By Bill Parry
A Forest Hills-based criminal defense attorney was indicted along with three others Monday for allegedly making false statements.
Scott Brettschneider, 61, was charged in Brooklyn federal court with conspiring to fabricate a letter to get a client released from prison early in order to receive drug rehabilitation, according to federal prosecutors.
A two-count indictment was unsealed, charging Brettschneider, also known as “Mighty Whitey,” Charles Gallman, Richard Marshall and Reginald Shabazz-Muhammad with conspiring to make false statements and making false statements to the United States Bureau of Prisons. They were arraigned in Brooklyn federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold, although Shabazz-Muhammad is still at large.
“The defendants, including a practicing attorney, participated in a scheme to gain a narcotics trafficker’s early release from prison by falsely informing the Bureau of Prisons that he was a candidate for a drug rehab program,” U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said. “This office and our law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that the resources to fight drug addiction go to the people who need them, not the drug dealers who put poison on our streets and who deserve to serve the entirety of their prison sentences.”
According to the federal indictment and detailed in-court filings, Brettschneider represented Marshall, who was sentenced to 36 months in prison for distributing cocaine in 2014. Brettschneider, Gallman and Shabazz-Muhammad, who are both from Queens, wrote a letter to the Bureau of Prisons falsely recounting Marshall’s history of substance and alcohol dependence in order to gain entry to the BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program. An inmate who is accepted into and successfully completes the program is potentially eligible to receive a year off his or her sentence.
“Petitioning to send a known drug dealer back on to our streets before his sentence is served, and providing false documentation to prove he’s eligible for early release, is a reckless prospect that risks the well-being of society as a whole,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said. “Drug addiction is a serious issue that deserves the appropriate response from all those involved. We won’t stand for anything less.”
The letter was signed by Shabbaz-Muhammad, who claimed to be Marshall’s treatment provider, but he was later found to be Brettschneider’s assistant, court filings showed. Court-authorized wiretaps revealed the defendants talking to Marshall on a smuggled cell phone in prison, discussing what the letter should state to ensure Marshall’s acceptance into the program.
Gallman predicted it would “knock a year off his sentence” and doubted that the BOP would be “scrutinizing it that much.” As it turned out, the BOP did scrutinize it, and requested that Marshall submit progress reports of his past treatment, according to court filings.
The charges contained in the federal indictment stem from an investigation conducted by the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
“Integrity is the foundation of our criminal justice system,” Queens DA Richard Brown said. “These allegations go to the core of that foundation and are prejudicial to the administration of justice. The charges send a strong message to those who would undermine that integrity that they will be held accountable. No one can be allowed to ‘fix’ any part of a case.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr