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Sunday, February 14, 2010

CATALANO WEARS A WIRE

Update: As soon as this never ending day ends, I will be posting the definitive Rumpolian view on the Catalano contretemps. Stay tuned. You may be surprised.

Update: Catalano's wardrobe criticized by the civil lawyers below.

About a year ago a very tragic case occurred: Gabriel Delrisco was driving a car that hit a mini van and killed three children, ages 10, 7, and 4.

Michael Catalano is a the defense attorney for Derisco.

Catalano complained that civil attorneys for Delrisco offered him a proposition: Have Delrisco say he was drinking at a specific bar in Homestead just before the accident, allowing them to file a lawsuit against the bar, and the family would agree to a lighter sentence.

Catalano went to the SAO, and wore a wire in a least one meeting with Delrisco's attorneys, who are represented by Milt Hirsch. Never at a loss for words, Uncle Miltie had this say:
`Setting aside the unattractive prospect of a criminal defense attorney posing as an undercover informer for the police,'' Hirsch said, ``I have not heard anything from the state attorney's office to suggest there are law enforcement concerns about criminal misconduct on the part of Ariel Furst or [co-counsel] Luis Stabinski.'

Catalano had this to say:

Catalano said he took the unusual step of approaching prosecutors because he wants to ensure that Delrisco, if convicted, gets a fair sentence.

``It's my client, I have to give him my best,'' Catalano said.

Rumpole says: Memo to Catalano: your client is a "he" not an "it", We should all try to humanize our client, especially before juries and in the Herald.


The title to the post links to the Herald story.

The civil lawyer's view of this mess, and a critique of Catalano's sartorial choices in his undercover role is here on the South Florida Lawyer's Blog.



44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rumpy, what is the over/under that Catalano went to the civil lawyers offering the affidavit if they would convince the victims' family to go along with a lower jail sentence? He probably ran to the SAO to cover his tracks. Can't wait to see Milton cross Catalano. Catalano will crumble.

Anonymous said...

Catalano is a class act. A really good defense attorney. He should be proud.

Shoot The Lawyers said...

Who can blame the civil attorneys for trying this gambit? After the Dante Stallworth fiasco, the message is clear: in Miami Dade County money talks and justice walks. Stallworth bought his way out of a lengthy prison with the SAO's blessing. He did 30 days. This Defendant does not have Stallworth's money so in order to get that moola and buy his way to freedom, he doctors his testimony to finger someone else and cause an insurance company to pay the victim money that he otherwise could not. The result is no different from what Stallworth pulled off. If Catalano were not so honest, he could have gone along with the scam and demanded 90 days for his client since the going rate for a single DUI death with a payoff to the victim is 30 days. The SAO would have been hard pressed to deny the logic of his argument.

Anonymous said...

Catalano is metally ill.

Anonymous said...

Rump,

lay off Catalano. The "it" was a figure of speech, stop being so sensitive. I doubt Catalano would refer to his client as "it" during argument.

This is an interesting article because the lawsuit filed in December supports Catalano's theory that the civil attorneys are the real scum bag criminals in this whole alleged conspiracy. Not sure about how I feel about a criminal defense attorney wearing a wire though.

Furthermore, how does Milt Hirsch keep documents in his safe that have been been requested by the SAO by lawful subpoena? I wonder if he will take the same position next year this time when he is the one signing the court orders to turn over similar documents. Maybe there is a 5th Amendment issue here I am missing.

p.s. Robert "Bobby" Aaron is a folk hero.

Rumpole said...

you can write a post as a "fake" but not if you call them hefty, even if they've put on a bit of weight recently.

Anonymous said...

Both parties were wrong.

Catalano should never have worn a wire. That goes against everything criminal defense lawyers stand for.

However, if the allegations are true, the civil lawyers are even more culpable for fraud.

Anonymous said...

