Justin Bieber To Face The Music In Florida?

January 31, 2014 by Mark Siesel

Justin Bieber, the seemingly troubled and wayward teen pop idol, was arrested on January 23, 2014 by Miami Beach police on charges of DWI, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license. Bieber was charged with drag racing a $250,000 Lamborghini along a Miami roadway at approximately 60 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone. Each of these charges are misdemeanors under Florida law.

When Bieber was apprehended by Miami Beach police at approximately 4:00 AM on January 23rd, he purportedly failed field sobriety tests and became angered when the police attempted to search him. It has been reported that Bieber exclaimed: “I ain't got no f***ing weapons…Why do you have to search me? What the f*** is this about?"

In Florida, as in most states in the United States, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is the standard for legal intoxication. Reports are that Bieber’s BAC was considerably lower than the level for legal intoxication at approximately 0.02%. However, under Florida law, if the driver is under the age of 21, the standard for intoxication is 0.02%. Thus, Bieber may have been legally intoxicated at the time he was operating the Lamborghini. Additionally, the seemingly troubled pop singer allegedly admitted to police that he had also used marijuana and prescription medications that evening before driving, probably not the smartest thing the “Biebs” ever did in his rather rocky recent past.

Bieber was also charged with the misdemeanor of resisting arrest as he failed to keep his hands on the vehicle while the arresting officer was conducting a patdown for weapons. The arrest report notes that Bieber had bloodshot eyes, flushed face (maybe from embarrassment?) and an odor of alcohol on his breath.

One of the few intelligent moves Bieber made (or at least his management team) was to retain Roy Black as his criminal defense lawyer, who is known as the attorney who was able to obtain an acquittal for Kennedy nephew William Kennedy Smith on Florida rape charges in 1991.

In addition to facing the music for the misdemeanor charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving without a valid driver’s license, the man whose followers are known as “Beliebers” has another significant problem which must be addressed, and probably by a different hired gun. Bieber is a citizen of Canada, and is in the United States on an O-1 work visa, which is granted to foreigners with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.” With Bieber’s recent past of alleged egg throwing, drag racing, urinating in public and spitting, and a question mark as which of the above categories he fits into—(is what the Biebs puts out “extraordinary art”?), he certainly has done absolutely nothing in the recent past to convince any administrative judge in the Department of Homeland Security that it is in the interests of the United States to grant Bieber continued residence in this country. If I were advising Bieber, my advice would be simple: get into rehab for whatever is troubling you, and fast.


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Lindsay Lohan Arrested Again in NYC Assault

November 30, 2012 by Mark Siesel

Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan was arrested again in Manhattan in the early morning hours of November 29 after an altercation with a Florida psychic in the “Avenue” nightclub in Chelsea. Allegedly, Lohan became incensed when Max George of the band The Wanted began lavishing his attention on Tiffany Mitchell, the 28 year old psychic, instead of Lohan, and Lohan punched Mitchell in the face. When Ms. Lohan subsequently attempted to exit out of the back of the bar in a black Escalade at 4:00 AM, Mitchell identified Ms. Lohan and she was arrested on third degree assault charges.

“Lilo” has additional legal issues beyond the 3rd degree assault charges, however. Back in February of 2011, she was arrested for the theft of a $2,500 necklace in Kamohe & Co., a Venice Beach, CA. jewelry store, and pled guilty to theft charges later in 2011 with a sentence of 120 days in jail, which was reduced to community service, which she never performed. When the sentencing judge learned that Lohan failed to perform her community service, he sent her to jail for thirty days, but due to overcrowding in the California prisons, she was released within hours of her incarceration.

Then on June 8th of this year, Lohan apparently crashed her Porsche into an 18 wheeler in Santa Monica, California, but claimed that it was her assistant who was operating the vehicle. Ironically, on the same day as her dustup with Ms. Mitchell in Avenue, Lohan was charged with Santa Monica police with three misdemeanors stemming for the June 8th accident; lying to a police officer; obstructing governmental administration; and reckless driving. As a result, Lohan now faces violation of probation charges in California based on the four misdemeanors she has been charged with (three in California and one in New York). Considering how fortunate she has been in the past in avoiding jail time for her legal transgressions, it is certainly possible that Lohan’s luck has finally run out.

Lohan is due back in New York Criminal Court on January 7th to face the third degree misdemeanor assault charges. Under the New York Penal Law, third degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and a $1,000 fine. Her attorney seems quite confident that she will be exonerated and stated: “Once again, Lindsay Lohan is a victim of someone trying to capture their 15 minutes of fame.” Time will tell in latest installment of the Lohan legal saga.

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Lindsay Lohan Arrested Again in NYC

September 25, 2012 by Mark Siesel

In her latest skirmish with the authorities, Lindsay Lohan was arrested this past week by the NYPD and charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident pursuant to Section 600 of the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law. Jose Rodriguez, a Jersey City resident and restaurant worker, alleges that Lohan clipped him with her Porsche while driving outside a New York City club at the Dream Hotel. Rodriguez informed police that after Lohan struck him with her car, she drove off without stopping and reporting the accident to police.

