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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stronger human trafficking law coming to Michigan

Stronger human trafficking law coming to Michigan

Amendments intended to strengthen the existing human trafficking law take effect on Friday in Michigan, where experts say the form of modern-day slavery occurs more often than most people realize.

The new measures include longer prison terms for involuntary servitude, involving a minor in a sex act and obtaining labor or services by force, fraud or coercion.

Bridgette Carr, who directs the University of Michigan Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic, said the practice is happening all over the state, and tougher enforcement is needed to deal with the growing problem.

"In Michigan, we have seen victims in the U.P., in Detroit, in rural areas. We haven't found a community yet that we haven't seen a victim come from," Carr said. "So, what I often tell people is: `Find a community that doesn't have a drug problem, and I can talk about perhaps your community doesn't have a human trafficking problem.' That's how prevalent it is." 

Carr received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to open a human trafficking clinic in Mexico and has been to Alexandria University to help open Egypt's first law school legal clinic focusing on human trafficking and domestic violence.

And her Human Trafficking Clinic maintains what the university says is the nation's only comprehensive online database of human trafficking cases.

She said state laws that deal with human trafficking -- defined as occurring when someone exploits another person for labor or services -- are important because the federal government doesn't have the resources to prosecute all the cases.

"States need to step up to the plate," she said.

And many have.

South Dakota's governor signed a human trafficking measure into law earlier this month, and a similar bill is making its way through the Texas legislature.

On the federal side, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it initiated 651 human trafficking investigations, made 300 arrests and secured 151 indictments and 144 convictions in fiscal year 2010.

One recent high-profile case in Michigan involves Veniamin Gonikman, who once was listed as a top fugitive by the U.S. government and is awaiting trial in Detroit on charges of human trafficking and other crimes.

He is accused of being a member of a violent ring that lured Eastern European women to the U.S. and forced them to become strippers.

The Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, which is based at Michigan State University, said other cases in Michigan involve victims who are forced to work at strip clubs, restaurants, massage parlors, and on farms and construction sites. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ex-Florida Official Backs Change to Missouri Lawyer Law

Ex-Florida Official Backs Change to Missouri Lawyer Law

A former Florida attorney general and congressman said Monday that Missouri should limit the fees a private law firm can collect when it handles some cases for the state attorney general.
Republican Bill McCollum came to Jefferson City to testify before a Missouri Senate panel about legislation restricting the attorney general's ability to use outside lawyers on a contingency basis. The measure would also limit outside lawyers' fees in such cases and make their expense reports a public record.
Lawyers who are hired on a contingency basis receive a portion of a judgment made in favor of their client instead of -- or sometimes in addition to -- their hourly rate.
McCollum supported similar legislation in Florida because of the large fees that private attorneys there collected for their work in a $205 billion settlement the tobacco industry reached with 46 states in 1998. McCollum said Florida attorneys had collected about $3.4 billion in fees from the settlement -- a sum he termed "outrageous."
"The governor and the people of Florida felt that this was a big, huge rip-off," he said. "There needs to be some protections and transparencies for when an attorney general uses this outside counsel."
Private attorneys who negotiated Missouri's tobacco settlement were paid $111 million. An attempt to reduce that figure failed in the state Supreme Court in 2003.
McCollum said Missouri could have won a large award through the tobacco settlement even without agreeing to give the private attorneys a large contingency fee.
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, said the attorney general's office had told her staff that the state had not hired outside lawyers on a contingency basis since the tobacco settlement. The state does routinely hire outside counsel for specialized cases, such as those involving Medicaid, but it pays them an hourly rate because the state is the defendant in those cases.
Before Monday night's hearing, McCollum told The Associated Press the bill would give Missourians confidence in the attorney general's ability to get the best outcome for the state. He said attorneys general often file lawsuits seeking a change in public policies -- such as those in the tobacco settlement -- rather than large monetary awards.
"When you turn this over to a private firm on a contingency fee, the motive is not the same as the public interest," he said. "Instead, it's trying to get the highest return on the dollar."
Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, said the legislation he is sponsoring aims to increase transparency. Munzlinger, a farmer, compared it to selecting a tool for specialized work on his farm.
"I want to know what that tool costs and what benefit it gives to me," Munzlinger said. "I hope this bill has the transparency to show what that tool that the AG's office is using in these special cases is costing taxpayers."
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which supports the legislation, said in statement Monday that 10 states are considering bills similar to Missouri's. The group said similar laws have been enacted in nine other states this year.
Steve Gorny, an attorney from Kansas City and a member of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, said lawyers generally support the bill's transparency provisions, saying citizens have a right to see the state's contracts with the attorneys. But he also said there shouldn't be limits on fees because law firms often dedicate large amounts of time and up-front financing to fighting such cases.
"A piece of legislation that size is going to take a tremendous amount of manpower and an enormous amount of money to prosecute," he said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There Can Be No Good Ending to the Barry Bonds Perjury Trial

