Thursday, November 26, 2015


Miami Federal Detention Center
We have been getting inquires from readers, requesting an update into the status of the appeal of Richard Chichakli, the Syrian-American CPA who worked with the Russian arms trafficker, Viktor Bout. The case has generated great public interest, not only because of the defendant's ties to Bout, but due to his allegations of governmental misconduct, against both himself & Bout.

 Chichakli is still being housed at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in downtown Miami, which is primarily a pre-trial holding facility, and not designed for permanent placement of inmates serving their sentences, unless there are special circumstances. He will not be released until June, 2017, and I can find no reason to relocate him to Miami.

 Given that Chichakli had numerous objections, regarding his inability to adequately prepare for trial, while being confined in an FDC in New York, there is clearly a question as to the propriety of his swift post-conviction transfer to Florida, which is far from the venue of his appeal, the Second Circuit, and whether it was done for punitive reasons by the BOP.

The United States has filed its brief in the appeal, and here are the pertinent point covered in the 75-page, well-documented and with profuse citations, filing. Readers who wish more detail should access the document on PACER, or at terminals available to the public at the Court.

(1)  The District Court properly admitted the Bout laptop and exhibits.
(2)  The Court properly admitted the summary exhibits, and the testimony describing them.
(3)  The Government did not suborn perjury.
(4)  The Indictment was valid.
(5)  There was no violation of the Rule of Specialty.
(6)  The appellant has no cognizable claim for ineffective assistance of counsel.
(7)  There was no instructional error.
(8)  There was nothing improper regarding the Government's references to Bout.
(9)  There was no "secret" evidence admitted against Chichakli.
(10) There were no Discovery violations.
(11) Chichakli's placement in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) was not part of the Government's trial strategy.
(12)  The District Court's Guidelines calculations were correct.
(13)  The Forfeiture order should not be disturbed.
(14)  There was no evidence of juror misconduct.

The US Attorney's Office has requested Oral Argument, which is unusual, as it generally desires to have the cases decided solely upon the briefs filed, but then again, it is a case of great public interest, with multiple issues raised by the appellant.

There is a possibility that, should the Court delay somewhat in its decision, or there be significant extensions of time granted, that the defendant could complete his sentence, and actually be released before a ruling is handed down. Can this be considered a case with political implications ? We cannot say at this time, but we will continue to follow the progress of the appeal on this blog.


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