New York State Parole & Sentencing Advocacy

Richard Luciani has been involved with sentencing and parole advocacy in New York state since the mid 1980s and became a private practitioner in 2002, independently preparing defense-based pre-plea, sentencing, parole and mitigation reports for consideration by courts and releasing authorities.

Rick highlights relevant background information — such as any developmental deficiencies, treatment issues and offender characteristics, as well as documents employment and educational accomplishments and community ties — that often lead to favorable adjudications. With support from the legal community, he has had excellent results in obtaining reduced sentences, alternatives to incarceration and early parole release.

Additionally, Rick has assisted numerous inmates in the following areas: securing relevant correctional programming (e.g., boot camp placement; sex offender treatment); various forms of placement designation and/or early release (e.g., facility transfers; work release); and Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) hearings, wherein along with defense counsel, has achieved downward departures on risk offender levels in several cases throughout multiple jurisdictions.

Finally, for many felony offenders who are desirous of either applying for or retaining their professional licenses, Rick has been of assistance in preparing extensive background reports to convince decision-makers within the Department of Labor to approve a felon’s application in such fields as chiropractics, cosmetology and real estate.

The following cases are highlighted for your review:


PEOPLE v JAMISON CHANEY: In November 2023, I was contacted by Oswego County attorney Stephen Greene, Esq., who enlisted my mitigation services on behalf of Jamison Chaney, a veteran who served our country honorably but over time had developed a rather formidable dependency on alcohol which had resulted in multiple drinking/driving convictions. Accordingly, Jamison was facing felony-level DWI and UUMV charges, in addition to a VOP for similar unlawful behavior. Upon interviewing and record review, I learned that Jamison had prior involvement in treatment services provided by the Veterans Administration but had relapsed and was in need of a comprehensive approach to address medical, mental health and alcohol abuse issues. After numerous inquiries and research related to the Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC), I advocated for his acceptance into this program and coupled with strong representation from attorney Greene, in February of 2024, the motion to remove the proceedings to Onondaga County to allow for VTC placement in Syracuse was granted by the Hon. Armen J. Nazarian and consequently, Mr. Chaney was provided the opportunity to address his issues in a supportive and all-encompassing treatment environment, despite the opposition from the local probation department.

PEOPLE v SARAH MURPHY: In February 2023, my mitigation services were requested by attorney Elise Voutsanis in the case of Sarah Murphy. The referral stemmed from Ms. Murphy’s arrest on offense behavior related to a domestic violence incident wherein during a physical altercation with her abusive boyfriend, she attempted to defend herself, stabbing him once in the chest area. As a consequence, Sarah was charged with Assault 1º and CPW 3º and bonded out soon thereafter. In doing background on Ms. Murphy, it was learned that she had a pending felony-level DWI charge a few months prior, and more critically, a non-violent criminal record indicative of a significant substance-abusing lifestyle, where she had previously served a state prison term. Also, during the pendency of the case, Sarah was cited twice for contempt charges related to her now former boyfriend’s attempts to reconcile, in violation of a protective order. In conjunction with fellow social worker Laura Stabile, we met often with Sarah and referred her to services for substance abuse, parenting classes, appropriate housing and domestic violence sessions and to her credit, she was in full compliance with all services, earning certificates for her participation. I documented all of the just-cited pro-social activities in a pre-plea report and with strong advocacy from attorney Voutsinas, convinced the DAs Office to reduce the felony assault case to a misdemeanor ACD (thereby avoiding a mandatory state prison term) and the DWI to a misdemeanor to be satisfied by the service of one weekend in jail in lieu of community supervision; the contempt counts were summarily dismissed.

