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Client Freed from Illegal Sentence

October 30, 2018

Happy November!   We are thankful to share with you how we were able to save taxpayers thousands of dollars and bring justice to our client, who was severely wronged by the court on 4 counts.     In 2007, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C), long before we were her attorneys, a Middle Eastern woman, pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of conspiracy to smuggle aliens into the United States.  She was sentenced by a federal judge to 10 years’ prison with an additional 10 years of supervised release.   Our client’s attorney at the time and the prosecution both agreed to this plea deal while the judge imposed the sentence.  Somehow, neither the defense lawyer, prosecution, judge, nor probation officer realized the glaring oversight in this agreement: the statute for which our client was charged declares that the maximum period of supervised release is only three years, seven years less than the period our client was given.  As a result, our client was expected to sacrifice seven years of her freedom to promote the carelessness of a skewed justice system.   While she was in prison, our client filed multiple pro se (without counsel) motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to be released based upon the ground that her sentence was imposed in violation of her Constitutional rights.  In her motions, our client argued that she should be released because her counsel was ineffective and deficient, her sentence was greater than necessary, and that she was never even shown the plea deal.  Each motion was denied.   She solicited several attorneys, none of whom would take her concerns seriously. Then, when she was just out of prison, she came to us. Our client wanted someone who was not afraid to challenge the government. Based on our reputation, she knew she came to the right place.   What our client did not know at the time was that her sentence was not only unreasonable, but it was also illegal. Our task, then, was to determine how best to remedy her situation. We determined three potential options: 1) file a successive motion under 28 USC § 2255; 2) seek a habeas writ under 28 USC § 2241(c); or 3) seek a writ of coram nobis.   Because our client had already filed at least two motions under § 2255, we were procedurally blocked from filing another 2255 motion. We could have argued that the motion was timely because the illegality of the sentence was only recently discovered, but the Court was extremely unlikely to accept this premise. The same was true of seeking a writ of habeas corpus. Our best option was thus to seek a writ of coram nobis.  A writ of coram nobis allows the federal judge who imposed the original sentence to set aside the existing conviction and sentence which, for a valid reason, should never have been entered.     In order to seek a writ of coram nobis, one must satisfy four conditions, the last of which is proving that there exists an error of “fundamental character” with the original conviction or sentence. The error for our client was clear–her sentence exceeded the maximum term of supervised release authorized by law, however, we […]

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Cleared in Cybercrime Probe, Innocent Granddad Sees First Grandkid Born

Cleared in Cybercrime Probe, Innocent Granddad Sees First Grandkid Born

April 23, 2018

  We are thrilled to announce that the Department of Justice’s National Security and Cyber Crime Section has agreed to discontinue their investigation of our client. This welcome news came just in time for the birth of his first grandchild! After a year of our client enduring the constant threat of arrest and being unable to visit his children in India, we convinced the DOJ to drop their investigation altogether. Background 70-year-old Indian-American scientist fired after his company accused him of stealing trade secrets —  the FBI then executed a search warrant on his home Our client, who we shall call “Dr. Patel” is a 70-year-old American, of Indian origin, with heart issues whose family had been begging him to retire for years. At the time of the investigation, Dr. Patel had dedicated over 40 years of his life to science. He is a PhD scientist who has authored over 50 research publications. Dr. Patel loved his work, but wanted to retire with his family and explore more personal projects related to energy, technology, and other humanitarian interests including converting solid waste into electricity. He had planned to return to India where his extended family lived, and where, as a poor child, he studied under street lights at night to gain admission to the the top universities. With only a few months left before his retirement, Dr. Patel was abruptly fired by his employer who accused him of stealing their technology and trying to flee the country with it.  The company primarily did business in China, but had been unprofitable for the past few years.  Dr. Patel, who owned a significant number of the company’s shares, wanted to explore expanding the company’s operations to India.  The company’s CEO disagreed with Dr. Patel’s India expansion idea and then complained to the FBI that he was trying to steal their trade secrets. The FBI subsequently showed up at 6 am on a Friday morning banging on Dr. Patel’s door.  Dr. Patel who was sipping his morning chai with his wife, opened the door and allowed the agents inside.  The FBI questioned our client and his wife while they were in pajamas.  They took all of his personal computers and mobile devices, and those belonging to his wife, who never worked at the company.  The FBI also seized their passports. At this point, Dr. Patel was not only deprived of his personal belongings and restricted from traveling, but he also had to cope with the crippling stress of potential criminal charges for a crime he didn’t commit. Dr. Patel endured several panic attacks over the course of the year due to the anxiety of the investigation. Throughout his entire life, his integrity had never been questioned. Dr. Patel, like other innocent people accused, couldn’t understand why the government or anyone would believe he would commit such a crime. THE CASE AGAINST OUR CLIENT Queen for a Day Fiasco The government did not believe Dr. Patel planned to retire in India. They thought instead that he wanted to set up his own operations in India using the “stolen” trade secret to profit from the technology he, himself, created in the United States. The government believed Dr. Patel saw the […]

