Ivan Stephan Fisher Attorney At Law
251 E. 61st Street • New York, NY 10021 • 212-517-5000 • ISF@IvanFisher.com
Ivan S. Fisher specializes in federal criminal litigation. His practice is national as well as international in breadth. His career, which spans more than 30 years, includes the practice of law in federal, state and local jurisdictions throughout the United States. Mr.Fisher's work has required extensive travel in Europe, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Latin America and Central America. He defends clients against a wide range of criminal violations. He participates in all phases of criminal matters, including government investigations, pre-trial and trial work and appellate practice.
Mr.Fisher received a BA from Syracuse University and an LLB from Boston University School of Law. Immediately following law school, he was hired by the Legal Aid Society in New York City, where he worked for one year exclusively on the defense of Lowell M. Burrell, who was charged in a complex securities fraud case brought by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Subsequently, he became an associate fo the highly respected criminal defense lawyer Albert Kreiger, with whom he ultimately formed a partnership. In 1974, Mr.Fisher formed his own law firm, where he has since practiced law.
The following is a representativeselection of cases Mr.Fisher has litigated throughout his career.
One of Mr.Fisher's earliest celebrated trials was the so-called "French Connection" case. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York charged his client Jean Orsisni with the importation of substantial quantities of heroin, which had been impacted in a jaguar and smuggled into the United States on the luxury ocean liner The Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr.Fisher then went on to win a landmark decision in the United States Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit, U.S. v. Toscanino. This decision, for the first time, held that jurisdiction cannot be obtained by U.S. Federal Agents, acting beyond the borders of the United States, using methods that "shock the conscience of the court." Mr.Toscanino had been kidnaped from Uruguay and tortured in Brazil with the involvement of U.S. Agents.
Some of Mr.Fisher's earlier cases have served as the subject of well received books, including Papa's Game, by Gregory Wallance and The Pizza Connection, by Shana Alexander. Papa's Game followed the colorful life and trial of Mr.Fisher's client, Vincent Papa, who was suspected of being the mastermind, ironically, of the theft from the New York City police property clerk, of the same heroin, that had been the subject of his earlier representation in the "French Connection" prosecution. The Pizza Connection covered the trial in which Mr.Fisher represented Salvatore Catalano, a lead defendant in a seventeen-month drug conspiracy trial that had become known as the "Pizza Connection" case. Mr.Catalano was charged with being the leader of the Sicilian faction of the Bonanno Crime Family.
In another internationally publicized prosecution, Mr.Fisher defended Jack Henry Abbott against murder charges. Mr.Abbott achieved status as a literary celebrity as author of In the Belly of the Beast, an acclaimed book detailing his life in prison. Following his release, Mr.Abbott was charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of a young actor in a quarrel about the use of a restroom in a lower eastside Manhattan restaurant. Mr.Fisher won an acquittal on the second degree murder charge by persuading the jury that Abbott's conduct was a result of an "extreme emotional disturbance" caused by the 25 years of his adult life spent in confinement. Mr.Abbott was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
White Collar Practice
As the focus of federal prosecutorial efforts evolved from major organized crime and drug prosecutions to large white-collar prosecutions, so did Mr.Fisher's practice. He is engaged in all phases of white collar litigation. His representations have included doctors, lawyers, other professionals and business people who had become subjects or targets of criminal investigations concerning possible violations of federal law. The issues in these investigations typically include securities fraud, bank fraud, bribery, mail fraud, embezzlement, healthcare fraud, wire fraud, insurance fraud and tax violations. For example:
Mr.Fisher represented Michele Sindona, "The Vatican's Banker," an Italian financier who was alleged to have controlled an international group of banks and corporations. The indictment charged Mr .Sindona with scheming to defraud the United States and Franklin National Bank by misapplying funds, falsifying books, bribing officers and engaging in fictitious foreign exchange transactions. In his post-conviction representation of Mr.Sindona, Mr.Fisher achieved a unique result at that time: a transfer of Mr.Sindona to Italian authorities, notwithstanding Sindona's previously imposed 25 year U.S. prison term, which he was then serving in the United States.
In a seven-week jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (US v. Demetrios, et. al), Mr.Fisher represented Demetrios Demetrios, a businessman from Long Island City and a prominent figure in the New York expatriate Greek community. Mr.Demetrios was indicted in connection with his alleged involvement in the exportation to Iraq of zirconium, a nuclear grade metal used in the manufacturing of nuclear reactors. At the time of his arrest, Mr.Demetrios was described on the front page of the New York Times as a significant violator of the United States law that restricts trade with "black" nations. Despite the fact that some 80 hours of his conversations were recorded by the government, the trial ultimately turned upon the testimony of a co-defendant who, shortly before trial, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate. Mr.Fisher's unusual cross examination of this witness established that the witness was, in fact, innocent, notwithstanding the guilty pleas extracted from him by the government. The jury acquitted Mr.Demetrios on all charges.
Mr.Fisher successfully defended an attorney whose practice involved private adoptions. The attorney was charged in a 190-count indictment with various offenses relating to private-placement adoptions. During cross-examination by Mr.Fisher, the prosecution's main witness broke down and recanted his direct testimony. The defendant was acquitted on all counts.
Mr.Fisher also secured an acquittal for an attorney who was charged with attempted bribery. The case involved allegations that the defendant attempted to bribe the Chairman of the New York State Liquor Authority.
