Man, 83, in prison for dog’s fatal attack on cat must be freed, court rules

Dec 23rd, 2013 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | 0

Originally posted in the Sun Sentinel by Paula McMahon.

An 83-year-old man who has served 527 days in prison for animal cruelty after his dog fatally attacked a cat committed no crime and must be set free as soon as possible, an appeals court ruled this week.

Hume Hamilton, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced to three years in state prison after a Broward County jury found him guilty of a felony animal cruelty charge last year. The same jury found him not guilty of an animal-baiting charge.

The appeals court moved with unusual speed to throw out Hamilton’s conviction and set him free. It often takes months for appellate courts to issue decisions but the ruling was made Monday, four business days after both sides argued to the panel.

Hamilton has been locked up since July 9, 2012, about a month after his leashed pitbull mix dog Lady Bug attacked Mama, a cat who was sitting outside a Fort Lauderdale office building. The incident was captured on security surveillance videos.

“His conduct did not cross the line into criminal behavior,” the three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled in a unanimous decision. “With his dog on a leash, [Hamilton] approached too close to a cat. Once the unfortunate melee began, [Hamilton] kept his dog on the leash and tried to separate the animals. Despite his efforts, his dog killed the cat.”

Hamilton was still in prison in northern Florida late Tuesday but will be freed soon, his lawyer Robert Stickney said.

“This was an outrageous injustice,” said Stickney, who represented Hamilton after he was sentenced. “This guy was completely innocent. The appeals court didn’t throw this out on a technicality; they said he committed no crime.”

Hamilton’s son, Robert Griffin, said his father was “devastated” that the cat was killed but that the three-year prison sentence, imposed by Broward Circuit Judge Carlos Rebollo, was too severe.

“We were very concerned that this could have been a death sentence for my father because of his age,” Griffin said.

Hamilton admitted in court that he let the dog walk up to the cat. He said he was “playing a game” of scaring off cats that his previous dog enjoyed but never took too far. Hamilton’s son said his father was injured trying to separate the animals.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office is considering whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision, spokesman Ron Ishoy said.

“While we respect the appellate court’s deliberations … the surveillance video and a statement by the defendant clearly show that the defendant deliberately put the dog in a position to confront the cat. The jury ruled that that defendant should be held accountable for that poor decision, which ultimately caused the cat’s death. We believe that those jurors were correct,” Ishoy said.

Stickney said the appellate court clearly stated its decision was final and no further appeal would be considered.

Mama the cat was adopted by bail bondsman Wayne Spath’s daughter years ago after the pet started hanging out at the Brandy Bail Bonds office on the 900 block of South Andrews Avenue, Spath said.

“I got a text from one of the prosecutors to tell me the conviction was thrown out,” Spath said. “I don’t understand it. … The guy did it, the video showed everything. … Sure he broke it up, after he set the dog on the cat.”

Spath said his family and his staff were very upset by the incident. Witnesses testified the cat was “torn apart,” her body was shredded and there was blood all over.

Spath said he thought Hamilton should have been ordered to donate money to an animal charity, but his daughter thought Hamilton should go to prison.

“He’s 80-some years old. Maybe he’s learned his lesson and everyone else should learn a lesson from it too,” Spath said.

Stickney, Hamilton’s lawyer, said prosecutors should have used discretion and not filed charges or sought such a severe punishment. He said Hamilton’s efforts to hold on to his dog’s leash while trying to rescue the cat — which included holding the cat down with his foot — were misinterpreted.

Hamilton — a great-grandfather and retired portrait photographer — has coped with prison life remarkably well, his son said. The family and his lawyer were unable to contact Hamilton in prison and did not know if he had been told that he can spend Christmas with his family.

Hamilton, the son of well-known Fort Lauderdale artist Hildegarde Hamilton, is a lifelong animal lover who cared for many pet cats and dogs and whose favorite pet was Bangkok, a 20-year-old cat, Griffin said. Hamilton, a U.S. Army veteran, and his girlfriend had adopted Lady Bug, the dog, from a local shelter, just a week before the attack, he said.

