Last edited on Friday, June 25, 2021, at 9:55 AM.
Welcome to The Blanch Law Firm’s weekly digest of New New York Criminal Cases. Our goal is to keep the public informed as to recent events in federal courts around the country.
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Friday, June 25, 2021
I. Former Manhattan Court Official And Her Husband Charged With Official Misconduct
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of Melissa Ringel, a former director at the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department, and her husband, Frank Esposito, a private attorney, for their roles in a multimillion-dollar real estate transaction, in which Ringel used her position, without authorization, to advise Esposito’s client’s attorneys on an escrow order unrelated to her official responsibilities.
Their conduct allowed the client to sell the property and pay the $50,000 balance to Esposito’s law firm from the proceeds. The two defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with one count each of Official Misconduct.
As alleged in the indictment, Ringel violated the oath she took as a court official when she decided on her own to ignore the rules, s that she could assist her husband, Frank Esposito, with the sale of a multimillion-dollar penthouse condo not far from Central Park. The indictment suggests that Ringel’s actions have served to erode the credibility of New York Courts.
II. Saratoga County Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography
Daniel Porrazzo, a/k/a “lickndipinu,” 51, of Stillwater, New York, pled guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography on June 23, 2021. The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon, along with Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
As part of his guilty plea, Porrazzo admitted that on June 2, 2016, he possessed multiple images of child pornography on two laptop computers, and that the collection included depictions of children under age 12 being sexually abused. If he is convicted, Porazzo will face at least 20 years and up to life in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000, and a period of supervised release of at least five years and up to life.
Also, if Porazzo is convicted, he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
III. Securities Wire Fraud Charges Brought Against Founder and Manager of Mutual Fund
Audrey Strauss, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”) Inspector in Charge, Philip R. Bartlett, announced on June 24, 2021, that Ofer Abarbanel was arrested this morning in Los Angeles, California, and charged with securities fraud and wire fraud in connection with Abarbanel’s scheme to defraud investors in a mutual fund he founded and controlled.
According to the Complaint in this case, from at least in or about 2018 through the present, Abarbanel engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in a mutual fund he founded and controlled (the “Fund”). Abarbanel, 46, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who resides in Woodland Hills, California, falsely represented to an investment adviser to a group of investors (the “Investor Group”) that investments in the Fund would be placed “primarily” in short-term United States Treasury Securities having maturities less than or equal to three months.
Contrary to these representations, the vast majority of the investors’ funds were not invested in short-term treasuries. Instead, however, Abarbanel and his confederates transferred the investor funds to counterparties controlled by or otherwise closely associated with Abarbanel, for use, among other things, in trading not authorized by the Fund’s offering documents and for the benefit of Abarbanel and his counterparties.