Class Act all around. I recall the antics and "creative" lawyering of Louie Stabinski well. Met him and his clan fresh out of law school while working for a civil firm. He bullied a female associate to the point that I was assigned the case. I recall the deceptive abusive persona well. Later, I had the privilege of being assigned to a case in which the Plaintiffs claim seemed out of kilter. I had surveillance done and proved the Plaintiff was, putting it mildly, deceptive. When the surveillance surfaced, the confrontation was, to say the least, as interesting as a Foreman - Ali sitcom.

Now, as for Agent Catalano, why?? There are other ways to achieve your objective, perhaps with more positive results or benefits for the client. That said, the State appears to have acted ineptly. (Stress appears). If the object is to nail criminal intent, why abort or pull the investigation before the affidavit or other testimony is used or proffered. Would the latter not have completed the criminal episode and nailed intent?

I have to wonder, being familiar with the “expertise” of the Stabinski firm, who was playing who. Mr. Catalano, the ASA and the investigator may all have been out Foxed. Wonder if the Judge will inquire?

Anonymous said...

Catalano and Hirsch are two of the biggest morons in our profession.

Anonymous said...

Nice going Mikey... You have now stopped this mother who lost all 3 of her Children from ever getting any financial relief from any one person or company/bar.

You should have just walked away and kept your mouth shut. The whole thing sounds fishey.

"Delrisco plowed into the back of a Ford minivan on Jan. 25, 2009 in South Miami-Dade, killing the Serrano children: Hector, 10; Esmeralda, 7, and Amber, 4."

I remember the case so well, I for one will be outraged if your client does not rot in jail. How do you sleep at night?

Rumpole said...

I will tell you how Catalano sleeps at night- very well. He defends clients because that is what our Constitution requires. How would you feel if you went to an emergency room and the doctor- after interviewing you decided you weren't worth saving (which would probably be an easy decision in your case) and decided not to treat you?
Same for lawyers.

Remember The Olynmpics Bomber in Atlanta -Richard Jewel? Working as a security guard because he couldn't become a cop. Found a second bomb- police very suspicious of him because he found the bomb- and fit the profile of a disgruntled person who wants to be a hero.

Jewel found the pipe bomb and cleared the area and saved many lives. But when suspicion turned towards him he was roasted in the Media and convicted in the court of public opinion. His life was ruined. He looked guilty. He fit the profile. The cops were sure. He was cooked.

One problem- he was innocent and a few years later he was cleared when the real bomber was arrested. But by then it was too late- Jewel's life was ruined.

But when no one believed in him, and Jewel was convicted night after night on CNN and MSNBC, he only had his lawyer to stand by his side and fight for him.

That's why Catalano and all of us who do this sleep so well at night.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous @ 8:04:00

Criminal defense lawyers do not stand for criminals. We are not in favor of robbery, rape and murder. Better ten guilty men go free than a single innocent is convicted; but it is way better that ten guilty men are convicted.

Should a criminal defense lawyer stand by while a young woman is beaten and raped because beatings and rapes are what we stand for?

Criminal defense lawyers stand for justice, honor, integrity and the preservation of the 1688 Declaration of Right. We are the good guys, and while we defend those citizens who run afoul of our brutal sovereign, we do not represent criminality.

Anonymous said...

I spoke with Catalano.

This is what really happended.

Catalano simply wanted to reach out to the family of the deceased via their lawyers to see if they could do something to get them to back down on their sentencing request.

Stabinski and Furst pushed him to get his client to lie about where he was drinking so that he could go after the strip mall insurance policy. Delrisco had $300,000.00 and it was timely tendered. So, one way or another, they get at least $200,000.00.

Catalano told Furst over and over that any such affidavit would have been false but, he was willing to do it to save Delrisco from life in prison. (Delrisco is 44 and you get at least 30 years for killing three kids).

The case was real hard to defend because Delrisco rear ended a stopped car and instantly killed all three kids. What a tragedy! The blood was .24 so so, he had lots of booze on board.

Everyone agreed that client was at the El Paso restaurant up until about midnight but, accident was at 5: 30 am. So, if you want to sue a mall or a restaurant, you have to be able to prove that they created a danger.

