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Friday, November 21, 2008

BENSON WEINTRAUB ON BEN KUEHNE

UPDATE:  A NATIONAL BLOG IS REPORTING THAT JUDGE COOKE HAS THE MOTION TO DISMISS IN KUEHNE'S CASE SET FOR NOVEMBER 25TH. THAT WOULD BE NEXT TUESDAY. CAN ANYONE CONFIRM THIS? OUR FAVOURITE FEDERAL BLOGGER WROTE AN AMICUS BRIEF FOR THE NACDL ON THE MOTION TO DISMISS


We received this as a comment and it bears repeating on the front of the blog. The following is from Benson Weintraub, and is reprinted in its entirety. 


Ben Kuehne Had No Motive Or Financial Incentive To Launder Money For Ochoa’s Attorney’s And Exclusive Beneficiaries, Especially Roy Black

By Benson Weintraub, Esquire, Fort Lauderdale February 14, 2008

Ben Kuehne was my law partner for 5+ years during the 1980'-1990's (Sonnett…Kuehne) and he mentored me since 1983 when I served as his 'associate' at the predecessor firm, Bierman, Sonnett, Shohat et. al.

I served as a full-time Visiting Professor of Law in 2005, after which I resumed private practice, now largely in the corporate compliance field (invariably circuitous to white collar criminal defense representation, particularly in the health care industry.).

Ben Kuehne is clearly a 'lawyer's lawyer' who instilled in me the highest appreciation of academic excellence in the practice of federal law. More critically, Ben sensitized me to the distinct ethical dilemmas presented institutionally to criminal defense counsel and ALWAYS taught me (AND CONTINUOUSLY REINFORCES THE NEED) to uphold and exceed our profession's highest ethical/legal standards.

Practicing criminal law in the federal courts places these dedicated, tenacious professionals in legal jeopardy merely by discharging their duties oaths, and obligations to the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, coextensively with duties to the courts and clients.

Ben successfully represented me before the Magluta grand jury in which each of his primary attorneys' fees, including those of Roy Black and Marty Weinberg, were also scrutinized (Weinberg was later disqualified from representing Magluta at trial in 99-583-Cr-Seitz). I don't recall whether Richard Strafer, the appeals lawyer, was called to that grand jury, but he, too, was routinely involved in Magluta's representation on appellate matters. Parenthetically, as an academic expert in money laundering, I prudently consulted him regarding propriety of accepting legal fees pre-dating his involvement in the Magluta/Falcon case.

Black, again, came out unscathed while other lawyers, including myself, were named as unindicted coconspirators for disclosing, with 11th hour client consent, but otherwise prepared to go jail for contempt), a $50,000 check from a third party) or plead guilty to violating a restraining order against the transfer of assets by the defendants, while Black and Weinberg walked away with fees approaching $10 million. The Miami Herald estimated that the aggregation of attorney fees and litigation costs exceeded $26 million, not to mention more than $500,000 imputed to the juror(s) for allegedly being bribed in the first case resulting in their acquittal.

Weinberg and Black were summoned to the US Attorney or grand jury too. What, if any implications can one draw from BLACK AND WEINBERG’S immunity from the type of prosecution for which Kuehne is now charged? Did they cooperate then? Did they cooperate against their client, lawyers, or retained counsel now? Did they set up Kuehne to take ‘their’ fall?

From these experiences and the overlap of identity of lawyers in the Ochoa case, I simply don't understand, knowing that Ben is clearly the least avaricious attorney I know, and based on his uncompromomising adherance to the to the law and the highest ethical standards, that he would intentionally commit money laundering, all the more so because he was not the beneficiary and was compensated proportionally and appropriately for a significant foreign financial investigation.

Kuehne and his Columbian accountant and local assistants personally checked official public Colombian government and financial records [is it possible that the corrupt national and provincial governments in Colombia manipulated "official" public records on which BPK relied?] to make an informed, deliberated, unbiased and independent conclusion as a Certified Fraud Examiner and premier lawyer extraordinaire.

