A Brooklyn attorney who was accused of threatening and intimidating witnesses scheduled to testify against his drug lord client was sentenced to 14 years in prison Friday, Federal prosecutors said.
Robert Simels’ sentencing comes three months after the 62-year-old attorney’s conviction on conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering charges.
Prosecutors said his downfall came when, while defending drug kingpin Shaheed Khan, he tapped his client’s Guyana-based criminal organization to help him identify, locate and tamper with anyone he believed would end up becoming government witnesses at Khan’s upcoming trial.
Simels is charged with meeting a former member of Khan’s criminal organization and discussing a range of actions against prospective witnesses and their families %u2013 unsavory methods that included bribery and acts of violence, officials said. He was also accused of possessing electronic eavesdropping equipment that Khan had used to intercept and record telephone calls on people who were later murdered by the drug lord’s crew.
Just hours before the sentencing, Judge Gleeson granted a motion by attorney Arienne Irving, Simels’ associate who was swept up in the senior lawyer’s investigation. Irving asked Judge Gleeson to set aside the jury’s guilty verdict and dismiss the case against her.
Federal prosecutors didn’t object.
The federal case against shock jock and hatemonger Hal Turner ended up as a disappointment for fans of legal dramas %u2013 they were given only one day of testimony and an almost immediately deadlocked jury.
When they reported two hours after being charged that they were “hopelessly deadlocked,” a judge ordered them to return deliberating on Monday. The outcome of Monday’s deliberation was still unknown as this paper went to press.
Turner, a self-proclaimed white nationalist who runs his own radio show and blog, was charged with encouraging his fans to take up arms against the three Chicago United States Court of Appeals jurists who upheld ordinances banning handguns there.
Turner allegedly wrote on his blog that the judges deserved to be killed. He also put the photos of the judges on his web site, claiming that “their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.”
Because of the incendiary nature of the charges, Turner’s case was ordered moved from Illinois to Brooklyn.
While federal prosecutors had lined up 18 people %u2013 including the three judges whose lives he had allegedly threatened %u2013 they ended up only putting just a few law enforcement officials on the stand, according to published reports.
In previous interviews, Turner’s attorney explained that his client was a former FBI snitch considered a valuable source of information when his rantings would open avenues to the country’s right wing lunatic fringe.
Turner thought his threats against the judge were kosher because the FBI had encouraged similar diatribes when he was working for them, his attorney alleged.
Turner faces ten years in prison if convicted.
A man responsible for a double murder in Williamsburg over 20 years ago was found guilty %u2013 again %u2013 this week, Kings County prosecutors said.
Officials said that Ramon Espinal was sentenced to 58 and one third years in prison for gunning down two men shortly after the 1988 slaying, but the conviction was overturned in 1991 after he claimed ineffective assistance of counsel.
After several delays the case was retried last week. Once again a jury convicted Espinal of two counts of murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, officials said.
Back on June 21, 1988, Espinal exited a car on South 1st Street and Bedford Avenue and gunned down a rival drug dealer, Wilfredo Garcia.
Garcia was struck twice in the back and was killed. Alberto Maldonado, 15, a resident of Puerto Rico visiting relatives in the neighborhood, was hit once in the head by a stray bullet and was killed.
Within eight hours of the shooting, Espinal and his brother, Renaldo %u2013 also a suspect in the shooting %u2013 boarded a plane and flew to their native Dominican Republic.
Several months later both returned to the US, where Renaldo was found at his girlfriend’s apartment, prosecutors said.