First of many criminal cases dismissed in wake of Eden Prairie police officer's misconduct – Minneapolis Star Tribune

The first of several drug convictions called into question after an Eden Prairie police detective was found to have lied on a search warrant was thrown out Wednesday, with several others likely to follow.

Hennepin County District Judge Jeannice Reding vacated the drug conviction of Sean Donzell Cole in a hearing that lasted no more than six minutes. Cole remained in the county jail on another matter, according to records.

Cole, 26, was one of three men in prison because of the primary testimony of police officer Travis Serafin. Cole was convicted in January of selling narcotics and was sentenced to almost three years in prison. But he still has time to serve on an unrelated felony for receiving stolen property.

Cole’s was the first of 33 convictions likely to be vacated. Hearings are scheduled next Thursday for Timothy Holmes and Torrance Gray, the only two other men who went to prison on the testimony of Serafin. Holmes’ case is the one that first raised flags about Serafin’s handling of a search warrant.

In September 2017, Serafin obtained and executed a search warrant for Holmes’ house where he found large amounts of heroin and other drugs. He then searched Holmes’ car without a warrant and found more drugs. Holmes was charged with first-degree drug sale and third-degree murder in the death of a person who purchased his heroin. When Serafin was then asked about a warrant for the car, he falsified a second warrant that included both the house and the car.

Holmes’ lawyer Fred Goetz asked the officer to explain why there were two warrants. In sworn court testimony, Serafin blamed a “clerical error.” Holmes took a deal, pleading guilty to a drug charge in exchange for the prosecutors dropping the murder charge.

After a Hennepin County judge communicated his suspicions to the city of Eden Prairie, the city investigated and found that Serafin created the second warrant after the search and lied about it under oath. Last week, the county attorney’s office said 33 convictions where Serafin was a primary witness would be dismissed.

The county attorney’s office had not yet completed a list of all the affected cases, but a spokesman said it will be made public when it’s ready. Prosecutors said they were looking at all the cases that came after Serafin lied about the warrant.

But Goetz thinks there could be many more cases.

The veteran criminal defense attorney said he’s been getting lots of calls from clients wondering whether their cases are affected.

“It’s certainly raising a lot of questions,” Goetz said. “It’s not a path any of us have been down.”

Holmes is serving a six-year prison sentence and likely will be released as soon as next week.

Serafin remains employed by Eden Prairie. He was removed from the Southwest Hennepin Drug Task Force, the SWAT team training unit, sent to ethics training and ordered to work with a supervisor on all future warrants.

Serafin, 41, was hired by Eden Prairie in October 2000. He earns $92,289 annually.

Of the other known cases, five men are in diversion programs, and their convictions will be dismissed and expunged. In 17 cases, defense lawyers have been asked to file motions to vacate convictions, the prosecutor said.

In 14 other cases, Serafin was determined to be a peripheral witness. Three of those were sent to diversion so they will be dismissed and expunged. Of the remaining 11 cases, defense lawyers have been notified.


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We endorse: Padula and Williams would shake up the mix at Pierce County District Court – The News Tribune

When a judge is elected to Pierce County District Court, he or she can count on a long career handling all kinds of business, both banal and bizarre, from traffic tickets to legal name changes, from misdemeanor offenses to small claims.

True, judges must be re-elected every four years for a job that pays around $164,000, but they’re almost always unopposed. The two judges retiring in 2018 have served more than 35 years combined.

Whenever a vacancy arises, then, voters should choose well, as if filling a lifetime appointment. Ideally, judges will be experienced in many aspects of the justice system, will reflect the diversity of the community they serve and won’t be vulnerable to undue influence.

That’s why we’re endorsing Lizanne Padula of Tacoma and Karl Williams of University Place to join the eight-member bench.

For Position 3, Padula, a 52-year-old attorney in private practice, is up against Tim Lewis, 42, who’s worked in the Pierce County prosecutor’s office 15 years.

