Two Tucson Lawyers Indicted In Drug Conspiracy! 

Two Tucson Lawyers Indicted In Drug Conspiracy! 
Posted by FoM on August 08, 1999 at 13:46:37 PT
By Tim Steller, The Arizona Daily Star 
Source: Arizona Daily Star 
The law office of Jacob & Fishbein, near North Oracle and West Ina roads, promises clients ``peace of mind'' for their estate planning and other legal needs. Four accused drug traffickers took that offer and became clients. 
Now Fishbein and another local attorney, Marshall Tandy, are accused of crossing the line from legitimate legal service into crime. Fishbein allegedly helped launder drug money through real estate purchases, while Tandy reportedly was involved in the drug and money transactions. An investigation that began in Tampa, Fla., stretched to Tucson, taking in the two attorneys and 27 other defendants from Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona. Tampa-based federal prosecutors allege that the conspirators shipped marijuana from Tucson to Florida and sent suitcases full of cash back as payment. Here, the drug dealers used corporations to buy local real estate and launder drug money, they allege. The indictment targets for forfeiture 59 Tucson-area properties worth at least $4.2 million. Among the properties are Tandy's $280,000 house and Fishbein's $366,000 house, both in the Catalina Foothills. ``In this case, we took down six street-level dealers (in Florida),'' Assistant U.S. Attorney LaTour Lafferty said by telephone from Tampa. ``Once we started going after the supplier, the case just exploded.'' The supplier, prosecutors allege, is Tucsonan Jose Luis Arevalo, who was arrested May 5 and remains in custody. The other high-ranking defendant is Tucsonan Raul Ernesto Bess, who was arrested May 27 and also remains imprisoned. Both Bess and Arevalo were clients of Fishbein, who established power of attorney for them and served as statutory agent for businesses they operated. Tandy also counted Arevalo as a client, although he would not elaborate on the type of work done for him, Tandy said. But Bess and Arevalo weren't the only Fishbein clients accused of drug trafficking. Fishbein also represented William B. Dillon and Jose E. Loya, the two men accused of running a drug transportation network that used a cross-border tunnel in Naco. Federal agents discovered the tunnel in a May 25 search and have indicted 15 other people in that case. ``I have 4,000 clients - out of 4,000 clients, four clients that I wish I did not represent,'' Fishbein said. Unwise to Answer Tandy, a longtime criminal defense attorney, declined to answer questions about the case against him. ``I just don't think it's a wise or proper thing to do at this point,'' he said. Fishbein, who moved to Tucson from New York City in 1988, has a history of cocaine addiction. During the mid-1980s, cocaine began taking over his life, he acknowledged in court documents filed in New York. During the '80s, he was investigated by the New York State Bar for misusing clients' funds. After moving to Tucson and beginning to practice law here, he was retroactively suspended from practicing in New York for three years. ``I moved here as a pro-active way to turn my life around,'' Fishbein said in a recent interview. He said he has remained sober for 12 years and continues to attend rehab meetings. He has chaired a committee of the State Bar of Arizona that offers help to attorneys with addiction problems or who are in danger of suicide. He sponsors attorneys through five years of sobriety, he said. But he was charged with one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly flushing cocaine down a toilet before U.S. Customs agents could seize it May 20. ``It's scary and it hurts,'' Fishbein said of the indictment against him. ``But I have to have faith that good things happen to good people. I have to have faith things are going to work out.'' Outlook Gloomy For now, things don't look good for Fishbein or Tandy. A Tampa grand jury re-indicted them July 14 along with 23 other people, including Arevalo and Bess. All four Tucsonans are charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana and to launder the proceeds. All four have pleaded innocent to the charges against them. But Fishbein acknowledged, ``I may have made a technical violation, where there's no leeway (in the law) as far as intent or no intent.'' Federal law requires attorneys and others to report receipts of $10,000 or more in cash. Fishbein doesn't face criminal charges concerning his relationship with the alleged operators of the drug tunnel, Dillon and Loya. Fishbein represented Dillon as far back as 1992, when Dillon granted him power of attorney over a piece of property in the 9900 block of North Placita Papalote. In 1997, Loya empowered Fishbein to handle the financial affairs of Loya's partnership, SAIP Investment Services. The William B. Dillon Trust also bought a townhouse where Fishbein lived when he filed for bankruptcy in 1990. Dillon's trust continues to own that townhouse, just northwest of the intersection of West Ina Road and North La Caņada Drive. Loya is under arrest and faces stiff criminal charges in the tunnel case. But Dillon, who faces similar charges, is a fugitive, possibly in Mexico. State records show Fishbein served as statutory agent for corporations or partnerships belonging to Arevalo and Bess. Those two owned Tucson-area real estate through businesses such as Flores Land Development Services, JLA Land Acquisition and ELR Investments, state and county records indicate. Of the 59 Tucson-area properties targeted for seizure, 24 belong to Flores Land Development. Bess worked for that company, which lists the Savoy House apartment complex at 1010 North Palo Verde Boulevard as its address, according to filings in Pima County Superior Court. Last year, another attorney argued in postsentencing pleadings that Bess' employment with Flores Land Development showed he had a steady job. Bess was convicted in 1991 of conspiring to distribute marijuana and served almost four years in prison. Bess also was arrested along with someone named Joe Arevalo in 1977, after they allegedly picked up a 534-pound load of marijuana from a plane that landed on a remote, Marana-area landing strip, according to a presentencing report. Charges were dismissed. Large Deals On Tape In the present case, while some of the prosecution's allegations involve obscure corporations with no street addresses, others involve alleged large cash transactions caught on monitored telephone conversations or videotape. Tandy was arrested after he arranged the pickup of $260,000 in marijuana proceeds at a gas station on South 12th Avenue on May 7, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Customs agents were listening when a confidential informant arranged the pickup. The man who was supposed to pick up the money, John Ochoa, pleaded guilty July 26 to conspiring with Tandy and others to commit money laundering. His cousin, Jose Enriquez, who worked for Tandy as a law clerk, and John Dugery were also arrested during the failed money transaction. Even after the arrests of Arevalo, Bess and Tandy, marijuana money continued to flow from Florida to Tucson, according to court documents. On June 4, Customs agents in Georgia seized $1.1 million in cash that prosecutors allege consisted of proceeds from the sale of Arevalo's marijuana. On June 18, John J. Arsenault piloted a plane from Tucson to Tampa expecting to pick up between $1 million and $1.5 million in cash allegedly belonging to Arevalo, Arsenault said in a plea agreement. Arsenault, who expected to be paid $50,000, met with an undercover U.S. Customs agent and picked up suitcases he thought were filled with cash. Customs agents arrested Arsenault in front of his hotel room. Still Practice Law While Fishbein and Tandy's problems remain unresolved, they are in good standing with the State Bar and continue to practice law under the shadow of the felony charges. Sources say they may not be the last local lawyers forced to do so. Fishbein's attorney, Robert Hooker, said federal agents investigating this case seem interested in lawyers. ``There have been comments made (by investigators) that lead me to believe they think a lot of criminal defense lawyers are crossing the line,'' he said.August 8, 1999
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