Philadelphia Attorney Hope Lefeber Files “Hyde Amendment” Petition Seeking Attorney’s Fees

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A “Hyde Amendment” petition was recently filed by Attorney Hope Lefeber following the acquittal of her client, by a federal jury, on all counts in a multi-count money laundering and tax structuring indictment in federal court in Philadelphia.

Hope C. Lefeber

This is a case of a government gone wild and targeting an innocent man.

On May 8, 2013, a “Hyde Amendment” Petition was filed seeking attorney’s fees for Ms. Lefeber’s client alleging that the prosecution, which resulted in a “not guilty” verdict was “frivolous,” “vexatious” and brought in “bad faith” by the federal government. United States v. Wilbur Ross, Crim. No. 12-285 (E.D.Pa. May, 2013)(Docket Entry #68). Ms. Lefeber’s client was the subject of a 2 ½ year intensive sting operation by the Department of Homeland Security and a government informant.

The defendant in the criminal case was a sixty year old man with no criminal record who was a respected member of the Philadelphia business community. Ms. Lefeber stated in the petition, that “[n]ot satisfied with the defendant’s demonstrated compliance with the law, the government sought to create a crime where none was committed... This is a case of a government gone wild and targeting an innocent man.”

According to the petition, as a result of the jury verdict, defendant, Wilbur Ross was the “prevailing” party, and, as such is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act and the requirements of the Hyde Amendment as applied in the criminal context. See Equal Access to Justice Act of 1948, 28 U.S.C. 2412 and 18 U.S.C. 3006A, Public Law 105-119.7 Section 617 which amended 18 U.S.C. §3006A.

The Petition claims that the prosecution was “vexatious” in that the government refused to turn over necessary discovery and Brady materials, necessitating the filing of numerous pretrial motions, by Ms. Lefeber, in order to properly prepare the defense. The Hyde Petition further alleges that, having failed to provide the necessary discovery, the government then filed numerous motions on the eve of trial, particularly on Easter morning, less than twenty-four hours before the commencement of trial, wherein it sought to have all exculpatory tape recordings suppressed at trial.

According to court documents, the investigation was initiated based on an informant’s allegations that the defendant laundered money for Jamaican drug dealers. During trial, Ms. Lefeber argued that the government had no basis for launching and pursuing the investigation and presented an entrapment defense. The trial testimony revealed that the government’s investigation and IRS audits produced no evidence connecting the defendant to any Jamaican drug dealers or any individuals engaged in criminal activities. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that Ms. Lefeber's client had no predisposition to commit the crimes charged and that the government induced the crimes.

Despite this evidence, the trial transcript reveals that the government pursued this investigation for over 2 ½ years and the informant, at the agents’ direction, visited the defendant’s store over 28 times in an attempt to set up money laundering and tax structuring crimes.

Ms. Lefeber alleges in the Hyde Petition that the government’s investigation and prosecution was “frivolous” because the fact that the defendant did not commit any crimes was known to the government at all times. At trial, under cross-examination by Ms. Lefeber, the government’s own expert from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) of the United States Treasury Department conceded that the defendant’s actions did not constitute a crime and did not even rise to the level of a technical violation of the law. As such, the Petition alleges, the government’s case was completely “frivolous” and in “bad faith.”

About Attorney Hope Lefeber
Hope C. Lefeber is a practicing federal criminal defense attorney and a member of Federal Bar Association. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University School of Law, and is a member of the Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and numerous other criminal defense groups. Ms. Lefeber has represented high-profile clients, published numerous articles, lectured on federal criminal law issues, taught Continuing Legal Education classes to other Philadelphia Criminal lawyers and has appeared on TV News as a legal expert.. Ms. Lefeber specializes in white collar crimes, drug crimes and appeals and is the Managing Member of her Philadelphia-based law firm, Hope C. Lefeber, LLC.

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