There is footage of the accident, which is of poor quality, that appears to show some contact between Lohan and a pedestrian, who then chases after Lohan’s Porsche as it drives away. Mr. Rodriguez claims that he suffered a knee injury due to the accident.

Under this section of the Vehicle & Traffic Law, if a person operates a motor vehicle “knowing or having reason to know” that personal injury has been caused to another person, they are required, before “leaving the place where the said personal injury occurred”, to “stop, exhibit his or her license and insurance identification card for such vehicle, and give his or her name, residence, insurance information to the injured party, if practical, and also to a police officer.”

The District Attorney is likely to offer Lohan a plea deal to a violation. The reason for this is that leaving the scene charges can be difficult to prove—did Lohan really know, or “have reason to know”, that she struck Mr. Rodriguez with her car? It is not easy to prove that someone had “reason to know” in a scenario in which there may have been glancing contact between the car and Mr. Rodriguez. Recently, in a much more serious case in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, postal worker Ian Clement was found not guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal accident involving Marilyn Dershowitz, who either fell under or was struck by Clement’s truck and died at the scene. Clement claimed that he never knew that he had been in the fatal accident with Ms. Dershowitz and left the scene without reporting the accident. Even with evidence that bystanders were honking their horns and screaming at Clement to stop, he drove away from the scene. On September 20, 2012, the jury found Mr. Clement not guilty of the charge.

Ms. Lohan was released on her own recognizance and issued a desk appearance ticket. If Lohan is found guilty of the charge against her, which is a Class B misdemeanor, she is facing fines of between $250 and $500.00 and potential jail time, which is very unlikely to be imposed due the apparent limited injuries suffered by Mr. Rodriguez.


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Former New York Met Dykstra Facing Embezzlement, Drug Possession Charges

June 17, 2011 by Mark Siesel

Lenny Dykstra, the former star centerfielder for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, has been charged in Los Angeles with embezzling more than $400,000 worth of personal property from a bankruptcy estate. Dykstra pled not guilty in a Los Angeles federal Court on June 13, 2011.

Federal prosecutors charged that Dykstra sold or destroyed the property from a mansion worth $18.5 million without the permission of the bankruptcy trustee. Amazingly, Dykstra, who was apparently a very successful investor following his baseball career, required the services of a public defender due to his financial inability to retain a private attorney.

Dykstra is in Los Angeles County Jail after being hit with a total of 25 misdemeanor and felony counts, including grand theft auto, attempted grand theft auto, and identity theft. Dykstra is looking at a maximum jail term of 80 years in prison if convicted on all counts against him. A trial date has been set for May 9, 2012.

The bad news for the 48-year-old Dykstra seems to be getting worse, as he is also facing drug possession charges in a separate state case, following the discovery by police of cocaine and synthetic hGH in his home in May. He was arraigned on those charges this week.

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Atlanta Braves Pitcher Charged With DWI

April 30, 2011 by Mark Siesel

On April 28, 2011, Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe, 37, was charged with DWI, reckless driving, and unsafe lane change in Atlanta, after he apparently engaged in a race with another driver on an Atlanta street. Lowe was pulled over by the Georgia State Patrol, and the officer allegedly smelled a strong odor of alcohol, and Lowe apparently failed Field Sobriety tests.

According to the Los Angeles Times, several sources, Lowe refused to take a chemical test, was booked and taken to an Atlanta jail. He was released on bail of $2,944.

If Lowe was convicted in New York on these same offenses, he would be facing fines of up to $900.00 on the misdemeanor charge, a suspension of his driver's license for six months, along with the requirement to obtain alcohol abuse assessment, attend the drinking Driver program ("DDP"), attend a Victim Impact Panel, install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle for up to one year, and pay $750 in fines to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. For the misdemeanor reckless driving charge, he would be facing fines, and 5 points on his driver's license. For the unsafe lane change traffic infraction, Lowe would be assessed 3 points on his driver's license.

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Lawrence Taylor Plea Deal in Rape Case

January 14, 2011 by Mark Siesel

In a case we have followed since its inception last May, former New York Giant linebacker Lawrence Taylor pled guilty on January 13, 2011 to 2 misdemeanor charges in the Rockland County Court. Taylor was charged with statutory rape and third degree criminal sexual act after being accused of paying $300.00 for sex with a sixteen year old girl in a Montebello, New York Holiday Inn on May 6, 2010. Taylor was indicted by a grand jury on two felony sexual misconduct charges which carried mandatory 10 years probation.

As a result of a plea of guilty to sexual misconduct under Section 130.20 and third degree patronizing a prostitute under 230.04 of the New York Penal Law, which are both misdemeanors, Taylor will pay a fine of $1,400.00; be on probation for six years; and most significantly, he will be required to register as a sex offender in New York and Florida under Megan's Law, part of the NYS Correction Law.

Sentencing is on March 22, 2011, when it will be determined what level sexual offender Mr. Taylor is designated.