There Can Be No Good Ending to the  Barry Bonds Perjury Trial  

This is the golden week in the Barry Bonds steroids trial. The hope is his ex-girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, will take the stand and talk about how he was impotent at times, thanks to steroids, and how he had shriveling, let’s just say, parts.
Hah! Got him!
All-time home run leader Barry Bonds is on trial on four charges for making false statements to the grand jury and one count of obstruction

Really? We need to know that? It shows in some way that he perjured himself when he said he didn’t knowingly use steroids?
Look, I already made a mistake. This isn’t a steroid trial. That’s just how people see it. This is a perjury trial. And I wish it were possible to separate those things because you can’t let someone lie to a grand jury and get away with it, if that’s what Bonds did. So the trial needs to happen. But ask yourself this: What are you hoping to get from this trial?
Maybe you want the whole steroid era of baseball to be judged once and for all. Bonds, as the defiant leader who broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, serves as the perfect representative. But there is no point in that. That era is already guilty. It’s over.
People want proof that Bonds was a cheater and a liar. What for? He’s already guilty in the court of public opinion. Everyone knows. You want this to reflect on Bud Selig? Too late. He already goes down as the commissioner who chose to look away while steroids saved his game. We have beaten his reputation – rightly so – with a stick, already.
You want Bonds to admit that he did it?
He’s got all the money, he’s got the records, and also, he is never, ever, never, ever going to admit anything. If he wins this perjury case, then he will count it as his proof. If he loses and goes to jail, then he will blame a corrupt, racist system.
This has no good ending. And people are in it for the wrong reason.
They hate Barry Bonds.

