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Topics relate to adult business, the War on Drugs, political prosecutions, censorship, and police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct

Smiling Faces - The Undisputed Truth

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Attorney Watch: The Champions of Law

I have always been an attorney watcher. Some people are interested in Hollywood stars and some follow the lives of royalty, but neither have ever held my attention for long. My interest in the zealous defenders in our legal system has intensified since the mid-1990s; more so following my arrest in November of 2001.

Over the last few years, since starting this blog, I have been in contact with many attorneys for one reason or another. On occasion an attorney will initiate the contact to thank me for supporting a client in my blog posts, or other times to provide specific case documents so I do not have to pay in PACER, or even to make a point concerning a client. Other attorneys would rather my blog posts disappeared, though I rarely knock any attorney here. Over time my thoughts have evolved and I realize that often it is the defendant that is the problem and not the attorney.

I have learned much about defense attorneys since my own case began. Some are the zealous defenders that we need in the US criminal justice system, some don't care and just file the minimum required paperwork, and yet others should never refer to themselves as attorneys. In most cases with multiple defendants, an attorney or two will stand out in the crowd. This post is about attorneys that stand out and deserve recognition as zealous legal defenders.

I am inspired to reiterate a statement made in a post several years ago to defendants in criminal cases:

You must play a serious part in the fight for your life and if you don't, then you'll understand when you lose. Don't dare blame it all on the attorney.

The statement was made in the context of a discussion relating to organized crime / RICO cases, which are often a fight for life. A good defendant can motivate most attorneys. In this respect, the ultimate outcome of the case must also fall on the defendant. What makes a good defendant would be a different discussion left for another day.

In the course of my blogging and my research, I have managed to find some of the best defenders in the system; attorneys that really fight to the end for their clients. I include a notable case or other information following the contact information when relevant. The list is in no particular order, except for Wolverton - he will always be first to me.

1. Stephen Wolverton, Harley Gutin, Gutin & Wolverton – Cocoa, Florida – (321)633-7337

Steve Wolverton was my trial attorney and the law office represented me about halfway through the case through my acquittal by the jury on both counts filed by prosecutors. I would recommend Mr. Wolverton or Mr. Gutin to anyone facing any criminal charges in Central Florida in state or federal cases.

2. Lawrence G. Walters, Walters Law Group - Longwood (Orlando), Florida - (407)975-9150

Larry Walters is a First Amendment attorney and also practices criminal defense. He has zealously defended far too many defendants to add a list herein. If you are opening any type of adult business and you can afford a quality consultation with the best in the industry, you will want to call Walters.

3. Stephen Laiche, Griff, Larson, Laiche, Brennan & Wright - Grand Junction, Colorado - (970)245-8021

Stephen Laiche represented longtime massage parlor owner Nan O'Reilly in a case that I blogged about several years ago, though the posts are now removed. Prosecutors wanted to give her decades in prison, but Laiche worked out a plea deal with no prison, six years probation, and hefty fines.

Sadly, Nan was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room in March of 2011. She faced a charge of violating probation on a trespassing count in Colorado and the possible sentence of 30 years over the violation. In the end, it was the adult business prosecution that killed her.

4. J.D. Obenberger, J.D. Obenberger and Associates - Chicago, Illinois - (312)558-6420

Obenberger is a First Amendment attorney that specializes in online adult business cases. He also lectures and offers consultations and is one of the most zealous attorneys that I know of.

5. Avery Appelman, Appelman Law Firm - St. Louis Park, Minnesota - (952)224-2277

A great group of zealous defenders that practice all areas of criminal defense.

6. Kerri L. Ruttenberg, Jones Day Partner - Washington DC - (202)879-5419

This attorney represented Jennifer Churchill, the Photoshop lady in the Classy DC Escorts case, pro bono. Churchill only edited photos for the Classy DC owner to place on his website and had no other connection to this outfit, but was indicted on a federal racketeering count. Kerri Ruttenberg defended her zealously and was ready for trial; however a plea deal was worked out wherein she pleaded to the equivalent of a traffic infraction and received a $500 fine. So Churchill went from racketeering to less than a misdemeanor. Excellent attorney!

7. Charles E. Taylor, Jr, Law Offices of Charles E. Taylor Jr. - Orlando, Florida - (407)244-5997

Mr. Taylor represented Alexandr Postica in the case that I refer to as the Orlando conspiracy trial. The Orlando Sentinel referred to it repeatedly as a "sex trafficking case" but it wasn't and there was no one charged with any such count. The 11 defendants from Eastern Europe all opted to go to trial and it lasted close to three months.