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No Plea For Lawrence Taylor In Rockland County Rape Case

November 5, 2010 by Mark Siesel

Lawrence Taylor, the Hall of Fame ex-linebacker for the New York Giants, may decide to go to trial on the statutory rape charges he is facing. On October 28, 2010, Taylor's attorney indicated that Taylor refuses to accept a deal in which he would please guilty to the felony charges of third degree rape and third degree criminal sexual act. A guilty plea to the two felonies would require a sentence of 10 years of probation, and Taylor would be placed on the state sex offender registry. Third degree rape is a Class E Felony and has a minimum jail term of 1 year and maximum of 4 years.

The charges stem from a May 6 arrest in which Mr. Taylor is accused of paying $300.00 to an underage girl for sexual intercourse at a Montebello, New York Holiday Inn. Taylor was also charged with the misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and patronizing a prostitute. Both of these are Class A misdemeanors which could result in a jail term of between 1-3 years. Apparently, the U.S. Attorney's Office has an interest in the case to go after a Bronx man who is believed to be part of a sex trafficking ring.

Taylor could be sentenced to as much as six months in the county jail if he pled guilty to the felony charges. If he was convicted at trial, the jail term could be served in state prison.

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Motley Crue Lead Singer Charged With Drunk Driving

July 5, 2010 by Mark Siesel

Vincent Neil, the lead singer for heavy metal band Motley Crue, was arrested in Las Vegas on June 27, 2010 on a drunk driving charge. The arrest took place near the Las Vegas Strip after Mr. Neil had left the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and began driving in his Lamborghini. He spent the night in jail and was released on June 28th are posting bail. This is the second DWI arrest for the singer. Previously, he was arrested on vehicular manslaughter charges. The circumstances of Neil's arrest were not released by the local police or prosecutor's office.

In New York, if Mr. Neil were charged with a second DWI within 10 years, he would be facing felony charges, with the possibility of jail time, a certainty of being sentenced to 5 years probation, the requirement to install an ignition interlock system, a minimum of a one year license revocation, and substantial fines, surcharges and Court costs.

Mr. Neil is due back in Las Vegas Justice Court on September 27, 2010. This is another significant distinction with New York Courts, in which there would be no possibility of a almost three month adjournment of the DWI case. In New York Courts, under the doctrine of "suspension pending prosecution", those charged with DWI are required to appear at an immediate arraignment and turn in their driver's licenses "pending" the prosecution of their cases.

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Rockland County Grand Jury Indicts Lawrence Taylor

July 1, 2010 by Mark Siesel

Hall of Fame Linebacker Lawrence Taylor was indicted on June 23, 2010 in connection with third degree rape and prostitution charges. On May 6, 2010, Mr. Taylor was arrested by police at the Montebello, New York Holiday Inn based upon charges that he paid a sixteen year old girl three hundred dollars to have sexual relations with him.

The case was originally heard in the Ramapo Town Court, but is now transferred to the Rockland County Court, as local courts such as town courts only have jurisdiction over misdemeanors or violations, not felonies.

Taylor, who has denied all charges, has also been charged with endangering the welfare of a minor and sexual abuse. He is due to return to Court on July 13, 2010.

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Ex New York Giant Star Charged With Rape

May 14, 2010 by Mark Siesel

Lawrence Taylor, the 51 year old Hall of Fame linebacker for the New York Giants was charged with third degree rape in Ramapo, New York on May 7, 2010. Taylor allegedly had sexual relations with a 16 year old girl at the Montebello, New York Holiday Inn on May 6, 2010. Taylor has alleged through his attorney that he did not have consensual or any sexual relations with the girl.

Taylor is charged with third degree rape under section 130.25 of the New York State Penal Law, which states that a person is guilty of rape in the third degree if he engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent in that they are less than 17 years old. This charge is a Class E felony, which is punishable by a jail term of not more than 4 years. He is also charged with patronizing a prostitute, but under the section which makes it a misdemeanor, rather than a felony, since a felony charge would only result if the girl was under 14 years of age.

Since the news of Mr. Taylor's arrest, a federal criminal complaint has been filed against Rasheed Davis, the alleged pimp who procured the 16 year old girl, on a sex trafficking charge due to the alleged transport of a minor across state lines for sexual purposes. There have also been claims made by Taylor's wife that he did not have sexual relations with the girl, and that he was "set up."

We will monitor developments in this case.

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Doc Gooden Arrested on DWI Charge

March 25, 2010 by Mark Siesel

Doc Gooden, the 45 year old former star pitcher for the New York Mets and the Yankees, was arrested this past Tuesday in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey for driving while under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, and child endangerment. Gooden was driving his five year old son to school and was arrested when he left the scene after colliding with another car and a bystander called 911. Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident.

Gooden was a big part of the New York Mets 1986 championship team and also a member of the 1996 and 2000 Yankees World Series teams. He has been arrested numerous times over the last 20 years for drug and alcohol violations and has reportedly undergone 5 different stints in alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Most recently, Gooden served as a senior vice president for the minor league Newark Bears. He turned down an offer this past winter to work with the New York Mets in spring training.

Gooden is very fortunate that the DWI charges he faces occurred in New Jersey and not in New York. Under the recently enacted "Leandra's Law" in New York, he would have automatically been charged with a felony for allegedly driving while under the influence of drugs with a child younger than 16 in the vehicle.

