Jury finds doctor not guilty of groping female assistant

Six and a half years after he was first accused of illegally touching an employee in his medical clinic, Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal has been found not guilty in a criminal trial…
…A few months after the criminal conviction, a civil jury decided that the doctor groped another woman, Danielle Turner, and ordered that he pay her $820,000 in damages.

Turner was the woman involved in Dhaliwal’s second misdemeanor battery case, which went to trial this month. A six-person jury found him not guilty of groping Turner, a newly hired physician’s assistant.

The difference between the outcomes of the civil case and the criminal one, Dhaliwal said, was a matter of evidence. He blamed shoddy legal representation for his initial loss, saying his first lawyer failed to present evidence that swayed jurors in the most recent trial.

The jury did not hear about any other allegations against Dhaliwal — just Turner’s — after a judge ruled such material inadmissible.

Turner testified in both trials, saying she visited Dhaliwal’s clinic after hours in February 2007 so the doctor could demonstrate a facial skin treatment she would be performing. Turner said Dhaliwal finished the treatment, then reached under her shirt and fondled her breasts.

In the civil trial, a victim advocate testified that Turner’s face was red and raw the next day, as it would be after a microdermabrasion treatment.

Dhaliwal testified that the incident never happened. He said he and Turner only chatted in the lobby and that his microdermabrasion machine hadn’t been used in years.

He said the same thing at his criminal trial this month — with evidence.

An office manager who was there that night testified that the incident never happened, as did a man present for a scheduled business meeting, said Dhaliwal’s attorney, George Tragos. He also presented billing statements and office records showing that the microdermabrasion machine had not been used in years.

Tragos said there was “a complete lack of evidence on the state’s part.”

Jurors deliberated for 45 minutes.

“We were ecstatic,” Tragos said. “It’s just been a long ordeal and he’s had to suffer a lot for it, but finally he’s been vindicated.”

Read the whole story at http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/jury-finds-doctor-not-guilty-of-groping-female-assistant/2208206

St. Petersburg landlord has charge downgraded in federal lead paint case

Regrets? Unlikely.

He agreed this week to plead guilty to a lesser charge that might allow him to avoid prison and instead serve probation.

“We’re very happy with it,” defense attorney George Tragos said. “He believes it’s fair and just.”

Under terms of the new agreement, Shimshoni would repay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $50,000 for removing and replacing lead-contaminated soil around apartments at 1075 17th Ave. N in St. Petersburg….

…Along with discussing the EPA investigation, the government planned to introduce city records of Shimshoni’s violations and fines to reflect his approach as a landlord.

Included are descriptions of problems at the building where the lead was found. An inspector found a rotten porch floor, torn window screens, holes in a sidewalk and piles of debris in 2012.

In a motion filed earlier this year, Tragos and fellow defense attorney Matthew Farmer asked that the jury not see that kind of evidence, which could “color the defendant as an individual who does not maintain this particular property in a good state of repair.”

To read the entire article, click here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/st-petersburg-landlord-cuts-better-deal-in-federal-lead-paint-case/2195171

Accidental recordings give peek into FBI’s Osmakac investigation

Tampa Tribune
Elaine Silvestrini
Published: June 2, 2014

…The defense maintains that Osmakac was susceptible to entrapment because he is mentally ill.

Tragos asked Amir if he thought Osmakac was irrational.

“I regard anyone who wants to kill women and children as irrational,” the agent responded.

Tragos has also argued that Osmakac didn’t have the money to pay for what he needed to get to launch an attack. Amir conceded that the night of the planned attack, he was concerned Osmakac wouldn’t have enough money to pay a taxi to drive him from the site of the car bomb to the hotel where his own car would be.

Tragos also went over with the agent the instructions for triggering the fake “car bomb,” which had been typed and taped to the box containing the “detonator.” Tragos argued to Amir that he had done that because Osmakac was so incompetent he couldn’t remember what to do.

“That’s not why the instructions are there,” the agent said. “The instructions are there so I don’t forget, myself.”