If Hamilton had unleashed his dog “so that it could attack the feline victim,” he would have broken the law, the appellate court ruled. Though his “negligence” was enough to find him civilly liable, the judges wrote, Hamilton committed no criminal act.

The defense said, by law, Hamilton should have been sentenced only to probation.

The judges also remarked on the prosecutor’s conduct at sentencing “where he told the judge that he had a petition with approximately 3,000 signatures from citizens demanding the maximum sentence, we are compelled to note that such conduct is an affront to the very notion of due process of law granted to a criminal defendant in an American courtroom.” The judges wrote that constitutional safeguards and the integrity of the criminal justice system should “exclude influence or domination by either a hostile or friendly mob.”

Stickney said Hamilton was locked up before trial because the animal cruelty charge caused his bail to be revoked on prior battery charges that he had assaulted a girlfriend by cutting her leg with a knife. Prosecutors later dropped the battery charges. Stickney said the woman refused to testify and a defense expert concluded the knife cuts were self-inflicted by the woman.

pmcmahon@tribune.com, 954-356-4533 or Twitter @SentinelPaula
Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Videographer acquitted in federal bomb threat trial

Dec 18th, 2011 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | 0

Daily Business Review, December 19, 2011

A jury took two hours to acquit a commercial videographer accused of threatening to blow up a downtown Miami office tower. Bill Rolland was charged with conveying a false threat to a public building based on the word of three employees at the New World Tower at 100 N. Biscayne Blvd., which houses the Israeli and German consulates. Rolland, who lives near Sacramento, California, was in Miami to shoot video for a client, Cisco Systems, when confronted by a building engineer and two security guards. All three testified Rolland threatened to blow up the building, but their testimony fell apart on the stand, defense attorney Robert Stickney said. Police barricaded downtown Miami when one of the guards reported a bomb threat to police.

Stickney maintained the call was made because Rolland refused to stop shooting his video, knowing he was within his rights to do so from a public sidewalk. The attorney said federal prosecutors should never have taken the case to trial, which was heard by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams. “I think they are hypersensitive about domestic terrorism issues,” Stickney said. “But this had nothing to do with domestic terrorism. It has to do with human nature.”

The U.S. attorney’s office had no comment on the acquittal, spokeswoman Alicia Valle said. Stickney said it’s a sad day in America when a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record has the full weight of the federal government out to prosecute him. “He was scared to death. This destroyed his life,” Stickney said. Rolland’s wife, Lisa, sobbed with relief after the jury verdict was read.

John Pacenti can be reached at tel:(305) 347-6638

The original video and article published by dailybusinessreview.com can be found here.

2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) – Act now to participate

Jul 23rd, 2011 by Matthias Kaseorg, Legal Assistant | 0

The IRS created the 2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) to allow taxpayer applicants with previously undisclosed offshore accounts and assets to disclose these assets by August 31, 2011, and pay overdue taxes along with a set penalty. Through participation in the OVDI program, fully qualified taxpayers may avoid criminal prosecution for failure to disclose offshore accounts. Furthermore, in some cases, OVDI penalties are lower than other applicable IRS penalties.

To apply for the OVDI program, the taxpayer must file OVDI letters and tax documents with the IRS and pass a pre-clearance screening process before submitting their full disclosure. More information on the program is available from the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=205909,00.html.

Please contact Mr. Stickney at (954) 767-8908 if you are interested in discussing your potential participation in the OVDI program. More contact information is available under the “Contact Us” page.

Florida Ponzi schemer’s aide gets 10-year sentence

Oct 8th, 2010 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | 0

By Kevin Gray

MIAMI | Fri Oct 8, 2010 3:50pm EDT

MIAMI (Reuters) – An ex-aide of a Florida lawyer who ran a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday, the latest development in a high-profile case that drew attention to investment fraud in the state.

Debra Villegas, former chief operating officer of a now-defunct Fort Lauderdale law firm at the center of the case, pleaded guilty to money laundering charges earlier this year.

A U.S. federal judge also ordered her to pay $363 million in restitution, her lawyer said.