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The Most Dangerous Man In America

The Most Dangerous Man In America

March 7, 2018

The most dangerous man in America doesn’t sit atop the FBI’s Most Wanted list, but instead runs arguably the most powerful institution of our federal government—the Department of Justice.  Jeff Sessions, as United States Attorney General, has virtually unchecked power to cater the policies of the DOJ to fit his own agenda, and these policies affect everyone. The Attorney General is answerable only to the laws passed by Congress and to the President, who has the sole authority to hire or fire him. While the President’s tweeting habits may indicate he is tightening Sessions’ leash, for all of Sessions’ activity that doesn’t pertain to Mueller’s Russia investigation, the President has largely turned a blind eye. This tacit disinterest leaves Sessions with free reign over the DOJ, able to interpret the law however he sees fit. This power, in the hands of Jeff Sessions, is lethal to the last century of our country’s progress. Sessions wishes to reinstate antiquated policies mirroring those in place before the Civil Rights movement and in the heyday of the War on Drugs. History can tell us why this is a bad idea. To do so, despite his purported conservative “small government” policies, Sessions has been quietly, yet significantly, expanding the reach of the federal government, against the wishes of most American citizens. His dogged and irrational pursuit of marijuana-related crime disproportionately targets African-American neighborhoods for criminal activity and increases medical reliance across America on prescription opioids for those who would alternatively utilize the much safer and less addictive medical marijuana for pain management. His emphasis on “violent crime” diverts necessary attention from the prosecution of other prolific criminal arenas such as white-collar and cybercrimes that can and do have devastating consequences on American lives, as well as our democratic system. On top of all of this, his enthusiasm for debtor’s prisons and his call for reduced oversight of police departments, despite repeated documented police shootings and abuses of power by police officers, will lead to an assured curtailment of citizens’ civil rights. Because the American people overwhelmingly disapprove of harsher marijuana restrictions and expanding federal overreach, Sessions’ policies have received inevitable bipartisan condemnation, with criticism spouting from even the notoriously conservative Koch brothers. Recently, a bipartisan group of 54 lawmakers in Congress sent President Trump a letter urging him to direct Sessions to reinstate an Obama-era policy that gave states leeway in allowing marijuana for recreational purposes.  Despite Sessions’ claim that by pursuing strict enforcement of federal marijuana laws he aims to “enforce the laws that were enacted by Congress,” his policies are clearly not in line with the desires of Congress, who, short of changing the law, has little say in how the criminal statutes written by its predecessors are construed. In his Department Charging and Sentencing Policy memo for all federal prosecutors released in May of 2017, Sessions called on prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.” His primary objective seemed to be that of reversing the directives of his predecessor, former AG Eric Holder, who urged prosecutors to apply discretion when considering what charges to bring against a defendant to avoid unnecessarily harsh sentences disproportionate to the crime committed. Holder recognized a disparity between those offenders who may have made a wrong decision, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, as opposed […]

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Vinoo Varghese Spars With Nancy Grace and Tucker Carlson on FOX News

Vinoo Varghese Spars With Nancy Grace and Tucker Carlson on FOX News

December 18, 2017

Happy Holidays! 2017 is ending great for us with the media calling upon our principal, Vinoo Varghese, multiple times for his insights. Last Friday, Fox News invited Vinoo to appear on Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss what went wrong legally after a couple with a young child discovered a hidden camera in their cabin aboard a Carnival Cruise ship. With Tucker, Vinoo vehemently described the mishandling of the crime scene by Carnival Cruise employees after the family notified them of the hidden camera.  Vinoo then informed Fox’s audience of Carnival’s potential civil and criminal liability.  You can find a link to the clip here. Earlier in the week, Nancy Grace brought Vinoo on her show to share his perspective on the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. As a guest on Crime Online with Nancy Grace, Vinoo discussed the rejection of Brendan Dassey’s appeal and his chances of making it to the Supreme Court.  Dassey, a juvenile with a low IQ,  was featured prominently on Making a Murderer.  Vinoo and Nancy sparred over the confession that Wisconsin police extracted from Dassey. Vinoo argued that the confession of a juvenile with an IQ as low as Dassey’s was cruel and unusual and violated his constitutional rights. A couple of days before his Nancy Grace appearance, A&E’s Law and Crime Network requested Vinoo’s thoughts  on a high-profile murder case.  Vinoo provided A&E‘s viewers a clinic on how to try a criminal case. You can find a link to the A&E clip here. We wish you and your family all the best as you head into 2018.

