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Yes, You Can be Prosecuted for Providing Traditional Legal Services
By Barry Tarlow
RICO Report columns.
A recent Seventh Circuit decision may give pause to all criminal defense practitioners committed to vigorous advocacy on behalf of clients. That court decided in United States v. Cueto, 151 F.3d 620 (7th Cir. 1998), that an attorney’s actions representing a client under investigation for racketeering and illegal gambling, which included filing pleadings, urging co-counsel to file pleadings, urging the state to indict a government agent and challenging the grand jury’s composition, obstructed justice and constituted a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
For these actions, Amiel Cueto was sentenced to 87 months in prison. Although the holding could have easily been limited to the instances where, as here, the attorney was involved in the illicit business with his client or where an attorney uses unlawful means in defending clients, the decision expansively notes that “[o]therwise lawful conduct, even acts undertaken by an attorney in the course of representing a client, can transgre
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