. Perry
    Approximate dates of representation: 2002-2004
    Brief Summary: Cassandra Owens refurbished homes which she purchased in a poor part of St. Louis City for a modest price and after making improvements on the homes sold them for a profit. In order to purchase the homes, Cassandra had to get loans which were provided by her co-defendants. The home value was inflated and the co-defendants kept the profits. When I began representing Cassandra, her daughter was bused from St. Louis City to a St. Louis County school. If Cassandra was incarcerated her daughter would be removed from St. Louis County schools and sent back to St. Louis City schools. I fought hard for Cassandra because her part in the conspiracy was limited and I understood how hard it must have been for her to fear that her daughter’s future would be ruined if she went to jail. The Guidelines were arguably mandatory at the time of her sentencing, but through a sentencing memorandum and at sentencing, I convinced Judge Perry that probation was appropriate. More importantly, this was my first dealing with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bodenhausen, who is now a U.S. Magistrate for the Eastern District of Missouri. John’s office required him to file an appeal of Judge Perry’s sentencing. Had such an appeal been filed, I was very concerned Judge Perry’s probation ruling would be overturned, Cassandra would be sent to prison and her daughter returned to St. Louis City Public Schools. John ultimately convinced his superiors to dismiss the appeal, meaning Cassandra remained on probation. A few years after her case ended, Cassandra called to let me know her daughter is a college graduate thanks to my hard work and John’s integrity.
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  • U.S.A. v. Hicks, No. 11-CR-30207-DRH
    Presiding Judge: David R. Herndon
    Approximate dates of representation: 2013-2014
    Brief Summary: Charles Hicks was charged with, and convicted by a jury, of possession and manufacture of child pornography. Charles was represented at trial by an outstanding attorney, but ultimately decided to hire me for his sentencing. His trial counsel did such a good job that in reality there were no appealable trial issues. Charles was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in jail and it appeared as if he could receive life imprisonment. My strategy was to try and negotiate a sentence which would not result in such harsh punishment. Because a jury had convicted Charles, I had no real “leverage,” so I spent countless hours writing a Sentencing Memorandum which I thought Judge Herndon would appreciate, and which could be used as the basis for an appeal if Charles was sentenced to more than 15 years. About a month before Sentencing the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois called me to work out a sentencing agreement because of the Sentencing Memorandum I had prepared. Charles ultimately was sentenced to only 15 years in jail which was a huge victory for us.
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  • U.S.A. v. Wells, No. 8-CR-30105-GPM
    Presiding Judge: G. Patrick Murphy
    Approximate dates of representation: 2012-2013
    Brief Summary: Any opportunity I have to work with Bill Lucco is a joy. Elissa Wells is a Canadian national who was charged in a telemarketing fraud scheme with her ex-husband, who is a letch. Elissa retained Bill & I to help her once she was extradited from Canada. Magistrate Judge Williams entered an order granting our request for a bond even though technically Elissa was not legally in the United States. We ultimately withdrew the bond request and focused on having Elissa sentenced to as little time as possible. Elissa’s Presentence Investigation Report concluded that Elissa should receive a 22 year Advisory Guideline sentence. Bill & I prepared an outstanding Sentencing Memorandum for Elissa showing Judge Murphy just what kind of a creep her ex-husband was and that due to Elissa’s role in the offense she should receive a reduced sentence. Elissa ultimately received a 4.5 year sentence and her ex-husband received a 10 year sentence. Elissa served a little bit over two years before she was returned to Canada to serve the remainder of her sentence.
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  • U.S.A. v. Nelson, 12-CR-30046-GPM
    Presiding Judge: G. Patrick Murphy
    Approximate dates of representation: 2012-2013
    Brief Summary: Jacob Nelson was charged with drug induced homicide as well as being a drug dealer and maintaining a drug house. If convicted of drug induced homicide, Jacob would probably have been incarcerated for the rest of his life. This was the fourth trial Tom Keefe and I had together and the second one involving drug induced homicide. Tom was brilliant in his cross-examination of the Government’s experts. Because Tom and I were so comfortable working together we were able to divide the work and represent Jacob Nelson effectively. We used a risky strategy of admitting that Jacob was a drug dealer and maintained a drug house but fought hard about whether the cause of death was heroin or other illegal substances in the decedent’s body. The only witness to the alleged drug transaction which caused the drug induced homicide was Terry Moskodauz who I demolished on cross-examination. Tom’s cross-examination of the experts and my cross-examination of Terry Moskodauz combined with my closing argument resulted in an acquittal of the drug induced homicide count and conviction of the other counts. Jacob was only sentenced to 6 years in jail.
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  • U.S.A. v. Bassett, 11-CR-00481-SNLJ
    Presiding Judge: Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr.
    Approximate dates of representation: 2011-2013
    Brief Summary: It is a rare feat to have two back to back acquittals in federal court. A month after Tom Keefe & I obtained an acquittal for Jacob Nelson, I had a jury trial with my client Willie Bassett who was charged along with three others with bank robbery. The evidence against Willie was overwhelming and included his fingerprints on weapons to be used in a robbery, video surveillance and a “confession.” Willie has an exceptionally long criminal record, including two homicides. If Willie pleaded “guilty” the only deal he could have received would have been 20 years. Willie rolled the dice and decided to go to trial and I think he was acquitted because the jury believed the FBI agent lied under oath about Willie’s confession. I pointed out in my closing argument that if the FBI agent was going to lie about something so trivial, what else would he lie about.