Kuehne had no interest vested in the outcome of his conclusions and was entirely detached from the defendant's actual representation. His investigative role was minor in relation to the private investigation undertaken for the accused by Black’s PI's; Kuehne's objective investigation was limited temporally by the sole question presented; and the attorneys providing the representation, unlike Kuehne, were the only parties with an interest, financial or otherwise, in a dispositive [independent] conclusion by Kuehne.

That Black and Weinberg emerged unscathed from the Magluta investigation and took away from that experience the need to be more meticulous in accepting fees of potentially suspect origin, and it's recurrence in the Ochoa case is commendable.

But The Herald’s article published Feb. 7-8, 2008 states: "Ironically, the investigation first focused on Black... [B]ut authorities dropped their interest in Black and shifted to Kuehne, who became the target because his buffer-like role insulated Ochoa's defense attorney [Black] from any criminal liability for accepting the fees." Miami Herald (Internet ed. 2/7/2008)(emphasis added). Jay Weaver’s observation in this respect speaks volumes in terms of motive/benefit and accurately capsulizes the essence of this tragic episode in Kuehne's otherwise unblemished career.

This makes no sense and suggests the unspoken implication of Kuehne's status as a 'sacrifical lamb' without the motive or financial interest common to other lawyers who were plainly significant beneficiaries of otherwise prudent fee-paying conduct now alleged by the government to have been criminalized.

Kuehne, if retained by the defendant's attorneys to be a "buffer" to "insulate[ ]" them (and hoping for a pro forma favorable conclusion, hired the wrong lawyer) and if true, Black’s conduct would itself be appalling.

Finally, what about the latest revelations that Kuehne's codefendant was an undercover cooperator--seeking to unsuccessfully set up Kuehne in return for 5K1.1 or Rule 35 in S.D.N.Y --- in a Justice Dept. reverse sting. Could this be the AG's US Attorney Scandal Redux or Bush's retribution for Kuene's tenacious representation, with the pre-eminenet lawyer, David Boies, Esq. in Al Gore's representation contesting grand theft of the 2000 election?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

He probably can't comment, but does anyone know Black's position on what happened?
Is he helping Ben?
Is he, G forbid, helping the prosecution?

Anonymous said...

God forbid anyone feeling sorry for Ben Kuehne. The fundraiser was an embarrassment. Why not get Jerry Lewis involved and ask if he's willing to do a telethon?
What's next? A petition to Obama when he takes office to overturn the sentence and release every Drug Lord who is serving time in our prison?

Anonymous said...

Seems like Benson's still suffering from Barzee's right to the head. His open letter is dizzy, not particularly focused, and not very helpful to Ben's cause.

Anonymous said...

I know this isn't related to the whole Kuehne thing but I missed the juvenile as an adult thing and wanted to ask...why if the juvenile is being sent to adult court, to be treated as an adult, are the parents of the juvenile forced to hire an attorney and the juvenile is not afforded a public defender if he cannot afford an attorney??? I know this happened to the boy who stabbed his classmate. He was tried as an adult but his parents were forced by the court to pay for a private attorney.

Anonymous said...

Benson is a strange brew

Anonymous said...

That Black and Weinberg emerged unscathed from the Magluta investigation and took away from that experience the need to be more meticulous in accepting fees of potentially suspect origin, and it's recurrence in the Ochoa case is commendable.


ben son,, this is why you are not as smart as you think..............this above,,, is what got BEN in hot water..

Anonymous said...

6:02 P.M. is Jack Thompson.

Jack, you were disbarred because your conduct is about as unprofessional as a lawyer's conduct can be--the exact opposite of the way Mr. Kuehne conducts himself.

Anonymous said...

This article is bad blood and food for thought. And the ramblings of a mad man turned fdc boxer.

Anonymous said...

Is the implication of Benson"s article that ROY BLACK a government snitch or a derivation of sorts?

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that W ever heard of Ben Kuehne???

Weintraub is delusional.

Anonymous said...

6:02:00 p.m., you kind of sound like Jack Thompson. FYI the fundraiser was not an embarrassment. It was a SUCCESS!

Anonymous said...

Angry dan?

abe laeser said...

Jerry Lewis telethon?

It was a gathering of people who know Ben. If you know Ben, this Indictment is astounding and abhorrent on its face. Why not show our support for a friend? If you had friends, you might act in a similaw way -- if you had a soul, as well.

