In the past, Cleveland authorities usually only used phone wiretaps with the assistance of federal agents in very high-profile cases. Now, Cleveland law enforcement and prosecutors are showing a willingness to use wiretap investigations on their own in a variety of different local cases. Attorney Ian Friedman recently spoke to the press on the trend and its impact on the case of his client Carmine Agnello.
"It's my understanding that there are hundreds of hours of recordings in the Agnello case alone," Attorney Friedman told Cleveland.com, "so it looks like this is going to be a new area of fight between prosecutors and defense lawyers in Cuyahoga County."
Wiretap investigations have been chiefly associated with federal corruption cases. In the U.S. Justice Department's Cuyahoga County corruption investigation, wiretap recordings helped achieve convictions for 60 public officials and contractors.
Prosecutors are now showing a greater interest in using these methods for local cases where the perceived level of sophistication warrants the effort and time that must go into a wiretap investigation. One current wiretap case is against a suspected "heroin kingpin." In the case of Mr. Agnello, he is suspected of running a lucrative car-scrapping scheme.
"Unusual" Investigative Focus
While noting that the use of wiretaps in Mr. Agnello's case was "very unusual," Attorney Friedman also reiterated a sentiment that many Cleveland criminal defense attorneys have now expressed: one of heightened vigilance. Wiretaps are can only be approved by a judge when investigators can convincingly show that they know crimes are being committed and traditional evidence collection methods have failed. Defense counsel must now be on the lookout not just for illegally obtained wiretaps, but for recordings that should be inadmissible in court, as well.
Still, Cleveland prosecutors remained staunch in their support of current and future wiretap use. Speaking with Cleveland.com, Country Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty was adamant that wiretaps were a powerful tool in the persecution of particularly "diabolical" criminals. "In the long run, if we're successful...at using these wiretaps in our efforts to attack organized crime in Cleveland," he said, "whether it be Mafia, drug dealers or gang activity, this will be a safer place."
Ian N. Friedman has built his reputation as one of Cleveland's most premier and sought-after criminal defense attorneys by taking on the most complex and high-profile of cases and producing favorable results. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal accusation, Attorney Friedman and his team invite you to call them today. They are ready to hear your story and, if necessary, begin developing a robust and effective defense on your behalf.
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