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Press Release

Criminal Defense Attorney Pleads Guilty To Decade-Long Federal Court Bribery Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Lawyer Paid Illegal Bribes and Compensation to a Federal Court Employee Since 2011 and Lied to Federal Agents Investigating the Scheme

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that TELESFORO DEL VALLE, JR., a/k/a “Ted,” a criminal defense attorney who has appeared in cases in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY District Court”) and elsewhere for more than 20 years, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, bribery, paying illegal compensation to a court employee, and making material false statements to law enforcement to conceal his crimes.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Practicing law, particularly criminal law, demands integrity and honesty.  The public relies on attorneys and court employees to maintain and validate its faith in our criminal justice system.  As he admitted today, Del Valle Jr. betrayed that trust by engaging in a scheme that spanned more than a decade and corrupted the fair administration of justice for personal gain.  My Office will always pursue corrupt actors without fear or favor.  The people in our District and this country deserve nothing less.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment:[1]

DEL VALLE is a private attorney who has appeared in numerous federal criminal cases pending before the SDNY District Court.  DIONISIO FIGUEROA, a/k/a “Dionicio,” a clerk in the SDNY Magistrate Clerk’s Office since in or about 2002, was responsible for performing duties that included, among other things, making data entries regarding official case events in criminal cases, making summary entries of documents and proceedings on case dockets, and performing inquiries and furnishing information, either in person or by correspondence, regarding the status of cases.  FIGUEROA also played a role with respect to the intake of criminal cases, including by preparing appearance bonds, advising defendants and their family members about the conditions of the bonds, and ensuring that appearance bonds were signed by all parties prior to a defendant’s release. 

SDNY District Court personnel policies prohibited FIGUEROA from, among other things, having outside employment that would pose a conflict of interest; receiving payments, gifts, or other benefits from persons having business before the District Court; and recommending particular attorneys to members of the public.  FIGUEROA was also subject to the U. S. Courts’ Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees (the “Code of Conduct”), which cautioned judicial employees that “[a] number of criminal statutes of general applicability govern federal employees’ performance of official duties.  These include:  18 U.S.C. § 201 (bribery of public officials and witnesses) . . .”  The Code of Conduct likewise admonished, among other things, that “[a] judicial employee should never influence or attempt to influence the assignment of cases, or perform any discretionary or ministerial function of the court in a manner that improperly favors any litigant or attorney, nor should a judicial employee imply that he or she is in a position to do so.” 

Between at least 2011 and 2022, DEL VALLE and FIGUEROA engaged in a scheme whereby FIGUEROA used his position as an employee of the SDNY District Court to encourage criminal defendants to retain DEL VALLE to represent them in pending criminal cases.  In return, DEL VALLE paid FIGUEROA a portion of the fees referred clients paid to DEL VALLE.  Over the course of more than a decade, FIGUEROA referred at least 45 SDNY criminal defendants to DEL VALLE, and DEL VALLE paid FIGUEROA tens of thousands of dollars in referral fees.  DEL VALLE paid FIGUEROA directly and through an intermediary who would pick up envelopes of cash for FIGUEROA from DEL VALLE’s law office.  Many of the clients who ended up retaining and paying DEL VALLE previously had been assigned court-appointed counsel at no cost to them.

In November 2022, federal law enforcement agents separately interviewed both DEL VALLE and FIGUEROA after advising each that lying to federal law enforcement agents is a federal crime.  DEL VALLE and FIGUEROA each made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in response to the agents’ questions.  In particular, DEL VALLE, upon being served with a federal grand jury subpoena requiring the production of records from his law firm, falsely denied having any records reflecting client referrals from or payments to FIGUEROA or anyone else.  FIGUEROA falsely denied making any referrals to DEL VALLE, except on a small number of occasions concerning close relations or friends, and further falsely denied ever having received payments from DEL VALLE for referrals.

*                *                *

DEL VALLE, 65, of Leonia, New Jersey, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe a federal employee and pay illegal compensation to a judicial employee, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison; one count of bribery of a federal employee, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 15 years in prison; one count of paying illegal compensation to a judicial employee, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison; and one count of making material false statements, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison.  Sentencing is scheduled for March 12, 2024, before the Hon. Mae A. D’Agostino, U. S. District Judge for the Northern District of New York, sitting by designation.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

FIGUEROA has pled not guilty to the charges contained in the Indictment, which are merely accusations, and the trial in his case is scheduled to begin on December 4, 2023.  FIGUEROA is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Balsamello, Jarrod L. Schaeffer, and Stephanie Simon have charge of the prosecution.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated November 16, 2023

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 23-402