December 28, 2017


– When CK lawyers represent clients in criminal defense matters, their experience as former Federal and State prosecutors makes all the difference.

Earlier this month, Ray Mateo, a former New Jersey Deputy Attorney General, secured an outright victory for a client whose history seemed to stack the deck against him.

This client operated a car dealership, for which he secured vehicles on consignment from other car dealers. Over the past few years, the client developed a productive business relationship with a major car dealership, successfully securing over $1 million in annual profit. Unfortunately, business deteriorated and the client’s dealership went under earlier this year.

In the course of the decline in business, Ray’s client had issued a check to the noted major car dealership. Very soon afterwards, the client realized that he had insufficient funds to cover the check and, upon explaining the circumstances of his declining business, asked the car dealer not to cash the check. The car dealer was unsympathetic. He deposited the check anyway and then pursued criminal charges for theft by deception, citing the bounced check.

Ray’s client has a criminal history, having spent significant time in prison for two prior fraud convictions. Ray understood this would not bode well for the defense; on the surface, fraud appeared to be his client’s modus operandi.

But Ray also saw that the client had since made meaningful life changes. He had settled down and started a family, and opened a dealership that for a time was quite successful. What’s more, the client had a demonstrable business relationship with the so-called victim, and a history of a productive course of dealing. This was a case of a business going belly-up, not a case of second-degree theft as charged in the Criminal Complaint.

Ray and his client had a strategic choice to make. They could share the extent of their defense with the prosecutor or hold out for the indictment and eventual trial.

As Ray explains, “Complete dismissals of pending charges are very rare, and providing the prosecution with the defense’s narrative ahead of trial can trigger the prosecution to further fortify its case.” With a maximum sentence of ten years in state prison hanging in the balance, stakes were high.

This is where Ray’s seasoning as a prosecutor helped guide the successful decision-making.

Ray understood the power of favorably personifying the client – making the case not about a repeat offender, but about a rehabilitated, well-intended businessman. With the client on board, Ray shared the entirety of his defense with the prosecution, advocating that this unfortunate set of events was in the ordinary course of a failing business, with no criminal intent. He knew what the prosecutor would consider, and which factors would weigh heaviest in the balance of the prosecutor’s discretion.

It was the right call. Drawing on his experience as a former prosecutor, Ray secured an all-out victory for his client. The prosecution dismissed all charges.

When stakes are highest, there is no substitute for experience. It is for this reason that clients turn to CK. Please visit our website to review testimonials from clients who have turned to CK for help.