NY Judge Sylvia Ash On Trial For Her Life

NY Judge Sylvia Ash On Trial For Her Life

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The US Attorney’s Office is trying to put once prominent New York State Supreme Court Judge Sylvia Ash behind bars in the Southern District of New York. US Attorney Alona Katz made her opening statement this week, accusing Ash of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence when the Feds investigated Ash for trying to cover up the crimes of former MCU CEO Kam Wong. Wong embezzled nine million dollars from the credit union in order to support his drug and gambling addiction. He blew most of the money on lottery tickets. Wong pleaded guilty and is currently behind bars in Fort Dix Federal prison. Wong was facing 97 months, but Judge John G. Koeltl only gave him 66 months.

Former NYPD Joseph Guagliardo was part of the conspiracy. Guagliardo was on the board at MCU and handled security. Guagliardo supplied Wong with hydrocodone pills and bottles of codeine-laced syrup which Wong sipped at his desk, “some of which were obtained from Guagliardo’s spouse, who worked as a doctor affiliated with a public hospital, and some of which were obtained from a different doctor affiliated with the NYPD.” Press Release Dept of Justice. Guargliardo is married to his dermatologist wife Dr. Hilary Baldwin Guagliardo. In exchange for the drugs, Joseph got hundreds of thousands of dollars in monies from MCU, at the direction of Wang, in order to fund a sham business he created. Joseph Guagliardo is currently in a halfway house after doing a couple of years in Fort Dix Federal prison.

Kam Wang stole over four million dollars at the time he was hooked on drugs. Wang also wasted his money on building a custom made Bentley on line. Wong also got drugs from “Witness-1”, who stole the drugs from his mother and requested that his mother’s doctor prescribe more pills so that he could divert them to Wong. Witness 1 was never indicted or charged. Witness 1 may be called to testify in the Sylvia Ash trial. Court records also indicate that Wong’s dentist and a doctor affiliated with the NYPD also supplied Wang with drugs. Wang put himself on a “daily regimen of judgment-suppressing opiates, popping hydrocodone pills and sipping from a bottle of codeine-laced syrup at his desk. During this period, Kam spent at least $5.5 million – $3.5 million in personal checks and nearly $2 million in ATM withdrawals – on lotto tickets. The better part of this fortune – approximately $4.5 million – Kam stole from MCU.” In order to hide his $60K a month gambling addiction Kam found convenience stores that would permit him to buy lottery tickets on credit and then diverted a chunk of his yearly bonus to pay down the enormous balances that he generated. When the money Kam skimmed from his own earnings was no longer enough to support his addiction, he started stealing from MCU.

Kam submitted a report by Psychologist Dr. Barry Rosenfeld who diagnosed Kam as a “pathological” gambler (1) preoccupied with gambling (2) needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement (3) has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling (5) gambles as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression) (6) after losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even .(7) lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling (8) has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling (9) has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling (10) relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.

Former US Attorney Carrie Cohen, of the high powered international law firm Morrison Foerster is defending Ash. Ash, a board member of MCU, received tens of thousands of dollars in perks paid for by the credit union for airfare, hotels, a $3,800 trip to Las Vegas for a Britney Spears concert at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, as well as a party at the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball stadium in Coney Island. Ash never reported these large gifts to the New York Bar, which got her kicked off the bench. Ash, who was born in the Trinidad, gave up a job that paid over $200K a year. When the Feds questioned Ash about the money, Ash deleted her emails, hid evidence and lied to Federal agents. Carrie Cohen argued in her opening statement that Ash was never charged with any Federal crime related to the perks she received. Cohen stated to the jury: “And even if for some reason you think taking those benefits wasn’t right, that is not the question you are being asked to decide beyond a reasonable doubt. No one is perfect. On that, I’m sure we all can agree, but making mistakes does not make you a criminal. Sylvia Ash’s biggest mistake was placing her trust and faith in Kam Wong, a man who turned out to be a fraudster, a huckster, a liar and a thief. But that serious error in judgment does not mean that the government has it right. It does not. No lies, no cover up, no crime by Ms. Ash.”

Ash is trying to shift the focus to Wang. Wang was the bad guy, not her. Ash is also trying to get the jury to focus on Wang’s drug addiction and the fact that Guagliardo, Guagliardo’s doctor wife, Witness-1, and others supplied drugs to Wang through deceit and thievery. US Attorney Katz doesn’t want the jury to hear anything about thievery, fraud, or deceit, or anything about drugs supplied to Wang. The US Attorney told the Judge that Witness 1 is still under investigation and may be charged with a crime. All the more reason Ash wants to have her attorney cross examine Witness 1 on the incentive for said witness to lie for the government. But Attorney Carrie Cohen may never get a chance to ask Witness 1 a single question. When the US Attorney doesn’t want a witness to be called to testify in a criminal trial by the defendant the US Attorney will send the witness a letter indicating that the witness is under criminal investigation. The witness will refuse to answer any questions on the witness stand and assert his right against self incrimination. The US Attorney’s Office rarely ends up prosecuting the witness after he refuses to testify.

The US Attorney and Ash filed numerous motions to address what should be and should not be heard by the jury. Ash wants the jury to hear about a Federal agent who had an account with MCU. Ash has claimed that the agent had a conflict of interest in working on her case while being a member of the credit union, which eventually was taken over in a State receivership. Its not clear whether Wang caused the credit union to go under, another issue the lawyers have been fighting over. Carrie Cohen wants to tell the jury that other Board members at MCU received similar perks as her, but she had not offered any proof. Carrie wants to tell the jury that the government wasted countless resources to prosecute her client. Carrie wants the jury to hear that Ash’s prior attorney submitted a letter to MCU indicating that Ash didn’t delete her iPhone, which wasn’t true. Attorney Roger V. Archibald had to bow out as Ash’s defense attorney as he had a conflict of interest, it wasn’t clear whether he knew that his client wiped clean her iPhone. Prosecutors threatened Archibald with prosecution if he was involved in providing false information to MCU. Archibald, like Ash, was born in Trinidad. Wang was born in Hong Kong. Guagliardo was born in Queens.

Judge Lewis Kaplan is conducting the trial in the Southern District of New York. Kaplan has numerous evidentiary motions to review and rule on before the first witness is called to testify. Kaplan told the lawyers to go home early today and come back on Monday after the last night of Chanukah. Moshiach Now!

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