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Rapper Lil Wayne Sentenced to One Year Rikers Term

March 11, 2010 by Mark Siesel

Lil Wayne, also known as "Weezy", whose real name is Dwayne Carter, was sentenced to one year in jail on March 8, 2010 by Judge Charles Solomon of the New York County Supreme Court. In October of 2009, Mr. Carter pled guilty to attempted possession of a weapon after a gun was found on his tour bus back in 2007. The sentencing had been delayed twice, once related to dental work that Lil Wayne was undergoing and the second due to a courthouse fire.

Under the New York Penal Law, Criminal Possession of a weapon can be anything from a Class A Misdemeanor (for example upon a conviction for possession of a switchblade), through a Class B Felony (for possession of ten or more firearms or possession of an explosive substance with intent to use against person or property).

With good behavior, the one year sentence could be reduced to eight months.

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NBA Star Arenas Pleads Guilty To Felony Gun Possession

January 18, 2010 by Mark Siesel

The Washington Wizards' all-star guard Gilbert Arenas pled guilty on January 15, 2010 to one felony count of unlicensed gun possession in a Washington, D.C. Court. The plea arises out of an incident in early January when Arenas brought guns into the Wizards locker room in a confrontation with teammate Javaris Crittenton. Arenas will not be sentenced until March 26, 2010, and is apparently facing the possibility of 6 months of jail time. He has also been suspended indefinitely from the NBA by Commissioner David Stern. Additionally, the Wizards could attempt to void the $111 million contract Arenas signed last year based on a morals clause in the contract.

This incident calls to mind the case in New York of ex New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who is now serving a 2 year jail sentence after he pled guilty to unlicensed possession of a firearm last year. Had Burress not pled guilty, he was looking at the possibility of a mandatory sentence of 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted of the crime of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

It would appear that the Wizards and the NBA have a significant public relations problem when their star player, who led the league in scoring a few years ago, is facing felony jail time and appeared to be unrepentant when first charged with the crime, leading to Stern's decision to suspend him indefinitely

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"Wrestler" Actor Takes Plea In White Plains Federal Court

October 6, 2009 by Mark Siesel

Scott Siegel, a 35 year old New Rochelle resident who gained notoriety last year for his role in the Oscar nominated "The Wrestler", pled guilty on October 2 to two counts of using a deadly weapon to assault federal officers and one count of possessing and distributing steroids. On February 18th last year, federal agents and local officers attempted to arrest Mr. Siegel outside his parents' Eastchester home. Instead of surrendering, Siegel led them on a wild chase through Eastchester and Tuckahoe, ramming several police cars and attempting to strike an officer on foot as well.

Mr. Siegel was found to have 1,500 bottles of anabolic steroids and $100,000 in cash. For the highest charge of New York assault with a deadly weapon, Siegel faces up to twenty years in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could receive a sentence of just over 5 years in prison. Siegel is being held without bail and will be sentenced on January 14, 2010.

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Plaxico Burress Indicted By New York County Jury

August 19, 2009 by Mark Siesel

Plaxico Burress, the ex-New York Giants star wide receiver who caught the game winning pass in Super Bowl 42, was indicted on August 4th on New York gun possession charges. Burress was indicted on two counts of second degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of second degree reckless endangerment.

The New York criminal weapon charges stem from an incident on November 29, 2008 at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan. Mr. Burress accidentally fired his .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol, which had been tucked into the waistband of his jeans, narrowly missing a club employee, and shooting himself in the thigh. Burress had a gun permit in Florida, but that permit expired 7 months earlier, and he did not have a permit in New York.

Apparently, there had been negotiations between the New York County District Attorney's office and Mr. Burress' attorney regarding the amount of jail time Mr. Burress would have to serve in a plea deal, but negotiations broke down when Robert Morgenthau, the New York D.A. insisted on more than one year in jail. If Mr. Burress is convicted on the criminal possession charges, New York law mandates a minimum three and a half year prison term.

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Stallworth To Serve Thirty Days In Jail For DWI Manslaughter Charge

June 22, 2009 by Mark Siesel

Donte Stallworth, the Cleveland Browns star wide receiver, began serving a 30 day jail term this week in Miami, Florida after his guilty plea to DWI manslaughter in connection with the death of 59 year old construction worker Mario Reyes. On March 14, 2009, after a night of drinking at Miami's Fountainebleau Hotel, Stallworth drove his 2005 Bentley while intoxicated, striking Mr. Reyes, who had just finished his shift as a crane operator and was attempting to catch a bus near the hotel. Stallworth stopped his vehicle after the crash and admitted to officers that he had struck Mr. Reyes. Stallworth's blood alcohol content (BAC) was determined to be .126, well in excess of Florida's .08 limit.

After his release from jail, Stallworth must complete two years of house arrest, (which will allow him to continue his NFL career) and be on probation for eight years. In addition to the 30 day jail sentence, Stallworth must undergo drug and alcohol testing, will have a lifetime suspension of his driver's license, and must perform 1,000 hours of community service. Had Stallworth gone to trial on the charges and lost, he faced up to 15 years in jail. Apparently, after five years, Mr. Stallworth may have an opportunity to obtain a conditional license to drive to and from work if he successfully complies with all conditions of his sentence and has no other charges. Reportedly, Mr. Stallworth has also worked out a financial settlement with the Reyes family.

