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 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 HOWARD THOMPSON: Howard Thompson was arrested in September 2019 for Criminal Possession of a Weapon 2º, a class B-level armed felony with a mandatory sentencing range of 5-to-25-years in state prison. To compound matters, Mr. Thompson was a possible predicate felon due to a prior burglary conviction where he served a one-year definite jail term. Given this case information, I worked closely with attorney Elise Voutsinas, Esq. and private investigators from the CNY Investigation Bureau and learned that after Mr. Thompson’s release from jail in 2013, he had turned his life around by working two jobs and supporting his family – particularly his mother who had a myriad of health issues. I prepared a pre-plea report citing many letters of reference which documented the significant strides Mr. Thompson had made to become a productive, contributory and law-abiding individual and in early 2020, attorney Voutsinas was successful in convincing the prosecuting attorney to reduce the pending charge to that of a misdemeanor with a sentencing commitment to probation supervision.
PEOPLE v JAMES PICKARD: A 56-year-old charged with multiple grand larceny and forgery charges stemming from his work as a private contractor with Medicaid privileges. Mr. Pickard was accused of, in essence, bid-rigging by submitting falsified work proposals along with his own for Medicaid-paying projects, typically for those with disabilities. His criminal conduct spanned some eight years and totaled over $500,000. Of relevancy, while he manipulated the system criminally to receive numerous work projects, it was never proven that he did not do the required work or that the quality of work was anything but excellent. My involvement came at the pre-plea stage wherein at the request of legal counsel, I was asked to develop a community-based program to be submitted in an effort to divert Mr. Pickard from an anticipated prison term to a probationary sentence. As such, given his skill and experience in the construction field, I arranged for him to personally begin doing uncompensated public service at two not-for-profit agencies: Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. I also orchestrated a vast letter-writing campaign for character references and received close to 100 testimonials which were presented in a comprehensive pre-plea report to the court. As a consequence, Mr. Pickard was allowed to plead guilty to Grand Larceny 2º and ordered to make restitution in full prior to sentencing. In August 2011, after careful review of the memorandum I prepared and over the objection of the Assistant Attorney General and the recommendation contained in the probation report, the sentencing court imposed a 5 year term of probation with 250 hours of community service.
PEOPLE v HOWARD DEAN: In the fall of 2010, my mitigation services were requested by attorney Dennis Sedor to prepare a pre-plea report on behalf of Howard Dean. Upon interviewing, it was learned that Mr. Dean was a retired NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision (DOCCS) official as the former Director of Food Preparation and originator of the Cook-Chill process. Unfortunately, due to a joint audit/investigation by the Inspector General and Comptroller, Mr. Dean was alleged to have committed fraud of over $500,000 over a 17 year span, was subsequently charged with Grand Larceny 2º and faced 15 years in the very correctional system in had worked in most of his adult life. In my pre-plea report, I detailed Mr. Dean’s medical condition and summoned his many physicians to provide documentation. I also contacted several retired high-ranking DOCCS officials to provide testimonials in support of leniency for Mr. Dean. By doing so, the plea offer was reduced from a state prison term to a local jail sentence. In March 2011, Mr. Dean entered a guilty plea which required financial restitution and “no more than 6 mths in jail and 5 yrs of probation.” As a consequence, I prepared an addendum to my report arguing for a condition of “home confinement” in lieu of any jail time and in December 2012, Oneida County Court Judge Barry Donalty agreed and imposed an alternative to incarceration sentence.
PEOPLE v MAISEY H: Maisey was the alleged “organizer” of a plot which resulted in the armed robbery of drugs and a vehicle from a local drug dealer. My pre-plea mitigation report detailed the tribulations of this youth’s struggle with substance abuse and concomitant treatment components which was submitted to attorney Todd Smith, Esq. who in turn presented this report to Onondaga County Court Judge Matthew J. Doran. After review, in June 2017, Judge Doran released the youth from detention and placed her on “interim probation” while agreeing to a YO adjudication in lieu of the 5 year state prison offer by the ADA.