The problem is that Delrisco was not at El Paso drinking during the most important hours, those being from midnight to shortly before the crash or about 5 hours.

So, Catalano felt pressured and reported it to David Gilbert, a real straight shooter. He sent him to Joe Centorino. Joe asked him if he would make controlled calls and it all went downhill from there for Furst.

Furst was told over and over that the testimony he wanted to get the mall was not true. Furst prepared the affidavit. Catalano handed it to him and told him it was not true but, he would do anything to save his client from life since the family had to approve something less and understandably, the family wanted life. (Wouldn't you?)

Then, Howward Rosen got the file and did not want to charge the lawyer since his "out" would be that Furst had witnesses to put him at the bar from 1-5 am so, as Fusrt said on tape, "It doesn't matter if it is not true." It probably turns out there are no such witnesses and the State and Defense don't have them and Furst said they were crimestoppers tips.

I have a big question for all you wise guys out there that are now critical of Mike. Would you have the balls or whatever to do the same to save a man's life even a man who did what Delrisco did?

Catalano is pro bono on this so, you can not say he did it for the money.

On the last taped call, Catalano told Furst that the affidavit was a fraud and still, he refused to give it back.

Rosen shut down the investigation because he did not think he could get a conviction. Centorino sent a cop with a supboena to get the fake affidavit back and sure enough, Furst would not give it back. Finally Furst called Centorino and Joe told him it was a fake and still, he would not give it back. Furst then started calling Catalano and screaming at him. Then, he hired Milt Hirsch and Milt put it in his safe.

Judge Rosa Rodriquez has been informed all along.

The lawyer who the restauarant hired has now verified that he too does not think Delrisco was there after midnight and he too was
"squeezed" by Furst to help get the strip mall. The restaurant has no insurance but, everyone knows that strip malls usually have a cool million in insuarnce.

So, to make another $400,000.00 fee, Furst did what so many PI lawyers do, he helped make up evidence to get his client past directed virdict in a amended suit against the mall.

If you were in Mike's shoes, would you not desire to have tapes to show that the other guy is doing this?

I bet we all will hear the tapes just as soon as the SAO releases them and that will happen just as soon as the bosses sign off the close out memo.

How on earth could anyone be critical of Mike for what he did. Now, the client will probably get credit at sentencing.

Anonymous said...

Gee, who to believe?

Catalano who is working pro bono for his client. What possible motive could he have to make this up? This would have to be the most elaborate scheme by Mike to shave a little bit off of what will be a LONG prison sentence.

Or,

Some PI lawyer who filed a 25 million dollar lawsuit and is looking to collect 40%. I'd say he has 10 million reasons to "bend the rules" a bit ask for a phony affidavit.

Say what you want about Catalano, but he did the right thing here. Any of us would be outraged if a victim (or thier PI attorneys) came up to us and asked for a quid pro quo for a lighter sentence. Especially when the quid pro quo involves perjured testimony.

Anonymous said...

what is a fair sentence for a drunk who kills 3 kids while dui? how about 45 years in jail/ this fiasco could happen only in miami. the plaintiffs attorneys are low lying fruit, and true skumbags. they should be disbarred. agent catalano is a disgrace as well. be careful when talking to him, he could be wired.

Anonymous said...

First of all, you Mr./Ms. 9:41 am. Do you really think it is OK for a family who lost 3 kids to sue a 3rd party that is not responsible? If you do, you are an idiot.

What Mike did had absolutely nothing to do with a ligitimate suit against the real tortfeasors.

Everytime an insurance company gets hit by a fake lawsuit, we all pay in higher premiums.

How would you feel if someone made up shit and sued you or a family member without insurance and you had to pay big bucks to defend?

I am totally sickened that anyone would think for one minute that fake testimony is OK.

Anonymous said...