Villegas, 43, worked at the Rothstein, Rosenfeldt & Adler law firm, whose managing partner, Scott Rothstein, is serving a 50-year jail term after admitting he had conned investors who believed they were buying shares in legal settlements.

“One by one, the dominos in this billion dollar Ponzi scheme are falling,” said U.S. District Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer. “This is not the last to fall.”

Rothstein surrendered to authorities late Read the rest of the article in it’s original location here.



MIAMI | Fri Oct 8, 2010 3:50pm EDT

MIAMI (Reuters) – An ex-aide of a Florida lawyer who ran a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday, the latest development in a high-profile case that drew attention to investment fraud in the state.


Ex-Rothstein exec pleads not guilty in Ponzi scam

Apr 27th, 2010 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | Comments Off

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A former executive at disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein’s law firm is pleading not guilty to charges that she played a key role in his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

Debra Villegas entered the plea Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court. Prosecutors say Villegas helped Rothstein prepare fake court settlements used to lure investors.

Prosecutors and Villegas’ attorney said she is cooperating with investigators. She will be released on $250,000 bail.

The 42-year-old Villegas could get 10 years in prison if convicted. Villegas may also have to forfeit $1.2 million in cash, a Weston home and an exotic Maserati car.

Rothstein, 47, previously pleaded guilty and faces up to 100 years in prison at a June 9 sentencing.

The original video and article published by WSVN can be found here.

Rothstein firm COO charged with money-laundering conspiracy

Apr 27th, 2010 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | 0

BY JAY WEAVER
jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

Scott Rothstein’s right-hand woman at his Fort Lauderdale law firm — chief operating officer Debra Villegas — helped her boss fabricate legal settlements that he sold to wealthy investors, boosting his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme until its sudden collapse last October, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Villegas, charged with a single count of money-laundering conspiracy, becomes the first alleged co-conspirator named in Rothstein’s investment racket, the largest financial fraud in South Florida history. He pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in January.

Prosecutors charged Villegas, 42, with scheming with Rothstein to siphon Ponzi proceeds from investors’ trust accounts at Toronto Dominion Bank and Gibraltar Bank “to convert the money to the use and benefit of members of the conspiracy.”

Rothstein allegedly rewarded Villegas — accused of forging the names of “fictitious plaintiffs and defendants on the purported confidential settlement agreements” — by buying her a house in Weston and a 2009 Maserati Granturismo Coup. Prosecutors are seeking to seize those assets as well as $1.2 million that Villegas pocketed from the alleged scam, according to a criminal information filed in Fort Lauderdale federal court.

Villegas also made large political donations in her name with proceeds from the Ponzi scheme, according to sources familiar with the case, but she has not been charged with any campaign finance law violations.

Villegas is expected to plead guilty to the single money laundering count, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

She has been cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation, said her attorney, Robert Stickney, who declined further comment.

Other former employees of the bankrupt 70-attorney Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm are also expected to face charges, sources said.

Among those under scrutiny: name partners Stuart Rosenfeldt and Russell Adler; another senior partner, Steven Lippman; chief financial officer Irene Stay; and general counsel David Boden. Attorneys for those ex-RRA employees have denied that their clients did anything wrong.

Rothstein, 47, pleaded guilty in January to five charges of conspiracy, racketeering, money-laundering and wire fraud for duping wealthy investors over the past four years by selling them bogus civil settlements based on sexual harassment and whistle-blower complaints.

He could be sent to prison for up to 100 years at his sentencing in June — though his assistance in an FBI sting operation that recently took down an accused Italian mafia figure from Miami Beach could help reduce his incarceration.

Villegas rose from being a paralegal with no college degree to serving as the top operating officer at Rothstein’s firm, where he described her to colleagues as his second-in-command. Rothstein paid her more than $120,000 a year.

Villegas had been a curious figure at the law firm even before Rothstein’s scheme crashed in late October. Her best friend, RRA lawyer Melissa Britt Lewis, was slain in March 2008. Villegas ‘ estranged husband, Tony Villegas , a train conductor, was charged and is being held at the Broward County jail.

