The Village Voice had a great piece last week on the developing trial of Robert Simels, a New York attorney who has attracted a fair amount of fame from defending alleged mobsters and other assorted “kingpins.”
Legendary local attorney Robert Simels is only being punished for representing some of New York’s most unredeemable gangsters, say some in local legal circles. Kind of a what-goes-around-comes-around situation.
Simels not only lawyered for mafia turncoat Henry Hill (on whose life GoodFellas was based), but also some of the biggest Latino and black drug kingpins of the ’80s and ’90s. And now, Simels himself is in deep trouble. He’s been indicted for allegedly tampering with witnesses in a case revolving around a comparatively little-known Guyanese drug gangster, Shaheed “Roger” Khan.
There is talk that Simels has been hauled into court as a punishment for his unsavory client list. Coincidentally enough, his trial is taking place before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson — a former prosecutor who went after John Gotti.
So it should come as no surprise that Simels has turned to another legendary defender of clients with supposed mafia ties, Gerald Shargel:
Simels has hired Gerald Shargel, one of Gotti’s main lawyers and a guy who is, in fact, one of the most prominent mob lawyers in the city.
But did you know that Shargel also doubles as a professor at Brooklyn Law School?
Details after the jump.
Mr. Shargel’s Brooklyn Law bio doesn’t directly mention some of Shargel’s highest profile cases. But you can kind of get the point:
Professor Shargel has served as the Law School’s Practitioner in Residence for the past several years. He is a prominent criminal defense attorney who has tried more than 100 criminal cases. His practice focuses primarily on federal criminal prosecutions, including stock fraud, health care fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, mail and wire fraud, RICO violations, and homicide. He has been an adjunct member of Brooklyn Law School’s faculty teaching Trial Advocacy and has also taught Criminal Appellate Practice at New York University School of Law. He is frequently invited to lecture to professional groups, teach at continuing legal education programs, and speak at symposia around the country. He is a regular commentator on television news programs, and his comments on current developments in criminal law appear often in both broadcast and print media.He has also been recognized in a number of national publications as one of the top criminal lawyers in New York.
Shargel the professor has the love of at least one of his students:
As a former student of his, I’ve never been so proud of such an awesome man and professor (haha).
There is a lot to be (ahem) proud of on Shargel’s resume. But the Voice reports an interesting ongoing professional battle between Shargel and Judge Gleeson:
Gerald Shargel and John Gleeson first clashed during one of John Gotti’s trials in the early ’90s. Shargel, who had been for some time an attorney for members of the Gambino crime family, was part of the Gotti defense team, which also included Bruce Cutler, a barrel-chested, bombastic defense attorney who, through his combative courtroom manner, played the role of bad cop to Shargel’s good cop. It was Gleeson, then a prosecutor, who engineered the disqualification of Shargel and Cutler from Gotti’s defense, on the grounds that they had become “house counsel” to the Gambino crime family….
Gleeson threatened for years to bring Shargel and Cutler up on charges of witness tampering and obstruction of justice, based on the Ravenite tapes and possible testimony from Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, Gotti’s underboss and a former Shargel client, who began cooperating with the government in 1991. After a four-year investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s office abandoned pursuing charges against Shargel and Cutler.
Somebody needs to make a movie about lawyers that defend alleged mobsters.
In any event, if I were a Brooklyn Law student, I’d take Shargel’s class. The war stories alone could be worth the price of tuition.
MobFellas: Simels, Gleeson, and Shargel [Village Voice]