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February 2010 Archives

Boston Globe Article on Soldier's Dismissed Drug Charges

Here is an article on our clients dismissed federal drug charges in today's Boston Globe. Our Client was represented by Criminal Defense Lawyer Timothy Zerillo.Drug charges dropped against soldier
Associated Press / February 23, 2010 PORTLAND, Maine - A man who helped arrange a drug deal that brought a large amount of cocaine into Maine is being allowed to return to the Army - and do a second combat tour in Afghanistan.Mathew Meineke faced the prospect of five years in prison because of the drug deal in 2006. Afterward, the Colorado native cleaned up his life, enlisted in the Army, and served in Afghanistan as a forward observer for his infantry unit from July 2008 to June 2009. While in Afghanistan, he was indicted.This month, Meineke got a rare break. Defense lawyer Tim Zerillo asked federal prosecutors to consider dropping the charges, and they agreed to do that.“All he wants to do is to be able to serve his country,’’ Zerillo told the Portland Press Herald. “His highest and best use is not in a federal prison, it’s in Afghanistan protecting us and everyone else.’’The lawyer said Meineke had cleaned up his act, returned to his parents’ home in Lakewood, Colo., and joined the Army before he was indicted. The two coconspirators received sentences of four and five years in federal prison. Meineke was arrested after returning to the United States in June 2009.Zerillo asked prosecutors to consider diverting the case, in effect dismissing the charges. In exchange, Meineke promised not to commit other offenses and agreed to a set of conditions for 18 months.US Attorney Paula Silsby approved the deal. “It gives people a chance not to have a criminal charge,’’ she said. “That is infrequent, but it is an option.’’© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

Federal Drug Case Dismissal Article From Front Page of the Portland Press Herald

This is an amazing piece by Portland Press Herald writer Trevor Maxwell about the drug diversion in the cocaine trafficking federal case I blogged about earlier. From the front page of today's Portland Press Herald concerning Zerillo Law, LLC's and Timothy Zerillo's representation of our Client. Rare break for soldier: Drug case dismissed
A dealer who turned his life around and joined the Army is allowed to continue serving and avoid prison.

By Trevor Maxwell tmaxwell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer PORTLAND - Mathew Meineke's life hit rock bottom in 2006, when the Colorado native helped arrange a drug deal that brought a large amount of cocaine into Maine.He and two other men were eventually charged with trafficking, and Meineke faced the prospect of five years in prison.But earlier this month, Meineke got a rare second chance. Federal prosecutors agreed to let him return to duty with the Army -- and an upcoming second tour of duty in Afghanistan -- rather than sending Meineke to prison and ending his military career.''This has been one of the most satisfying cases of my career,'' said Meineke's attorney, Tim Zerillo, who serves as president of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.''All he wants to do is to be able to serve his country,'' Zerillo said. ''His highest and best use is not in a federal prison, it's in Afghanistan protecting us and everyone else.''In the summer of 2006, Meineke was 34 years old and living in California when he put together a drug deal with two men from Maine.''He got involved with some people and he ended up hooking them up with over a kilogram of coke,'' Zerillo said.Soon after making the deal, Meineke decided to clean up his life, Zerillo said. He moved back into his parents' home in Colorado, became a godfather to his brother's son, and enlisted in the Army.From July 2008 to June 2009, he served in Afghanistan as a forward observer for an infantry unit, scouting enemy locations and calling in artillery strikes and air attacks. He had no idea what awaited him back in the United States.In September 2008, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Meineke, as well as Michael Martin of Portland and Charles Scally of Cumberland, on trafficking charges for the 2006 cocaine deal.Agents from the FBI informed Meineke's family, but told them not to trouble Meineke with the news until he returned home from Afghanistan.The cases against Martin and Scally were resolved while Meineke was deployed. Martin, who was charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine and distribution of oxycodone, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. Scally was convicted after a trial and was sentenced to four years.Meineke returned to the states in June 2009 and was arrested by the FBI a few months later. He had already re-enlisted in the Army and was scheduled to deploy again to Afghanistan in August 2010.Zerillo asked the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Conley, to consider diverting the case. Diversion in the federal court system means that the prosecution agrees to dismiss the charges. In exchange, the defendant promises not to commit other offenses, and also agrees to follow a set of conditions for a period of time, usually 18 months.''I said, if there is ever a case for diversion in federal court, this is the case,'' Zerillo said.But Zerillo did not like his chances. He could only recall one other case having been diverted in the last several years in Portland.But Conley and U.S. Attorney for Maine Paula Silsby approved the diversion. The indictment against Meineke was formally dismissed Feb. 11. Meineke agreed not to use any alcohol or illegal drugs, and to submit to drug testing and any therapy recommended by a diversion officer, who is similar to a probation officer.Silsby declined to comment specifically on Meineke's case. She said her office does not divert many cases, but she did not have statistics available last week.''It gives certain defendants, who have been assessed by this office as someone who engaged in behavior that is really unlikely to reoccur, an opportunity to be under supervision for a period of time,'' Silsby said.''It gives people a chance not to have a criminal charge,'' she said. ''That is infrequent, but it is an option.''Some defendants, including those with two or more prior felony convictions, are not eligible for diversion, Silsby said.''I can't say enough about Mike Conley, Paula Silsby and the probation office,'' Zerillo said. ''It has been amazing.''Meineke is scheduled to return in August to Afghanistan, where he will serve as a forward observer and truck commander.
Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: tmaxwell@pressherald.com

