Queens Attorney and Second Individual Indicted For Scheme to Bribe a Witness in Double Homicide Trial on Long Island
A superseding indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Queens-based criminal defense attorney John Scarpa, Jr., and Charles Gallman, also known as “T.A.,” with violating the Travel Act by bribing a witness who testified in a double-homicide trial in Suffolk County Supreme Court. Scarpa was arrested earlier today and will be arraigned this afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione. Gallman will be arraigned at a later date.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Richard A. Brown, District Attorney of Queens County, announced the charges.
“As alleged, the defendants bribed a witness to commit perjury in an effort to help Scarpa’s client, who had committed two execution-style murders, escape justice,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office and our law enforcement partners will never tolerate the rigging of a trial and will vigorously prosecute attorneys or anyone else who seeks to undermine the integrity of the judicial process by witness tampering.” Mr. Donoghue also expressed his grateful appreciation to the Office of the Suffolk County District Attorney for its assistance during the investigation.
“Defense attorneys do all they can to help their clients fight criminal charges, which is everyone’s right by law,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “However, Mr. Scarpa allegedly broke the law trying to get his client off the hook for murder charges by bribing a witness. Everyone accused deserves the best defense, but attorneys cannot use illegal methods to win in court.”
“We will continue to work with our federal partners to root out corruption in the criminal justice system wherever it is found,” stated Queens District Attorney Brown. “I will say again that integrity is the foundation of our criminal justice system. These allegations go to the core of that foundation and are prejudicial to the administration of justice. The charges today send a strong message to those who would undermine that integrity that they will be held accountable. I commend the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and my Rackets, Special Victims and District Attorney’s Detective Bureaus for their vigorous pursuit of justice in this matter.”
As alleged in the indictment and detailed in court filings, the charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. Court-authorized intercepted communication between Scarpa and Gallman showed how the two men plotted to bribe a witness, Luis Cherry, in a Suffolk County criminal trial against Reginald Ross. Scarpa represented Ross, who was ultimately convicted of the unrelated murders of two men: Raymond Hirt, a road crew flagman killed at his jobsite in May 2010 because Ross was upset about traffic, and John Williams, whom he shot to death in October 2010 as Williams was going to work, mistaking Williams for his brother. Cherry participated in the Williams murder, and had pleaded guilty to that murder as well as another.
On January 13, 2015, Gallman visited Cherry at Downstate Correctional Facility and spoke to him about testifying at Ross’s trial. Thereafter, Gallman reported to Scarpa: “Anything we need, he’s willing. Whichever way you wanna play it, he’s willing.” Later in the conversation Scarpa asked, “So this guy is willing to do whatever?” And Gallman confirmed, “Whatever you need, John. Whatever you need.” Gallman added that there was a “bunch of stuff I wrote down that [Cherry] wants.”
Scarpa called Cherry as a defense witness at trial and led Cherry through perjurious testimony relevant to the Williams murder. For example, Cherry claimed that he had committed the murder alone after he crawled from the driver’s seat and exited through the passenger side of his vehicle with firearms in both hands despite physical evidence that clearly indicated two gunmen were involved. When asked on cross-examination about meeting Gallman, Cherry falsely denied that they had talked about the murder case.
The charges in the superseding indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Scarpa and Gallman face up to five years’ imprisonment on each count.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Lindsay K. Gerdes and Andrey Spektor are in charge of the prosecution.
JOHN SCARPA, JR.
Queens, New York
Charles gallman (also known as “t.a.”)
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-123 (S-1) (CBA)