For Position 6, Williams, a 57-year-old civil and criminal lawyer and long-serving judge pro tem (translation: a substitute judge), faces John Sheeran, 54, a veteran of 22 years in the prosecutor’s office, where he’s second-in-charge in the criminal division.

Working as a deputy prosecuting attorney is an honorable way to protect the public. Sheeran and Lewis have firm command of the rules of evidence, and a keen knowledge of the therapeutic courts that are sprouting up — such as felony courts for drug users and broken families — with an eye toward expanding them to District Court.

Sheeran, a UP resident, helped develop Pierce County’s mental health court. Lewis, who lives in Gig Harbor, has moonlighted as a judge pro tem in local communities for 10 years. They’re both accomplished legal professionals.

But employment in this particular prosecutor’s office comes with baggage — especially when the boss, Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, is known for wanting to load local courts with his proteges to expand his sphere of influence.

Four of the six judges who are unopposed on the ballot this year came to District Court by way of the prosecutor’s office. Shaking up the mix would be healthy.

Fortunately, Padula and Williams make strong cases on their own merits. Both cite their “exceptionally well qualified” ratings from lawyer groups including the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. (Neither Sheeran nor Lewis sought the ratings.)

The resume with the greatest breadth belongs to Padula. She’s worked as a deputy prosecutor on the Olympic Peninsula, a pro-tem judge and now as a civil litigator based in Bellevue; she says she’s even served as a police officer.

Being part of a family with addiction struggles makes Padula passionate about the need to intercept and help drug users in District Court, where they often show up before moving on to felony offenses. She points to her work obtaining “hundreds” of protection orders for abused women and says courts must “move mountains” to assist them. “They might not come back a second time,” she told us.

Padula, who’s lived in Pierce County just a year, has had a nomadic career, but she’s no stranger to the region.

Williams boasts deep local roots; he calls UP his lifetime hometown. His never-quit spirit is exemplified by five unsuccessful runs for judge since 1999. He’s paid his dues during 22 years as a fill-in judge for Pierce County, Fife, Puyallup and Ruston.

Concern for the rights of low-income defendants is a driving force for Williams. Electronic home monitoring as an alternative to jail should not be contingent on ability to pay, he told us, adding that he’s determined to make changes if elected.

It’s also worth noting that Williams, who is African-American, would be the only person of color on a bench that is regrettably homogenous.

We believe Lizanne Padula and Karl Williams would distinguish themselves as fair and thoughtful District Court judges, now and for years to come.

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Experienced White Collar Lawyer And Ex SFO Prosecutor Paul Feldberg Joins Jenner & Block's Investigations … – PR Newswire (press release)

"We are excited to welcome Paul to Jenner & Block," said Terrence J. Truax, Jenner & Block’s managing partner.  "Adding a top-tier lawyer like Paul strengthens our London office as well as our Investigations, Compliance and Defense Practice."

Mr. Feldberg concentrates his practice on advising and defending companies and individuals in matters relating to criminal fraud, corruption, money laundering, sanctions, insider trading, and other regulatory actions.  His experience includes working on some of the highest profile UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) cases, either as a prosecutor with the SFO or, more recently, in private practice, when he has acted for companies or individuals subject to SFO investigations or prosecutions.

"I am delighted to once again be working with Paul," said Ms. Braamskamp.  "As a former criminal barrister and prosecutor he brings exceptional experience representing companies and individuals as well as having experience working across borders with multiple enforcement agencies.  His ability to instinctively understand how clients can best achieve their intended objectives brings exceptional value to our practice and the firm."

Opened in 2015, the London office now has 20 lawyers and is increasingly regarded for its work in complex commercial litigation, investigations and international arbitration.

"Paul is an established and well-respected white collar crime lawyer and barrister in the London community with significant private practice and prosecutorial experience," said Charlie Lightfoot, managing partner of the London office.  "London is a very competitive market and we’re pleased to attract top talent like Paul and further build our London platform and reputation."

