For over 20 years, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Paul D. Petruzzi, P.A., have successfully defended hundreds of federal cases in courtrooms throughout the United States. Our founding attorney is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell and has a “Superb” rating on Avvo. His experience in federal criminal law makes us extremely well-equipped to defend you against whatever type of federal offense you may be facing. Here are some of our recent success stories.
Federal Money Laundering - Sentence of two weeks time served.
United States v. M.G
M.G. was arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Transport Individuals in Interstate and Foreign Commerce for Prostitution in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). The Government alleged that M.G. was a “Madame” who was the Administrator of a WhatsApp text messaging group for the purpose of booking and arranging prostitution dates for the women in the group. If convicted, she was facing a maximum term of 20 years in federal prison. According to the Government, her role permitted her to earn a substantial amount of money. M.G. was incarcerated when we were retained to represent her. First, we negotiated a reasonable bond with the Government to obtain her release. Then, we negotiated an agreement to plead to the money laundering count. This negotiation was crucial as it avoided the pitfalls associated with pleading guilty to a sex offense. Moreover, the potential guideline sentence was predictably lower. Nevertheless, prior to sentencing, the Probation Officer calculated the sentencing guidelines and recommended that M.G. receive a sentence of 78 to 97 months of incarceration. We immediately prepared and filed objections to the report and met with the Government to resolve most of these objections. We also prepared a comprehensive sentencing memorandum using all the background information we obtained during weeks of preparation. At sentencing, and based on our arguments and exhibits, the judge sentenced M.G. to time-served followed by probation. M.G. went from a sentencing guideline range of 78 to 97 months to 14 days of time served.
Illegally Selling Migratory Birds - Dismissed
United States v. J.V
J.V. was federally charged with several counts of illegally selling migratory birds in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 703 and 707(b)(2). He was facing a possible sentence of two years imprisonment as to each count. Once we learned that J.V. was a veteran of the armed forces who suffered from severe PTSD due to the time he spent in combat, we decided to attempt an alternate resolution. We worked with him for months to obtain all of his relevant background information from the military, the VA, and his family. We then prepared a detailed request to obtain a federal pretrial diversion recommendation from the United States Attorney’s Office. At first, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida denied our request. We then met with supervisiors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office until we were able to convince them to allow our client to be admitted into a federal pretrial diversion program. Once we obtained this recommendation, we filed a pleading with the Court and J.V. was admitted to diversion. After successfully completing the diversion program and fulfilling all the terms and conditions ordered, no prosecution for the offenses was sought and the Indictment against our client was ultimately dismissed.
Federal Fraud and Theft - Criminal Investigation dropped
S.A. was under federal investigation for a 10 to 20-million-dollar fraud and theft conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C § 1343, as well as Money Laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C § 1956. The Government alleged that S.A. worked with others to haul away millions of dollars worth of metal fragments from his employer and then he sold it to a competitor. S.A. was facing over 20 years of incarceration if he was convicted of the charges. We were able to immediately convince the government to allow him to cooperate with law enforcement in its investigation. His cooperation was extensive and extraordinary and even included an upfront payment of several hundred dollars in restitution. Eventually, we were able to successfully convince the Government not to prosecute our client at all and the United States Department of Justice dropped its investigation.
Federal Compassion Release Granted
United States v. P.P.
By the time we were retained in this matter, P.P. had already been sentenced to serve 20 years in federal prison for Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. P.P. was diagnosed with Stage IV inoperable lung cancer. We were retained to assist P.P. in obtaining an early release under the Compassionate Release Act in 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). At the time, (and this has changed), only the Bureau of Prisons could determine who met the criteria for eligibility. As expected, all requests (including appeals) to the Bureau of Prisons were denied. Everything changed in 2019 with The First Step Act as it now allows a sentencing judge to exercise the discretion to grant a motion for compassionate release after all administrative remedies with the Bureau of Prisons are exhausted. We sent a compassionate release request to the B.O.P. and simultaneously filed a motion for compassionate release with the district court pursuant to the First Step Act. The Government fought us every step of the way by filing frivolous responses with the court stating that the matter was either not yet ripe for review, or if it was, the motion should be denied given how much time our client had left to serve, the seriousness of the offense, our client’s past criminal history and other factors that had absolutely nothing to do with the issue. The judge granted us a hearing on the matter. As expected, the Government continued to oppose our request. Despite this, within a few hours of the hearing, the judge granted our compassionate release request and ordered our client immediately released. Our client was released, and he died a free man with his family by his side.
Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Fentanyl - 50% Variance in Sentence
United States v. A.V.