Bonds is a lonely man in this case. He stands alone and represents nothing but himself. He was beloved as a young man, and he left the game as a villain.
And it was all his doing.
But while I think of him as a liar and a cheat, I’m finding an unexpected sympathy for him. The talk of impotency and shriveling parts serves only one purpose, to turn Bonds into something less than a man.
Now, Bonds’ defenders, as well as his attorneys, are calling this a witch hunt. And they’re right. Problem is, Bonds fits the description. But they also say that the government should have other, more important things to spend money on. They’re dead wrong on that, and it shows that they believe this is a steroid trial.
A steroid trial would be a waste of money. Perjury is a big deal. It could subvert the judicial system.
Bonds is a big fish in an ocean where it’s nearly impossible to catch any fish at all. When you catch someone big, you make him pay because it sends a message. Ask Martha Stewart. The government threw everything at her despite how little her offense was. But did they bust her for perjuring herself or for her stock deals? See, you can’t separate. Most people see perjury as a back door to busting someone for a crime they couldn’t get him on.
So I’m in favor of a trial. A perjury trial. Not a steroid trial. But that isn’t possible.
If this is a steroid trial and Bonds loses, then it won’t be right for the system to put him away while Mark McGwire is St. Louis’ hitting coach.
Somehow, McGwire is slowly being forgiven while people celebrate Bonds’ shriveling status. That won’t look good in the racial divide that already surrounds Bonds. I don’t know how McGwire is getting away with this, or how he’s any different than Bonds.
Took steroids? Check.
Hit home runs because of them? Check.
Broke records? Check.
He didn’t exactly lie to Congress, but rather said he wasn’t going to talk about what he’d done in the past. (Remember? Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English that day). And yes, McGwire eventually admitted what he’d done, apologized or whatever. That seems to be what people wanted from Bonds. But let’s face it: McGwire didn’t admit to anything until he wanted something. Deny, deny, deny. And then when he wanted to get back into baseball, maybe for consideration for the Hall of Fame, he finally came around.
McGwire was just craftier than Bonds.
McGwire did have the decency to slink off and hide after his downfall, while Bonds kept in our faces, hitting homers, going for the most cherished record in sports, defying and denying.
He was cold and bitter, too. And his tour around the majors drummed up anger from baseball fans. Bonds was saying “forget you,” to fans, but McGwire was saying the same thing. McGwire admitted what he did because it was the best way to get what he wanted. Bonds didn’t admit it because that was the best way to get what he wanted.
Now, Bonds sticks to his ridiculous story that he thought he was taking flaxseed oil and using arthritis cream. You need a trial to prove that isn’t true?
You want a pound of flesh. Thanks to steroids, it doesn’t even weigh a pound anymore, anyway.

Ex-mistress: Barry Bonds blamed steroids for injury

Barry Bonds' former mistress testified Monday that he blamed a 1999 elbow injury on steroid use, and that the body and behavior of baseball's home run king changed during their nine-year relationship.
Called by prosecutors to the witness stand, Kimberly Bell choked up as she recalled Bonds once threatening "to cut my head off and leave me in a ditch," an outburst prosecutors attribute to steroid use. The defense portrayed Bell as an unreliable witness, hungry to capitalize on her affair with Bonds, and Bell acknowledged that the relationship benefited her financially.
This 2006 file photo shows Kimberly Bell leaving federal court in San Francisco