One month after the slaying, Rothstein bought Villegas the 2,600-square-foot Weston home for $475,000, court records show. Using a corporation called WAWW4 for the purchase, he deeded the property to her for $100 last July. WAWW4 stood for What a Wonderful World.

In October, just days before RRA imploded, Villegas took out a $100,000 mortgage on the home at 380 Carrington Dr., court records show. Federal prosecutors have moved to seize the Weston property and other Rothstein assets, saying they were purchased with proceeds from the Ponzi scheme.

Villegas was among several law firm employees who gave substantial contributions to state and federal politicians at Rothstein’s direction. Prosecutors have said Rothstein’s bundling of donations was tied to employee bonuses.

Campaign finance records show Villegas donated more than $43,000 to the McCain-Palin 2008 presidential ticket, the Rudy Giuliani GOP primary run for president that year, Gov. Charlie Crist’s bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, as well as the campaigns of former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez and Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa.

Villegas has not spoken publicly since news of Rothstein’s scam surfaced over Halloween weekend after he fled to Morocco. But she was recognized as one of Rothstein’s closest confidantes.

Villegas first worked with Rothstein in the 1990s, when the Nova Southeastern University law graduate had his own firm specializing in labor and employment litigation. Villegas followed him to another firm, Phillips, Eisinger, Koss, Rothstein & Rosenfeldt, where they both worked from 1999 to 2001. The next year, Villegas followed Rothstein yet again when he left to establish a firm with Rosenfeldt.

Court records from her divorce petition filed in 2007 show she was earning $124,635 a year as RRA’s chief operating officer.

At RRA, her office was inside Rothstein’s secured inner sanctum behind a locked door, where visitors had to announce themselves through an intercom. When federal agents raided the law firm in November, they took records from Villegas ‘ office.

E-mails that Rothstein wrote to his staff last year show that Villegas was part of the circle that protected him.

In one e-mail in October, he reminded the firm’s lawyers that Villegas was his “second in command.”

“MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT. SHE IS . . . AND SHE ONLY ANSWERS TO ME. NO ONE ELSE. END OF STORY . . . I AM SO ANGRY THAT I AM HAVING TO WRITE THIS EMAIL.”

Villegas also had a close financial relationship with Rothstein. Court records from the divorce case show that he paid for her couch and bedroom set, along with her two water bikes. Records also show that her employer — though it doesn’t identify who — gave her a Rolex watch and a Brietling watch. Rothstein was a fan of luxury watches.

Read the full Miami herald article at its original location here.

Scott Rothstein’s right-hand woman charged in Ponzi scheme

Apr 27th, 2010 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | Comments Off

By Peter Franceschina and Jon Burstein, Sun Sentinel, April 27, 2010

[flv]http://stickneylaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Rothstein-Ponzi-scheme-Debra-Villegas-close-associate-of-Scott-Rothstein-charged-with-money-laundering-South-Florida-Sun-Sentinel.com_1.flv[/flv]
Rothstein Ponzi scheme: Debra Villegas, close associate of Scott Rothstein, charged with money laundering – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

One of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein’s closest associates — Debra Villegas, the woman he made his second-in-command at his law firm — is scheduled to face a federal judge Wednesday morning on a money-laundering charge that alleges she was instrumental to his massive investment fraud.

Villegas, 42, became the second person criminally implicated in Rothstein’s $1.4 billion conspiracy when federal prosecutors filed the single charge against her Tuesday as part of a far-reaching investigation targeting Rothstein’s associates and business partners.

Villegas has known Rothstein for years, rising from paralegal to his most trusted associate as chief operating officer of his now-bankrupt law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. As his Ponzi scheme was going full steam last year, Rothstein made clear to co-workers at the firm that her authority was absolute.

“When she speaks she is speaking for me … thus, absent extraordinary circumstances, no one is to challenge her authority or come to me to attempt to override any decision she makes,” Rothstein wrote, according to an e-mail contained in a lawsuit. “WE WOULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT HER. SHE HAS HELPED ME AND CONTINUES TO HELP ME MORE THAN I COULD EVER EXPLAIN.”

