Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NY POST: Star witness in Ex-Cuomo aide trial: I’m in a ‘boatload of trouble’

Star witness in Ex-Cuomo aide trial: I’m in a ‘boatload of trouble’

The prosecution’s star witness against a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted on the stand Tuesday that he himself is “in a boatload of trouble” following his arrest last week.
Ex-lobbyist Todd Howe returned to the witness stand in Manhattan federal court for the first time since he got locked up Thursday night — and was immediately questioned by a defense lawyer about getting nabbed in his hotel room by the feds.
Howe told jurors he spent the weekend in jail and woke up there Tuesday morning, but that it was “uncertain” how long he’d have to remain behind bars.

When asked why he got busted, Howe ( pictured on statnd)  said: “It was my understanding that the government thought I might have ​broken my bail agreement.”
Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Daniel Gitner (pictured) — whose previous questioning led to his incarceration — Howe also tried to walk back his admission that he lied to his credit-card company to avoid paying for a $600 stay at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Howe racked up the bill while visiting New York City in 2016 to meet with the feds and hammer out his cooperation deal.
“I didn’t remember in October where I​ had stayed and what I had done​, and I was disputing​. I wasn’t denying it,” he said.
Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny
“I had dozens of hotels​ and whatever​….I wasn’t denying that I stayed there, I was just disputing it because I wasn’t certain as to at that point, five months later, if I had or I hadn’t. I just didn’t recall.”
Gitner then asked Howe — who got special permission from the judge to trade his jail garb for a black suit, white shirt and light blue, patterned tie — “Do you agree with me today that you’re in more trouble ​today ​than you have​ ever​ been in your ​entire ​life?”
“​I believe ​I’m in a boatload of trouble, all together,” Howe answered.
During his two previous days of cross-examination, Howe was grilled about his admitted decades of lying, cheating and stealing, and he testified Tuesday that he repeatedly assured prosecutors he was a “changed” man.
“Every time I walked in the door, I was representing myself as being honest and truthful,” he said.
Howe claims to have helped execs at two companies doing business with the state funnel more than $300,000 in bribes to then-Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

NY Law Journal: Star Witness in Bribery Trial Grilled on Finances, Legal Woes

UPDATE:Star witness in ex-Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco's bribery case arrested after admitting to fraud try in testimony
Star witness Todd Howe, on stand  Artwork by Aggie Whelan Kenny

Star Witness in Bribery Trial Grilled on Finances, Legal Woes

The star witness in the corruption trial for Joseph Percoco, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused of taking part in bribery schemes, was effectively placed on trial himself Thursday as defense attorneys for a second day tried to erode the witness’s credibility by focusing on his past legal and financial misadventures.
Percoco, who was close enough to the Cuomo family that Gov. Mario Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo’s father, once referred to Percoco as his “third son,” is accused of taking more than $315,000 in bribes from two firms seeking to do business with the state.
Prosecutors say executives from Competitive Power Ventures, who sought a power purchase agreement from the state for a new power plant in Orange County, bribed Percoco by giving his wife a “low-show” job as an education consultant that paid a $90,000 annual salary.
They also allege that executives from COR Development, which sought government contracts for projects in Syracuse, paid $35,000 in bribes to Percoco so that he could help navigate their projects through bureaucratic red tape.
Eight defendants were charged with participating in the schemes, who have been divided into two trial groups.
Percoco is standing trial alongside former CPV executive Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr. and former COR executives Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi.