PEOPLE v WILLIAM W: 18-year-old youth charged with burglary and possession of stolen property stemming from a random residential home burglary which netted, inter alia, a firearm belonging to law enforcement. At the request of Charles Keller, Esq., I prepared a pre-plea report based on extensive interviewing, record collection and case-specific research. Resultantly, it was learned that William had a rather challenging upbringing inclusive of early ADHD and Tourette’s diagnoses, Special Ed designation and ongoing adolescent mental health involvement – all of which I documented via records and presented in mitigation. In the spring of 2019, my report was submitted to Acting Onondaga County Court Justice Gordon J. Cuffy who after considerable deliberation, adjudicated William youthful offender status with an attendant probationary 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 NEUGEBAUER: As president of an oil distribution company with affiliations, inter alia, numerous gas stations and convenience stores, Mr. Neugebauer was charged in a check-kiting scheme which defrauded banking institutions of approximately $400,000. Upon his guilty plea in federal court, I was summoned to prepare an extensive psycho-social report to be included in attorney Edward Menkin’s sentencing memorandum which was submitted to Senior USDJ Howard G. Munson. While the rigid sentencing guidelines at the time mandated a prison term within the range of 24–30 months, cogent arguments were presented for a downward departure based on cooperation, aberrant criminal behavior and the fact that Mr. Neugebauer’s absence from his company would cause extreme hardship for over 100 innocent dependents, i.e., his employees. Judge Munson agreed and imposed a seven-level downward departure which allowed for an alternative to incarceration with components of home-bound confinement, community service, financial restitution and a fine all conditions of a three year probationary term.
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).
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.
A. KOCUR DIN 08-G-0695: In early January 2013, I was referred the matter of Amy Kocur, a 41-year-old parolee who was charged with violating the condition of her parole release. Information conveyed to me by both her attorney and family members was that this was indeed a “long shot” since Ms. Kocur, for most of her adult life, was in correctional custody for either doing time or on parole violations relative to her long-standing addiction to crack cocaine. To be sure, a review of pertinent records revealed no fewer than eight official prior VOPs, as well as numerous warnings and ATI outcomes from parole officials. It became clear that Parole had given up on her and the official recommendation at Ms. Kocur’s revocation hearing was for send-back to state prison until her sentence expired. It was my belief that long-term inpatient treatment was the only responsible approach, and as such I worked closely with an area treatment facility to document an entry date which I included in my report that recommended a revoke and restore with the modified condition of long-term treatment in lieu of prison send-back. In March 2013, the presiding Administrative Law Judge agreed with my position and ordered Amy Kocur restored to parole supervision with mandated treatment.
W. BOYEA DIN 93-B-3138: In early 2008, I was brought into the case of Wilfred Boyea by his family who were looking into my parole advocacy services. I learned that Mr. Boyea was serving a 15–to–45 year state prison term for numerous sex offenses committed when he was working in a teaching capacity and his victims had been three of his students. He was appearing before his initial Parole Board after having served 15 years in prison. Interestingly, in doing research into the parole practices in NY, I learned that fewer than 5% of all sex offenders are released via parole. True to form, despite my presenting a thorough parole release proposal inclusive of a psycho-sexual evaluation of Mr. Boyea citing his low risk to reoffend, his parole application was denied and he was held the maximum 2 yr period to reapply. In February 2010, I again submitted a report to the paroling authorities, this time including a judicial statement and victim impact — both citing non-opposition to Mr. Boyea’s release on parole. He was again denied parole and held a maximum of 2 yrs. I subsequently encouraged Mr. Boyea to retain an attorney to file an Article 78 and thereafter George Hildebrandt was hired. In granting the Article 78 petition, Judge James P. Murphy ordered Mr. Boyea to appear before the Parole Board months earlier than scheduled. I again submitted an updated parole release proposal, detailing Mr. Boyea’s completion of all correctional programming and the support for release from his victims, the judiciary, mental health clinicians, family and friends and in June 2013, the Parole Board granted his release after almost 20 years in prison.
J. JAMELSKE DIN 03-B-1762: High profile “serial bunker rapist” whose case garnered national attention due to the fact that John Jamelske had constructed an underground compound attached to his home for the explicit purpose of enslaving females for ongoing sexual abuse. As such, Mr. Jamelske was convicted of the rape and kidnapping of five women over the course of 15 years and received five concurrent 18–to–Life terms. While my report was submitted at the pre-sentencing stage to essentially confirm the concurrent component of the plea, its relevancy had perhaps more impact in advocating, post-conviction, for placement in a specialized unit within a designated DOCCS facility designed for vulnerable inmates, where Mr. Jamelske, at age 85, is currently serving his sentence. Interestingly, his case was subsequently featured on both “Dateline” and “A&E.”
Richard Luciani — New York Sentencing & Parole Advocacy — firstname.lastname@example.org — 315-243-9211