Bonds, who holds the major league record for home runs in a career, is accused of four counts of making false statements and one of obstruction for telling a federal grand jury in 2003 — months after his relationship with Bell ended — that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
Bell took the stand Monday morning after San Francisco Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy nervously testified that Bonds needed a bigger hat for the 2002 season. Prosecutors say that testimony is important because an enlarged head is a side effect of human growth hormone use.
Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow, Bell said she asked Bonds about the problem with his left elbow, which she described as "a big lump ... it looked awful." She testified that Bonds responded by saying his steroid use caused the injury, because the muscle and tendons grew too fast for the joint to handle.
"It blew out," she said.
Bell also said that Bonds talked about the widespread use of steroids among baseball players, including his suspicion that Mark McGwire was juicing during his assault on the single-season home run record in 1998 — a mark that Bonds later broke.
"He mentioned that other players do it and that's how they got ahead, that's how they achieved," Bell said. Dressed in a dark blue suit, Bonds alternately watched Bell on the stand, scribbled notes and whispered to one of his defense attorneys, Allen Ruby.
Bell, wearing a gray pantsuit and white shirt, said she and Bonds met briefly on July 3, 1994, and attended a barbecue the next day. From there, they shared a romantic relationship that continued even after Bonds married another woman in 1999.
Bell said that Bonds' sexual performance declined in the later years of their relationship. She said that his testicles changed shape and shrank. She also testified that Bonds grew — and shaved — chest hair and developed acne on his back.
A visibly uncomfortable Bell testified that Bonds' behavior also changed over time. "He was increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated and very impatient," she said.
Bell became emotional as she testified that Bonds verbally abused her starting in 1999, saying that — in addition to threatening to decapitate her — Bonds said "he would cut out my breast implants because he paid for them."
The second half of the Bonds-Bell relationship was the same period when Bonds noticeably bulked up and started posting unprecedented power numbers for the Giants. The seven-time NL MVP hit a season-record 73 homers in 2001 en route to a career total of 762 by the time of his last season in 2007, not long before he was indicted for his grand jury testimony.
In anticipation of defense attempts to portray Bell as a gold digger, Nedrow asked Bell about an interview and photograph shoot she did with Playboy that appeared in 2007. She posed nude and discussed Bonds sexual performance in the magazine.
"I was trying to put my life together," she testified. "Maybe it wasn't the best decision."
Bell testified that Playboy agreed to pay her $100,000, but sent the money to her agent, David Hans Schmidt. Schmidt committed suicide in 2007 while under investigation for allegedly attempting to extort the actor Tom Cruise and Bell said she saw little of the Playboy payment — "about $17,000 or $18,000."
At times combative, sorrowful and composed, Bell spent most of Monday trying to deflect defense attorney Cristina Arguedas' vengeful portrayal of her. It was the first time anyone other than Ruby had questioned a witness for Bonds.
Arguedas spent long stretches discussing Bell's attempts to write a book about Bonds and steroids after questioning her about the radio tour she went on to promote her Playboy appearance.
Bell said she was a guest on a "few" radio shows, and Arguedas shot back "More than 20?" It turned out that she appeared on about 20 radio shows, including the popular Howard Stern talk show. Bell said that the radio appearances were required by Playboy and that she never published the book Arguedas questioned her about.
Bell denied that her testimony was designed to publicly embarrass Bonds, though she conceded she was exaggerating in grand jury testimony when she said Bonds' testicles shrank by half.
She also acknowledged being upset and embarrassed when Bonds told her in 1998 he was marrying another woman. Bonds told Bell that they could continue to see each other when he was on the road with the Giants. Bell testified that after Bonds married, he told her there were "girlfriend cities and wife cities" and that she wasn't allowed to travel with him to New York, Montreal and Atlanta.
Bell said she went instead to San Diego, Houston and Miami. She recalled bitterly how Bonds told her to find her own way home from Houston after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when commercial airlines were shut down and Bonds was on the team plane.
Arguedas ran through a litany of financial benefits Bell received as a "road girlfriend." Bonds bought her several cars, including a new Toyota 4runner in 2000, helped pay her taxes one year and provided her with good seats to baseball games, including the 2002 World Series.
Bell also made a $111,000 profit from the sale of a Scottsdale, Ariz., house that Bonds provided her with $80,000 for the down payment.
All such testimony was designed to undermined Bell's credibility, making her out to be a scorned lover who lost a wealthy boyfriend to another woman. Arguedas hoped to convince the jury that Bell had motivation to lie about Bonds' steroid use because of their breakup.
Arguedas also quizzed Bell about an e-mail she sent to Bonds' website in April 2004 listing all the women she knew that Bonds was sleeping with in New York, Phoenix, Las Vegas and elsewhere.
"This is the guy who you described as having penile dysfunction," Arguedas said. "That's a lot of action."
Bonds covered his mouth in an apparent attempt to suppress a grin.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Careful wording needed for inheritances