But through Wednesday and Thursday, the defendants’ alleged crimes have been overshadowed by the past of star witness Todd Howe (pictured), a former lobbyist for Whiteman Osterman & Hanna who says he helped facilitate relationships between Percoco and the executives.
He pleaded guilty to eight felony counts as part of an agreement with the prosecution. Throughout the cross-examination, kicked off on Wednesday by Schulte Roth & Zabel partner Barry Bohrer, ( pictured) who represents Percoco, Howe has answered for his admissions that he embezzled money from Whiteman Osterman as well as a past criminal felony conviction for making a false bank deposit for $45,000.
Howe has also addressed a long line of lawsuits filed against him over the past decade by mortgage lenders, attorneys, home improvement contractors and even a tutor he hired for his son who all alleged that Howe failed to pay up when his bills were due.
On Thursday, after Bohrer concluded his examination, Daniel Gitner of Lankler Siffert & Wohl, who leads Kelly’s defense team, homed in on the Howe’s cooperation agreement with the prosecution brokered in 2016, specifically a provision requiring Howe to disclose past crimes. Gitner noted that Howe had admitted on the stand on Wednesday to lying in a deposition for one of his foreclosure cases about why he was fired from the Mortgage Bankers Association prior to his employment with Whiteman Osterman.
Gitner also revealed during the cross-examination that, apparently unbeknownst to prosecutors, Howe had submitted an application for disability insurance in 2014 in which he said he had never been convicted of a felony.
“The government is hearing about this for the first time now, correct?” Gitner said. Howe replied that he did indeed make a false statement on the application, but said he checked boxes on the application without “paying attention.”
During a break in which the jury was not in the courtroom, Gitner told U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York that questions about Howe’s finances may take up another day of trial, which drew a rebuke from the judge.
“The jury is well aware that Mr. Howe was not a good guy,” Caproni said. “He was in deep financial trouble and has more garnishments than anyone should ever have. Why your clients got in bed with him is beyond me.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

AP: Bail denied for Hong Kong businessman charged with bribery

Bail denied for Hong Kong businessman charged with bribery


NEW YORK — A New York judge rejected a bail request Monday for a prominent Hong Kong businessman charged in a United Nations-linked bribery scandal, saying he was too great a risk to flee.
U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, who set trial for Nov. 5, listened to more than an hour of arguments before saying no bail conditions could guarantee Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho would be at his trial.
The 68-year-old Ho, once Hong Kong's home affairs secretary, was arrested in November. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he helped arrange millions of dollars in bribes to the president of Chad and the Ugandan foreign minister on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate to secure business advantages.
His defense lawyer, Edward Kim, insisted his client would never try to flee.
He said Ho "would rather be convicted at trial than flee in disgrace."
The judge, though, said she viewed the evidence as "extremely strong" and believed it might motivate him to flee.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal said Ho is trading emails regularly from prison with the company that's central in the case against him, "talking about mounting a public relations campaign for his case" and talking about the company.

Chi Ping Patrick Ho in court 2/5/18
The prosecutor said claims from abroad, including anonymous sources from the company itself, that the prosecution is politically motivated, "gives us great concern."
He said he believes those abroad who believe the prosecution is unfair might be motivated to help Ho escape the United States.
He said it would not be hard to flee because an electronic bracelet can be easily cut off and he also can seek refuge at the embassies of countries with no extradition treaty with the United States.
Judge Katherine Forrest denying bail to Patrick Ho

Forrest also said she was concerned about claims from abroad that the prosecution is politically motivated.
"It might not be embarrassing to flee to Hong Kong if you think the current prosecution was politically motivated," she said.
Authorities have said Ho and a co-defendant conspired in October 2014 to bribe the African government officials after wiring almost $1 million through New York's banking system. They say the Ugandan scheme was created at the United Nations in New York when Uganda's current foreign minister served as president of the U.N. General Assembly.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, January 29, 2018

BLOOMBERG: Soon-to-Be-Deported Activist Wins ‘Freedom to Say Goodbye’

Soon-to-Be-Deported Activist Wins ‘Freedom to Say Goodbye’

NYU Law Student, Brittany Castle from the  Sanctuary Coalition argues the case for Ravi Ragbir  before Federal Judge Katherine Forest

A Manhattan federal judge didn’t mince words in slamming the Trump administration’s handling of an immigration activist’s arrest for deportation as resembling the actions of "regimes we revile as unjust."
 "We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it," U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest wrote in an opinion Monday in releasing Ravi Ragbir so he can get his affairs in order and say goodbye to his family before being deported to Trinidad & Tobago.

