If Chevaliee ”Chevy” Robinson, 30, was unhappy about pleading guilty to drug conspiracy and money laundering in Akron a few months ago, he was probably even less happy when he learned the identity of the snitch that helped set him up with the police: his lawyer Frank Pignatelli. Media has learned that Pignatelli found himself implicated in the drug conspiracy and agreed to work undercover with police in stings to incriminate others, including his own former clients. It is an extremely troubling use of a lawyer by law enforcement that the American Bar Association should review.
Pignatelli may have resulted in the arrest of 30 people in Akron and Cleveland and other cities.
Pignatelli, 45, is no longer practicing in Ohio for good reason, but has taken up criminal defense work in Denver, incluidng the representation of defendants in drug cases. He has been offered a less sentence for his own actions to support drug dealers. Federal prosecutors reportedly approached Pignatelli to say that they believe he was helping his clients purchase ”stash houses” in which to store drugs and money. Media reports that a search of his home in March 2006 found more than $2.8 million and about 1,000 pounds of marijuana.
Presumably, the stash at Pignatelli’s house was not known to the Colorado bar when he started to represent people in drug cases.
Only recently we saw a lawyer in Wisconsin who assumed the role of both prosecutor and defense attorney for clients.
This is also a matter worthy of congressional review. The Justice Department in this case was using the trust afforded to an attorney to snare targets. It is a practice that would directly undermine the attorney-client relationship and the faith in the guarantee of zealous representation. In the meantime, the Ohio and Colorado bars need to get busy with Pignatelli and his ability to continue to represent people.
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