"I have crossed paths with various Jenner & Block lawyers during the course of my career and have seen the caliber of the firm’s work, which is top-notch," said Mr. Feldberg.  "In addition to once again working with Christine Braamskamp, I am excited to bring my experience as a former SFO prosecutor and private practitioner to enhance the firm’s offerings and assist clients."

Jenner & Block represents individuals and businesses in criminal prosecutions, grand jury investigations, extradition proceedings and civil enforcement actions brought by government agencies, including the US Department of Justice, Securities Exchange Commission, the UK Financial Conduct Authority and Serious Fraud Office.  The practice’s high level of credibility with prosecutors and regulators enables minimization of the damage and disruption caused by these proceedings, often before charges are brought.  If an indictment or charge cannot be avoided, Jenner & Block’s investigations, compliance and white collar lawyers can advise on the risks and benefits of going to trial versus accepting a plea or negotiating other resolutions, and have the experience and expertise to take the matter to trial if necessary. 

The practice also has significant experience in advising clients on compliance with relevant laws and regulations, ranging from advising on establishing appropriate anti-bribery, anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance programs, to advising on ensuring an entity is not involved in the facilitation of tax evasion or in breach of regulations concerning modern slavery.  The practice is also highly experienced in advising clients on how to deal with breaches of such regulations should they occur.  The firm is also extremely well placed to deal with any collateral civil or administrative litigation.

Jenner & Block LLP is a law firm with global reach, with more than 500 lawyers and offices in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC.  The firm is known for its prominent and successful litigation practice and experience handling sophisticated and high-profile corporate transactions.  Firm clients include Fortune 100 companies, large privately held corporations, financial services institutions, emerging companies and venture capital and private equity investors.

Jenner & Block London LLP is a limited liability partnership established under the laws of the state of Delaware, USA and is authorized and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with SRA number 615729.  Jenner & Block London LLP is affiliated with Jenner & Block LLP, which operates Jenner & Block’s offices in the United States.

SOURCE Jenner & Block

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"Good" Bombing: NATO Op Against Yugoslavia Was a War Crime – Lawyer – Sputnik International

Smoke billows over the northern Yugoslav city of Novi Sad, some 70 kms. north of Belgrade after NATO air raids late Wednesday March 24, 1999.

AP Photo / str

Jens Stoltenberg’s claim that NATO “protected” Yugoslavia from the government of Slobodan Milosevic is nothing but propaganda, Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer told Sputnik, stressing that NATO had no legal reason to attack Yugoslavia and de facto committed a war crime against the sovereign nation.

“The NATO attack on Yugoslavia has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting anyone since the claims made by NATO against the government of Yugoslavia were false and were just a pretext for their aggression,” says Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and international relations.

Black’s comment comes in response to a statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who told Serbia’s RTS: “We are aware in NATO that many people in Serbia still have bad memories about the bombing, the airstrikes in 1999. I stress that we did this to protect civilians and stop the Milosevic regime,” the NATO chief said.

“NATO countries had no legal right to bomb anyone for any reason as that is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles etc.,” the scholar underscored. “Their attack was aggression and therefore a war crime and they committed war crimes during the attack.”

The NATO military campaign against sovereign Yugoslavia codenamed Operation Allied Force kicked off amid the Kosovo war (February, 1998 — June, 1999) between the country’s government forces and Albanian separatists. The alliance’s 78-day air raids resulted in 5,700 civilian deaths, infrastructural damages and contamination of the part of the region with depleted uranium.

AP Photo / Jerome Delay
The Kosovo village of Gorozhubi comes under attack by U.S. B-52 bombers Sunday June 6 1999.

Rambouillet Diktat: The Trigger for War

“The real reason NATO attacked is set out in the Rambouillet diktat presented by [then Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright to [then President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan] Milosevic in early 1999 that Yugoslavia must surrender its sovereignty and allow its total occupation by NATO forces and give up its socialist system for a free enterprise one,” Black said. “If Yugoslavia refused NATO promised to attack. The Yugoslav government had to refuse such a diktat and so NATO attacked.”