PEOPLE v JACE DINGS: At the request of attorney Lawrence ‘Kip’ Wangerman, in the summer of 2021, I was referred the case of 23-year-old Jace Dings, who desired a pre-plea report to shed light into his client’s life that he was much more than a young man involved in drugs/guns. Accordingly, upon interviewing Jace and his parents, I learned that he was raised in an intact familial environment but due to developmental shortcomings, experienced learning disabilities early in life which affected his schooling. I was also informed that later on, he gravitated to a much older group of ‘friends’ and thus began to act-out with incidents of juvenile delinquency. As a consequence, Jace had a prior youthful offender adjudication with probation supervision. In the present matter, I obtained all school records and referred him to treatment services for substance abuse. I also generated several statements in support – including from his employer – and in the fall of 2022, Jace entered a guilty plea to all indicted counts, thereby negating the ADA’s position for a state prison term. In December 2022, the judge agreed with our sentencing recommendations and imposed a probationary sentence with the initial three months to be served at the local jail.

PEOPLE v LAWRENCE ADKINS: In the fall of 2019 and at the request of attorney Thomas Ryan, Esq., I was summoned to prepare a pre-sentencing report on behalf of Lawrence Adkins, a 58-year-old first offender, who had entered a guilty plea to Robbery 1º with a commitment to a 5-year state prison term. Mr. Adkin’s offense conduct involved the armed robbery of over $9000.00 from a smoke shop in Onondaga County. Upon interviewing, it was revealed that Mr. Adkins was a life-long resident of the Washington D.C. area, a college educated man with a consistent work history and a father of two successful adult children from his 35+ year marriage. It was further learned that his criminal involvement was the result of a particularly challenging time in his life with decreased employment status and increased mental health dysfunction. In consultation with attorney Ryan, it was concluded that Mr. Adkin’s personal and professional equities needed to be documented and presented to the DA’s Office for possible reconsideration of the terms of the plea agreement. Accordingly, I orchestrated an extensive letter-writing campaign in support of leniency and once received, incorporated all submittals in my sentencing report. Upon further negotiations and review of the report and attachments, the DA’s Office agreed to allow Lawrence Adkins to withdraw his Robbery 1º plea to that of Robbery 2º and in March 2020, the sentencing court imposed a 3 ½-year state prison term – the minimum under the sentencing guidelines.


PEOPLE v KAYVION D.: In the winter of 2023, I was contacted by Stuart LaRose, Esq., who requested my assistance in preparing a pre-plea report on a 16-year-old youth charged as a Juvenile Offender in an incident which happened on the 4th of July of the preceding year and involved, in essence, a melee, with numerous shots being fired in a rather crowded area outside Onondaga Park. Unfortunately, one youth was found unresponsive due to a gunshot wound and later died from his injuries. Some eight months later, Kayvion was identified, along with others, as being in possession of a firearm which was discharged into this crowd; however, law enforcement could not determine who actually fired the lethal shot. Since his family could not make bail, Kayvion was remanded to a local secure juvenile facility where I first met with him. Given his young age, I retrieved all school records and upon review, determined he was a youngster with much potential, so I encouraged him to participate in all correctional programming inclusive of mentoring with staff and developing positive contacts with academic personnel at the facility. In the fall of 2023, I submitted a pre-plea report which documented all of Kayvion’s accomplishments while in youth detention and the judge, having reviewed this pro-social information in mitigation, adjudicated Kayvion a youthful offender over the objection of the DAs Office and contrary to the position of probation personnel.

PEOPLE v LINCOLN A.: In February 2020, I was tasked by attorney George Hildebrandt to provide mitigation services in one of the first ‘Raise the Age’ (RTA) cases in Oneida County. The youth, Lincoln A., age 17 at the time, was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident which resulted in two fatalities: the driver of the collided vehicle and Lincoln’s passenger and close friend. Lincoln admitted to smoking marijuana with his friend prior to the accident and was charged, as an Adolescent Offender under RTA, with counts of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, operating a motor vehicle in an impaired state and numerous traffic infractions. As such, he was facing exposure to a state prison term without the benefit of youthful offender adjudication. Since Lincoln was still in high school, I promptly obtained all academic records and made contact with both guidance personnel and teachers. I also referred him to a mental health professional for issues related to trauma, grief and depression. Too, I encouraged Lincoln to continue working at his part-time job and collected several statements in his support. Attorney Hildebrandt rather skillfully utilized my mitigation report in his legal arguments that the case remain in Family Court, and over the strong objection of the ADA that the case be transferred to Youth Part in County Court with attendant treatment as an ‘adult,’ the presiding justice agreed with Mr. Hildebrandt’s legal arguments and ordered Lincoln remain in Family Court, where in the fall of 2021, he was allowed to enter a guilty plea to Reckless Endangerment and was granted youthful offender with conditions of mandated counseling, school and employment all stipulations of a probation term.