We learn to know our friends. We know their flaws, and their traits of greatness that raise them high in our eyes.

Thinking that Ben Kuehne is capable of these immoral and illegal acts is less likely, in my view, than the possibility that Rumpole [whoever he, she , or they might be] would be a prohibitive favorite to beat Usain Bolt at 200 meters in the 2012 Olympics. Frankly, it is completely inconceivable.

Other than the obvious conflict of interest; since I would trust Ben to always act properly, he would be a perfect choice for the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District. He is so squeaky clean, that he would refuse to dismiss the Indictment against himself + recuse his office from involvement in the matter.

Telethon? I guess that would only work if people cared enough about you to attend and contribute. The luminaries of the defense Bar from throughout Florida were present to honor Ben Buehne, and with good reason: They know Ben.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: I know Ben Kuehne. Ben Kuehne is a friend of mine. You sir, are no Ben Kuehne!

Anonymous said...

I don't see many "drug lords" in our prisons. I see a lot of dirt-poor, uneducated people who made bad decisions and whom our system has failed.

Anonymous said...

OBAMA

Anonymous said...

6:02 whats the matter, you realize if you were in need, no one would help your sad pathetic angry self?

Anonymous said...

Has it not become obvious over the past 20 years that anyone who vigorously defends drug cases in federal court as a private attorney, you don't see fed.pd and court appointeds getting indicted, is doomed to indictment, arrest, and incarceration and there are only about 100 examples. So if you want to have a lot of money for 20 years and t hen do 10 in federal prison then keep on defending drug lords and changing cars every 2 years.

South Florida Lawyers said...

It was a great event, and I was proud of my profession and those who showed up in support of Ben.

Anonymous said...

None of this may be true but... MY TWO SOURCES tell me that this is the weekend the 110 pound elephant in the room roars. Yes, sweet, petit, and neat as she is, I believe I have confirmation that Cristina Perrera Shuminer is holed up in an elegant suite at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne with her closest advisors, (Mr. Shumier NOT included) to decide whether she grabs the next appointment and runs for chief Judge.

This is so serious that even Joel "Im not Denaro" Brown is holding his breath waiting to see what colored smoke comes out of the elegant chimney at Che Ritz Key Biscy.

Predictions anyone?

Anonymous said...

1:19, I predict no one gives a crap

Anonymous said...

Abe Laeser, like Ben Kuehne, is a man of impeccable and unquestionable ethics. His comments about Ben are entirely correct. In my dealings with Ben, he has always held himself out to the highest ethical and professional standards and has always treated me (and everyone else) with the utmost courtesty. If Ben says it, you can take it to the bank.

Anonymous said...

Dear 7:27 - Juveniles direct filed in adult court are appointed public defenders all the time. The pd's office even has a unit dedicated to the representation of these direct filed juveniles.

Anonymous said...

Abe has a great idea. Ben should be appointed US attorney when Obama takes office next January and Alex Acosta leaves.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

I could not of said it better!!

Rumpole said...

hey hey HEY! Lets not get carried away here. I can still motor. Maybe not like I used to ....but still.

Defense-lawyer-for-the-princess said...

6:02, I would like to add my name to that petition.

10:40, Sir? 6:02 does not deserve to be called Sir.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Ben should not have been charged and we all know it. I still have to wonder why he needed a fundraiser when he took a fee larger than any of us would ever gets.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 9:35, W has heard of Ben Kuehne. The 2000 electoral shenanigans in South Florida caught everyone's eye if they had a passing interest in politics. Needless to say, the candidates and their minions were intimately familiar with the players and processes that were brought to a halt by the Supreme Court. No other election in our lifetimes was as publicly scandalous, and I can assure you that the principle beneficiary and his crew rewarded his lackeys and punished his detractors to the extent feasible. Unfortunately, Obama is too clean and it is too late to go after the bloodless coup leaders of Monicagate (especially since half of 'em are now federal judges).

CAPTAIN said...

November 22, 1963 - 45 years and counting and still one of the saddest days in American history.

JFK - rest in peace.

Cap Out ...