Gross Sexual Assault Felony Dismissed for Misdemenaor Assault

I am pleased to report that, over objections by the alleged victim, the Court sentenced my Client in Portland today to a 14 day straight sentence to a misdemeanor assault, and dismissed a Class B Gross Sexual Assault charge. This effectively means our Client will have no felony, no probation and no sex offender registration. We were able to achieve this result at jury selection through exhaustive pre-trial preperation and investigation, and by convincing the Court and the prosecutor that there was a significant chance we could win the GSA trial. --Tim Zerillo

Federal Diversion in 1 Kilo of Cocaine Federal Drug Trafficking Case

This has been one of the most satisfying cases of my career. My Client made a mistake and was involved in a drug transaction for a kilo of cocaine in California. He cleaned himself up and enlisted in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan from July 3, 2008 through June 13, 2009. He was engaged in the very dangerous job in Afghanistan, that of Forward Observer. A Forward Observer proceeds ahead of an infantry unit and finds the enemy. He then directs munitions to the enemy's location. This includes adjusting artillery/mortar rounds to the location of the enemy. He also calls in attack helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts for attack. While in-country, he was involved in over 100 patrols, and over 150 fire missions. He returned from his tour, and got arrested on the drug charge.I asked the US Attorney's office for diversion for our client. The US Attorney's Office can technically divert a case, but it does not happen (and I am only aware of it happening once in the last 7 years). After listening to me, and taking a long hard look at the Client's record, the US Attorney and her office, including a fantastic and talented Assistant US Attorney, took the brave and extraordinary step of diverting the case. An amazing case. Our client is set to deploy again August 3rd now that this is resolved. God Bless Him.

Letter to Tim Zerillo from a Drug Defendant's Mother

This is the type of correspondence I love - a client's mother writing to express her gratitude to us for getting a deferred disposition on a felony drug case. Here is part of her correspondence (names removed other than Zerillo Law employees):"I just want to thank you for all your efforts on (Client's) behalf. I realize this case could well have devastated (Client's) future if we had a less experienced firm working for us. And just to let you know, Amy (Robidas) really impressed me with her attention to detail and her persistence in making sure the matter (small as it was but nonetheless important) was resolved before we left the courtroom. And Andy's (Ambrose) perseverance in making sure all the prerequisite items for deferment were in hand before the court date was outstanding. Both are distinguished assets to your firm, as I'm sure you know. But just like our children, it's always wonderful to hear it from someone outside the family."Great and kind words. Thanks. --Tim

Letter to Tim Zerillo from a Drug Defendant's Mother

This is the type of correspondence I love - a client's mother writing to express her graditude to us for getting a deferred disposition on a felony drug case. Here is part of her correspondence (names removed other than Zerillo Law employees):"I just want to thank you for all your efforts on (Client’s) behalf. I realize this case could well have devastated (Client’s) future if we had a less experienced firm working for us. And just to let you know, Amy (Robidas) really impressed me with her attention to detail and her persistence in making sure the matter (small as it was but nonetheless important) was resolved before we left the courtroom. And Andy’s (Ambrose) perseverance in making sure all the prerequisite items for deferment were in hand before the court date was outstanding. Both are distinguished assets to your firm, as I’m sure you know. But just like our children, it’s always wonderful to hear it from someone outside the family."Great and kind words. Thanks. --Tim

Pre-Indictment Dismissal of Felony Aggravated Assault with Knife

I am pleased to report that we received a pre-indictment deferred disposition of an Aggravated Assault Class B felony in York County today. The case involved allegations that our client attacked her boyfriend with a knife. Through early intervention with our office and employment of the right private investigators, we were able to create doubt related to the alleged victim's story. The prosecutor was reasonable, and we reached a 1 year deferred disposition agreement for a misdemeanor assault, dismissing the felony Aggravated Assault. The net result will be dismissal of the misdameanor assault as well, with no jail time, no probation and no convictions. --Tim