Local Defense Attorney Convicted in Connection to Scheme to Obstruct Justice
HOUSTON – Abraham Moses Fisch, 56, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, has been convicted on 18 counts to include conspiracy, obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and failure to file tax returns, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The jury returned its verdicts late today following a 15-day trial and approximately 14 hours of deliberations.
Lloyd Glen Williams, 67, a former used car financier in Houston, previously entered a plea of guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice and to filing a false tax return.
The evidence at trial showed that Fisch and Williams conspired to defraud defendants who were facing federal criminal charges in Houston. The fraud was perpetrated in at least four different federal criminal cases pending in Houston, including U.S. v. Edilberto Portillo et al. (H-06-182), U.S. v. Hugo Barrera Cavazos et al. (H-06-422), U.S. v. Umawa Oke Imo et al. (H-09-426) and U.S. v. Clifford Ubani and Princewill Njoku et al. (H-09-421 and H-10-416).
The defendants in the four cases as well as their wives and associates testified that Williams and Fisch told them that in return for paying exorbitant fees, Williams would pay off his alleged government contacts in Washington D.C. in order to obtain a “guaranteed” dismissal of the criminal cases. Those individuals were supposedly officials at the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, Department of Justice and Medicare.
Drug trafficker Edilberto Portillo and his wife, Elida Sanchez, paid $1.1 million to Fisch in order to obtain the dismissal of their charges. Fisch paid $700,000 of the Portillo/Sanchez fee to Williams. Umawa Oke Imo, a defendant in a large health care fraud case, testified that Fisch and Williams quoted him a fee of $3 million in order to obtain a dismissal. In reality, however, no officials were paid, no cases were dismissed, and Fisch and Williams simply split the fees between them.
The evidence showed that the scam undermined the functioning of the federal justice system by misleading defendants about the nature of the cooperation process with the government and interfering with defendants’ cooperation with the government, including failing to pass information from a defendant to the government. It also interfered with plea negotiations with the government by preventing defendants from timely entering guilty pleas because of the mistaken belief their case was going to be dismissed.
The scam also interfered with defendants’ relationships with former and subsequent counsel, including communicating with represented defendants unbeknownst to their legitimate counsel, causing them to fire counsel, not to communicate fully and truthfully with their attorneys and not to assist their attorneys in preparing their defense or in negotiating guilty pleas.
Fisch and Williams also insisted that defendants keep the nature of Williams’ so-called “assistance” secret from the court, the government and other attorneys.
Fisch was convicted of money laundering based on the deposit of the funds earned from the scheme, which totaled at least $1,150,000. The United States is seeking forfeiture of that amount as money derived from the criminal activity.
U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal has set sentencing for Sept. 29, 2015. At that time, Fisch faces up to five years for the conspiracy, 10 years on each of the four counts of obstruction of justice, 10 years for each of the seven counts of money laundering, 10 years for conspiracy to commit money laundering and one year for each of the five counts of failure to file tax returns in addition to substantial monetary fines. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The investigation that led to this indictment and the arrests and plea was conducted by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Johnson and John P. Pearson.