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The Law Offices of Craig Weintraub
Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney
Craig Weintraub, Attorney at Law
TRUSTED STRATEGIC THINKER- PROBLEM SOLVER
CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LITIGATION
Craig Weintraub has over 30 years experience litigating cases in federal and state courts throughout Ohio.
Mr. Weintraub has spent his career in the Northeast Ohio court system and has excellent relationships with judges, prosecutors and law enforcement who trust his word.
Do you want a great negotiator and trial attorney that you can trust then call Mr. Weintraub today for a free consultation. He promises to treat his clients with respect and quickly return phone calls.
Throughout his career thousands of clients have benefitted from Mr. Weintraub's hard negotiations and trial and appellate services. He has received over 50 NOT GUILTY verdicts, dismissals of serious criminal charges and he consistently receives significant reductions of charges. These excellent results have occurred in a variety of high profile media cases, drug trafficking, drug manufacturing, money laundering, white collar crimes, financial fraud crimes, embezzlement, murder, bribery, kidnapping, sex offenses, robberies, assaults, domestic violence, thefts, embezzlement, mortgage fraud, conspiracy, internet solicitation.
Mr. Weintraub has handled numerous high profile cases that attracted local, national and international media attention and has been regularly interviewed by local, national and international media outlets. He has the experience in communicating with the local and national press, prosecutors and judges. He has defended celebrities, politicians, physicians, attorneys, and other public figures in cases that make headlines.
Mr. Weintraub has years of experience achieving successful outcomes for thousands of clients in courtrooms throughout Ohio. He wins NOT GUILTY verdicts in state and federal courts.
Areas of Expertise:
Death Penalty Defense
All State and Federal Drug Crimes
All State and Federal Gun Cases
White Collar crimes, including Food Stamp Trafficking, Bribery, Laundering
Mr. Weintraub has long-term relationships with local law firms that allows him to also offer litigation services for: wrongful death, catastrophic injuries, financial advisor issues, products liability, medical malpractice, divorce, child custody, estate planning, and employment related issues.
Mr. Weintraub has personally settled hundreds of injury cases in excess of several millions of dollars.
Experienced Ohio Attorney
Mr. Weintraub graduated from the Ohio State University in 1984 and from Cleveland -Marshall College of Law in 1987. He has 30 years of trial experience in federal, county and municipal courts in Ohio.
Former Ohio City nightclub owner pleads guilty to drug, money laundering charges
Updated Jan 7; Posted Jan 7
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former Ohio City nightclub owner arrested by the FBI as part of a large-scale investigation pleaded guilty Monday to federal drug and money-laundering charges.
Emad Silmi, 44, the owner of Global Auto Body & Collision in Cleveland’s Puritas-Longmead neighborhood, acknowledged to a federal magistrate judge that he ran a drug ring out of his shop that spread large amounts of marijuana, cocaine and a designer drug similar to “molly” throughout Northeast Ohio.
His arrest came after a federal investigation that lasted more than a year and also resulted in charges against 25 other people. It is the second time the North Olmsted resident, who previously owned the popular club Moda, was caught trafficking drugs.
He was sentenced in 2006 to 57 months in federal prison for similar charges.
Silmi said little more than “yes, your honor” during his plea hearing in front of Magistrate Judge Jonathan Greenberg. A bald, gray-bearded man in an orange jumpsuit, he has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest in December 2017. He acknowledged his crimes to the judge as Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Cronin read them aloud from a plea agreement.
His lawyer Craig Weintraub said after the hearing his client is looking at a likely sentence of about 10 years in federal prison. Silmi also agreed to forfeit more than $54,000 and a gun, and federal prosecutors agreed to drop several charges in exchange for his plea.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko will sentence Silmi on April 29.
The FBI dubbed the investigation “Operation Snow Globe." Agents discovered that drugs were shipped through the mail, FedEx and UPS. The drug money was laundered through auto shops throughout Cleveland and in Parma. Agents listened in on phone calls and read text messages, according to court records.
Silmi obtained large amounts of cocaine from Cleveland resident Samer Abu-Kwaik, prosecutors said. He also obtained large amounts of designer drugs from Huron resident Anthony Quinn Greenelee, who obtained it from China.
He sold all the drugs out of his shop and disguised drug payments as business expenses to launder the money.
Others netted in the FBI’s investigation were also caught shipping and selling heroin, fentanyl and the synthetic opioid U-47700 from Puerto Rico, court records said.
Prior to his recent arrest, Silmi was likely best known as the owner of his West 25th Street nightclub, which in its day was frequented by stars such as LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, the rapper 50 Cent, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
The Ohio City club was shuttered in 2006, and its former building now houses the Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream shop.
Weintraub described Silmi’s charging and plea as a “fall from grace” for a once-successful businessman.
