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N.Y. man guilty of killing family, burning home
Court Line | 2008/03/04 03:26

A Dutchess County jury Saturday convicted Charles Gilleo Jr. on 30 of 31 murder charges in the Jan. 19, 2007, shootings of Manuel and Tina Morey and the stabbing and bludgeoning of their three boys in their Fishkill home.

The jury's verdicts capped more than 37 hours of deliberations over a four-and-a-half days in the Dutchess County Courthouse, in Poughkeepsie.

Gilleo, 33, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., also was convicted on five counts of armed robbery, two counts of conspiracy, one count of perjury and two counts of arson.

A co-defendant, 30-year-old Mark Serrano, was convicted last year on 31 first- and second-degree murder charges, in addition to arson, robbery, conspiracy and perjury charges.

Gilleo and Serrano were accused of going to the Morey home on Route 82 in Fishkill and robbing Manuel and Tina of cash and cocaine, killing all five members of the family and setting fire to their house and car in an attempt to cover up the crimes.



Venezuelan pleads guilty in suitcase scandal
Court Line | 2008/03/04 03:25

A Venezuelan pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in the alleged cover-up of a plot to smuggle $800,000 into Argentina to fund a presidential election campaign, officials said on Monday.

Carlos Kauffmann, 35, was one of five men accused of acting on behalf of Venezuela's anti-U.S. government in a case that touched off corruption allegations in Argentina and diplomatic tensions between the Washington, Caracas and Buenos Aires.

Kauffmann entered a guilty plea on Friday to a charge of conspiring to act as an agent of Venezuela without registering with the U.S. government and could face five years in prison. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, according to a plea agreement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami.



Kid Rock Pleads Not Guilty to Battery
Court Line | 2008/03/04 03:25

Kid Rock has pleaded not guilty to a charge of battery from a fight at a Waffle House in Atlanta. Robert James Ritchie, better known as the musician Kid Rock, was not present for the plea. His attorney, Darryl Cohen, waived an arraignment hearing and entered the plea on Ritchie's behalf in DeKalb County State Court, according to Cohen's office.

Ritchie and five members of his entourage were arrested October 21st on a misdemeanor charge of simple battery. The charges stem from a fight at a a metro-Atlanta Waffle House, where they had stopped following his performance at The Tabernacle.

Officials say a fight broke out after another customer recognized a woman in Kid Rock's party and exchanged words with her, prompting Ritchie to exchange words, too.



Logan lawyer appointed to 1st District Court
Law Firm Topics | 2008/03/04 03:23

Logan lawyer has been appointed to the 1st District Court by Gov. Jon Huntsman. Kevin Allen is currently the senior partner in the firm Allen and Ericson in Logan. He must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Allen will succeed Judge Gordon J. Low. "Kevin has a genuine desire to serve the people of our great state and his distinguished previous experience proves he will carry on the admirable service of Judge Gordon Low," Huntsman said in a statement announcing the appointment Monday.

Allen also has been a partner with Barrett and Daines in Logan and was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navys Judge Advocate General Corps.


Lawyer in Bribery Case Says Witness Lied
Legal News | 2008/03/04 03:22

A key government witness lied to the grand jury that indicted several attorneys on charges they conspired to bribe a state judge, one of the accused lawyers said in court papers filed Monday.

Zach Scruggs, an attorney whose well-known father and law partner also face bribery charges in the case, is asking a federal judge to dismiss his indictment due to alleged government misconduct.

Scruggs' lawyers say grand jurors heard false and misleading testimony from an FBI agent and from former attorney Timothy Balducci, who has already pleaded guilty to conspiring with Scruggs and others to bribe state Circuit Judge Henry Lackey.

Scruggs' indictment is a product of their "patently false and misleading" testimony, his lawyers argue.

"It has been clear since the filing of this indictment that the government has no credible evidence that (Zach Scruggs) knowingly participated in any scheme to bribe a judge," the defense lawyers wrote.

U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee didn't immediately return a call for comment Monday. Balducci has represented himself in the criminal matter. His office number has been disconnected.

A trial for Scruggs; his father, prominent plaintiffs lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs; and fellow Scruggs Law Firm attorney Sidney Backstrom, is scheduled to start March 31 in Oxford.

Richard Scruggs, a brother-in-law of former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., made tens of millions of dollars from tobacco and asbestos litigation. His role in a landmark settlement with tobacco companies was depicted in the 1999 film "The Insider," starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. rejected a different motion by the three defendants to dismiss the charges based on the government's "outrageous conduct." However, Zach Scruggs' attorneys didn't see transcripts of grand jury proceedings until last week.

Zach Scruggs claims the transcripts, when compared to wiretap evidence, show Balducci lied to the grand jury and mischaracterized Scruggs' knowledge of and participation in the alleged conspiracy.

Prosecutors say Balducci was acting on Richard Scruggs' behalf when he allegedly tried to bribe Lackey for a favorable ruling in a dispute with other lawyers over $26.5 million in fees from a mass settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance lawsuits.

The FBI arrested Balducci Nov. 1 and sent him into the Scruggs Law Firm wearing a body wire. Balducci later testified that he met with Zach Scruggs and Backstrom that day and told them Lackey wanted $10,000 for the favorable ruling.

However, Zach Scruggs' lawyers say a recording of that Nov. 1 conversation shows that Balducci used confusing, coded language while their client "only participated in an ordinary conversation about how a judge's order reads."

Zach Scruggs' lawyers also accuse FBI Special Agent William Delaney of giving grand jurors a misleading account of taped conversations between the suspects in the case.

"The Government seeks to convict (Scruggs) on coded words uttered after he is disengaged from a conversation and on actions perceived through a presumptuous lens; yet they indicted a man relying on testimony they knew was facially false and wholly inaccurate," they wrote.



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