Judge Katherine Forrest speaking from bench, far left.
Courtroom art by Aggie Whelan Kenny 
Ragbir, who is subject to a 2006 order of deportation based on a felony wire fraud conviction, originally came to the U.S. on a visa in 1991 and is married to a U.S. citizen. Forrest, who was appointed to the bench in 2011 by President Barack Obama, said the government was "unnecessarily cruel" in arresting him at a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then putting him on a plane to a jail cell in Miami.
"There is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye," Forrest said. "That is, the freedom to hug one’s spouse and children, the freedom to organize the myriad of human affairs that collect over time. It ought not to be -- and it never has before been -- that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home and work."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Louise and David Turpin arraignment courtroom drawings

13 captive siblings forced to shower once a year, strangled, subject to frequent beatings: Prosecutor

-- Prosecutors revealed grisly details in a press conference Thursday about the captive siblings case out of California.-- The brothers and sisters were subject to repeated beatings, including strangulation, and were punished by being chained up, often for weeks or months at a time, prosecutors said.-- The victims weren't released from their chains even to go to the bathroom and were only allowed to shower once a year, according to prosecutors.-- The children were rescued Sunday after a 17-year-old escaped and alerted authorities to what was happening.-- Prosecutors said the teen plotted the escape for more than two years.
Courtroom sketch of Louise and David Turpin by Mona Edwards

Courtroom drawing of Louise and David Turpin by Bill Robles
The California parents accused of starving and shackling their 13 children allegedly forced them to shower only once a year, never took them to a dentist, and strangled and beat them routinely, prosecutors said Thursday.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment after their children were found Sunday at their home. The Riverside County Sheriff's Office described the residence as "dark and foul-smelling."
The Turpins both entered not guilty pleas on all counts Thursday. Their next court date was set for Feb. 23.
The children were rescued Sunday after one of the children -- a 17-year-old girl -- allegedly escaped through a window and called 911. Responding officers said the teen was slightly emaciated and "appeared to be only 10 years old."
"It took great courage for her to do that after all those years, and that's all she knows," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said of the escape in an interview with ABC News. "She obviously has the personality that she's going to risk herself for others and she did that and she managed to get out. And we're very glad that she did. I don't know how long this would have continued and I don't know what the end result would have been."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

NEW YORKER: The Women Who Took on the Mafia

The Women Who Took on the Mafia

Family loyalty made the Calabrian Mob strong, but its treatment of women was its undoing.


The prosecutor Alessandra Cerreti believed that discontented Mafia women could bring down the organization.
Audio: Listen to this story. To hear more feature stories, download the Audm app for your iPhone.

In Calabria, Lea Garofalo’s disappearance required no explanation. The local Mafia, known as the ’Ndrangheta, had a term for people who simply vanished: lupara bianca, or “white shotgun,” a killing that left no corpse. Residents of Pagliarelle, the mountain village where Garofalo’s family lived, added her name to a list of victims who were never to be mentioned again. In three decades, thirty-five local men and women had been murdered in Mafia vendettas, including Garofalo’s father, her uncle, and her brother.

N'drangheta mafia defendants in Brooklyn Federal Court in 2014     Link to indictment
 Garofalo, born into the ’Ndrangheta,, had eloped with a cocaine smuggler named Carlo Cosco when she was sixteen. The next year, they had a daughter, Denise, and Garofalo implored Cosco to leave the Mob. Instead, a few years later, she witnessed her husband and his brother kill a man in Milan. “You don’t live,” she once said, of the constrained existence of an ’Ndrangheta wife. “You just survive in some way. You dream about something, anything—because nothing’s worse than that life.” In desperation, Garofalo collaborated with prosecutors to put Cosco in jail. For thirteen years, she and Denise moved from one small town to another, in and out of witness protection, as his men pursued them. One night, she looked outside the window of the apartment where they were staying and saw that her Fiat had been set on fire.
By 2010, the Italian state had enough evidence from years of surveillance to suggest that the ’Ndrangheta—whose name, pronounced “n-drahng-ghe-ta,” was derived from a Greek word meaning “honorable men”—was running seventy per cent of the cocaine trade in Europe. Other investigations indicated that it brokered arms deals with criminals, rebels, and terrorists around the world, including fighters on opposing sides of the Syrian civil war; extorted billions of euros from businesses; and swindled the Italian state and the European Union out of tens of billions more, particularly through contracts for roads, ports, wind and solar power, and even the disposal of nuclear waste, which it dumped at sea off Somalia. The bosses ran an empire that operated in fifty countries, from Albania to Togo, linking a Mob war in Toronto to a lawyer’s assassination in Melbourne, and vast real-estate investments in Brussels to a cocaine-delivering pizzeria in Queens called Cucino a Modo Mio (“I Cook My Own Way”).