A.V. was under investigation for three years before being arrested and charged by the federal government with 7 counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Fentanyl in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). If convicted, he was facing a maximum penalty of life in prison. A.V. was also a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 due to his extensive criminal history. First, we got the government to agree to allow A.V. to cooperate. Although we negotiated a favorable plea agreement, A.V.’s career offender status produced an advisory guideline sentencing range of 262 to 327 months of incarceration. We prepared a comprehensive sentencing memorandum requesting that the judge grant A.V. a downward sentencing variance based on several factors including our client’s background and the nature of the offense. At sentencing, based on our arguments and written memorandum, the judge granted A.V. a variance of 50% and sentenced him to only the minimum mandatory term of imprisonment.
Federal Access Device Fraud - Sentence of Probation
United States v. J.L.
J.L. was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(b)(2) and Use of Unauthorized Access Devices in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2). If convicted, J.L. was facing over 20 years of imprisonment. We conducted interviews, obtained valuable background information, and began putting together a defense. Ultimately, we also negotiated a favorable plea agreement and prior to sentencing, prepared a thorough mitigation memorandum. Although the sentencing guidelines resulted in a sentence of 36 months (3 years) in prison, based on our arguments and the sentencing memorandum, J.L. was sentenced to 3 years of probation.
Federal Gun and Drug Charges - Dismissed
United States v. J.C.
J.C. was arrested in Texas before being transported to Miami and charged in federal court with Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and Conspiracy to Possess a Firearm in Furtherance of and During and Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(o). If convicted, he was facing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Following J.C.’s arrival to Miami we began conducting interviews and challenged the Government’s evidence. Ultimately, we established his innocence based on facts showing he did not commit the crimes. We pointed out evidence for the United States Attorney’s Office to show, definitely, that J.C. was not at the location the investigating agents claimed he was and did not do the acts he was accused of. Ultimately, the Government did disclose that the federal agent assigned to the matter not only provided the wrong caliber of firearm retrieved from J.C. during his arrest, but also that the confidential informant did not actually see J.C. during physical surveillance and all charges against our client were dismissed. The defendant is now pursuing a civil rights lawsuit against the Government.
From 10 to Life to Probation
United States v. A.P.
A.P. was facing an investigation in Denver, Colorado for running a private marijuana club in the United States. When A.P. retained us, he was under criminal investigation by the DEA, FBI, and IRS for various crimes as a result of running a multi-million-dollar unlicensed dispensary. We immediately scheduled a meeting with the prosecutor handling the matter. Ultimately, we convinced the prosecutor to proceed with one charge: Making and Subscribing a False Tax Return and Aiding and Abetting the Same in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7206(1). By doing so, we limited A.P.’s sentencing exposure to a maximum of 36 months rather than life. A.P. was a veteran of the United States Army who served in combat, in Iraq, for a year and suffers from severe PTSD and debilitating effects of head injuries he endured in combat. He also has a number of prior arrests and convictions on his record that could be used against him. First, we gathered as much information about his service in the military as possible. We then requested records of his service. We drafted and filed a sentence memorandum for the judge that argued, among other things, that A.P.’s service should be taken into account as well as his severe PTSD, in assessing an appropriate sentence. We attached A.P.’s VA records to support our position. The government filed a sentencing memorandum arguing that A.P. be sentenced to 36 months incarceration for his crime. At sentencing, and based on our arguments and sentencing memorandum, A.P. was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release.
Medical Fraud Federal Criminal Investigation - No Charges Filed
United States v. F.M.
F.M. was under federal criminal investigation for Medicare fraud. Specifically, the government alleged that F.M. recruited private insurance patients for the owner of a rehabilitation center that was submitting false and fraudulent claims. The recruited patients received cash bribes and kickbacks in exchange for filling out the billing paperwork. When F.M. came to us she was facing at least 10 years of incarceration and the Government had already prepared an Indictment charging her with healthcare fraud. We, at her request, negotiated a cooperation agreement with the Government and she provided the Government with a wealth of information that it would not otherwise have known. She went undercover and wore a wire several times. She also testified as a witness at a trial for a co-conspirator. Given F.M.’s extraordinary cooperation, we requested that no charges be filed. The government agreed and the Department of Justice declined prosecution.
Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute - Sentence of Probation
United States v. V.V.
V.V. was only 18 years old when she was arrested and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years of incarceration and a maximum sentence of Life for the charges of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Five Kilograms or More of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Five Kilograms or More of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. She faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years of incarceration and a maximum sentence of life. We immediately began identifying information that we used to mitigate her exposure throughout the case. V.V. had a terrible childhood and she suffered from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. She was in a physical and mentally abusive relationship for many years which contributed to her commission of the offense. We negotiated a plea that would limit her time in jail and would dismiss one charge. We prepared a thorough sentencing memorandum outlining her cooperation, her mental health issues, her troubled childhood and her acceptance of responsibility. At sentencing, the judge agreed with us that a sentence of 10 years was excessive given her background and her limited role in the offense. Instead, the judge sentenced her to 5 years of probation.
