6 February – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brian Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Ken Jenne, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office, announced that defendant, Samuel I. Burstyn was sentenced today in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale by United States District Court Judge William Zloch to forty two (42) months of imprisonment and a fine of $150,000 for his admitted participation in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with a grand jury investigation. He is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on March 31, 2006, to begin serving his sentence.
In October 2005, Burstyn, 53, a high-profile Miami attorney, pled guilty to conspiracy to obstruct a grand jury investigation of a substantial marijuana organization headed by Jeffrey Tobin and Joseph Russo, Jr. This organization was responsible for the distribution of thousands of pounds of marijuana throughout the New York and New Jersey areas. The organization used interstate trucking companies to ship the drugs from the California/Arizona areas to distribution points in the Northeast. The grand jury’s investigation of the organization began in April 2003 and resulted in charges being filed in January 2004 against Tobin and several of his associates on racketeering offenses, drug conspiracy and money laundering. Jeffrey Tobin, who became a fugitive, was arrested in New York on March 18, 2004. Jeffrey Tobin, Joseph Russo, Jr. and David Tobin have pled guilty before United States District Judge James Cohn and have been sentenced.
According to the evidence, Burstyn, who represented Jeffrey Tobin and David Tobin during the grand jury investigation, advised Jeffrey Tobin to flee prior to being charged in that case. In addition, Burstyn assisted Jeffrey Tobin in concealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug profits from the grand jury by arranging for Jeffrey Tobin to purchase several hundred thousand dollars worth of diamonds.
As part of the plea agreement, Burstyn has resigned permanently as a member of the Florida Bar, forfeited $233,000 to the government and withdrawn a claim on a home in Coral Gables that has been forfeited to the United States. Burstyn had previously taken title to this property as payment for legal fees.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “Attorneys, as officers of the Court, have an ethical obligation and a duty to protect and promote our system of justice. When attorneys breach that duty and actively obstruct justice, it erodes the public confidence in our legal system. This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to upholding the integrity of the legal process, and to prosecute those who launder the proceeds of criminal activity.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Solomon stated, “Attorneys have a duty to represent their clients skillfully and vigorously. However, their first obligation is to the law and when they ignore that responsibility, they must face the consequences of their actions.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Dittoe and J. Brian McCormick.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.