Contact the Criminal Defense lawyers at the White Plains, New York Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in New York

State Senator Monserrate Facing New York Felony Assault Charges

April 14, 2009 by Mark Siesel

New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate is facing New York felony assault charges after a Queens County grand jury indictment on March 23, 2009. The indictment charges that on December 19 of last year, Mr. Monserrate assaulted his girlfriend Karla Girardo with a drinking glass, causing a gash that required 20 stitches to close.

Both Monserrate and Girardo have denied the charges, claiming that the incident occurred when Mr. Monserrate fell while bringing Girardo a glass of water. Monserrate alleges that the charges of New York assault are politically motivated due to a "vendetta" that Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has against him. The A.D.A. prosecuting the case pointed to a video showing Ms. Girardo coming out of an apartment with a towel to her face and Monserrate yanking her away as she tries to hold onto a banister as proof that the injury was not an accident. Further, prosecutors stated that Ms. Girardo told hospital personnel that Monserrate had struck her with a broken glass. If convicted on the felony assault charges, Mr. Monserrate faces up to seven years in prison.

Contact the White Plains criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you or a loved one have been charged with a crime for a free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options.

'Wrestler" Actor Faces Federal Drug Charges In New York

February 23, 2009 by Mark Siesel

Scott Siegel, who ironically portrayed a steroids dealer in the Oscar nominated movie "The Wrestler", is facing federal drug charges in New York after leading federal and local authorities in a wild chase in his Cadillac Escalade through Eastchester this past Wednesday evening. Mr. Siegel allegedly rammed police cruisers, crashed through a wood fence and ran through the streets of Eastchester in an effort to avoid capture by DEA agents, who contacted local police to assist in the apprehension of Siegel. It is also alleged that Siegel managed to shake off a Westchester Task Force agent who had grabbed on to the passenger door, and drove straight at an other officer in an attempt to run the officer down.

Mr. Siegel is being charged with distribution of steroids, and assaulting a federal officer, both of which are felonies under state and federal law. Federal agents claimed that they recovered 1,500 bottles of steroids and $150,000 in cash at Siegel's parents' home in New Rochelle.

Based on two prior convictions for illegal drugs, as well as his attempt at flight, Siegel was denied bail by U.S. Magistrate Judge George Yanthis on February 19th, and was returned to the Westchester County jail.

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Former and Current NBA Stars Charged with Drunk Driving

January 6, 2009 by Mark Siesel

On December 21, 2008, star guard Jason Richardson of the Phoenix Suns was charged with DWI in downtown Phoenix. Richardson was arrested after he was allegedly observed drifting between lanes in his 2008 Mercedes. He is accused of having a BAC (blood alcohol content) in excess of .08. In New York, Mr. Richardson would be facing potential revocation of his driver's license for 6 months and fines in the range of $750-$1,000 if convicted on a DWI charge. However, on a first drunk driving offense in New York, and if no one was injured and there was no property damage, Mr. Richardson would be eligible for a DWAI (driving while ability impaired). A DWAI is a traffic violation, not a misdemeanor, and results in a 90 day suspension of the driver's license instead of a 6 month revocation, and significantly reduced fines of approximately $500 including surcharges.

Former NBA star Antoine Walker was charged with suspicion of drunk driving in Miami Beach in the early morning on January 5, 2009. Walker was allegedly driving a black Mercedes without headlights on when he was pulled over by local police. Officers detected a strong odor of alcohol, and Mr. Walker refused a chemical test of his breath. He was being held on $1,000 bond. If the refusal occurred in New York, there is a potential penalty of a one year revocation of his driver's license, and there is a separate administrative license hearing regarding the refusal which is conducted within ten days of the arrest at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Brancato Found Not Guilty In Bronx County Murder Trial

December 23, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Lillo Brancato Jr., the 32 year old actor known for his roles in the movie "A Bronx Tale" and in the T.V. series the "Sopranos", was found not guilty of a Bronx County second degree murder charge and weapons possession on December 22, 2008. Brancato was accused of felony murder in the December 10, 2005 fatal shooting of off duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui, who confronted Brancato and his friend Steve Armento as they were breaking in to the apartment of an alleged friend of Brancato's to get drugs.

Officer Enchautegui, sleeping next door, was awakened by the breaking glass, and confronted Armento and Brancato. In the ensuing shootout, Armento shot Officer Enchautegui in the chest with a .357 caliber handgun, killing him. Armento was convicted of the first degree murder of Officer Enchautegui in a separate trial, and was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without parole.

Brancato was convicted of attempted burglary, which is a Class C felony under the Penal Law of New York State, and carries a minimum sentence of 3 years. However, Brancato has been incarcerated since the shooting three years ago, and may get credit for time served. He is due in Court for sentencing by Judge Martin Marcus on January 9, 2009.