Read more: http://tbo.com/news/breaking-news/accidental-recordings-give-peek-into-fbis-osmakac-investigation-20140602/

Defense expert says Sami Osmakac suffers from mental disorder

Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, June 5, 2014 12:53pm

… In an unusual defense, a psychologist retained by Osmakac’s attorneys testified on Thursday that the 27-year-old began to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after a turbulent airplane ride in 2009. As the plane shook, Osmakac, a practicing Muslim, feared for his life and prayed he would be saved. The incident led to a “psychotic break” in which Osmakac became depressed and convinced that he had fallen out of favor with God, said Tampa psychologist Valerie McClain.

“The traumatic event in your opinion is turbulence during a plane ride?” asked prosecutor Sara Sweeney, her voice filled with incredulity.

“Yes,” McClain said.

His depression, combined with the PTSD symptoms and psychotic episodes, made him unusually susceptible to outside influence, she testified. He also tested as having below-average intelligence.

Attorneys for Osmakac have argued that the FBI entrapped him, catching him in a sting operation in 2012 in which he bought an array of weapons, including a car bomb and an AK-47, from a man he thought was an arms dealer. The man was actually an undercover FBI agent and the weapons were defunct. But defense attorneys say that without the agency’s involvement, Osmakac would have been clueless as to where he could buy weapons and how to use them.

Read more: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/defense-expert-says-sami-osmakac-suffers-from-mental-disorder/2183086

Terrorism trial in Tampa coming to a close

Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 8:16pm

… Pleading not guilty, Osmakac, through his attorneys, has argued that he would never have been able to amass an arsenal of weapons if the FBI had not put them in his hands. In his opening statement, defense attorney George Tragos told the jury that while his client was a radical Islamist, he was not a criminal mastermind. Rather, he described Osmakac as a pathetic character: a mentally-ill young man with no money, ensnared by an agency that went so far as to pay a confidential informer money that he then gave to Osmakac to buy weapons.

Osmakac was using government money to buy government weapons, Tragos said. The FBI was on “both sides of this transaction.”

Tragos has held to that line of argument throughout the trial, most recently highlighting comments the undercover agent made to his colleagues on the night they arrested the Kosovo-born American citizen. Accidentally recorded by the agency’s own microphones, the agent called Osmakac “wishy-washy” and “disorganized.”

Today, Tragos intends to call a psychologist and a psychiatrist to the witness stand to testify about his client’s state of mind. Osmakac has waived his right to testify.

Read more: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/terrorism-trial-in-tampa-coming-to-a-close/2182962

Man asks court to provide Arab clothing during Tampa trial

By Elaine Silvestrini
Tampa Tribune
May 23, 2014

Should the court provide traditional Arab clothing for Sami Osmakac?
Sami Osmakac is asking taxpayers to provide him traditional Arab clothing for him to wear when he goes on trial next week on charges he plotted a terrorist attack in Tampa.

Osmakac’s lawyer told a federal magistrate this morning that Osmakac’s family doesn’t want to pay to clothe him in a robe garment called a thobe and a head wrap known as a keffiyeh. Lawyer George Tragos said he couldn’t say why Osmakac wants to wear the clothes. U.S. Magistrate Anthony Porcelli planned to confer with District Judge Mary Scriven about what clothing might be available for Osmakac to wear.

Terrorism suspect had bigger plans, recordings suggest

Tampa Bay Times
Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer
Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:22pm

Osmakac, 27, was charged with possessing an unregistered AK-47 and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Jurors were treated to an afternoon of show and tell on Thursday, as prosecutors passed around the grenades and suicide belt that they say Osmakac bought from the undercover agent. They also were taken to a separate room, where they were shown the 100-pound car bomb that prosecutors say he planned to detonate outside of MacDinton’s, an Irish bar in South Tampa. None of the weapons were operative, though Osmakac was unaware of that.

Attorneys for Osmakac say that he was entrapped by the FBI and would never have carried out the attacks without the agency’s prodding.

Read more here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/terrorism-suspect-had-bigger-plans-recordings-suggest/2182095

Defense portrays Sami Osmakac as being entrapped in terrorism case

Tampa Bay Times
Anna M. Phillips, Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 12:54pm

Using a line of argument common in terrorism cases that rely on undercover federal agents, Osmakac’s attorney George Tragos said his client was a zealot and a radical, but without the FBI agent’s cajoling, would never have put his thoughts into action. Twenty-five years old at the time of his arrest, Osmakac was a “wild, young, poor, mentally ill person with lower-than-average IQ” who was susceptible to government entrapment, Tragos said.

