Sex Trafficking Ring Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Criminal Defense on Friday, February 21, 2014.

The-leader of a sex-trafficking ring that exploited dozens of women was sentenced today in Savannah to life in prison, The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia announced.

Joaquin Mendez-Hernandez, also known as “El Flaco,” was sentenced by U.S. District Court Senior Judge B. Avant Edenfield, said U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver.  The prosecutor said it was the largest sex-trafficking investigation ever prosecuted in the Southern District.

Federal prosecutors said that Mendez-Hernandez headed an international sex trafficking organization that reached from Mexico to Savannah.  Members of the outfit enticed women from Mexico, Nicaragua and elsewhere to travel to the U.S., for a better life in America, prosecutors said.  Once in the U.S., the women were forced into prostitution in Savannah and across the South, prosecutors said.

Women were forced to have sex with as many as 50 people a day, prosecutors said.  To ensure that they complied, members of Mendez-Hernandez’s criminal organization threatened women, used violence against them and held their children hostage in Mexico, prosecutors said.

Members of the criminal outfit also would trade their victims to other members who operated in other states, including Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina, prosecutors said.

“It is reprehensible that an international sex-trafficking organization set up shop within our very own communities,” said Tarver.  ”This organization destroyed the lives of many victims through fear, violence, and intimidation, all for the love of money.  Those responsible will now pay the price in a federal prison.”

The federal operation to break up the sex trafficking ring, dubbed “Operation Dark Knight, has resulted in guilty pleas from 23 defendants, prosecutors said.  Twelve victims were rescued from the ring during the investigation, according to prosecutors who said they may also qualify for a special visa extended to victims of human trafficking who have assisted in investigations and prosecutions.

SOURCE: “Sex-Trafficking Ring Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison,” John Disney, February 21, 2014.

Police department lawyer is jailed by own client on suspicion of drug and weapons crimes

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Criminal Defense on Friday, February 21, 2014.

A lawyer for the Salt Lake City police department has been arrested on suspicion of drug and weapon crimes by employees of his own client.

James Wesley Robinson, 50, was arrested and jailed along with two adult sons after a search of his home Tuesday, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.  A subsequent Salt Lake Tribune article provides additional details.

Booking documents at the jail say law enforcement officers found an unspecified “large quantity” of marijuana, drug, paraphernalia, cash and four firearms during a search of Robinson’s home after a burglary call.  Police got a warrant to search the house after spotting sufficient evidence to justify it during the burglary investigation, Sgt. Robin Heiden told the newspaper.  He said it is illegal to possess firearms along with prohibited drugs.

Robinson was booked on suspicion of cocaine possession, marijuana possession with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and illegal weapons possession.  His two sons, 18 and 21, were booked on suspicion of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Heiden said it is possible the charges will be upgraded, although that has not yet occurred, because the home is within 1,000 feet of an elementary school.

Robinson worked as an assistant state attorney general before becoming a city employee in 2000.  He has not handled civil matters for the police department for the past year and works in the city’s public safety building.

SOURCE: “Police department lawyer is jailed by own client on suspicion of drug and weapons crimes,” Martha Neil, February 20, 2014.

Police Complaint: Ravens’ Ray Rice Strikes Fiancee Unconscious in NJ Casino

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Criminal Defense on Friday, February 21, 2014.

Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice allegedly knocked his fiancee unconscious by “striking her with his hand,” during an altercation between the pair at an Atlantic City, N.J., casino over the weekend, according to the police complaint.

Grainy security footage obtained by TMZ Sports shows Rice, 27, lifting his fiancee Janay Palmer, 26, out an of an elevator at the Revel Casino before placing her on the floor and attempting to prop her up.  A security guard then approaches the pair as Palmer apparently starts to regain consciousness.

A lawyer for Rice told The Baltimore Sun that the video was authentic but incomplete.  Attempts to contact Rice’s lawyer were not immediately successful.

Both were arrested on domestic violence-simple assault charges and taken to a nearby police station on Saturday and later released on a summons to appear in court.  Atlantic City Police said they have video of both Rice and Palmer assaulting each other.

The case is currently with the prosecutor’s office for review, police said.

The Ravens made a statement on Sunday saying,”We are aware of the Friday night situation with Ray Rice and his fiancee.  We have spoken with Ray, and know that they returned home together after being detained.”

SOURCE:  ”Police Complaint: Ravens’ Ray Rice Strikes Fiancee Unconscious in NJ Casino,” Liz Fields, February 20, 2014.



Man found guilty in jet ski death of Usher’s stepson

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Criminal Defense on Monday, February 24, 2014.

ATLANTA - A jury has found Jeff Hubbard guilty of homicide by vessel in the incident that resulted in the death of Kile Glover, stepson of entertainer usher.  Another child was seriously hurt.