Careful wording needed for inheritances


IRAs. House deeds. Trust amendments. Those topics get tackled this week by estate planning attorney Lynn Dean.
QUESTION: My husband and I have a revocable trust. Most of our retirement money is in our IRAs, which list our son and daughter as equal beneficiaries. If we list the IRAs as assets in our trust, does that mean the trust is the beneficiary? We want these to be "inherited IRAs" so our children can take the annual distributions during their lifetime. Should we leave the IRAs out of the trust?
ANSWER: This is a very common question. In most circumstances, it is better to name individuals - i.e. your children - as beneficiaries, so they have the option to take distributions from the IRA over their life expectancy. The only exception would be if your children are minors, or at an age where you would not feel comfortable with them getting the IRA proceeds immediately. In those situations, the trust should be named as the beneficiary, and it should state how you want the IRA funds to be distributed. Since your children are already named as beneficiaries on the IRAs, they will receive the proceeds once you're gone.
Once a parent passes away, the children have several options, such as: They can take the full IRA holdings and pay taxes on the entire amount. Or they can begin taking annual withdrawals, based on the shortest life expectancy of all beneficiaries; that's commonly referred to as a "stretch" IRA.
Any beneficiary of an IRA only needs a death certificate to receive the entire amount in a lump sum. If you have $1 million in an IRA, with two kids getting $500,000 each, that's a big amount, even after taxes.
That's why the real question is not whether the IRA should be listed in the trust; it's who should be listed as the beneficiary.
Q: My house was recently paid off. How do I add my wife's name to the title?
A: In order to add a name to an existing property title, you need to prepare a quitclaim deed. Have a title company or attorney help you to be sure the deed is correctly prepared and the new ownership is correctly stated.
Q: Do I need an attorney to add an amendment to my living trust? If not, what is the legal procedure?
A: I have seen many trusts that contain multiple sheets titled "Amendment to Trust," which sounds like all you need to amend a trust is to write out the changes you want. I recently reviewed a trust that had 10 amendments done exactly that way.
Unfortunately, by the time you read all the amendments, you are no longer sure what the person really wanted.
Typically, a trust will state how it can be amended, such as "by a written instrument," which means you have to amend it in writing, not by verbally telling someone, "I want to change my trust and leave my house to you."
A trust amendment does not require a redraft of the entire trust. When creating an amendment, I reference the remaining parts of the trust and affirm that the person still intends those to be enforceable. A substantive amendment - changing the beneficiaries, distribution formula or trustees - must be done with care. If it is unclear what the person's true intentions were, the trust could be contested in court.
You would be well served to consult an attorney who could review the trust, make sure that all your assets have been properly transferred into the trust, and prepare a properly worded amendment. Later on, it could save your beneficiaries a lot of attorney's fees.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Amanda Knox Trial: Witness Gives Conflicting Testimony

Amanda Knox Trial: Witness Gives Conflicting Testimony

PERUGIA, Italy — A key prosecution witness testifying in Amanda Knox's appeals trial gave conflicting reports Saturday about whether he saw the American near the crime scene the night her British roommate was murdered.
The contradicting testimony and confused dates offered by Antonio Curatolo, a self-described drug addict and homeless man now in prison for an unrelated conviction, cast doubts on his credibility. The defense called him flat-out unreliable, while the prosecution maintained that, despite some lack of precision, the witness was lucid and clear in what he remembered.
Knox, 23, has been convicted of the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher in the house they shared as exchange students in Perugia and is serving a 26-year-prison sentence.
In the first trial, Curatolo placed Knox and her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, in a square near the house on the night of the murder. He said the two were chatting and added that he remembered seeing buses in the square. The testimony was important because it directly contradicted Knox and Sollecito's claim that they were at Sollecito's house the night of the murder.
On Saturday he repeated that he saw the two "talking excitedly" in the square and said he thought it was Halloween night – which would be the night before the Nov. 1, 2007 murder. He was unclear when Halloween night actually is, saying he thought it was Nov. 1 or 2. Despite the date confusion, he repeatedly said that he saw young people dressed up in costumes.
But, at another point, he also said he clearly remembers seeing police at the house the morning after he saw Knox and Sollecito in the square. Police went to the crime scene on Nov. 2, when Kercher's body was found, stabbed to death and lying in a pool of blood.
"Police and Carabinieri were coming and going, and I also saw the 'extraterrestrials' – that would be the men in white overalls," Curatolo told the court with a smile, referring to forensic experts gathering evidence.
Twice he was asked by Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini whether he was certain that police were at the house the morning after he saw Knox and Sollecito in the square. Curatolo answered: "I'm as certain as I am that I'm sitting here."
He said that in 2007 he was living outdoors in the square in question.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Florida Law Firm Pays $2 Million in Foreclosure Case

