Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.
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The moment you open your mailbox and find a target letter staring back at you, fear and uncertainty may grip your heart. But fear not, as there is a way to navigate the treacherous waters of a federal investigation. And that way is by securing the services of a skilled and experienced lawyer, one who is well-versed in the intricacies of the federal court system.
For the uninitiated, a target letter is a formal notification from the government that they suspect you of having committed a crime and that they have substantial evidence linking you to the crime in question. It is the government’s way of letting you know that you are a target of their investigation and that you are likely to be indicted.
As soon as you receive a target letter, your time is of the essence. The earlier you retain a lawyer who knows how to work the system, the better your chances of coming out on top. A good lawyer will guide you through the grand jury process, negotiate with federal prosecutors on your behalf, and work to get the investigation closed or focused on areas that will benefit you.
But make no mistake, federal investigations can be a long and drawn-out process. They often begin with a report of suspicious activity or a crime. From there, federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Border Patrol, and ICE become involved, which typically leads to a grand jury investigation and subsequent indictment.
Citizens can be investigated for months or even years and never know it. But if you are being investigated by a grand jury, and prosecutors are considering bringing you in to “explain some things,” the U.S. Department of Justice has a policy of notifying you of your rights. This is where the target letter comes in.
A sample target letter, taken straight from the United States Attorney’s Manual, may look something like this:
“This letter is supplied to a witness scheduled to appear before the federal Grand Jury in order to provide helpful background information about the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury consists of from sixteen to twenty-three persons from the District of ___. It is their responsibility to inquire into federal crimes which may have been committed in this District.
As a Grand Jury witness, you will be asked to testify and answer questions, and to produce records and documents. Only the members of the Grand Jury, attorneys for the United States, and a stenographer are permitted in the Grand Jury room while you testify. We advise you that the Grand Jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving, but not necessarily limited to, __________.
You are advised that the destruction or alteration of any document required to be produced before the grand jury constitutes serious violation of federal law, including but not limited to Obstruction of Justice. You are advised that you are a target of the Grand Jury’s investigation. You may refuse to answer any question if a truthful answer to the question would tend to incriminate you.
Anything that you do or say may be used against you in a subsequent legal proceeding. If you have retained counsel, who represents you personally, the Grand Jury will permit you a reasonable opportunity to step outside the Grand Jury room and confer with counsel if you desire.
[Name of prosecuting attorney].”
The bottom line is that if you receive a target letter, your life is about to get a whole lot more complicated. But with the right legal representation, you can navigate this trying time with confidence.
The Federal Grand Jury: An Independent Body on a Mission The Office of the Attorney General for the United States (AUSAs) and federal agencies throughout the State of Texas undertake criminal investigations independently of state or local law enforcement efforts. A team of agents from various agencies, including the FBI and DEA, work together to coordinate federal criminal investigations, often utilizing the powerful tool of a federal grand jury.
The federal grand jury is a formidable force composed of a group of jurors who investigate crime and initiate criminal proceedings, while also protecting citizens from having to face unjust criminal charges. They have the power to decide if there is probable cause to believe that a federal criminal law has been violated by one or more people. If they find probable cause to exist, they will issue an “indictment”. If not, the case is “no billed”.
During these proceedings, the AUSA acts as the only lawyer before the grand jury, with no defense attorney present. The prosecutor, as an officer of the court, advises the grand jury on the applicable law of the case and presents evidence, whether it be documentary or live testimony, for the jury to consider.
Grand Jury Subpoena: Witness, Subject, or Target? Those who testify before a federal grand jury do so under an official grand jury subpoena. Some of these people are simply there to provide information as a witness and are not suspected of committing any crime. They must testify under oath.
However, not everyone who is approached to testify before a grand jury is considered a mere witness. There are those who are considered “subjects” by federal investigators, who are under suspicion of wrongdoing. And, at the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are considered “targets”. Targets are individuals that the federal prosecutor (AUSA) believes have committed illegal acts and are within the focus or scope of the investigation. The prosecution’s goal when calling on targets to testify is to obtain sworn testimony that will help solidify a criminal conviction against them.
These categories within the federal prosecution’s case file are not set in stone and the AUSA can reclassify a person from one category to another as the investigation progresses.
A “target letter” is a chilling notification that one is being considered as a target of a federal criminal investigation. It is a correspondence sent by the Justice Department to advise the witness of their rights, including the right to remain silent if a truthful answer would incriminate them and that anything they do say can be used against them in a subsequent legal proceeding. This letter may be a separate piece of correspondence or it may be attached to a grand jury subpoena. The Assistant United States Attorney in charge of the investigation will write the letter and it can also be delivered by federal agents involved in grand jury proceedings.
When a target letter is received, it is essential to hire a competent federal criminal defense lawyer who knows how to navigate the legal system. My recent representation, for example, was a clear example of how an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a limited form of immunity for their client in exchange for truthful statements. This is done through a Proffer Agreement, an informal immunity agreement that protects the witness from their potentially incriminating statements.
It is important to note that cooperation with the Assistant United States Attorney does not happen unless it is already very clear that the client has no criminal culpability or the client has very clear criminal culpability and can assist the government’s case. The Proffer Agreement is absolutely necessary before a client can begin cooperating with the federal government.
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