Hubbard was also found guilty of serious injury by vessel, reckless operation, unlawful operation of personal watercraft and boat traffic violation.

Kile Glover died from head injuries six days following the incident in July 202.  Jordan Shepp, then 15, was seriously hurt.

Defense lawyers said Hubbard tried to avoid the children and that what happened was a tragic accident.

SOURCE: “Man found guilty in jet ski death of Usher’s stepson,” Associated Press, February 22, 2014

Accused of punching a photographer, actor Sam Worthington arrested

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Criminal Defense on Monday, February 24, 2014.

(CNN) – Actor Sam Worthington, best known for his leading role in the 2009 blockbuster “Avatar,” was arrested Sunday after getting into an altercation with a photographer, New York City police said.

Worthington is accused of punching photographer Sheng Li in the face after Li allegedly kicked Worthington’s 26-year-old female companion in the shins, according to NYPD Detective Kellyann Ort.

The department would not release the name of Worthington’s companion.

The incident occurred at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Greenwich Village.

Worthington was issued a desk appearance ticket and was released, according to Ort.  Li, a 37-year-old photographer who lives in Manhattan, was held for arraignment.  He does not have press credentials.

No one was hospitalized., Ort said.

Worthington was born in England but moved to Australia, where he was raised and began his acting career.

In addition to Avatar, Worthington has also acted in “Terminator Salvation” (2009), “Clash of the Titans” (2010) and “Man on a Ledge” (2012).

He was named “GQ Man of the Year” in Australia in 2009.

SOURCE: “Accused of punching a photographer, actor Sam Worthington arrested,” Elizabeth Landers, February 24, 2014.

CURE Childhood Cancer Event

Ray Giudice with Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.

Ray Giudice with Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.

CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to finding cures for childhood cancers in our lifetime.

3 Doors Down bassist Todd Harrell charged with DUI

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in DUI on Thursday, February 20, 2014.

(CNN) – The bassist of the rock band 3 Doors Down faces a driving under the influence charge after his arrest Tuesday in Mississippi.

Police found Todd Harrell “slumped over the steering wheel” of a vehicle stopped at an intersection in D’lberville, Mississippi, a police statement released Wednesday said.

Harrell, 42, “showed signs of impairment and was arrested and charged with 2nd offense DUI,” police said.

The musician was charged with vehicular homicide in Nashville, Tennessee, last April after his speeding car allegedly clipped a pickup truck, sending it down an embankment and killing the driver, according to a Davidson County, Tennessee, sheriff’s spokesman.

Harrell showed signs of impairment and acknowledged he had consumed hard cider and taken the prescription pills Lortab and Xanax after that incident, police said.  The case is still pending.

His group may be best known for its song “Kryptonite,” but it had a string of hits in the early 2000s, including “When I’m Gone” and “Here Without You.”

Harrell is one of three founding members of the group that formed in Escatawpa, Mississippi, in 1994, according to  The band toured regionally before eventually being discovered at a music showcase in New York.

The band’s major label debut, “The Better Life,” has sold more than 6 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

SOURCE: “3 Doors Down bassist Todd Harrell charged with DUI,” Alan Duke, February 19, 2014.



Falcons wide receiver Roddy White briefly jailed in Ga. for failure to appear in court

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Traffic Violations on Tuesday, February 18, 2014.

ATLANTA- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White has been arrested on a warrant charging him with failing to appear in court.

Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Volkodav confirmed White was booked at the jail in that Atlanta suburb early Tuesday.  Jail records show he was released about an hour later after posting $168 bond.

Volkodav said the warrant for White’s arrest came from Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court, indicating he failed to show up for court on an unspecified traffic citation.

A team statement said the Falcons were aware of White’s arrest, adding, “we anticipate this will be resolved shortly.”

It was not immediately know if White had an attorney.

White was the Falcons’ first-round draft pick in 2005.  He had 63 catches for 711 yards and three touchdowns last season.

SOURCE: “Falcons wide receiver Roddy White briefly jailed in Ga. for failure to appear in court,” Associated Press, February 18, 2014.

Bill Would Let Police Collect DNA Upon Felony Request

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in Criminal Defense on Monday, February 17, 2014.

Georgia lawmakers are considering allowing law enforcement officers to collect DNA samples of anyone arrested for a felony, a practice found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Senate Bill 135, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon, a civil litigator and Republican representing Columbus, would allow police and other officers to take DNA samples upon arrest rather than conviction, which is the state’s current practice.  Under the proposed legislation, collections may be done via blood sample or oral swab and only after a magistrate or grand jury has determined that probable cause exists for the arrest.

The bill passed the Senate last year and is now before a House panel.

McKoon, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said DNA collection would allow law enforcement to better solve cold cases and protect the innocent from wrongful arrest.