Florida Law Firm Pays $2 Million in Foreclosure Case

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla. lawyer has agreed to pay the state $2 million to settle allegations of improprieties in mortgage foreclosure cases. The Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi announced the settlement Friday with Marshall C. Watson and his law firm. The case focused on whether foreclosure documents they had submitted were false, misleading or inaccurate. The settlement also requires the firm to meet certain requirements in the conduct of its business. Mr. Watson said in a prepared statement that he was pleased the attorney general’s investigation had been resolved. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Manslaughter plea in 2009 Harvard shooting

Manslaughter plea in 2009 Harvard shooting

Victim’s mother speaks to court

Jason Aquino (center) and his attorney, Matthew Kamholtz, listened to Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn yesterday. Aquino will serve 18 to 20 years for the shooting of Justin D. Cosby in a Harvard dormitory.
Jason Aquino (center) and his attorney, Matthew Kamholtz, listened to Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn yesterday. Aquino will serve 18 to 20 years for the shooting of Justin D. Cosby in a Harvard dormitory. (Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe)

A New York man pleaded guilty yesterday to manslaughter, admitting he participated in the fatal shooting of a Cambridge man inside a Harvard University residence hall in 2009.

Jason Aquino, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, armed robbery, and misleading a grand jury in Middlesex Superior Court. The mother of the victim, Justin D. Cosby, 21, scolded him for his role in her son’s slaying.

Aquino, under a deal with Middlesex prosecutors, will serve 18 to 20 years in state prison for all three charges. The time is to be served concurrently.

Denise Cosby, who has attended multiple court hearings since the killing of her son, delivered a victim impact statement denouncing Aquino and recalling her son with a mother’s love.
“I sit here and look into the face of what is supposed to be a man,’’ Cosby said in a stern voice. “You are a fool.’’

Aquino is one of three New York City men who came to Cambridge on May 18, 2009, and were intent on robbing Justin Cosby of marijuana and cash. Cosby was shot while all four men were inside an entry to Harvard’s Kirkland residency hall when Cosby refused to hand over what authorities called a substantial amount of marijuana.

“You lured my son to his death,’’ Cosby told Aquino. “My heart sinks, and every fiber of my body aches. When you killed my son, you killed a part of me.’’

The alleged shooter and mastermind of the drug rip-off plan, Jabrai Jordan Copney, 22, is scheduled to go on trial for first-degree murder April 4. Copney has pleaded not guilty.
The third man, Blayn Jiggetts, 21, has agreed to testify against Copney in return for pleading guilty to manslaughter and a prison term of less than 20 years.

The New York men gained access to the secure dormitory from Brittany Smith, 24, Copney’s girlfriend and a Harvard senior just one week from graduation, authorities said. Smith is also accused of stashing the murder weapon in a friend’s room at another Harvard dorm.

Smith, of New York City, was indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court grand jury on March 16 on charges of illegal possession of a firearm, accessory after the fact to murder, willfully misleading a grand jury, and willfully misleading a police officer, according to the office of the Middlesex district attorney.

Smith’s longtime friend Chanequa Campbell, who was also a Harvard senior, has testified that she knew the men were coming to the campus and that she knew Jiggetts would be armed with a handgun.

“Today, Jason Aquino is held accountable for his part in the killing of Justin Cosby, by admitting the role he played and his culpability in the shooting death of this young man, which occurred in broad daylight on the campus of one of the world’s premier educational institutions,’’ Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said. “With this defendant’s admission, we now move forward with our prosecution against the man we alleged shot the victim, and [against] the remaining coconspirators.’’