Monday, January 15, 2018

Hong Kong official pleads not guilty to bribing Kutesa

Hong Kong official pleads not guilty to bribing Kutesa

A former Hong Kong government official has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribing Uganda's Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, in exchange for oil rights for a Chinese energy company.
The official, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, 68, and a former foreign minister of Senegal, Cheikh Gadio, were arrested in November last year and charged with money laundering and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
Ho appeared again before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest in a Manhattan court and pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday January 8.

Kutesa reportedly received a bribe of $500,000 (about Shs 1.8 billion) from Ho to seal a scheme that was reportedly hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York, when he served as the president of the U.N. General Assembly.
Ho reportedly wanted Kutesa to connect the said energy company to the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and thereby assist the company to obtain lucrative opportunities in Uganda's energy sector and in the banking industry. It turns out the 'investors' had their eyes on Crane bank, before its takeover by the central bank.
Ho is also accused of bribing President Idriss D├ęby of Chad with $2 million "in exchange for securing business advantages" for the conglomerate in its effort to obtain oil rights in the country without facing international competition.
Gadio the conduit for the offer was compensated with $400,000 wired through New York, United States prosecutors told court on Monday.

Federal prosecutor Douglas S. Zolkind, told court that there is voluminous evidence to be shared with Ho's lawyers. The evidence includes thousands of documents consisting of emails and attachments from more than 10 accounts that prosecutors received warrants to search.
He also estimated that multiple thousands of pages of bank and financial and wire records relating to multiple different entities would need to be shared, along with about seven boxes of paper documents and information from 11 phones, four computers, a camera and other equipment seized during a search of the energy organization's offices in Virginia.
It also includes data from two cellphones, an iPad and multiple USB drives seized from Ho; records from three iPhones, a Samsung phone, and multiple USB drives and SIM cards seized from Gadio.
The volume of information is so great, Judge Forrest said, that "my guess is that it will be a year" before the start of the trial.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

REUTERS: Ex-Kit Digital CEO, associate convicted in U.S. of fraud schemes

Ex -Kit Digital CEO, Associate Convicted in US of Fraud Schemes
(Reuters) - The former head of Kit Digital Inc and a business associate were convicted on Tuesday on charges related to what prosecutors said were wide-ranging fraud schemes involving the bankrupt video technology company.
Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, a former Goldman Sachs analyst who achieved brief fame as an internet entrepreneur before becoming Kit Digital’s chief executive, was found guilty by a federal jury in Manhattan of charges including that he conspired to commit securities fraud, prosecutors said.
Omar Amanat, an investor in media, finance and technology companies including at one time the studio behind the “Twilight” movie franchise, was convicted of charges that included conspiring to commit wire fraud and securities fraud.

In the government’s opening statement, jurors were told they’d also see evidence of phony financial statements and numerous discussions about the frauds in text messages and emails exchanged between Amanat, Tuzman and Maiden.In one such message, Amanat wrote to Maiden that Tuzman needs to realize "it doesn’t matter who did what" if investors realize the money is gone, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Naftalis told the jury. Amanat then made a reference to "criminal behavior, jail time," Naftalis said.  "It doesn’t get more devastating than that," the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors said that in 2008, Tuzman at Amanat’s request arranged for Kit Digital to invest $6.5 million in a fund affiliated with Amanat, Enable Invest Ltd.
To encourage the investment, Amanat told Tuzman he would raise money for a Tuzman-controlled investment vehicle, leading to him arranging for Maiden’s Maiden Capital Opportunity Fund to invest $1 million into it, the indictment said.
The indictment said Tuzman without permission redirected funds from Maiden Capital’s $1 million investment and used the money as part of Kit Digital’s $6.5 million investment in Enable.
Prosecutors said that when Enable suffered losses later in 2008, Amanat helped Maiden conceal them from Maiden Capital’s investors, including by providing loans to repay investors, prosecutors said.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

BLOOMBERG: Peruvian Acquitted in Soccer Bribery Trial in U.S.

Peruvian Acquitted in Soccer Bribery Trial in U.S.

 By Christie Smythe

  • Jury’s not guilty finding follows conviction of Napout, Marin
  • Manuel Burga says he plans to return home to wife and children
A former Peruvian soccer official was acquitted of U.S. charges that he accepted bribes from sports-marketing companies for media rights to professional tournaments.
The acquittal amounts to a mixed verdict for the U.S. government, which won convictions against the former heads of Brazil’s soccer federation and South American soccer on Friday.
A jury in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday came back with a not guilty verdict on a single count of racketeering conspiracy for Manuel Burga, 60. The jurors were undecided about Burga last week, when they delivered the guilty verdicts against the other officials.
Burga choked back sobs, covering his mouth, as the verdict was read.

L-R  Former president of Peru’s soccer federation, Manuel Burga, US Atty Keith Edelman, Burga’s Atty, Bruce Udolf  Courtroom Art by Aggie Whelan Kenny
“My heart is bumping,” Burga in a hallway afterward. “I’m scared how it’s bumping.”
Burga was charged alongside Juan Angel Napout, 59, a Paraguayan who was president of CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, and Jose Maria Marin, 85, the former head of Brazil’s soccer federation, as part of a sprawling U.S. probe alleging that international soccer officials and sports marketing executives conspired for decades in bribery schemes.
The U.S. verdict came in the first case to go to trial in a corruption crackdown that began with a predawn raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich in 2015. Burga’s acquittal and Napout and Marin’s convictions follow guilty pleas from 24 people tied to FIFA, international soccer’s governing association. Fifteen others who’ve been charged are fighting extradition to the U.S.
"There’s no question in my mind that it was the right call by the jury," Bruce Udolf, Burga’s lawyer, said in an interview after the verdict. "I’m very happy for him because he’s a good man and he’s been through hell for the last two years."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Judge Thomas P. Griesa

SDNY is sad to announce the passing of Judge Thomas P. Griesa on December 24. Judge Griesa was appointed to the Court in 1972 by Richard Nixon. Judge Griesa served as Chief Judge from 1993 through 2000 and assumed Senior status in March 2000.   

Judge Thomas P. Griesa ,during Argentina Bonds hearing 2014

Statement from Chief Judge McMahon:

"Judge Griesa is one of the longest serving judges in Mother Court history. 

Judge Griesa leaves a legacy of many important decisions. But among the courthouse family, he will be particularly remembered as the Chief Judge who brought both the Moynihan and Brieant Courthouse construction projects to a successful conclusion -- a feat commemorated by the Board of Judges' decision to name its meeting room in his honor. 

He gave our court seven years of wise leadership, and he gave his country 45 years of devoted service. He was particularly proud that he and the other judges with whom he has served have been assiduously non-political"

Thursday, December 7, 2017

AP: Lawyers: Trump too busy to face woman’s defamation lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for President Donald Trump argued on Tuesday that a defamation lawsuit filed by a former contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” who accused him of unwanted sexual contact should at least be blocked while he’s in office because he’s too busy and important.
Summer Zervos was a contestant on the show in 2006 and sued the Republican after he dismissed as “fabricated and made-up charges” her claims that he made unwanted sexual contact with her at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel in 2007. Her lawsuit sought an apology and at least $2,914.

