Houston criminal defense attorney Abraham Moses Fisch is facing a slew of federal charges this morning: conspiracy, obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and failure to file tax returns.
They all stem from what the U.S. Attorney's Office describes as a scheme to convince criminal defendants that Fisch had the juice and the know-how to make a few well-placed bribes to see their cases disappear.
Over five years Fisch and a co-defendant made almost $1.5 million in the scheme, the feds say.
The co-defendant, Lloyd Glen Williams, was -- shockingly -- "a former used car financier." WHO CAN YOU TRUST?!?!
Also arrested was Fisch's wife, Monica Bertman.
Williams, although not an attorney, held himself out as someone who could resolve criminal cases through his contacts with government officials. Williams, Fisch and Bertman worked together to solicit federal criminal defendants as clients under false pretenses.
They claimed to the defendants that Williams had the power to cause their criminal charges to be dismissed or their sentence reduced if they would hire Fisch as their attorney, pay a large sum of money to Fisch and Williams and then provide Williams with information about their crimes.
Williams claimed he would then pass that information along to contacts in various federal agencies. In return, Williams claimed his contacts would cause the criminal charges against the defendants to be dismissed or their sentences reduced.
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The feds say at least five criminal cases were involved, which seems to indicate some very big payments indeed. Oh, and they make clear "no government officials received bribes."
In fact, the USAO says, "Williams' supposed contacts were either retired government officials, were not in contact with Williams or otherwise had no ability or willingness to influence the outcome of a defendant's case."
The penalties the defendants face:
If convicted, Fisch faces a prison term of five years imprisonment for the conspiracy charge, 10 years on each of the four counts of obstruction of justice, 10 years for each of the nine counts of money laundering, 10 years for conspiracy to commit money laundering and one year for each of the five counts of failure to file tax returns in addition to substantial monetary fines. Bertman faces a maximum five years and 10 years, respectively, if convicted of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of justice in addition to a $250,000 fine.