Rambouillet Accords envisaged the creation of a de facto independent entity in Kosovo which violated Yugoslavia’s independence and sovereignty.

While the refusal to accept the unacceptable accord was used by the alliance as a trigger for the attack, there were several reasons behind NATO’s invasion, the lawyer explained.

“NATO wanted to establish a base in the Balkans against Russia, to take over mineral resources at the Trepca Mine complex in Kosovo and to destroy the last socialist state in Europe,” the legal practitioner said. “To justify their aggression they concocted the same types of lies against the government as they are now doing against Russia.”

Almost two decades after the NATO bombing, the Trepca mining and metallurgical complex in Kosovo still remains a bone of contention between Pristina and Belgrade. The complex is split between ethnic lines, however, in October 2016 the parliament of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo voted to take control over the complex despite Serbia’s protests.

When commemorating the enterprise’s 90th anniversary in December 2017 — Europe’s largest lead-zinc and silver ore mine — Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stressed that Belgrade would continue to fight for it, dubbing the complex “a part of family and national heritage, a part of tradition,” as quoted by Serbian news outlet RTV B92.

AP Photo / str
Serb civilians and reporters walk around a residential area damaged during a NATO attack on a neighboring army compound (300 kilometers south of Belgrade), Wednesday, April 28, 1999.

NATO’s Expansion in the Balkans

Besides claiming that NATO bombed Yugoslavia to “protect it,” Stoltenberg drew attention to the “close partnership” between NATO and Serbia. Although he noted that the alliance respected Belgrade’s neutrality, the question arises whether that the North Atlantic military bloc is seeking to absorb Serbia in the long run, after admitting Montenegro and signaling readiness to let Macedonia join.

Commenting on the issue, the lawyer recalled that “the Yugoslav and Serbian government was overthrown in 2000 in a putsch organized by NATO forces and their fascist agents in the group called OTPOR and the DOS organizations which were NATO assets.”
He said that “the president [was] arrested on false charges and the government [was] taken over by the Quislings of the DOS group.” According to Black, these groups are still powerful in Serbia. They do not represent aspirations of the Serbian people, he stressed.

Manipulating the Judgments

Black, who has long criticized the imprisonment of Slobodan Milosevic at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, stressed that the tribunal “manipulated the judgments to put out different stories as it suits them.”

“As I said above the NATO claims were pure propaganda. It was NATO that used force and massive force to destroy a nation that resisted its diktats,” the lawyer highlighted, calling the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) “a NATO tribunal under UN guise.”

“The point is that the charges against Milosevic were bogus, he proved it in his trial,” Black said.

The former Yugoslav president died in his prison cell on March 11, 2006 while on trial for war crimes at the ICTY. Although it was officially stated that Milosevic died from a heart attack the lawyer does not rule out that the ex-Yugoslav leader could have been killed, since “they did not want to release him and could not convict him.”

The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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A Cleveland lawyer stood behind Kanye West as he ranted to Trump. Here's what went through her head. –

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland lawyer Kim Corral said her friends have always teased her about having a bad poker face.

In hindsight, she wished she had thought about her facial expressions on Thursday, as she stood behind Kanye West as he rambled at President Donald Trump and others for more than 10 minutes in the Oval Office about prison reform, violence and just about any other stray thought that entered his head.

Despite the awe and theatricality of the event, Corral thinks she did OK, though some friends sent her a few memes made of West’s speech that included her.

West’s statements were at times meandering, profound and incoherent. Corral said she didn’t digest most of what he said until later. At the time, like any good lawyer, her focus was on her job that day.

“I probably should have been thinking ‘don’t make this face or make this face,’ but no, I was thinking no matter how confident you are in your work, it’s hard to make a pitch to someone like the president of the United States,” Corral said.

Kimberly Corral took a selfie in the Oval Office on Thursday. 