“That was the club in Cleveland for a while,” the attorney said of Moda. He said
DEA investigation in Ohio drags on for years, with millions of dollars and assets still in government custody
Updated Jan 14; Posted Jan 14
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Four years after federal authorities in Cleveland seized millions of dollars, cars, jewelry and property as part of a drug investigation that includes allegations of money laundering and illegally billing people on their phone bills, prosecutors have not filed any charges.
Meanwhile, the government continues to hang on to most of the money and property as the targets of the investigation, including some from Lake County, fight to get it back.
The allegations center on people who operated or were tied to phone directory companies Discount Directory Inc. and Enhanced Telecommunication Services, and whether drug money was laundered through the companies. The case is laid out in court filings, and AT&T Services has agreed to pay $7.75 million as part of a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission to refund customers who were scammed by the two companies.
Court records show the investigation stretches back until at least 2014. It was not immediately clear if and when prosecutors would file charges or who could face them. However, court filings from September show a criminal investigation remains active.
An attorney for two people in the case said the government’s decision to hold on to the seized money for so long has caused strain on his clients.
“We are grateful that the US Attorney’s office has been reviewing this matter without a rush to judgment and that we will eventually have Judge Boyko resolve these important issues,” Craig Weintraub, an attorney for Dominic Schender and Roberta Eldridge, two people who filed claims for seized money and property, said in an email. “By the same token it is inconceivable that in the United States money and property can be taken and held without a hearing and without regard to the huge impact the seizure has on a family.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Mike Tobin declined comment.
The investigation spans the administrations of four different U.S. attorneys in Cleveland. Agents seized more than $2.8 million in cash and in various bank accounts, as well as cars, property and jewelry, on three separate occasions in 2014 and 2015.
Now-retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Tripi wrote in a 2015 complaint for forfeiture that Kirtland resident Brandon Selvaggio conspired with Schender, who lived in Pueblo, Colorado, and others to commit wire fraud.
The complaint said Selvaggio formed companies that were supposed to provide directory assistance services to phone customers. The companies then contracted with telecommunication companies, including AT&T. But Selvaggio’s companies never actually provided the services, even though customers were billed for them, an illegal practice known as cramming, the filing stated.
The DEA discovered the illegal billing while investigating Schender, Selvaggio and others for drug crimes and money laundering, according to an FCC news release. The forfeiture complaint said Schender appeared to be growing marijuana on his property in Colorado and using Selvaggio’s phone directory companies, among others, to launder money.
In addition to Schender and Selvaggio, prosecutors name Lake County residents Iris Baker, Gabriel Saluan, Gregory Harris, John McCoy and Chelsea Baker as part of the conspiracy and said the case also deals with marijuana distribution in Lake County. The government also has seized property from Eldridge, Schender’s ex-girlfriend, court records show.
Civil forfeiture case also drags on
U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko, who presides over the civil forfeiture case, repeatedly put the case on hold between its filing in 2015 and August 2018. By that point, federal prosecutors said they would allow for some discovery to go on while the criminal investigation continues, Tripi wrote in a court filing in August.
The judge and the people seeking the return of their money agreed and the litigation began. Some progress was made, too, as the government agreed to return more than $67,000, records show.
However, the majority of the criminal and civil actions are unresolved. To complicate things, the case is now on pause, along with all other civil cases involving the U.S. government in northern Ohio, as a result of a partial government shutdown. Civil attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office are furloughed until President Donald Trump and Congress resolve their impasse over the president’s desire to receive $5.7 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Weintraub lamented the recent stay and said he and his clients “are at the mercy of the President and legislators to resolve the issue that caused the shutdown.” Once the shutdown is over, he hopes he can resolve the case.
"Until then, my client continues to wait for his day in court,” Weintraub said.
Attorney Ian Friedman, who represents Iris Baker, declined comment, as did Salun’s attorney George Argie. A lawyer for Selvaggio, who has filed claims for the seized property, did not return a phone call and an email.
Reasons for delay
It is not uncommon for criminal investigations, especially white collar cases overseen by federal prosecutors, to stretch on. Local high-profile cases such as investigations into corruption in Cuyahoga County lasted for years, with some defendants not facing charges for three years or more after the inquiry began.
The wrinkle involving seized property provides a twist, though, as the targets of the investigation have said the seizures, have squeezed the people whose money was taken.
Edward LaRue, an attorney for Selvaggio, told cleveland.com in 2016 that his client was “financially hamstrung” as a result of the seizures.
Dan Alban, an attorney with the libertarian-leaning legal firm Institute for Justice, said he was not familiar with the case in Ohio but noted that prosecutors sometimes use civil forfeiture cases to starve investigation targets of the financial ability to hire good attorneys and properly defend themselves.
Alban, whose organization generally opposes civil forfeiture without charges being filed and, also noted, however, that cases can sometimes drag on and be put on hold because targets don’t want to be put into a position to say anything that could incriminate them.