I love practicing in Miami. In Broward, the crooked politicians and judges are the main even. In Miami, it is all about the lawyers baby. Catalano and Hirsch certainly keeps things interesting. Killing 3 kids while you are shitty drunk is deserving of a 30 year sentence if this guy has prior DUI arrests. If this is his first DUI, that should be a mitigating factor in sentencing. I bet the SAO is not even offering a plea and if they are, it is something ridiculous.

RFB said...

If nothing else comes out of this post, it's the tag "Agent Catalano". it's priceless and replaces Air Marshall Catalano for his heroic actions in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

All hail the agent. The Air Marshall has retired!

Anonymous said...

How can you make fun of Mike going to New Orleans as a Coast Guard pilot as part of Katrina relief?

He did not get paid for that either.

That is not nice and not funny.

I wonder what I would have done. I know I would not have helped with a fraud, but, I wonder, would I have gone that far? Probably not but, he has always had guts.

Anonymous said...

Trivia:

What is the name of the sick disturbed Judge who had this exchange with a Florida prosecutor?

"In 1988 a Florida judge, trying a case concerning the beating to death of a gay man asked the prosecutor, "That's a crime now, to beat up a homosexual?" The prosecutor responded, "Yes, sir. And it's also a crime to kill them." "Times have really changed," the judge replied"

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, at Monday, February 15, 2010 10:24:00 AM

I get you 100% in any other case I would agree, but this jackass was in a truck, drunk out of his mind and kills 3 children all the children of a poor lady who has no resources to hire a Roy Black demand proper justice for children.
Instead we get this mess coming out of Miami. I just feel horrible for the mother, she deserves better than this fiasco.

Now that this whole thing is out and in the open the Florida bar had better disbar someone.

Anonymous said...

I believe Delrisco's driving record is pretty nasty. Regardless, anybody who gets behind the wheel with a .24 and kills 3 children should do substantial time in prison. I sincerely hope the State Attorney's Office is making a plea consistent with not only the wishes of the family, but the interests of justice. If the family wanted probation, the State should still seek prison.

The State Attorney's Office is not a victims' advocacy firm but an agency that represents the people of the entire state. I'm a defense attorney, and while I applauded Chris Lyons for his work on the Stallworth case, I'm still disgusted by the plea.

When I was a prosecutor, I hated the blind allegiance we were to have for our victims, especially on minor cases. It was very two-sided. Obey the victims' wishes, but what about when the victim didn't want to proceed, or didn't care about the case? We didn't get to simply drop the case because the victim said so. We filed rules to show cause and material witness bonds and such. We sent police to their homes to serve them.

In major cases, however, victims wishes should be considered, but by no means should their desires dictate the outcome of a case. The Florida Constitution affords victims the right to be informed, to be heard, and to be present. I don't recall anything about victims having the power to set the terms of a plea agreement. It's a political policy instituted by elected State Attorneys. It's not justice.

If the evidence supports the fact that Delrisco drove impaired, and such impairment caused him to kill 3 children, then he should go to prison. The family of the deceased children are not the only victims. The State is a victim of this crime as well, and while my heart goes out to the family, the interests of the State outweigh the interests of that one family. If Delrisco has a poor driving record that shows he has little regard for others, and that his compulsive drinking leads him to get behind the wheel, then he is putting ALL of us at risk. He should go to prison regardless of what the victims' family wants.

The State Attorney's Office is not a collection agency. Let the civil lawyers worry about that. Ask any ASA or former ASA who has had to deal with restitution issues. When money is in the picture true justice is rarely done.

Anonymous said...

If Catalano has entered a notice of appearance, why does the defendant still qualify for the PD?

Anonymous said...

why does Catalano's office look like a mobile home.

Anonymous said...

4:54, you make a very persuasive and resounding point. I agree with you.

The victims should not dictate the terms of a plea towards a lighter sentence just like how I believe the victims should not dictate the terms of a plea towards a stiffer sentence. It should always be with the primary responsibility of what is in the best interest of justice for the people of the 11th Judicial Circuit.