Outside court on Tuesday, Zervos thanked her lawyers and said softly: “Justice prevails.”
Trump didn’t attend.
Trump’s lawyers argued the U.S. Constitution immunizes him from being sued in state court while he’s president and said the case should at least be delayed until he’s out of office. The lawyers said their position is supported by a long line of U.S. Supreme Court cases requiring courts to show deference to the president and his schedule.
No president has sought to delay a lawsuit in a state court while in office, the lawyers and the judge said.
But in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a sitting president was not immune from civil litigation on something that happened before taking office and was unrelated to the office. The ruling came after Paula Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, husband of Trump’s main opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton. The case was dismissed by a judge.
A footnote in that ruling, though, should be interpreted as saying state courts don’t have the same jurisdiction over the president, Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz argued.
Judge Jennifer Schecter asked whether the footnote is specific in saying state courts don’t have jurisdiction, and Kasowitz said no. But Trump’s job is round-the-clock, and he can’t be expected to devote time to the court while in office, Kasowitz.
Courtroom art by Aggie Whelan Kenny, click on image to see larger

Zervos’ attorneys argued that delaying the case would mean witnesses would forget and documents could be destroyed. Attorney Mariann Wang said the court clearly has the power to hear the case.
Wang said Zervos’ team would be flexible with the president’s schedule and would agree to videotaped depositions if necessary. She said Trump “does not do his job 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“We can take a deposition down to Mar-a-Lago in between him going to play golf,” she said, a jab at Trump’s frequent visits to his Florida resort.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

BLOOMBERG.COM Zarrab Recorded in Jail Saying `You Have to Lie' to Get Leniency

Zarrab Recorded in Jail Saying `You Have to Lie' to Get Leniency
Bob Van Voris, Christian Berthelsen, Chris Dolmetsch
Reza Zarrab, the Turkish currency trader who admitted helping Iran move billions of dollars in violation of U.S. financial sanctions, said in a recorded jailhouse conversation that he needed to lie about his own crimes to get a reduced sentence, according to a summary of his words.
Zarrab, the government’s star witness in the trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, testified for a fourth day Monday in Manhattan federal court. Atilla’s lawyers, who could begin cross-examining Zarrab as soon as Tuesday, complained to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in a letter Monday that prosecutors dragged their feet in turning over recordings of the Sept. 15, 2016, conversation and four others.
Zarrab has testified that he was arrested and taken into custody by Turkish financial authorities on Dec. 17, 2013. Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamaraju, Zarrab said he made payments in connection with his release from prison.
"Were they bribes?" Kamaraju asked.
"In part," Zarrab said, without explaining further.
click on image to see larger

"Zarrab is proclaiming his willingness to fabricate testimony out of whole cloth in order to obtain a reduced sentence," Atilla’s lawyers argued in the letter, which was posted, then removed without explanation, from the publicly available court docket.
They claim the production of the evidence on Saturday at 10:42 p.m. "significantly impairs the ability of the defense" to use them at trial.
Zarrab, who was initially the key defendant in the case, spent a year in U.S. jails awaiting trial before agreeing last month to plead guilty and cooperate with the government’s case against Atilla. Though nine defendants have been charged, only Atilla, who was a deputy general manager at Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, is being tried, and only Zarrab and Atilla are in U.S. custody.

‘In America’

In the letter, Atilla’s lawyers told Berman that Zarrab said on the jailhouse recording, "In America in order to make it out of prison you need to admit to something you haven’t committed."
Zarrab has testified to helping Iran make international payments by disguising them as payments for phony gold and food sales that were structured to make it appear that they complied with U.S. sanction regulations. On Thursday, Zarrab said he believed two Turkish banks were included in the scheme with the approval of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who at the time was Turkey’s prime minister and is now its president. 

Zarrab has pleaded guilty to seven felonies, including conspiracy, sanctions violations, bank fraud and money laundering. He admitted bribing a corrections officers in the U.S. to sneak him alcohol and let him make cell phone calls.
The case is U.S. v Zarrab, 15-cr-867, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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