Court of Appeals Appoints Covington & Burling to Represent Tony Viola
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected the Justice Department's contention that evidence relocated to a Federal-State Task Force is not subject to disclosure by the government, then appointed the law firm of Covington & Burling (www.cov.com) to represent Tony Viola in litigation concerning evidence in his case. Tony was tried twice on identical charges by a federally funded Mortgage Fraud Task Force on allegations he duped banks, including JP Morgan Chase, into making 'no money down' mortgage loans. Following a conviction in federal court, Tony proved his innocence at a second trial in state court, on identical charges, prosecuted by the same prosecution team, using evidence prosecutors said didn't exist, but that was given to Tony by the Task Force's Office Manager, Dawn Pasela.
After the second trial, Tony filed suit against the Justice Department and the Task Force, alleging that federal prosecutor Mark Bennett and FBI Agent Jeff Kassouf used the structure of the joint Task Force to shift evidence proving Tony's innocence between locations and jurisdictions to hide it before his first trial. The DOJ and Task Force responded that the Task Force was a purely local endeavor, and the federal government was not responsible for evidence stored at the Task Force, or for any misconduct that took place there. The Court of Appeals rejected that argument, appointed counsel and requested a full briefing concerning the government's "disclosure decisions" within 60 days, Viola vs. DOJ, et. al., Case # 18-2573, April 3, 2019 ruling.
"I'm extremely grateful that Covington & Burling has accepted the Court's appointment," said Tony Viola, "and I do not believe the Justice Department's actions throughout my case will survive judicial scrutiny."