Sunday, January 04, 2009

Whatever happened to Alan Ralsky?

One year ago, the indictment was unsealed against Alan M Ralsky, Scott K Bradley, Judy M Devenow, John S Brown, William C Neil, Anki K Neil, James E Bragg, James E Fite, Peter Severa, How Wai John Hui, Francis A Tribble.

As we review some of the biggest "wins" against spammers, phishers and cyber criminals in 2008, everyone's list starts with Ralsky. On January 3, 2008, the forty page indictment against Alan Ralsky was unsealed. We reported on the indictment in our January 3, 2008 blog entry: Ralsky: Going Down.

But what happened since?

After acknowledging his indictment, on January 9, 2008, Ralsky was released on $50,000 bail.

A notice to appear was issued on January 29, 2008, asking Ralsky and friends to appear before the Honorable Marianne O Battani on March 17, 2008 for a Pretrial Scheduling Conference.

On March 17, 2008 that conference was rescheduled until June 17, 2008.

On June 17, 2008 that conference was rescheduled until October 21, 2008.

Wait! What about the "Speedy Trial Act"? Well . . . there were ELEVEN people indicted originally. As of June 17th, two of the eleven had not appeared before the court to be arraigned. (Peter Severa had not appeared, because he lives in Russia and was never arrested, and for almost exactly the opposite reason, Francis Tribble had not appeared because he was in jail in Los Angeles County and they hadn't transported him yet.) Because of this, the parties involved decided "the 70-day
time period under 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1) has not yet commenced."

At the first conference, it was decided that the "lengthy electronic discovery" which had resulted in vast mountains of electronic evidence which had not yet been processed to the point of fully understanding what was at hand. At the second conference, it was "indicated that an additional 120 days would be needed to allow for the extraction and examination of the computer evidence by the defendants."

In other words, the defense was saying, because you have so much evidence against our client, we haven't had time to go through it all yet. (Which is either a stall tactic, or an indication of poor technology, which do you believe? I believe both are probably true.) Oh, and that means:

The parties do therefore agree and stipulate that the period of time from June 17, 2008 through October 28, 2008, shall be excluded from the time computation of the 70-day Speedy Trial period, due to the absence of defendant Tribble, and also due to the need for the parties to effectively manage the extensive electronic discovery presented in this unusual and complex case, because the ends of justice served in taking such action outweighs the best interest of the public and the defendants in a speedy trial, under 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(8)(B)(ii).

The following lawyers, all representing the spammers, signed off on that statement:

For Alan Ralsky - Philip Kushner of Kushner & Hamed Co, Cleveland, Ohio
For Scott Bradley - Neil Fink of Birmingham, Michigan
For Judy Devenow - Richard Zuckerman of Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn, Detroit
For John Bown - Mark Kriger of LaRene & Kriger, Detroit
For William Neil - Michael Kemnitz, Detroit
For Anki Neil - John McManus, Birmingham, Michigan
For James Fite - Andrew Wise, Federal Defender Office, Detroit
(Peter Severa - not arraigned)
For How Wai John Hui - Avery Mehlman of Herrick, Feinstein, New York
For James Bragg - Robert Morgan of Detroit
For Francis Tribble - Marcia Morrisey

Lawyers for the prosecution:
Terrence Berg, Assistant US Attorney (my favorite AUSA in the whole system)
Thomas Dukes, DOJ Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Trial Attorney
Mona Sedky Spivack, CCIPS Trial Attorney

On August 12, 2008 there was a hearing regarding joint representation for Ralsky and Bown (it was denied).

On September 18, 2008 Ralsky's bond conditions were altered to allow him to travel anywhere in the United States as long as he provides prior notification to Pre-Trial Services and the US Attorney's Office.

The October 12, 2008 Pre-Trial conference got rescheduled to November 10, 2008.

At that time, they got down to business, and released the Order to Continue on November 19, 2008. Here's the new gameplan:

Feb 27, 2009: All Discovery must be completed
March 31, 2009: All Pre-Trial Motions are due
April 21, 2009: All Responses to Motions are due
May 12, 2009: Motion Hearing scheduled for 2 PM
May 12, 2009: If no motions, pleas are due at this time

Sep 9, 2009: Jury Trial Begins

For some in the Anti-Spam Community, this seems like a LOOOOOONG time for Justice, especially given that Ralsky is traveling the US as a free man until then.

This concludes our "Whatever happened to Alan Ralsky" status report.

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