Felony Marijuana Manufacturing - Sentenced to Probation
State v. I.S. .
I.S. and his wife were arrested and charged with Trafficking Marijuana in violation of Fla Stat. 893.135(1)(A)(1), Possession of a Controlled Substance where a Minor is Present in violation of 893.1351(3) and Grand Theft. It was alleged that I.S. and his wife were growing a large number of marijuana plants at their home. If convicted, they each faced a 15-year mandatory sentence. First, we convinced the State to drop the Grand Theft charge. They agreed to do so. We then convinced the State to drop all the charges against the wife. I.S. agreed to enter into a cooperation agreement with the State in the investigation and prosecution of other drug offenses. Prior to sentencing, we met with the State and were able to convince them that a sentence of probation was appropriate. At sentencing, I.S. was sentenced to a term of probation.
Felony Manufacturing Cannabis and Misdemeanor Possession - Reduced to Misdemeanor Possession
State v. M.R.
M.R. was arrested and charged with six felony counts of Manufacturing Cannabis and one count of misdemeanor possession. The charges were filed after M.R. was stopped with a U-Haul containing a large number of mature marijuana plants. M.R. had significant prior criminal history that was going to be used against him in this case to make his penalties more severe. If convicted, our client was facing significant incarceration. First, we asked for all of the discovery in the case. When we received it, we noticed that it contained no drug test lab results. The State needed this to prove that it had in fact seized plants from M.R. that contained cannabis. We requested the evidence but never received it. At a status conference, the State announced that it was ready to proceed to trial. Knowing we had not yet received the evidence and the State could not prove its case, we set the matter for trial. Just prior to the trial, Florida’s new hemp law went into effect which legalizes the possession and use of hemp, and thereby required law enforcement officers to prove, through lab analysis, the substance is cannabis and not hemp. Based on the change in the law and the State’s lack of sufficient proof of a felony amount, we were able to negotiate the dismissal of all the felony charges and, in exchange, our client pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge with a withhold of adjudication and a small fine.
Federal Assault of Customs Agent - Probation
United States v. F.M
F.M., a passenger who arrived in South Florida aboard a cruise ship, was arrested after engaging in a physical altercation with a Customs Border Protection Officer at the Port of Miami. It was alleged that F.M. became belligerent with an officer and then pushed, struck, and bit the officer during a struggle. F.M. also had a history of the same type of behavior and also some troubling criminal history. First, we had F.M. start an anger management counseling program immediately after his arrest and release. We were then able to obtain information about F.M. as well as some records. F.M. suffered from mental health issues and is dependent on medication. At the time of his arrest, he had been without his medication for over a week on a cruise. F.M. also had a traumatic past. Because all of these factors, we were able to negotiate an agreement that called for dismissing the felony charge in exchange for a guilty plea to a misdemeanor which at a minimum, would essentially cap any potential jail sentence tos 1 year. We nevertheless prepared a comprehensive sentencing memorandum. At sentencing, however, the judge began by explaining to the parties that she felt a sentence of incarceration was appropriate given F.M.’s past history for the same behavior. Nevertheless, after explaining our client’s history and presenting evidence in mitigation, the judge was convinced that a sentence of incarceration was unnecessary. She ultimately, in fact, agreed with us and sentenced F.M. to home confinement followed by probation.
Scheme to Obtain and Use False US Visas
Reduced Sentence – United States v. L.O.
Our client was charged as a result of participating in a scheme to obtain and use false US visas by aliens seeking to obtain Florida drivers licenses. Our client was facing a maximum sentence of ten years. We negotiated a plea agreement for our client that called for him to plead guilty to an offense that would be considered an aggravated felony for deportation purposes. Our client was sentenced to one-year probation. Our client, a single father of three, and resident alien with full-time employment, was ultimately allowed to stay in the United States. He is now a citizen.
Several Counts of Interstate Theft & Re-branding of Pharmaceuticals
Reduced Sentence – United States v. B.V.
Our client was charged with several counts of interstate theft and rebranding of pharmaceuticals and was facing a maximum of ten years imprisonment. We first attempted to convince the United States Attorney’s Office to authorize pretrial diversion for the defendant. The diversion request was based on our review of the evidence, recognition that at least half of the criminal conduct charged in the Indictment was verifiably untrue and the Defendant’s background and character (our client was a decorated Iraq war veteran). Ultimately, the government agreed to allow our client to plead to a lesser included misdemeanor offense of one of the counts of the Indictment with the remaining counts of the Indictment being dismissed. At sentencing, our client was sentenced to one day credit time served.