The SAO has long been beholden to the interest of victims and only victims. Misdemeanor cases that warrant a dismissal are often pursued to the trial date and through a trial at the insistence of unreasonable victims. ASAs are all too willing to go along with this reckless pursuit of injustice.
I can only hope the SAO will become an agency that truly pursue the interest of justice for the greater community and not just victims and police officers.

If Delrisco has a nasty driving record, prior DUIs and the facts of this case are really what is being reported, then yes, I agree, that this man should spend significant time in prison. But to make the comparison that Stallworth's case is similar to Delrisco is insane. Stallworth, despite a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, did not drive with reckless abandon and the victim in that case appeared to have been jaywalking across a major causeway. Stallworth's case was triable, and probably winnable on the DUI manslaughter count and he was responsible in assisting the victim's family with financial security.

As for all the Catalano bashing, I think it is remarkable he flew for the coast guard during Katrina, that he has agreed to work pro bono with the Public Defender's office to assist in a very difficult case. He has guts and he is a good guy.

Anonymous said...

how many times is catalno going to post about himself posing as another person?

your reputation is in ruined . you are a laughing stock

you had already displayed poor judgment and erratic behavior .

this is the nail.

Anonymous said...

everyone who reads this immediately concludes catlano is the one who approached the victim's lawyer to buy his client's way out of a harsher sentence, and then tried cover his tracks by allegeing the plaintiff's lawer approached him

how pathetic is catalano, that he cant even successfully pull off what chris "i'll take the plea" lyons can?

Anonymous said...

Catalano did nothing wrong. Hirsch has a big mouth-always has and always will. His quote about Catalano is offensive. And evidence that he will make a terrible judge if elected.

Anonymous said...

My God, what has Catalano done to deserve these insults?

Anonymous said...

What has Mike done to piss of a few blog responders? Since when is the guy working with the police the unethical one?

Anonymous said...

uh, where do we begin??

this many people think so poorly of you, perhaps its time for self analysis, mike. er, 1108am, 721 am, and 8:07 am

you cemented your reputation among the defense attorneys

the bench already regardes you as untrustworthy.

Anonymous said...

these coments are discrimatory!

everyone is wrong!

I am a victim!

why does everyone hate me???

why does this alwaysw happen to me!?!

signed,
whiney fake mike catalano

Anonymous said...

Why does Mike feel it necessary to call the Heralds attention to this matter? The sao didn't do it.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole
Because of the varied people we deal with in the Criminal Justice System, We Attorneys have a bad reputation Outside the halls of MJB.We deal with many people, most in very hard positions/ situations.
Occasionaly, a few are not the most savory. Some, even LIE CHEAT AND STEAL. Then they DENY IT.
Many times I have been given alibi or defense witnesses names , but instead of contacting them myself , I have an Investigator meet with them and interview them. I want to place a buffer between me and the witness or client or family, so NO ONE ( Esspecially the SAO or some young ASA who would think I would do that cause I am a CRIMINAL Attorney), can say I suggested the testimony. Its simple CYA.
IF Mike C. was being 'encouraged ' to turn the testimony to perjury for the Victim's Family or the Family's Attorney, how could he not try to CYA? And how could he avoid charges of illegal taping w/out the SAOs co-operation? The fact that he taped this w/ the consent of SAO may lead us to the conclusion that THIS IS one tape I would like to hear.
NO Attorney who practices at MJB (REG Justice Build.) should have to doubt that their word is good. My Experience over 25 years in both Civil and Criminal and Family , is that the Lawyers that are regulars at MJB are trustworthy. They are well known and many. But, in Civil all must be in writing or its
Res Ipsa Squata ( latin for squat).
D. Sisselman

Anonymous said...

I spoke today with Mike.

He says he does not care about all the stupid comments some of you have made.

He wonders why anyone would condone what those PI guys did.

I agree with him.

He also said that you smart asses can call him and he will tell you what happened so that you can all stop making up crap that is not true.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING BLOG NEWS:

CATALONO VS. MILTON

YEP, CATALANO IS SO PISSED AT MILT THAT HAS FILED PAPERS TO RUN AGAINST MILT FOR JUDGE.