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New York Jet's Defensive Lineman Charged With Marijuana Possession

December 8, 2008 by Mark Siesel

New York Jets Defensive Captain Shaun Ellis has been charged with marijuana possession, driving without insurance and speeding in Hanover Township, New Jersey. On November 30th, Ellis was driving on Route 287 South at approximately 8:30 AM when he allegedly approached a police cruiser at high speed, passed the vehicle, and was pulled over for speeding. When Hanover Township troopers searched the vehicle, they found an unspecified amount of marijuana, and determined that Mr. Ellis did not have proof of insurance for his vehicle.

Mr. Ellis has issued an apology to Jets fans and the organization through a Jets spokesman, stating that he has "to be responsible for my actions." Ellis is a 9 year veteran and played in the 2003 Pro Bowl. The Jets have not stated whether they intend to take any disciplinary action against Ellis, noting that the matter will be handled by the NFL, who could suspend Ellis.

Had Ellis been arrested on a New York marijuana possession charge, under article 221 of the New York Penal law, if he were found guilty, the range of penalties is from up to three months in jail for possession of 25 grams (a class B misdemeanor) to a maximum of a 15 year jail sentence if the amount of marijuana was 10 pounds or more (C felony pursuant to Penal Law Section 221.30).

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New York Illegal Weapons Charge For Giant's Star Burress

December 5, 2008 by Mark Siesel

New York Giants star wide receiver Plaxico Burress is in serious legal jeopardy, facing two counts of illegal weapons possession in New York which could land him in prison for a minimum of 3 1/2 years. This past Saturday, Burress went to the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan, accompanied by teammates Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw. At approximately 1:00 AM, when security guards questioned whether Burress had a weapon, Burress reached for his .40 caliber Glock and accidentally shot himself in the right thigh. He was treated at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital for his injuries and released.

On December 1st, Mr. Burress was booked, handcuffed and arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on two counts of illegal weapons possession, pursuant to Section 265 of the New York Penal Law. Apparently, Mr. Burress did not have a permit for the Glock semiautomatic pistol. Burress was released after posting $100,000 bail, and is due back in Court on March 31, 2009. The Giants have suspended Burress without pay, fined him and placed him on the reserve list for a non-football injury, effectively ending his season and in all likelihood, his career with the Giants.

Interestingly, had this incident occurred just two years ago, New York judges had the option of not imposing any jail time on defendants found guilty of illegal possession of a loaded firearm. However, due to pressure from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others, in November of 2006, Governor Pataki signed into law a provision which made illegal possession of a firearm the legal equivalent of robbery or burglary, a C felony that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three and a half years. In the wake of the shooting death of Washington Redskins star defensive back Sean Taylor last year, and the recent robbery of fellow Giants receiver Steven Smith at gunpoint last week, it is probably not surprising that some players feel the need to arm themselves, but this will not aid Burress' defense in this case.

According to John Caher of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, 986 people were arrested last year on the same charges as Burress was, and 90 percent ended up convicted of less serious crimes, including 50% which resulted in misdemeanors or violations.

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Michael Vick Pleads Guilty To Virginia Dogfighting Charge

December 1, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick pled guilty last week to a Virginia dog fighting charge, and received a three year suspended sentence, much less than the maximum of 10 years he could have been assessed. One count of cruelty to animals was dropped under the plea deal. Mr. Vick arrived in Court in Sussex, Virginia wearing wrist and ankle shackles along with his gray suit. He apologized to the Court, his family and the fans who had looked up to him as a role model during his years as a star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.

Vick is already serving a 23 month sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas on a 2007 federal conviction of bankrolling a dog fighting operation at his home in Surry County, near Richmond, Virginia. He is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2009, and then will start his three years of probation. The Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, has stated definitively that Vick will never play for the Falcons again. It is unclear if any other NFL team would take a chance on Mr. Vick, especially with all the dog lovers around the United States.

Had Vick been convicted of dog fighting in New York on similar evidence, under the Agriculture & Markets Law, he would have been looking at a felony with up to four years in prison and a fine of potentially $25,000. And New York dog fighting spectators beware--if you bet on dog fighting in New York, you can go to jail for up to one year and/or be fined $1,000.00!

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Westchester County Aggravated DWI Charge Against Bryant Gumbel's Son

November 28, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Aggravated DWI charges have been filed against the 29 year old son of Bryant Gumbel, the host of "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel." Bradley C. Gumbel of Waccabuc was charged on November 16 with New York misdemeanor drunk driving at a traffic stop on Mead Street in Lewisboro when troopers observed him swerve his 2005 Toyota 4-Runner SUV in and out of his lane. When they approached the car, the troopers observed damage to the front passenger side of the vehicle. Gumbel was asleep in the car and the troopers allegedly detected a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

Mr. Gumbel's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.18 percent, which is the initial level of blood alcohol at which authorities can charge Aggravated DWI, a much more serious offense than Driving While Intoxicated, with potential implications including loss of a driver's license for a year and much more substantial fines than Driving While Intoxicated. The aggravated DWI statute went into effect in November of 2007. DWI can be charged if a driver has a BAC of 0.08 percent or more.