The criminal charging document filed Tuesday alleges that Villegas forged non-existent legal settlement agreements, which Rothstein used to dupe investors into believing he was bringing in millions of dollars in whistle-blower and employment discrimination cases. Reached by phone Tuesday, Villegas declined to comment.

She was charged by way of an “information,” rather than a grand jury indictment, indicating she is cooperating with prosecutors. Another indication Villegas is cooperating: Prosecutors noted in court records that the case would not go to trial. The money-laundering conspiracy charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Villegas’ attorney, Robert Stickney, confirmed Tuesday that Villegas has been assisting federal authorities since the Ponzi scheme was revealed. Villegas will enter a not-guilty plea at the 10 a.m. Wednesday court hearing, Stickney said.

“My client has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office since the inception of this case,” he said.

Rothstein, 47, also is cooperating with authorities. He has pleaded guilty to five felonies and is scheduled to be sentenced June 9.

John Gillies, who leads the FBI in South Florida, said in a statement Tuesday that Villegas should have turned in her boss for his crimes.

“We sometimes must make tough choices in our lives, and in this case Debra Villegas made the wrong choice,” Gillies said. “She could have done the right thing and reported Rothstein’s fraud to law enforcement, but instead she assisted him in carrying out the scheme. She chose greed over her integrity and now she will have to pay the price for her actions.”

As Rothstein’s close confidante, Villegas worked in his sealed-off inner sanctum, handled aspects of his personal and professional financial affairs and was well-rewarded, earning $120,000 a year.

Rothstein also bought her a $475,000 Weston home, which he deeded to her last summer out of “love and affection,” and a $100,000 Maserati, which she has surrendered to federal authorities. Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of the Weston home. Villegas took a $100,000 mortgage out on the home just days before Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme collapsed, records show.

Prosecutors allege in the six-page charging document that Villegas was involved in the money-laundering conspiracy from 2007 through the implosion of Rothstein’s scheme in late October. As in the charges laid out against Rothstein, prosecutors make reference to unnamed co-conspirators several times.

Attorneys for investors who claim they were cheated by Rothstein say Villegas knew what was happening within Rothstein’s inner sanctum. She was named as a defendant in the $120 million lawsuit filed by investors represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney William Scherer.

“As I’ve alleged in my complaint, she is a principal co-conspirator in running this massive Ponzi scheme,” Scherer said. “Accepting that as true, those are criminal violations as well as civil fraud.”

Villegas has described Rothstein as “like a brother.” He took care of her family after her estranged husband was charged in March 2008 with murdering her best friend, Rothstein law firm partner Melissa Britt Lewis.

Before Villegas’ name came up in Rothstein’s investment fraud, she found herself in the media spotlight as a central figure in the Lewis murder investigation. Plantation police believe Villegas’ now ex-husband, Tony Villegas, killed Lewis out of jealousy, because he thought Lewis played a role in his marriage’s demise. Tony Villegas has pleaded not guilty and is now awaiting trial.

Debra Villegas has told police that for years she led a double life.

At work, she was the assertive force behind the day-to-day operations of Rothstein’s downtown Fort Lauderdale law firm and more than 150 employees. At home, she said, she lived in fear of Tony Villegas — his physical abuse of their children and his threats that he would kill her if she left him.

“I run Scott’s law firm,” she told Plantation police detectives investigating Lewis’ murder. “I negotiate … saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. I go head to head with anybody and Scott calls me a cold-hearted bitch. I’m just like the toughest person in the world until I got into that little world [home] and I was so terrified whether I stayed or left that he was gonna kill my kids and kill me.

“I am the most private person in the world,” she said. “I hid [the abuse] from Scott, who is like a brother to me.”

Fort Lauderdale defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum, who is not involved in the case, said he was not surprised it had taken prosecutors nearly five months since Rothstein’s Dec. 1 arrest to charge Villegas.

“It’s a complex scheme, although it may seem simple. It’s complex when they have to put it all together,” Rosenbaum said. “So this is the next in the wave of what many of us feel will be a lot of indictments or informations that will be filed against people associated with Scott Rothstein.”