PEOPLE v RAMIQUE S.: A 16-year-old high school student at the time, Ramique was involved in a school-related dispute involving several other students, ostensibly over the affections of a female student. The conflict developed into a pre-arranged fist-fight between Ramique and his friends against rival students. On the day in question, the physical fight quickly escalated into an encounter where Ramique felt he had to defend himself and resultantly retrieved a knife and stabbed his attacker. Sadly, one day later the victim died from his injuries and Ramique was charged with Murder 2º. Grand jury proceedings subsequently reduced the top count to Manslaughter 1º and it was at this stage of the proceedings that my involvement was requested by defense attorney Ken Moynihan. After I conducted a thorough social investigation which revealed Ramique’s previous Sp Ed classification, IQ testing at the Borderline retardation range and evidence of familial neglect and dysfunction, I prepared a pre-plea report which documented the just-cited factors. I also extensively researched case law pertaining to Youthful Offender (YO) and located several cases that were similarly-situated to that of Ramique’s past (ie, low-level functioning and lack of prior criminality) and nature of the instant offense (ie, impulsive act with no premeditation and ongoing expression of remorse). The sentencing judge, despite the severity of Ramique’s criminal behavior and the harsh recommendation from the DA’s Office, granted a YO adjudication with a minimum state prison term.

PEOPLE v AMIR E.: Youth was involved in the sexual assault of two fellow co-eds while attending college on an athletic scholarship. As a successful student-athlete, Amir had numerous past positive experiences and accomplishments and thus I generated several statements in support of YO from teachers, coaches, friends and family. Attorney Charles Keller, Esq. submitted my mitigation report to Onondaga County Court Judge Stephen J. Dougherty and against the recommendation of the local Probation Dept., in February 2018, adjudicated YO and imposed a probationary sentence. This youth has since been given a “second chance” by another university to enroll and participate in collegiate athletics.


USA v GAMBUZZA: In the spring of 2019, I was tasked by attorney Annaleigh Porter, Esq., to prepare a report in mitigation in the rather complicated case of Ross Gambuzza. As such, Mr. Gambuzza was initially involved in an extensive conspiracy to possess and import a controlled substance analogue (i.e., Ecstasy), in addition to money laundering and after a protracted trial, was found guilty and sentenced by USDJ Glenn Suddaby in October 2013 to 188 months (i.e., 15⅔ yrs) in federal prison. Approximately two years later, Mr. Gambuzza’s sentence was reduced to 164 months (i.e., 13½ yrs) due to amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In the ensuing six years in BOP custody, Mr. Gambuzza was the proverbial “model prisoner” by earning over 20 programming certificates and absolutely no disciplinary incidents which resulted in his transfer to a minimum-security federal camp. In my preparation of a mitigation report, I petitioned BOP for copies of all programming certificates, in addition to securing support statements from Mr. Gambuzza’s family members citing the myriad of hardships incurred throughout Ross’s incarceration. In March 2019 and in conjunction with legal arguments prepared by attorney Porter, our collective work was submitted to the US Attorney’s Office for possible plea reduction consideration and was eventually accepted without opposition. On July 28, 2019, Judge Suddaby, citing the “excellent” work by the defense, re-sentenced Mr. Gambuzza to a 90 month term which was essentially time-served and one week later, Ross Gambuzza was released from BOP custody.