Though Postica was convicted, it could only be attributed to juror confusion in an extremely over-prosecuted case. Each defendant also had a translator to further add to the confusion. Postica was released from jail within a month of the conclusion of the trial. Of all attorneys involved in this case, Taylor most zealously defended his client, even though this was a contract referral from the federal courts. He practices criminal defense and other areas of law.

8. Stuart Alexander Sears, Zwerling, Moseley & Sears - Alexandria, Virginia - (703)835-9664

Mr. Sears fought zealously for his client Kuraye Akuiyibo in the Classy DC Escorts case. In the end the defendant opted to make a plea and was given the best imaginable sentence under the circumstances.

9. Paul DeCailly, DeCailly Law Group - Indian Shores (Tampa), Florida - (813)286-2909

Mr. DeCailly represented Greg Carr in the Miami Companions case. He was zealously defending Carr and preparing for trial when Carr opted to take a plea deal. Excellent attorney!

10. Lawrence Lustberg, Gibbons Law - Newark, New Jersey - (973)596-4731

Mr. Lustberg is a well-known attorney that has successfully fought many cases. He is currently stand-by counsel for Paul Bergrin and has zealously litigated on behalf of his client.

11. Robert J. Gorence, Gorence Robert J & Associates - Albuquerque, New Mexico - (505)-244-0214

(no website)

Mr. Gorence represented F. Chris Garcia in the Southwest Companions fiasco. We all know, or should, how that turned out. Great attorney!

12. Theresa M. Duncan, now with Duncan Earnest LLC - Albuquerque, New Mexico - (505)842-9960

Theresa Duncan represented David Flory in the Southwest Companions case and is credited with crafting the legal position and writing the motion that effectively ended the case. Excellent attorney!

13. David C. Serna, Serna Law Offices - Albuquerque, New Mexico - (505)715-4802

Mr. Serna also represented F. Chris Garcia in the Southwest Companions case. Excellent attorney!

14. David A. Freedman, Freedman, Boyd, Hollander, Goldberg, Urias & Ward - Albuquerque, New Mexico - (505)842-9960

Mr. Freedman is the Senior Partner in the law firm and supported Theresa M. Duncan with the Flory defense in the Southwest Companions case.

15. Marc J. Randazza, Randazza Legal Group - Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida - (888)667-1113 and (305)791-2891

First Amendment Law and Adult Entertainment Business Law are two of a list of practice areas. Read Mr. Randazza's Blog (The Legal Satyricon) to learn more about his legal philosophy:

Well there you have it - my list of zealous defenders that are currently practicing law somewhere in the US. 

Choosing an attorney is an important and sometimes complicated undertaking. If you are in a position that requires the assistance of an attorney, make sure that everything is on the table and clear before signing a contract or paying the first $. I hope that I have not missed any currently practicing attorneys that I know. If I have, this post will be updated at a later time. 

If a defendant in a federal case wants to submit an attorney's information and their own name, I will be happy to verify that there was in fact a zealous defense by researching in PACER and add the name to this list.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Classy DC Escorts Case: Final Post

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I deleted all of the Classy DC Escorts case posts. Actually, I've been deleting posts for the last 8-10 days and while this blog used to have 380 posts, it is now around 70. The fact is that I wouldn't want most of the posts to linger in cyberspace forever. The reason that I started this blog in April 2009, was to correct misinformation still floating around the internet on my own case and trial. It has indeed served its purpose and most of those posts will remain.

The reason for the deletion of all Classy DC case posts and all related documents is that the case is really over. The only defendants that have yet to be sentenced are Otasowie Asuen and Akuiyibo's former girlfriend, and according to a document submitted by the government, she will most likely be sentenced to 6 months.

Each defendant in the Classy DC Escorts case opted to plead guilty. I cannot presume to know what prompted the decision to plead, except in the case of the photoshop lady, Jennifer Churchill. Her guilty plea was to the equivalent of a traffic infraction and the penalty was a $500 fine. Sounds about right because all that she did was edit images for this business.

There were named and unamed informants and unindicted co-conspirators involved. Most are still in the escort business. The operation itself was not an intelligent set-up by its name alone. Washington DC is never a good place to open an escort service no matter how lucrative it may initially sound. It's fed land and of course this was a federal prosecution.