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman used Tuesday’s developments as an opportunity to warn investors about deals that sound too good to be true, and he also hinted at further arrests.

“Investment fraud schemes target people from all walks of life and often result in the loss of their life’s savings. The best way to avoid being victimized by fraudsters is to do your homework and to ask hard questions before investing,” Sloman said in a statement. “As today’s case demonstrates, we remain committed to prosecuting investment fraud schemes and all who participate, from top to bottom.”

Peter Franceschina can be reached at pfranceschina@sunsentinel.com or 954-459-2255.

Article published at its original location here.

150 Americans targeted in UBS Swiss bank tax-evasion case

Aug 19th, 2009 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | 0

By Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY, 8/19/2009

More than 150 wealthy American customers of Swiss banking giant UBS (UBS) are under investigation for suspected tax evasion, federal prosecutors disclosed Tuesday.

The glimpse at the breadth of the probe of Americans who may be hiding offshore assets from the IRS came in a Florida federal court filing as UBS prepared to give federal authorities the names of other U.S. clients expected to face similar investigations.

Details of the handover, expected as soon as today, “will produce the identities and account information of additional UBS customers who are believed to have violated United States law,” acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said in the court filing.

Florida tax attorney Martin Press and other lawyers for UBS clients say they expect the bank will provide data for thousands of U.S. account holders — but not… read the full article at its original location.

More than 150 wealthy American customers of Swiss banking giant UBS (UBS) are under investigation for suspected tax evasion, federal prosecutors disclosed Tuesday.

The glimpse at the breadth of the probe of Americans who may be hiding offshore assets from the IRS came in a Florida federal court filing as UBS prepared to give federal authorities the names of other U.S. clients expected to face similar investigations.

Details of the handover, expected as soon as today, “will produce the identities and account information of additional UBS customers who are believed to have violated United States law,” acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman said in the court filing.

Florida tax attorney Martin Press and other lawyers for UBS clients say they expect the bank will provide data for thousands of U.S. account holders — but not

US Seeks Reduced Term for Star Swiss Bank Witness

Aug 18th, 2009 by Paul Buijs, webmaster | 0

US seeks reduced prison term for ex-UBS banker who was star witness in tax secrets case

The Associated Press
By CURT ANDERSON AP Legal Affairs Writer
MIAMI August 18, 2009 (AP)

A former Swiss banker should get a sharply reduced prison term for helping the U.S. government as a star witness in a wide-ranging tax evasion investigation of banking giant UBS AG, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The banker contends his cooperation warrants no jail time at all.

The motions filed in federal court come a week after U.S. and Swiss governments settled out of court to end an IRS lawsuit against UBS. Under that deal, the Swiss agreed to let UBS name at least some wealthy U.S. clients behind 52,000 accounts, information that had been protected by the country’s vaunted bank secrecy laws.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Neiman said in the motion that Bradley Birkenfeld, 43, had provided extensive cooperation. Because of that, he deserved no more than 2 1/2 years in federal prison, or half the five-year maximum for his guilty plea on a charge of conspiring to defraud the U.S.

Birkenfeld provided key information not only to U.S. prosecutors but also to foreign authorities investigating UBS, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and a U.S. Senate panel.

“This substantial assistance has been timely, significant, useful, truthful, complete and reliable,” Neiman said in the motion.

Birkenfeld attorney Robert Stickney, in a motion filed later Tuesday, said his client deserved only five years’ probation for “extraordinary” cooperation that peeled back centuries of Swiss banking secrecy tradition. He said Birkenfeld first began raising concerns about questionable practices within UBS in 2005 and met numerous times before his indictment with U.S. investigators from several agencies.

“Simply stated, the nature and extent of the information that Mr. Birkenfeld provided to each of these government authorities was unprecedented,” Stickney wrote.

Birkenfeld, a UBS private banker who handled wealthy American clients from 2001 through 2006, pleaded guilty in June 2008 to a single count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. A federal judge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is scheduled to sentence Birkenfeld on Friday, even though prosecutors and Birkenfeld’s defense attorney had asked for a delay.

Read the full article at its original location here.