Alexei Schacht’s Defense of Jose Ibanez

Attorney Alexei Schacht runs a boutique law firm with offices on 94th Street in Manhattan. Since earning his JD in 1989 from SUNY Buffalo Law School, he has defended clients in matters including narcotics conspiracy, money laundering, securities fraud, Medicare fraud, and murder. One of Alexei Schacht’s successful appeals involved the sentencing of Jose Ibanez.

Jose Ibanez and his wife, Mariluz Zavala, pled guilty to charges that they were involved in a criminal plan to smuggle aliens into the United States. Their plea bargain called for sentences of 70-87 months in prison. At her sentencing in November 2005, however, Zavala was sentenced to 180 months, and Ibanez’s sentence, imposed in April 2006, called for 135 months—both sentences vastly in excess of what was called for in the plea agreement.

The reason the sentences were so much higher than the prosecutors had called for was that the judge interpreted sentencing guideline laws as requiring the additional time, despite the plea agreement. Prosecutors had arrived at the recommendation of 70-87 months using a different interpretation of the sentencing guidelines.

When Schacht appealed on behalf of Ibanez, the appellate court determined that the sentencing judge had, in fact, erred in applying the sentencing guidelines, and remanded the case for redetermination of the sentences, which were ultimately cut almost in half.

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