In a case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Mr.Fisher represented an attorney charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, obstructing justice and making false statements to the government. The U.S. Attorney's Office had targeted this lawyer for more than three years and presented, as its first witness, the former Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Mr.Fisher's cross-examination of the witness established the difference between the lawyer who leaves room between the intensity of his efforts to defend his client and the border of ethical and legal conduct. The jury accepted Mr.Fisher's argument that a criminal defense lawyer must "push, without ever breaking the envelope" in his representation of a criminal defendant. The jury acquitted the attorney on all counts.
Mr.Fisher also represented an owner and operator of a substantial New York City construction company who has been charged by the United States Attorney's Office with substantial wire fraud, pension fraud and money laundering charges.
Mr.Fisher has represented clients throughout the United States in connection with allegations relating to healthcare fraud. In a case in which five principals of a drug rehabilitation company were charged with Medicaid fraud, Mr.Fisher represented one of the two most significant principals. The allegations included a multi-state, multi-million dollar Medicaid fraud conspiracy. Mr.Fisher's client was the only principal charged in the indictment to avoid a sentence of imprisonment.
Mr.Fisher also represented an owner of a New York pharmacy after he was indicted for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from Medicaid by billing for expensive drugs which were never provided to Medicaid patients. Following Mr.Fisher's presentation of compelling evidence of his client's innocence, the New York State Office of the Attorney General dismissed all charges against the client.
Mr.Fisher was presented with a unique representation in the United States Virgin Islands. He represented Dr. Roy Schneider, who, in addition to having enjoyed a successful political career, practices as an oncologist in the Virgin Islands and the United States. The indictment charged the former Governor with public corruption; the fourteen counts included allegations of embezzlement, falsifying documents, fraud and the misappropriation of government funds. Following the public announcement of the charges by the Office of the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, Mr.Fisher held a press conference of his own and denounced the prosecution as a politically motivated vendetta against Dr. Schneider. All charges against the Governor were thereafter dismissed with prejudice.
Mr.Fisher represented Haji Ayub Afridi, a former senator from the Northwest Frontier Province and the Chief of the Afridi Tribe. At the time of his arrest, the U. S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York claimed that the senator was one of the most significant sources of illicit narcotics in the world. The representation required Mr.Fisher to travel frequently throughout Pakistan and the Northwest Frontier Province, where he developed evidence of the U.S. government's illegal interference with his client's Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Notwithstanding the natural life sentence that the government was seeking, the case resulted in a non narcotics disposition and the release of the defendant after serving just over three years in prison.
Mr.Fisher represented a senator of the Republic of Panama, who had been targeted in an undercover sting operation and was accused of involvement in a narcotics and money-laundering conspiracy. During trial Mr.Fisher established through his cross-examination of the case agent, that the agent had defrauded the U.S. government during the course of the sting operation. The disintegration of the agent during the cross-examination derailed the government's case and essentially ended the agents career. Following the six-week trial, which included a video-tape of the defendant counting 508 kilos of cocaine and then "high-fiving" the undercover agent, the jury deadlocked. The prosecution was favorably resolved without retrial.
In United States v. Zapata, a case in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Mr.Fisher won the suppression of $2 million in cash in a prosecution involving the seizure of more than 500 kilograms of cocaine. The government's appeal was unsuccessful.
Mr.Fisher won a groundbreaking appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on the issue of the admissibility of polygraph evidence in the Federal Courts in Texas (U.S. v. Posada). This decision liberalized the utilization of polygraph results and set a new legal standard for the scientific testimony concerning this evidence.
Mr.Fisher represents Haji Bashir Noorzai, a tribal leader of substantial influence and power in Afghanistan. Mr.Noorzai has been accused of various narcotics and money laundering violations by the United States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York. This case was the subject of a front page article in the New York Times in February 2007, and was also the cover story of the February19, 2007, issue of Time Magazine.
Current representations also include a number of individuals who own and operate jewelry businesses in New York and abroad. These individuals are under investigation in connection with alleged federal and state money-laundering and tax violations.
Mr.Fisher represents an internationally celebrated philanthropist supporting opera houses throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, here in N.Y., and widely acclaimed financial advisor now charged with security violations in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Mr.Fisher is retained to represent rap star, Remy Ma, charged with assault, obstruction and witness tampering.
Mr.Fisher was invited to address the United States Second Circuit Federal Judicial Conference. The United States Code Title 28 Section 333 commands each Chief Judge of the eleven judicial circuits in the United States to hold an annual conference for all District and Circuit Court Judges. The judicial conference undertakes discussion of topics of temporal importance to the current practice of the law. Mr.Fisher addressed the topic "Megatrials and Monster Rico Cases" (125 Federal Rules Decisions) (August 1988). His presentation focused on the impact of the Megatrial on the criminal defendant. Representing the Government's perspective was the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louis Freeh.
Mr.Fisher has been a guest lecturer at colleges and law schools throughout the country, including Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, New York University Law School, Boston College Law School, Brooklyn Law School, and Fordham Law School. On account of Mr.Fisher's reputation for highly effective cross-examination, law schools and state bar panels frequently invite him to present lectures and demonstrations.
Mr.Fisher has also participated in mock trails held at synagogues in New York. Mr.Fisher represented the Jewish patriarch Jacob, who was charged with fraudulently obtaining his father Isaac's blessing and also defended King David on charges of the murder of Batsheva's husband. He also participated in a discussion at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York about the
"Observant Felon," together with Rabbi Sol Roth, Norman Mailer and Joel Cohen, a partner with Stroock, Stroock and Lavan.
Mr.Fisher has appeared on local New York and national television programs which address a variety of legal issues. He also publishes articles about germane legal issues in The New York Law Journal.