“The impetus for bringing this bill is to provide closure to the countless Georgia families who have been victims of violent crime,” said McKoon.  In Maryland v. King, 133 S. Ct. 1958, the Supreme Court split 5-4 to hold that taking DNA samples of felony arrestees did not breach the Fourth Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that officers taking DNA upon arrests was akin to fingerprinting and photographing detainees.  Breaking the court’s typical ideological breakdown among conservatives and liberals, Justice Antonin Scalia argued in a dissent joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan that such DNA collections were essentially suspicionless searches.

Although McKoon filed the bill prior to the Supreme Court ruling, he noted that several states have since passed similar laws.

“One of the principal objections to this bill [last spring] was that it violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.  That objection was resolved last summer in King v. Maryland, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Maryland’s version of this law, far broader that my proposed bill, was constitutional,” McKoon said.  ”The only thing that has changed since I first introduced this bill in 2011 is that then 22 states had a version of this law on their books today 28 states have adopted it.”

While Georgia criminal defense lawyers don’t like the bill, there’s not much they can do about it, said Sandra Michaels, a lawyer and lobbyist for the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“Although GACDL has historically taken the position that taking a person’s DNA upon arrest as opposed to taking DNA upon violent felony convictions is overreaching, not a good use of law enforcement’s limited resources and would not lead to a significant increase in identifying perpetrators, the fact the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue closes any meaningful opposition to the proposed law,” Michaels said.  ”However, just because the Supreme Court says it is not a violation to take DNA upon arrest does not require states, including Georgia, to do so.”

Georgia prosecutors have not taken an official stance on the bill but are inclined to view it in a favorable light, according to Chuck Spahos, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.

“I believe the premise that DNA samples should be taken from all those arrested for a felony is a concept that makes good sense and serves a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” Spahos said.  ”I believe that if it is acceptable to take fingerprints from an arrestee then it should be acceptable to take an oral swab.”

Spahos added that the bill adequately outlines how to handle cases in which DNA is collected but the arrestees are not ultimately prosecuted or have their charges reduced to misdemeanors.

“The procedures in the bill… would prevent the government from keeping this information of individuals that are not convicted,” Spahos said.  The bill would require the samples to be destroyed and all related records to be expunged from the data bank.

“DNA has proven to be a valuable tool for solving crimes and, in some cases, establishing that an individual did not commit the crime for which they were charged,” Spahos said.  ”I believe that Georgia prosecutors can support the concept of a broader base of DNA collection.”

With the Senate passing the bill last year, SB 135 now rests with the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, which vets bills that affect the practice of criminal law.

Committee Chairman Rich Golick, an insurance lawyer and Republican representing Smyrna, said he expects to call a hearing for the DNA bill this session.  Golick said he believes there will be “compelling arguments on both sides,” especially regarding “the specific circumstances that would require purging of an individual’s DNA profile.”

SOURCE: “ Bill Would Let Police Collect DNA Upon Felony Request,” John Disney, February 17, 2014.

Marshawn Lynch resolving DUI case

On behalf of Raymond Giudice P.C. posted in DUI on Friday, February 21, 2014.

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has agreed to plead guilty Friday in an Oakland, Calif., courtroom to the lesser charge of reckless driving, which will end his pending DUI case.

“We are resolving the case Friday by pleading to a wet reckless,” said Ivan Golde, Lynch’s attorney.  ”We have a strong case for trial and could win the case, but the last thing he needs is to go through a public trial.

He’s a Super Bowl champion, and he has endorsements pending.  For a guy in his position, it just doesn’t make any sense to go through a public trial.  He has a lot at stake here.  You know Marshawn.  He’s not a media guy.  It wouldn’t have been good for him to go through all that.”

Lynch also will receive two years of probation as part of the plea bargain, along with a monetary fine that will be determined by the judge.

Lynch, 27, was arrested in the early morning on July 14, 2012, by the California Highway Patrol after an officer allegedly observed him driving north on interstate 880 in Oakland weaving in and out of lanes in a Ford van and nearly colliding with two cars.

Golde said Lynch recorded a .08 blood-alcohol level on the field sobriety test, the lowest level that is above the legal limit.  Golde said in December that he planned to try the case but would leave the final decision to Lynch.

“With the way the media is today, it would be tough for him to go through a trial like this,” Gold said Thursday.  ”It was better to plead to the much lesser charge, which basically is an unsafe lane change.”

Golde also believes that pleading to the lesser charge will enable Lynch to avoid any further penalties from the NFL.

“I can’t speak for the commissioner [Roger Goodell],” Golde said, “but my feeling is Marshawn is OK and will avoid a suspension.”

Pleading to the lesser charge means Lynch will not have to attend a four-month DUI school, which is mandatory for DUI convictions in California.  But he’ll still need to attend six classes on driving safety and alcohol consumption

SOURCE: “Marshawn Lynch resolving DUI case,” Terry Blount via ESPN, February 20, 2014.