Corral, 34, is a criminal defense attorney. She gained a bit of publicity in March when she secured the release of Ru-El Sailor, a Cleveland man who spent 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

A self-described progressive, Corral said in an interview Friday that she disagrees with much of what Trump has done since he took office in January 2017.

She saw a window of opportunity, though, on criminal justice.

“I have a lot of problems with a lot of the president’s policies, but criminal justice reform, I think, is less partisan than other issues,” Corral said.

Corral was at the White House on Thursday as a guest of Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown and his wife, which was supposed to focus on criminal justice reform. She also went to advocate for a client who is seeking clemency.

She found out the meeting would go forward last week and knew the noted Chicago hip-hop artist, whose outlandish statements of late tend to outshine his music, would be there.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

West mostly took over the conversation, giving rambling speeches to the president and reporters on topics that included Hillary Clinton to his business prowess to how he thought imprisoned notorious Chicago gang organizer Larry Hoover got a raw deal. He even talked about running for president, albeit not until 2024.

Corral said she thinks West is an artistic genius, but it was obvious something was off on that day.

“I was in awe of the moment,” Corral said, explaining that Thursday was the first time she was in the White House. “A little bit of that gets lost, though, because in the moment you’re like, ‘What’s going on here?'”

As she stood there, her lawyering instincts came in to play. She wondered how she could steer the conversation back to the issues she cared about.

Corral wondered if she could interject but knew there was no reasonable way to do so. She laughed at moments where she thought West was being funny, but admitted she felt uncomfortable at other points, especially when he spoke about how his masculinity would have been affected had Clinton won the 2016 presidential election.

“I think it would be hard to say, ‘alright, well actually can we talk about these three specific bullet points?'” Corral said. “The structure of the meeting sort of devolved and made that impossible.”

Corral noted that West brought up a lot of important issues, such as mental health, education, housing and prison reform. It just wasn’t presented to the president in the best way, she said.

Corral said she was able to speak to Trump for a minute after the meeting, as well as with the White House counsel, about her client, whom she declined to name.

She also said she wasn’t sure if she actually shook West’s hand, as there was a large group that introduced themselves before entering the Oval Office, including White House advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

After the meeting, Corral said friends started posting on her Facebook page. A few pointed to the picture and said it was her doppelganger but they slowly realized it was actually her.

She left the experience not with a feeling of awkwardness or frustration, but with the sense that it was all entertainment.

“It wasn’t like there was a risk that it was going to get confrontational because obviously, for whatever reason which I’m not aware of, Donald Trump has an affinity for Kanye. He likes him a lot,” Corral said. “It might have been awkward for Kanye, but I don’t think he had any awareness of that awkwardness, and everyone else was just taking it in.”

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Criminal Lawyer Franco Debono Warns PN Leader That Close Ally Is 'One Of Labour's Favourite Toys' – Lovin Malta (press release)




Criminal lawyer and former Nationalist MP Franco Debono has cast serious doubt on the credibility of one of the closest parliamentary allies of Opposition leader Adrian Delia.

In a blogpost, Debono suggested that the Labour Party isn’t resurrecting a mysterious case of alleged wrongdoing attributed to PN MP Hermann Schiavone “because it doesn’t want to break one of its favourite toys”.

The case goes back to 2003, when then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami refused to allow Schiavone to contest an election after getting wind that the police were investigating the contents of an anonymous letter which alleged wrongdoing on his part. The nature of this letter and the police investigation that followed remain a mystery.

“Why were the police investigating him, what happened to the investigation, and why did [Schiavone] leave Malta before returning as soon as [former minister] Louis Galea lost his parliamentary seat in 2008?” Debono asked. “Instead of speaking about inquiries into other people, Schiavone would do better to illuminate us about the time HE was investigated. He is lucky that there were no blogs back then and that the press weren’t as armed as they are now.”

“Don’t expect the Labour Party to raise these questions! After all, which party will break one of its favourite toys?”