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  • U.S.A. v. Hodge, 13-CR-40044-JPG
    Presiding Judge: J. Phil Gilbert
    Approximate dates of representation: 2013-2015
    Brief Summary: I was Jeremieh Hodge’s 4th attorney. All of his previous attorneys advised Jeremieh that because he was charged with being a major manufacturer of methamphetamine in the Southern District of Illinois, he would receive a sentence of around 15 years. When Jeremieh retained me, I told him the only guarantee I would make was that I would work as hard as I could to help him. Jeremieh and I met over 2 dozen times and I took the time to get to know him and saw that he truly had changed his life. Jeremieh’s presentence investigation report came back recommending a 14 year sentence, which was in line with what Jeremieh’s previous lawyers recommended. I wrote a Sentencing Memorandum which set out everything Jeremieh had done since he was indicted. I was passionate at his sentencing and Jeremieh was sentenced to 14 months instead of 14 years.
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  • U.S.A. v. De La Torre-Del Real, 14-CR-241-CDP
    Presiding Judge: Catherine D. Perry
    Approximate dates of representation: 2014-2015
    Brief Summary: Jaime De La Torre-Del Real entered the United States illegally and became involved in the distribution of large quantities of heroin from Mexico to the United States. Jaime interviewed other attorneys, all of whom told him that it would be impossible for an illegal alien charged with distribution of heroin to receive a bond. I disagreed with this and spent a weekend preparing a Motion to be Released on Bond Pending Trial. After a contested bond hearing, I was able to convince U.S. Magistrate Judge Noce to enter an Order releasing Jaime on a $5,000 bond to be secured by $500. As a direct result of this I was able to persuade the Government to allow Jaime to plead guilty to a lesser included offense which avoided a 240 month sentence as charged in the indictment and resulted in a 70 month sentence. The easiest thing in the world is to say that something is “impossible” to do like having an illegal alien released on bond, but unless an effort is made you never know.
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  • U.S.A. v. Christian, 14-CR-30012-DRH
    Presiding Judge: David R. Herndon
    Approximate dates of representation: 2014-2015
    Brief Summary: Because of my experience handling telemarketing fraud cases and my familiarity with the white collar division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois, through a well-done Sentencing Memorandum and argument at Sentencing, I was able to convince Judge Herndon to vary downward from an Advisory Guideline Sentence of 41 months to 14 months. My fight began with the U.S. Attorney’s Office who felt that because Nathan was one of the head managers at Premier Timeshare Solutions, the entire amount of money involved in Nathan’s timeshare fraud was over $15,000,000. Originally, this would have called for a sentence in excess of 10 years, but through negotiations we agreed to limit Nathan’s relevant conduct so that his Advisory Guideline range would have started at 41 months. I got to know Nathan well in the year and a half that I represented him and I am thankful that things turned out so well for him and his family.
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  • U.S.A. v. Schwank, 15-CR-30073-MJR
    Presiding Judge: Michael J. Reagan
    Approximate dates of representation: 2015
    Brief Summary: In order to support his heroin addiction, Joe Schwank robbed a bank and two pizza parlors. Joe was quickly captured and because of his long criminal history faced the specter of at least 15 years in jail. Because I have handled so many federal criminal cases, I am an expert on how the Advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines applied to Joe’s case. This experience also allowed me to write a Sentencing Memorandum explaining to Judge Reagan why a sentence of 7 years was appropriate. After a contested sentencing where the Government argued for a sentence of nearly 12 years, I prevailed and Joe was sentenced to 7 years.
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  • U.S.A. v. Yaney, 14-CR-40053-JPG
    Presiding Judge: J. Phil Gilbert
    Approximate dates of representation: 2014-2015
    Brief Summary: I was local counsel for Maximus Yaney who committed mortgage fraud to the tune of over $7,000,000. Max’s case was significant because I was able to work with one of the smartest, most capable attorneys I have ever met, Patrick Collins. While I have been an attorney for nearly 30 years I learned a great deal from Patrick in terms of using a disciplined approach as well as ways to effectively advocate at sentencing. Max’s Advisory Guideline sentence commenced at around 6 years and Patrick was able to obtain an 18 month sentence.
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  • U.S.A. v. Smith, 13-CR-30261-NJR
    Presiding Judge: Nancy J. Rosenstangel
    Approximate dates of representation: 2013-2014
    Brief Summary: Paul Smith was President of Laclede Employee Credit Union who over a period of time misappropriated funds. Technically, as charged in the Indictment, what Paul did was a crime. However, Paul used the funds to assist members of the Credit Union who were charged excessive fees for overdrafts and the like. Paul had hired an attorney before me who essentially advised that Paul should throw in the towel and consign himself to spending several years in prison. When Paul explained his story to me, I corroborated what he said, and while it is a crime to misappropriate funds there were true mitigating factors which I pointed out to Judge Rosenstangel. I am proud that Judge Rosenstangel prepared a detailed sentencing memorandum which followed the argument I made to her at Paul’s sentencing. I requested a variance from a 4 year Advisory Guideline Sentence and Paul was sentenced to probation.
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