The sentences:

Kuraye Akuiyibo - 51 months (should be out in around 2 years, considering time served, time off for good behavior, and a year off for completion of the drug program).

Jennifer Churchill - $500 fine (already over for her).

Alafaka Opuiyo - 20 months (should be home in less than a year).

Kiana McKelvin - 6 months (with time served and time off for good behavior should only be away a couple of months).

Otasowie Asuen - Sentenced to 33 months in BOP with credit for time served (should be home in just over a year when taking into account the time already served, good time, and time off for participation in the drug program).

Note: My anticipation of time the defendants will actually serve is a generalization. Sentences are not calculated until the defendant is in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody. BOP sentence computation is extremely complicated and the reference to "time off for good behavior" is actually called "good time" by BOP. For more information, read:

Federal Bureau of Prisons Sentence Computations

So, my removal of all related posts and documents is my gift to these defendants. This post will remain and I will edit it only to update sentencing information for the last two defendants. Perhaps now each will be able to go forward in life and even if in prison (as Akuiyibo and Asuen are), make this unfortunate time in their lives a glance in a rear-view mirror. Nothing good can come of dwelling on what happened and why. Believe me - I know.

Edit on 16 August 2012 @4PM EST:

Akuiyibo's former girlfriend's attorney has filed documents that reveal her desire to withdraw the guilty plea. It is my opinion that the goal is to secure a better plea deal because I seriously doubt that she wants a trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Edit on 20 August 2012 @5PM EST:

The ex-girlfriend was sentenced to 30 days in BOP, 2 years supervised release (probation), and home confinement for the first 5 months of supervised release. There are also fines. The judge denied her motion to withdraw her guilty plea.

Edit on 1 September 2012 @1030PM EST:

Otasowie Asuen was sentenced on 31 August 2012 to 33 months in BOP.

This case is over for the most part. I do hope that these defendants can move forward in their lives and I wish each of them the best in the future. One defendant requested that I remove this post; however, I have declined. What most defendants and relatives in any case do not seem to get is that the information will not disappear into the abyss when I remove a post. The mainstream newspaper articles are often on the internet for many years; so are DOJ press releases.

For the most part, my posts have been friendly towards the defendants in this case, so why would anyone want the only thing anyone ever sees to be sensationalist crap from mainstream newspapers or DOJ press releases? Made me wonder too.

To be forthright on the issue, I removed all previous posts on this case for two reasons: 1) my health; and 2) I made a mistake. Most readers that flocked to this blog over the Classy DC Escorts case never read my mistake post or if they did, the connection was not made. I thought something was common knowledge and it was not. I named an unnamed government witness that is still playing escort in several US cities. I really thought people knew who she was as I did and was appalled that she was witness / informant in this case with subsequent prostitution / solicitation arrests in two other areas of the US and still working.

So what lessons were really learned or what "message" did outsiders like me receive from this case? Well, I always knew I was correct about touring escorts, TER, incall, not operating in a federal area like Washington DC, never transporting escorts for any purpose whatsoever, and the importance of paying IRS their share of your lucrative business. So I guess I didn't learn anything at all. What "message" did you receive? (The DOJ noted in the sentencing document for each defendant that they wanted to "send a message to others".)

The only message that I received was one that I have known for many, many years: Informants are indeed above the law. If you're an informant, you may actually be able to get away with murder; it has happened in other cases.

Updated on 26 November 2012 @1:30pm EST:

This post still receives many reads and so I am updating it. If you are interested in the Classy DC Escorts case, you will probably want to know about the book released a day ago by Matthew Janovic about the DC Madam case. Mr. Janovic is also a guest blogger on this blog and posted on 25 November 2012. He was the researcher for Deborah Jeane Palfrey's defense and has all of the documents that no one ever had a chance to read, including the telephone records. The book will be widely distributed in the near future and is currently available on Let the Dead Bury the Dead: A DC Madam account

On a different note, please do understand that when I created and published the post about the unnamed government witness in the Classy DC case, the case was already over as each defendant had made a guilty plea. At that point, this prostitute was no longer a witness to anything and I had no sort of responsibilty to remove that post, or any other posts for that matter. So while the post was in the back of my mind, it certainly was not removed as a result of any wrongdoing on my part.

Have a great life!