“This entire case is like a Hollywood script,” he said, and the script writers worked for the government.

Tragos noted that his client was broke. To buy weapons from the man he thought was a dealer but was actually an FBI agent, Osmakac leaned on an acquaintance, a man he believed was in his corner. In reality, the man had turned Osmakac in to the FBI and was being paid as an informer. Osmakac was using government money to buy government weapons, Tragos said. The FBI was on “both sides of this transaction.”

Read the rest here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/terrorism-suspect-had-bigger-plans-recordings-suggest/2182095

Marketing a Boutique Law Firm

Marketing a boutique law firm can be tricky. No one wants to come off as a slimeball, dirtball, sleazeball, cheeseball, or any other kind of ball associated with lawyers. Some people love billboards, some hate them, some people love lawyer commercials, others cringe at the lawyerly message they hear every five minutes. This makes it difficult for some firms to market their services without making some people feel “some type of way” (Urban Dictionary definition of “some type of way” is: a feeling of disgust or genuine unhappiness). This not only makes marketing a firm difficult, but also important.

Let me tell you about our strategy…

We have created a website, Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/TragosSartes), a twitter account (https://twitter.com/TragosandSartes), an Instagram account (http://instagram.com/tragosandsartes), a LinkedIn, and Google+ profile to connect with the population at large that may need an attorney. We have created a pamphlet and sent some out to the community for an update on what’s new at our firm and with our attorneys. We use these platforms to educate clients and other attorneys on any topic ion which we may have some information or expertise. We make ourselves available to answer questions for clients and other attorneys. And we shamelessly broadcast the awards and achievements we have worked hard to gain. At Tragos and Sartes we have been blessed by God with success and the ability to help people. We want people who call us for help to know that we have done it before and we will do it again.

In short, our marketing strategy can be summed up in three phrases:

1. Educate past and potential clients, as well as, our fellow attorneys.
2. Help past and potential clients deal with the judicial process.
3. Share our achievements and awards with the people that helped us get where we are, and with the ones that may need our help in the future.

So When Push Comes to Shove… Call us!

Don’t Wait to Hire a Quality Attorney

We have clients come in all the time to hire us late in their case or to handle their appeal. They either tried to handle the case themselves or went cheap on an attorney willing to do the bare bones, but still “represent” them.

Let me give you some free advice-DO NOT WAIT TO HIRE A QUALITY ATTORNEY.

You will regret it, I promise you. The common phrase “you get what you pay for” holds true more than ever in the legal field. If you try to “go cheap” on your attorney, you will get what you pay for. Inevitably, you will end up paying more for a quality attorney to clean up the mess than you would have paid them to handle it from the start, probably with less success. Not only is it harder to hire an attorney later in your case, it also costs you money while they try to catch up and fix the mistakes your previous attorney made.

Sometimes clients think they can handle their own case and save some money. Unfortunately, many attorneys take advantage of this and file motion after motion bombarding you with things you do not understand and something inevitably slips by because you are not properly trained to handle your case.

Another misconception some clients have is, “I will hire the cheap attorney now, and if I lose, I will spend the money on a quality attorney for the appeal”. Your chances of winning a case are exponentially better the first time. Not only is it incredibly difficult to win an appeal, if you do, you still have to go back to the beginning and try to win the case. Hire a quality attorney early, the first time, even if you don’t realize it right now, it will actually save you time and money.

At Tragos and Sartes we have cleaned up the mess left over so many times, but when we get a case from the start we do the job right. If you have been arrested, sued, investigated, or you want to sue someone else, do not hesitate, call us for a free consultation. You can interview us to see if we are the quality attorney you want to handle your case. Spend money now to save money later. Give your case your best shot the first time. The beginning of any case is often the most important time, that is when we can explore every opportunity to act in a way that will have a beneficial effect on the outcome of your case. When push comes to shove, you want us on your side.

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