USA v JONES: A long-time drug addict with several attendant criminal convictions to sustain his illicit habit, Mr. Jones was charged in federal court with a street-level sale of crack cocaine. According to applicable sentencing guidelines, while his offense conduct warranted a prison term within the range of 24–30 months, given the “career offender” enhancement, he was facing imprisonment within the range of 151–188 months. At the request of George Hildebrandt, Esq., and with court approval pursuant to CJA 21 (expert service voucher), I prepared a psycho-social report which documented Mr. Jones’ extensive physical, sexual and psychological abuse throughout his upbringing. Attorney Hildebrandt incorporated my report with legal arguments which sought a downward departure due to “extreme childhood abuse” which contributed to our client’s criminal behavior in the present matter and Judge Munson agreed. Resultantly, an 11-level downward departure was granted with a term of incarceration of 60 months, thereby reducing Mr. Jones’ term from potentially 12–15 years to 5 years (see USA v Jones 415 F.3d 256, for further information).


H. WILLS DIN 23-G-0375: In early 2024, I was contacted by the family of Heather Wills, who was serving a 1-to-3-year prison term and had an upcoming Merit Board hearing. I was familiar with Ms. Wills since I had prepared a sentencing report in Onondaga County which advocated for the minimum prison term. As such, Ms. Wills had a long-standing history of substance abuse and concomitant mental health issues stemming from multiple traumatic domestic violence encounters. While incarcerated, Heather had completed all required DOCCS programming and I assisted in confirming a solid release program, inclusive of residency and resumption of treatment services. In February of 2024, the Parole Board, after reviewing my parole release report, granted her application for release at her earliest eligibility.

D. JACKON-GILBERT DIN 15-G-0679: In the summer of 2016, I was contacted by the family of Delores Jackson-Gilbert seeking parole advocacy services. I learned that Ms. Jackson-Gilbert was in her 50s, had a long-standing history of substance abuse which had resulted in prior criminal justice involvements and was serving a 2-to-6-year prison term for Leaving the Scene of an Accident without Reporting wherein a death occurred. Upon interviewing Ms. Jackson-Gilbert, I found a woman who was exceedingly remorseful, accepting of her prior substance-abusing lifestyle and committed to participating in any and all therapeutic/correctional programming throughout her confinement. I retrieved all pertinent DOCCS records via FOIL and solicited assistance from family members and close friends to write in support of Ms. Jackson-Gilbert’s parole release, as well as developing an outpatient program of treatment upon her release, and prepared a parole advocacy report for Parole Board review. In November 2016, Ms. Jackson-Gilbert appeared before the Board and despite the severity of her offense conduct which resulted in a fatality, her application for parole was approved and in April 3, 2017, she was released from DOCCS custody upon serving the minimum term imposed by the court.

J. MILLER DIN 16-B-2739: My involvement in the case of Joshua Miller spanned some five years and began in 2016 when working in conjunction with attorney George Hildebrandt, Esq., I prepared both pre-plea and sentencing memoranda seeking judicial leniency. However, salient aggravating factors most prominent were that Mr. Miller was behind a 1.6 million fraud case over a two year time span and had little to offer in terms of financial restitution. As a consequence, in September 2016, Joshua Miller was sentenced to a 4-to-12-year prison term. Approximately two years later I intervened during Mr. Miller’s application for DOCCS program participation which would ultimately allow for work release and was approved by DOCCS officials. In the fall of 2019, Mr. Miller again requested my assistance to prepare for his Merit Parole Board appearance wherein I forwarded confirmation of residence and employment, as well as copies of the numerous character references in support of leniency and as a result, parole release was granted. On January 8, 2020, Joshua Miller was released from DOCCS custody approximately nine (9) months earlier than his Parole Eligibility Date.

Richard Luciani — New York Sentencing & Parole Advocacy — — 315-243-9211