Busuttil Schiavone

Hermann Schiavone with former PN leader Simon Busuttil




Debono wrote his blog as a response to Schiavone’s comments earlier today, in which he criticised former PN leader Simon Busuttil for going against the party line and declaring his belief that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat owns the Panama company Egrant.

Schiavone urged Busuttil to drop the Egrant story and focus more on bread and butter issues, arguing that the result of last year’s election proves that people don’t care about the allegations against the Prime Minister. However, Debono said Schiavone has no right to jab Busuttil about his electoral failure as he [Schiavone] was the “mascot” of the PN’s crushing defeat last year.

“If there is a person who is synonymous with the election defeat, it is none other than Schiavone himself,” Debono said. “After 30 years of contesting elections, he finally got elected in 2017 when the PN suffered its largest defeat in history, rendering him a mascot of this defeat. On the contrary, Simon Busuttil was a protagonist in several electoral victories for the PN.”

Moreover, Debono warned that Busuttil’s tenure as Opposition leader was hindered by “a number of moles” who used to pass internal information to the Labour Party. Without directly implicating Schiavone as a mole, the criminal lawyer said the PN MP “knows what I’m talking about…and can give my regards to PL councillor Fredrick Azzopardi.”

READ NEXT: Nationalist MP Tells German MEP To ‘F**k Off’ After HSBC Threat


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Senate Dem hopeful Kyrsten Sinema promoted events featuring convicted terror lawyer – Fox News

U.S. Democratic Senate hopeful Kyrsten Sinema promoted events at Arizona State University featuring a lawyer convicted for aiding an Islamist terror organization and its leader.

Sinema, a co-founder of the activist group Local to Global Justice, invited people in a now-closed Yahoo group to attend two events with Lynn Stewart, both in 2003.

At the time of the invite, Stewart had been charged with helping her former client Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Egyptian spiritual leader of a terror group, to pass on secret messages to his followers to commit terror attacks.

Rahman was a former client of Stewart’s who was charged and sentenced to life in the 1990s for plotting to blow up the United Nations, an FBI building, two tunnels, and a bridge in New York City.


In the first event’s invite, Sinema said the lawyer was “emphatically not guilty” and would not have been charged with the crime if it weren’t for “the hastily enacted PATRIOT Act,” that expanded the U.S. government’s power to surveil people and thus catch Stewart passing on the messages in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

“Prior to September 11th and the hastily enacted ‘Patriot Act,’ Lynne Stewart never would have been indicted at all,” the invite posted by Sinema read.

“Last April, FBI agents arrested Stewart at her Brooklyn home. As they took her away in handcuffs, the FBI invaded and searched her Manhattan office. Her crime? Doing her job for the past 27 years as an outspoken criminal defense lawyer,” it added.

"Last April, FBI agents arrested Stewart at her Brooklyn home. As they took her away in handcuffs, the FBI invaded and searched her Manhattan office. Her crime? Doing her job for the past 27 years as an outspoken criminal defense lawyer."

— Kyrsten Sinema

The second event with Stewart came just days later after the first.

Sinema’s description of Stewart was not particularly accurate. Two years after the events in Arizona, Stewart was convicted of aiding the radical Egyptian cleric to pass on secret messages to a U.S.-designated terror group, the Islamic Group.


She was initially sentenced to 28 months in prison but, in 2010, she was resentenced again for 10 years behind bars. The federal judge said Stewart also committed perjury and lacked remorse after her first sentencing. The lawyer was eventually released in 2013 due to her medical condition and died in 2017.

Stewart reportedly helped Rahman, known as the ‘Blind Sheikh’, between 1997 and 2002 to pass instructions to the terror group’s followers. According to Bloomberg, Rahman relied on Stewart and two other people to withdraw his group’s support for the cease-fire with the Egyptian government after its 1997 terror attack that left 62 people dead.

The Sinema campaign did not respond to Fox News’ repeated requests for a comment.

Sinema is currently running against Republican Martha McSally in Arizona. According to Fox News’ 2018 Midterm Power Rankings, the race between the two candidates is a toss-up.

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Prestige Limo lawyer responds to deadly crash investigation in Schoharie – WSYR

SCHOHARIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – As hundreds of friends and family members mourn the loss of 20 people killed in a limo crash on Saturday in the town of Schoharie — the owners of the vehicle in question say they are also shocked and saddened.

Prestige Limo's lawyer Lee Kindlon says any talk of possible criminal charges in connection to the crash is premature.

"I get that people want to point fingers and lay blame," Kindlon said. "But there's still a lot of things to do and a lot of questions left to be answered."

A source briefed on the investigation tells NewsChannel 9 the Schoharie County district attorney has already been brought in with anticipation of criminal charges.

The driver of a limo involved in a deadly crash did not have the appropriate driver's license to operate that vehicle, according to the Governor's Office.

The driver has been identified as Scott Lisinicchia.

The wreckage off the highway in Schoharie is now one of many pieces to the puzzle investigators will use to find out what caused this 2001 Ford Excursion limo to crash.

"All the information we can get is critical. The black box information. The crime scene investigation, interviews, text messages, photos," said Maj. Robert Patnaude, of the New York State Police. "Anything we can find we'll put together the full picture to find out if there's some criminal culpability on the part of anyone."

Kindlon says the owner and management are fully cooperating with all agencies investigating.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly announcing a cease and desist order for Prestige just as the company says they already planned to do so.

"We're going to make it very easy on the governor," Kindlon said. "We're taking the vehicles off the road during the investigation and we will be ceasing all operations until further notice."

Kindlon says the owner of Prestige is currently overseas, but his sons are in the area running the business. He says the family wants to make sure that they're full forthright and honest with all the different agencies that have come forward to figure out what happened.

"They want to make sure the public knows that they they are being full cooperative and they are in search of answers just like everybody else," Kindlon said. 

Governor Cuomo's office reported the limo had not passed state inspections, but Kindlon says otherwise.

"We want to make sure not to step on the toes of the investigation as it goes forward," Kindlon said. "But as I understand the information right now it had passed all the safety inspections necessary to be on the road."

While the National Transportation Safety Board is focusing on this investigation, the agency is not losing sight at what may be a larger issue for similar vehicles and the potential for new seat belt requirements in the future.

"We don't yet know the cause of the accident — if it was a vehicle malfunction, if it was a driver malfunction, a driver error," Cuomo said. "That's part of the ongoing investigation between the NTSB and the State Police."

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Why You Need a Criminal Lawyer – BBC Defenders

Many people fail to retain the services of a credible legal mind when accused of a crime, and they pay for it with their lives. The criminal justice system is a complex web that is confusing to the uninitiated. And without a sound understanding of the law, you will have a hard time navigating the system.

Having adequate legal representation from law firms like Feldman & Lee PS affords you a chance to be heard. A chance to plead your case, give your side of the story, and be heard.

Safeguard Your Rights

Innocent until proven guilty“—you’ve probably heard the phrase thrown about in many legal dramas on TV. It is popular because it is true. Regardless of the crime that you have been accused of committing, you cannot be convicted unheard. After your arrest by the police, a trial is held to determine your guilt.

Until then, you are innocent until the state can prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Hiring a lawyer not only increases your chances of beating the charges but also safeguards your rights. It keeps the police from tricking you into incriminating yourself during your arrest and interrogation.

Increase Your Options

Recognizing that there many extenuating circumstances under which a crime is committed, the legal system offers a bit of a wriggle room. Unfortunately, it takes an insider such as a seasoned attorney to identify or use them.

Sometimes they can get you off with a lighter sentence, a warning, or even small fine. In case you are convicted of a serious crime, they can argue against getting the harshest possible sentence applicable to that crime.

When you are facing a criminal charge, your entire life and wellbeing are on the line. In such a moment, you need a credible legal mind at your corner to argue your case.

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