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Stuart Slotnick on New York City Mob Busts: “Informants Are Unreliable”

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jan/21/2011
New York City Mob Busts

In an exclusive interview with famed defense attorney Stuart Slotnick of the firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, there was skepticism expressed over how successful the US Government’s case will be in regard to the biggest mob bust in US history on Thursday.

Slotnick, who serves as corporate counsel to billionaire casino magnate, Steve Wynn, told Gambling911.com’s Jenny Woo, the government will rely heavily on informant testimony.

“Many of these organized crime cases rely upon testimony of informants who are generally repeat criminals that have lengthy records and who are themselves under indictment and facing significant jail sentences,” Slotnick said.  “In order to help themselves, they cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s offices and get testimony against the defendants. The problem with informants is they are unreliable. They are most often criminals and they’re not people that you would want to trust to tell anything much less send people to jail. So when the Department of Justice has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the foundation of their case is based upon informants and criminals it may be difficult to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt when their main evidence comes from people that are inherently dishonest.”

Attorney General Eric Holder’s presence at yesterday’s press conference indicates that the US Government is serious about cracking down on La Cosa Nostra.  When asked how these efforts compare with the US attempts to abolish Mexican drug cartels, Holder expressed that both are top – and presumably equal - priorities.

“The priority of The Department of Justice is set by the Attorney General himself,” Slotnick said.  “The Department of Justice and the United States has a long standing policy that cracking down on organized crime is a priority as it affects everyday citizens, it affects the way unions run and it affects everyday life from the Department of Justice’s point of view.”

Slotnick also suggested that low level defendants can forget about getting the plea bargains they might otherwise have gotten in the past.

Holder’s appearance is a “clear signal that attacks on organized crime are extremely important and there will be significant prosecutions going forward,” Slotnick points out. 

“That also means that we can expect that even lower level defendants may have a tougher time getting the plea-bargain that they want. As a clarification, he wants his U.S. Attorneys focusing on organized crime then cracking down on it with great strength.”

Slotnick added: “What’s interesting about the indictments that were sealed today is that many of the people that were arrested are alleged to be gang members of the mafia by the Department of Justice and it remains to be seen how strong the Department of Justice’s case is with regards to all of the people that were arrested. It may be that there were many people that the Department of Justice can consider as low-level people such as bookies that may have no real or strong affiliation with organized crime and in attempt to get them to cooperate against others.”

Slotnick, you might recall, was responsible for getting online gambling firm Sportingbet a significantly reduced fine of $33 million with the US Government regarding possible violations of gambling laws.  While that figure might sound a bit high, consider that competitor PartyGaming had to pay $105 million.

- Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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