Mr. Gumbel was also charged with operating a vehicle with a suspended registration, a misdemeanor, based upon a suspension of his registration due to lapsed insurance. He is scheduled to be arraigned in due in Lewisboro Town Court on December 1.

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"Sopranos" Actor On Trial In Bronx County

November 26, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Lillo Brancato Jr., an actor in the movie "A Bronx Tale" and on television in the "Sopranos", is on trial in a Bronx County murder case, charged with the December 10, 2005 fatal shooting of Daniel Enchautegui, an off-duty police officer from the 40th precinct in the Bronx. The facts are that Brancato, along with his friend, Steve Armento, had been out drinking and doing drugs at a strip club when they left the club to obtain more drugs. Brancato suggested that the two go to the home of Brancato's friend on Arnow Place in the Bronx. When the friend did not answer the door, (Apparently, Mr. Brancato did not know that his friend had died and the apartment was empty), Brancato kicked the window in, and the two men entered the apartment to look for prescription drugs.

Officer Enchautegui, sleeping next door, was awakened by the breaking glass. He confronted Armento and Brancato, and in the ensuing shootout, Armento shot Officer Enchautegui in the chest with a .357 caliber handgun, killing him. Armento was convicted of the first degree murder of Officer Enchautegui, and was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without parole.

Under New York State law, if another felony is committed during the course of a murder, (in this case, a burglary) then anyone involved in the burglary can be charged with both crimes under the doctrine of felony murder. Therefore, Brancato is being tried for murder even though the evidence is that he did not pull the trigger.

During opening statements in the Brancato trial on November 24, his lawyer revealed his strategy for the defense: that Brancato did not know that Armento had a gun when they went to the friend's house looking for drugs. When the attorney claimed that Mr. Brancato was also a victim of Armento in addition to Officer Enchautegui, this statement apparently elicited gasps from the officer's relatives and fellow officers in the courtroom. We will report on this case upon its conclusion.

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MacKenzie Phillips Pleads Guilty To Drug Possession

November 6, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Former star actress Mackenzie Phillips of the popular '70's TV show "One Day At A Time" pled guilty to cocaine possession charges in Los Angeles this past week and will enter drug treatment. Phillips is the daughter of the legendary founder of the Mamas & The Papas, the late John Phillips, who had his own serious struggles with drug usage, contributing to his untimely death. The Los Angeles district attorney's office stated that two counts of heroin possession were dismissed, and Ms. Phillips was ordered to finish an 18 month program. Apparently, this is now Phillips 10th stint in drug rehabilitation.

The 48 year old actress was arrested on August 27th at Los Angeles International Airport after police found small amounts of drugs during a security check.

Under the New York Penal Law, had Ms. Phillips been charged in New York with criminal possession of a controlled substance, the penalties range from a Class A-1 felony charge for possession of 8 ounces or more, down to a misdemeanor for the lowest level possession charge (for instance, possession of one joint of marijuana).

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"Newsradio" Actor Pleads Guilty To Drug Charge

October 31, 2008 by Mark Siesel

"Newsradio" actor Andy Dick pled guilty to misdemeanor drug and battery charges on October 17, 2008 in Murrieta, California. Dick was arrested on felony sexual battery charges in July when a 17 year old girl accused him of pulling down her top. Riverside County police officers had responded to the scene on a complaint of an intoxicated male outside a restaurant. The actor was ordered to serve three years probation and to wear an alcohol monitor for the next year.

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DWI Arrest For New York Yankees Pitcher

October 20, 2008 by Mark Siesel

New York Yankees ace pitcher Joba Chamberlain was arrested on Saturday October 18, 2008 in Lincoln, Nebraska on charges of driving while intoxicated, possession of an open container of alcohol, and speeding. The Nebraska State Patrol stopped Mr. Chamberlain in the early morning hours this past Saturday after observing the Yankee pitcher driving his BMW at an excessive rate of speed. When the trooper approached the vehicle, he saw the open container of alcohol and detected an odor of alcohol. Chamberlain was then arrested on charges of driving under the influence, having an open container of alcohol and speeding.

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O.J. Simpson Convicted Of All Charges In Las Vegas Robbery Case

October 5, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Exactly 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, O.J. Simpson was convicted on October 3, 2008 by a Las Vegas jury of all 12 counts in thearmed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers. The jury reached its verdict after 12 days of testimony from 22 witnesses. Mr. Simpson did not testify in his own defense, the same strategy he employed in his murder trial over thirteen years ago. In addition to witness testimony from co-defendants, the jury heard hours of secretly recorded and profanity laced audiotapes.

The charges stemmed from a September 13, 2007 incident in which Simpson and five other men, two with firearms, stormed the Las Vegas hotel room of sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Al Beardsley to retrieve mementos such as signed Pete Rose baseballs, Joe Montana lithographs, game balls and plaques which Simpson claimed were his. One co-defendant testified that Simpson instructed him to "bring a gun and look menacing" before they entered the hotel room. Simpson later denied to police that he knew that any of his accomplices were armed.