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Terrorists Should Be Read Their Miranda Rights, Too

Terrorists Should Be Read Their Miranda Rights, Too

November 16, 2017

Terrorists who commit crimes on American soil are not foreign soldiers.  To treat them as soldiers is to dignify them in a way they don’t deserve—as part of something larger—a nation state at war with American ideals and America itself.  Instead, they are criminals deserving the same and no more respect than that afforded by the Constitution.  To treat them as soldiers reinforces the false notion that Islam and America are at war, perpetuates rifts that plague our society, and further incentivizes radicals.  We must not buy into the rhetoric of a global religious war—us against them—and sacrifice the very principles and ideals that serve as the very foundation of our nation—including the right to remain silent and the right to counsel in a criminal case.  If we abandon these—our values, our commitment to freedom and fairness—then we might as well give up and let these terrorists win. In the wake of the TriBeCa car attack on October 31st, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, along with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called for Sayfullo Saipov to be labeled and held as an “enemy combatant.”  To their disappointment the Trump administration didn’t take such action and the Acting U.S. Attorney in Manhattan instead formally charged Saipov under federal criminal law.  When someone is held as an enemy combatant, he is not afforded the same rights as everyone else charged under the federal criminal code, and he may never be formally charged and Mirandized.  Advocates of enemy combatant labeling believe that reading a suspected terrorist Miranda rights, and have him potentially invoke his right to an attorney and remain silent, will impede the United States from properly interrogating him and gathering beneficial information on others.  While there is always the risk of lawyering up, there is  strong evidence to suggest that torture doesn’t work as an interrogation tool. The Bush Administration, after 9/11, held suspected terrorists as enemy combatants as part of the “war on terror” against al Qaeda.  With this policy, President Bush stretched the definition of “war” and manipulated it to suit a dubious agenda that included torture and having White House lawyers attempt to justify it, as well as conducting warrantless searches on Americans, despite having the opportunity to use a secret court, FISA, set up specifically for obtaining warrants without opposition.  By labeling the hostility with al Qaeda as a “war” within the larger context of the “War on Terror,” Bush then claimed that domestic criminal law would not suffice for proper prosecution of al Qaeda’s agents, aka “terrorists.”  President Bush also claimed that the “war” with al Qaeda was a special type of war and therefore adherence to the rules set by the Geneva Convention of 1949, which contain rules limiting the barbarity of war, was unnecessary. The legality of holding suspected terrorists claiming ISIS affiliation, like Saipov, as “enemy combatants” is further questionable because ISIS, unlike al Qaeda, isn’t covered by the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, which Congress authorized to be carried out exclusively against those involved with the 9/11 attacks and any “associated forces.”  ISIS was not associated with al-Qaeda and had no part in the 9/11 attack, as it didn’t exist in 2001.  The policy of holding suspected terrorists as enemy combatants, however, […]

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Donald Trump and Corporate Greed-- Vinoo Varghese Leads CLE Webinar Discussion

Donald Trump and Corporate Greed– Vinoo Varghese Leads CLE Webinar Discussion

August 7, 2017

In the first seven months of his presidency, Donald Trump has created a great deal of uncertainty about the trajectory of our country by undoing or attempting to undo many Obama administration policies. One policy President Trump was particularly vocal about dealt with the regulation of businesses, which he believed were being treated “unfairly.” He promised a more “business-friendly” approach. Will this promise lead to a reduction in corporate corruption prosecution after the emphasis placed on such during the Obama administration? The Knowledge Group  has asked our principal, Vinoo Varghese, to share his views in a live CLE webinar called “Trump Administration’s Priorities on Corporate Wrongdoings: What You Need to Know.” Vinoo will discuss U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ history with corporate prosecution, criminal penalties for corporate greed, provide historical context to enforcement, and consider likely trends under Trump. Tune into the webcast Tuesday, August 8th at 1:00 PM EST by clicking HERE. Registration is free for the first 30 guests with code: Varghese146562. After that, there will be a reduced registration fee of $25. For CLE credit, the price is $49.  The description for the webcast is as follows: Since the issuance of the Yates Memo in late 2015, the US Department of Justice has pursued a policy of seeking accountability from individuals who perpetrate corporate wrongdoing.  It requires that any company under investigation must deliver all proof of wrongdoing by its employees to receive credit for cooperation.  The DOJ policy thus added a heavy burden to any corporation that intends to use an internal investigation as support for leniency or a settlement.  With the avowedly business-friendly Trump administration comes uncertainty over how priorities will change under the new attorney general and reconstituted DOJ staff. In this one-hour live webcast, a panel of thought leaders brought together by The Knowledge Group will discuss the current state of Yates Memo enforcement as it affects inside counsel and internal compliance officers, and further how the preferences of the current administration may translate into refocusing or revision of DOJ policy.  Key Topics discussed will include: Yates Memo Overview Individual Accountability Disclosure Requirements Cooperation Credit Criminal/Civil Liability Enforcement Trends For more information, please visit The Knowledge Group’s website, call 1.800.578.4370, or email info@theknowledgegroup.org.  

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