Yesterday, Aquino showed up in court wearing jeans and a long-sleeved, blue-collared shirt. Aquino has been held without bail since his arrest in 2009, and only his court-appointed attorney, Matthew Kamholtz, appeared on Aquino’s behalf.

Aquino, who is short and slight, answered a series of routine legal questions posed by Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead, but he did not otherwise speak.

At one point in the investigation, Aquino’s attorneys had negotiated a deal where he faced a maximum of five years’ imprisonment as an accessory after the fact.
But Middlesex prosecutor Daniel Bennett said in court that deal was pulled off the table when it was shown that Aquino had lied under oath.

Before Cosby entered the dorm, he met Copney and Aquino on a Cambridge street and only then agreed to complete the deal inside the dorm, Bennett said.

Aquino did not tell authorities about participating in that meeting.

When Cosby delivered her victim impact statement, Aquino sat with his head turned down and away from the Cambridge woman, who was sitting in the witness box as she spoke.

“He was full of charisma, promise and hope. Justin loved life,’’ she said of her son, the younger of her two children. “My son just meant the world to me. He had a smile that was infectious.’’
Cosby recalled rushing to the hospital the night her son was shot and watching him slowly slip away because doctors could not halt the bleeding caused by a bullet that pierced his stomach.
She spoke of seeing her son die, seeing her son in a casket, and then walking away from the cemetery after his burial, “leaving my son in a dark, cold grave.’’

Cosby said she had hoped that all three men charged in the case would be given the maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

“What Justin did may have been illegal, but what you did was immoral,’’ she told Aquino.
She said she has grudgingly approved the plea agreements in part because of her faith in God.
“I believe in a higher power and a higher court,’’ she said. “Ultimately, you will pay to the judge of all judges, the courts of all courts.’’

Aquino will be formally sentenced May 2, after the Copney trial.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Legal Peers ‘IN SHOCK’ Over Top Attorney’s Arrest

‘FINE LAWYER’: Attorney Robert A. George was arrested yesterday at his home in Westwood by Drug Enforcement Administration agents on federal charges of laundering $225,000 in drug money.

Legal Peers ‘IN SHOCK’ Over Top Attorney’s Arrest

Boston’s legal A-listers, floored by yesterday’s arrest of high-profile attorney Robert A. George on federal charges of laundering $225,000 in drug money, were quick to speak out in his defense — and stunned by the idea that a glib, skilled and much-admired colleague could land where many of his notorious clients are: behind bars.

“He’s a really good lawyer and a real good guy,” said Jeffrey Denner, George’s former colleague. “We’re all in shock at these allegations.”

Attorney Thomas Drechsler called George “a fine lawyer. He’s entitled to his day in court. I hope everyone remembers that.”

Rosemary Scapicchio, who rushed to George’s side to represent him, called the unfolding drama “surreal” and “outrageous.”

George, 56 — whose clients have included former New England Mafia godfather Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and Christopher McCowen, the Cape Cod trash collector convicted of the 2002 murder of Big Apple fashion scribe Christa Worthington — was arrested early yesterday morning at his $1.5 million manse in Westwood by Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

Prosecutors claim they have George cold on tape, allegedly telling one witness he had an associate in Dover who assisted him “with cleaning money,” according to a DEA affidavit.
“Anyone of us, whether it’s attorneys or court personnel or the media, know that Bob is a real warrior,” said George’s longtime friend, attorney Kevin Reddington, who’ll fill out the defense team. “He’s maintaining his innocence 100 percent and looks forward to proving it in court.”

Handcuffed, in a casual blue jersey and jeans, George appeared briefly hours later in U.S. District Court, but did not enter a plea to the criminal complaint accusing him of being in cahoots since February 2009 with two unidentified informants — one of whom he previously defended against larceny charges.

Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings released George on a $50,000 unsecured bond. Bar Counsel Constance V. Vecchione said George does not face an interim suspension of his law license, but will be advised to obtain informed consent from clients that they’re aware of his criminal case.