Simpson was convicted all 12 charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit burglary and kidnapping. He was denied bail and taken into immediate custody. Simpson's co-defendant Clarence Stewart was also found guilty on all 12 charges. The 61 year old ex-football star could face life in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Jackie Glass on December 5. His lawyers have vowed that they will appeal.

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Heather Locklear Charged With Driving Under Influence

September 30, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Heather Locklear, one of the stars of TV shows as "T.J. Hooker", "Dynasty", "Melrose Place" and "Spin City", has been charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance in a suburb of Santa Barbara, California. Ms. Locklear was stopped on September 28, 2008 by a California Highway Patrol officer after she was reported driving erratically as she exited a parking lot. The officer then observed Locklear's car parked on a state highway and blocking traffic. When she was questioned, the officer made the determination that Locklear was "under the influence of something." She was transported to the local police station in Montecito, California, tested for alcohol and drugs, and charged with driving under the influence of prescription medication.

Later that day, Ms. Locklear was released from custody. Her arraignment date was not immediately announced.

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"Lost" Star Daniel Dae Kim Pleads Guilty To Drunk Driving Charges

September 15, 2008 by Mark Siesel

"Lost" star Daniel Dae Kim pleaded no contest to driving while intoxicated in Honolulu on September 12, 2008. Kim was arrested on October 25th of last year after he was observed driving erratically by local police. His blood alcohol level (BAC) was 0.168, more than double Hawaii's legal limit. Mr. Kim had his driver's license revoked for six months, was ordered to pay over $700.00 in fines, must perform 72 hours of community service and will be required to undergo drug and alcohol counseling.

Kim is the third "Lost" actor to have been arrested for drunk driving; the other two, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros, were eliminated from the show after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated.

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Preppie Killer Robert Chambers Gets 19 More Years In Jail

August 20, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Robert Chambers, the "preppie killer" who served 15 years for the 1986 murder of Jennifer Levin in Central Park, pled guilty this past week to selling cocaine and assault on a police officer. Chambers, who served the maximum sentence for strangling Jennifer Levin during what he characterized as "rough sex", was released from prison in 2003. During his original prison term, Chambers was cited for several violations, including drug possession. In November of 2004, Chambers was arrested after traces of heroin and cocaine were found in his car, which he was driving with a suspended license. He was then sentenced to an additional 100 days in prison.

During a three month undercover investigation, Chambers and his girlfriend apparently sold 246 grams of cocaine to police officers for $9,600 from a midtown New York apartment. When they were arrested last year, officers had to use a battering ram to enter the apartment, which was littered with 10 crack pipes and several tin cans of cocaine residue, among other drug paraphernalia. During a violent struggle with the police, Chambers broke one officer's wrist.

Under the plea deal, Chambers has been promised a sentence of 19 years and 4 months. Had he pled not guilty, he faced life in prison if convicted after trial. Chambers will be 62 years old when he completes his jail term in 2027.

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"Office" Actor Craig Phillip Robinson Faces Drug Charges

August 19, 2008 by Mark Siesel

L.A. prosecutors have filed felony drug charges against Craig Phillip Robinson, an actor known for his role on NBC's show "The Office." Robinson was arrested on June 29, 2008 on suspicion of possessing MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy, and methamphetamine. Los Angeles County prosecutors have charges Mr. Robinson with two felony counts of drug possession and one count of being under the influence of illegal drugs.

The 38 year old actor is due to appear in Court on August 21. Robinson portrays Daryl Philbin, a warehouse foreman on "The Office." Recently, he appeared in the comedy film "Pineapple Express."

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Megachurch Pastor Victoria Osteen On Trial for Attack On Flight Attendant

August 18, 2008 by Mark Siesel

Victoria Osteen, the wife and co-pastor with her husband Joel Osteen of the megachurch Lakewood in Houston Texas, is on trial this week in Houston, Texas facing charges that she assaulted Sharon Brown, a Continental Airlines flight attendant on a 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colorado. The Lakewood Church draws approximately 40,000 people to Sunday services, with millions more watching on television. Ms. Brown testified that after a spill on Ms. Osteen's first class seat was not cleaned quickly enough for Ms. Osteen's liking, she angrily approached Ms. Brown and pushed her against a restroom door, then elbowed her in the left breast.

Ms. Osteen was escorted off the plane, accompanied by her husband and their two children. The Osteens both denied under oath that an attack had occurred; however, they did pay a $3,000 fine assessed by the Federal Aviation Administration for interference with crew members, "to put the incident behind [them.]"

Generally speaking, an assault is defined as a willful attempt to inflict injury upon the person of another, when coupled with a present ability to do so. Additionally, any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect bodily harm constitutes an assault.

Ms. Brown's lawsuit for the physical assault seeks an apology and punitive damages equal to 10% of Ms. Osteen's net worth. Punitive damages, (unlike compensatory damages, which are designed to compensate a person for his or her injuries) are generally only awarded when the conduct of the defendant is so outrageous that it is deemed to "shock the conscience" of the average person. Punitive damages are, as the name suggests, assessed to punish or make an example of the defendant for their malicious and wicked conduct. It remains to be seen if a jury will find that Ms. Osteen's conduct rose to the vicious level to justify a punitive damages award.

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