Photo Courtesy of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office
By Forum Staff
A former Forest Hills criminal defense attorney has been convicted of conspiring to make a false statement and making a false statement, federal prosecutors announced on Friday.
Specifically, Scott Brettschneider, 62, an attorney admitted to practice in the state of New York since 1987, wrote a false letter to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to assist an inmate in gaining entry to a substance abuse program in order to fraudulently obtain an early release from prison.
According to officials, the charges stemmed from an investigation conducted by the Queens District Attorney’s Office. The evidence at trial proved that between October 2014 and January 2015, Brettschneider, Charles Gallman, and Reginald Shabazz-Muhammad conspired to make false statements in a letter to a BOP employee regarding inmate Richard Marshall’s treatment for substance and alcohol abuse in an effort to help Marshall fraudulently gain entry to the Residential Drug Abuse Program at U.S. Penitentiary Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. In an Oct. 24, 2014, call on Gallman’s phone that was intercepted by law enforcement, Marshall explained to Brettschneider that he needed a letter from a “drug program” to which Brettschneider responded, “alright, alright, we’ll work on that Monday. Ok, I know who to talk to.” Brettschneider, Marshall, and Shabazz-Muhammad, who claimed to be the director of program services at Muhammad Mosque No. 7, falsely stated that Marshall had previously been enrolled in the Mosque’s treatment program between 2003 and 2010 to reduce his purported “active drug dependence.” An inmate who is accepted into the RDAP and successfully completes the treatment program is eligible to receive up to a year off his sentence.
Marshall pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements, and was sentenced on Oct. 6, 2018, to three years’ probation and a fine of $1,500. Shabazz-Muhammad pleaded guilty to making false statements, and was sentenced on Jan. 30, 2019, to two years’ probation and a fine of $1,000. Gallman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements and to violating the Travel Act for bribing a witness, and was sentenced on March 20, 2019, to three years’ imprisonment.
“Brettschneider, a longtime attorney, has been found guilty by a jury of brazenly violating the law he was sworn to uphold by scheming to write a phony letter to help his client get into a drug treatment program and become eligible for early release from prison,” said Brooklyn United States Attorney Richard Donoghue. “This office is committed to protecting the integrity of federal programs for drug abuse treatment, to ensure that help is available for those truly in need and not those merely looking for a get-out-of-jail card.”
When sentenced, Brettschneider, who now resides in North Carolina, faces up to five years in prison.
“Integrity is the foundation of our criminal justice system,” Queens DA Richard Brown said back in March 2018, when Brettschneider & Co. were indicted. “These allegations go to the core of that foundation and are prejudicial to the administration of justice. The charges today send a strong message to those who would undermine that integrity that they will be held accountable. No one can be allowed to ‘fix’ any part of a case.”