On January 14th my case is on the calendar to review the motion that the government submitted requesting that my appeal be dismissed entirely. What they are basing this on is that in my plea there was a provision that I waive my right to appeal. The only problem is that I also signed to ensure that certain things would be done 1) my loss amount which determines my sentencing range would be argued and 2) a downward departure for the boys… NEITHER of those things happened. Not only that, but the prosecutors agreed that my sentence was too high and they would support a lower sentence to avoid disparity. Problem with that ( for them) is that it is a policy statement by the United Stated Sentencing Commission that prosecutors advance PLEAS that avoid disparity… so they should have never offered me ( or others in my case) a higher plea than Mr.Lancia. Also… my judge improperly used case law to support his decision. The case he referenced was not even applicable in my case!!!!!! Shocking as it is, but it is factual and anyone that reads the case can see it isn’t applicable, in fact it supports a lower sentence. The premise behind my appeal waiver being invalid is that my plea is like a contract with which the other parties broke – the judge failed to perform his job and he was in error in using bad case law. Prosecutors committed prosecutorial misconduct by asserting a statement that they factually knew was not true. They then made statements that my loss was too high for my role (which determines my sentence).
Below is a press release and I am hoping to get some type of attention to this date of Jan 14th to make sure the court does not put blinders on and dismiss my appeal when everyone else in the case including my own attorney failed to live up to their end of the bargain. They are all professionals in the criminal justice system, so why would I be the only one accountable to one small part of the plea agreement?? Please help me to do this and re-post what I write, send it to media, women’s groups or mortgage brokers associations. One aspect is having smaller players responsible for the losses that these banks helped cause. As my own attorney stated in her most recent motion pushing for the case to proceed… this case is of societal importance. The biggest human interest aspect is how when everyone including the President and the Attorney General is saying too many non-violent first offenders are in prison, why would I be in prison especially being the caretaker of two young boys????
On January 14th the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has listed on its calendar of substantive motions to be heard whether or not Stacey Petro’s appeal will be dismissed without a hearing to review its merits. The motion to dismiss was submitted by United States Attorney McGarry – New Haven CT, who based the motion on a provision in Petro’s plea agreement that she waive her right to appeal. What the government is ignoring in filing that motion is that since a plea agreement is a contract there are other provisions and expectations from parties such as the defense attorney, District Court Judge and prosecutors. In the case of Petro, those other parties failed to live up to their end of the agreement. Petro’s new attorney, Attorney Andrea Hirsch, has filed responses which outline the legal basis for why the plea agreement provision of waiving the right to appeal is not valid. These can be provided upon request.
In summary however, Petro questioned her first defense attorney Bruce Koffsky of Stamford CT extensively on why even if pleading guilty was she admitting to statements that were not factually true. Also, disagreement of the loss amount which determines a sentencing range should have been heard in court. This is a constitutional right and a policy in the Federal Court Rules which did not happen. It is a violation of court rules to deny a defendant an opportunity to review the loss. Many of the victims listed in Petro’s case are lenders who have since been charged by the United States Department of Justice for mortgage fraud. It has now become fact that the very lenders that Petro is said to have victimized are in fact players in fraud themselves. So why is Petro serving a 41 month sentence for something that is considered a civil case for major mortgage lenders?
Immediately preceding Petro’s hearing where she was pleading guilty, she became aware that one of the major players in this fraud scheme was pleading to a sentence almost half of what she was. Stacey Petro was the owner of a mortgage company that employed Jose Guzman, a major fraudster. Maurizio Lancia was Jose’s partner, mortgage broker and real estate closing attorney. He was partners with Guzman in many shell companies and a real estate agency that they funneled money through. Factually Lancia was much more involved that Petro and profited significantly more as well. When she questioned her attorney and stated she did not want to proceed without engaging in further discussion with prosecutors over her own plea, her attorney advised her that Maurizio Lancia’s plea reflected a lower guideline because the statue of limitations on the loans he was involved in. This was factually untrue, but Petro found that out too late and proceeded with the plea of guilty based on promised that the court would have a hearing discussion the loss amount as well as the fact that she was the caretaker for two young boys. Those hearing NEVER occurred. At Petro’s sentencing, the prosecutors acknowledged that Lancia received a lower plea and that to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparity, they would support a sentence lower than the guideline they originally presented of 41 months. They also stated that the sentence of 41 months is based on a loss amount that overstates her role, and based on that they found a lower sentence to be fair and just. Misquoting a case that would have actually supported the lower sentence, Judge Alfred Covello said that he didn’t have to be fair, and that since Lancia got a better plea it does mean that she would then have to benefit from it. He couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, misquoting a case that a judge uses to support a high sentence should be a violation of the judges code of conduct. Second of all, the prosecutors are directed by the United States Sentencing Commission to advance pleas that avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities in the first place.
Judge Covello also mistakenly went on to say he doesn’t have to consider intraconspiracy disparities, but national disparity. If he had done so, Petro would be serving a much lower sentence that what Lancia was even given. A recent study shows that men who commit white collar crimes serve significantly lower sentences than women. If Petro were sentenced with national disparity in mind, her sentence would have been a year and a day. A copy of that study, which Petros case is a part of, can be found by visiting http://www.womenoverincarcerated.org
The most significant aspect of Petro’s case is that she is the mother of two young boys. Nine months pregnant with her second child when indicted, Petro was the primary caregiver physically, emotionally and mentally for Jacob and David, who are now 5 and 3.
Dismissing Petro’s case would single out the waiver of appeal provision as the only part worth enforcing in this whole case. Every other party in this case- Judge, prosecutor, defense attorney- committed serious misconduct and abdicated much of their responsibility to follow law and policy… and they are professionals in the criminal justice system. Why then should Petro be denied the process of appeal to have these injustices reviewed?
Please do what you can to ensure this case is heard. Unfortunately these types of misconduct and failure to follow policy in criminal cases are so common. The only way to have a fair and just system is to ensure that prosecutors, judges and attorneys are held accountable for what their responsibilities are. It is contradictory that a person being prosecuted for not following policy in the banking industry can be victimized by those very prosecutors and judges not following their policy regulations, and laws.
It is a shame that so much time and money are wasted trying to undo what failures during the initial process cause. While this case has been taking almost a year to even get to this critical point, Petro’s children are truly the ones suffering. Continuing with this case will not only allow Petro’s case to be heard, but will be awareness to the misconduct that occurs in the criminal justice system. It is only through awareness that we can bring about change.
Questions about the case can also be made to the court in New York at (212)857-8595.
Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse
40 Foley Square
New York, NY 10007
reg # 17986-014
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
DANBURY, CT 06811
United States of America