CAN MIKEY, BEAT MILT? DO WE EVEN CARE? IS THIS THE MOTHER OF ALL RACES? SHOULD I JUST STOP TYPING?

THE REAL QUESTION IS, WILL MIKEY WEAR THE BLUE SPORT COAT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.

Anonymous said...

Mike went from the FACDL listserve to the Herald...He must really like the ATTENTION! And then he acts like the victim...quite frankly its a disgrace if he actually wore a wire...That makes him a SNITCH!!!! And good for Milt who called him out on it...CAT IS A SNITCH!!!!

Anonymous said...

To those who malign "Agent Catalano" I offer that courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody's looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you're misunderstood.” "Charles Swindoll"

Scott Saul said...

I like Mike and I like Milt but this is embarrassing all around and makes the profession look bad.


BTW If I had to cross a busy street blindfolded and had to rely on either a criminal defense/prosecuting attorney or a civil lawyer to lead the way, I would offer my hand to the criminal defense attorney without hesitation.

Anonymous said...

one person who sounds half cocked is milton hirsch. he wants to be a judge yet he is critical of a fellow member of the bar who is doing something totally ethical. that is, turning in a scumbad civil attorney who has a reputation, just ask around, for being unsavory. milton hirsch is not fit to be judge.

Anonymous said...

Catalano is a complete scumbag but i gotta tell you i think he is in the right on this one. these PI lawyers are fuckin scum and i have no doubt that they would do anything to make money and we shouldnt be so hard on mikey c for this one.

be hard on him for his bullshit games he plays in court, the way he takes everything personally, the way he whines like no ones business but this is not the thing to get on him about

Anonymous said...

1. Isn't it perjury and illegal on the part of Catalano and the SAO to prepare and notarize a false affidavit in the first place? It is a "sworn" statement, isn't it?

2. If the affidavit was prepared as a "fake", why would Catalano leave it with Furst, and later demand for its return? Why weren't the cops there to bust him and take the evidence?

3. If the SAO went through the trouble of doing this ridiculous sting, don't you think they would have pursued it if Furst had said anything of value on the tapes?

4. How can this not be a complete conflict of interest for Catalano to try to bust the attorneys that are suing his client?

5. How about the fact that Catalano is now working with the people whose job it is to prosecute his client?

How far would a lawyer go for publicity? Defend a DUI child killer pro bono? Commit an unprecendented move of wearing a wire while dealing with the attorneys suing his client? Then calling the Herald to write an article from his POV? All this in the wake of Rothstein? Good timing Catalano. Maybe they will nominate you now for Pres 2012?

Anyone who thinks this guy is motivated by altruism and the integrity of his profession is a fool. And you guys that consider him a hero must also think that Law and Order is really the way things work.

Anonymous said...

1:23 AM? you are right on. Let's call a spade a spade. Catalano isnt "helping" the PD pro bono on this case because he wants to fight for the client or thinks his speedy trial arguments will be of any particular value. If he really wanted to up his probono hours, he would have filed a notice of appearance and dumped the PD and put everything he has into this case - in the clent's best interest. But lets not fool ourselves. He is a smart guy and sees this as an excellent marketing opportunity, nothing more. And lo and behold his picture shows up in the herald as a self-proclaimed champion of all things honorable. He knows this is a defenseless grisly case that will never be tried, and wants to be the guy making soundbytes at the plea and sentencing. The next time a Donte Stallworth/Mickey Rourke/Jim Leyritz gets pinched for a DUI, he wants them to remember his face and think of him. If MC can be admired for anything in this case, it isnt his courage, bravery or professional integrity, but his crafty business mind. What an opportunity! (dont you wish you thought of it first?)

Anonymous said...

Esq. Catalano is a decent lawyer. He is also brilliant, and has a high degree of ethics.

There was too much proof showing where Gabriel del Risco was, and Miltie got Ariel Furst a deal by brooming this under the floor mats.