UPDATED: Scarsdale Lawyer Accused of Illegal Travel to Cuba; Released on $1M Bond

Marc Verzani charged with violating Trading With the Enemy Act, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Mark Verzani, a Scarsdale lawyer accused of taking an illegal business trip to Cuba, was released from White Plains Federal Court this afternoon on a $1 million bond.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice press officer, the bond was secured by Verzani's home in Scarsdale (for which his wife is a co-signer), along with residential and commercial properties owned by his father, Seattle lawyer Robert Verzani.

Verzani, whose case was handled by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith, was represented by Manhattan attorney Patricia Pileggi.

Verzani, 45, of Claremont Road and Adem Arici, 49, of Brooklyn were arrested by federal agents on Thursday and charged with conspiring to violate the federal Trading With the Enemy Act and witness tampering, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Veranzi received an additional charge of obstruction of justice. 

According to reports, Verzani flew to Cuba for five days in September, where he met with Arici and engaged in business interactions. The two men allegedly examined real estate properties for potential purchase and also spent money in Cuba, violating the U.S.'s embargo against the island

Agents said that Verzani, and a third party traveled to Cancun before flying to Cuba to meet up with Arici on Sept. 8. After staying in Cuba for five days, Verzani and the unidentified third party returned to the U.S., where Verzani lied on declaration papers, claiming that he had only been to Mexico. 

Verzani allegedly also lied about his trip to Cuba during an Oct. 11 hearing in federal court during an unrelated case. 

"As alleged, these defendants were prepared to place their business interests before compliance with a clearly established trade embargo with Cuba," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated. "They then allegedly engaged in a cover-up, which underscores the fact that their conduct was illegal. They will now be held accountable for their crimes." 

Verzani faces up to 25 years in prison, and Arici, 15 years.

Allan December 06, 2011 at 02:00 AM
This is absurd. So tell me if I really understand this, two citizens of the free United States of America exercise their fundamental right to travel, ... and the United States Government seeks to prosecute these citizens for their travel. Wow, so who's government is the most restrictive? This is an absurd and the U.S. Attorney's Office really should be ashamed of itself. Wasting tax payers dollars on a law that is dated and supports a failed embargo. I am curious too to know how the U.S. Attorney's office is going to prove their case of business transactions, ... is Cuba going to simply hand over this evidence to U.S. officials. I think not. My prediction, this case goes nowhere. So with that said, good luck atty Preet Bharara, you'll need it.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Ok ok, did my homework, so it appears that there exists what the Federal Government, that is, Attorney Preet, call a CW (i.e, cooperating witness). Apparently this witness traveled with the attorney and the attorney's client to Cuba and engaged in the horrific practice of spending money and the greater crime of investing in Cuba. A crime, because, well, we are not suppose to trade with communist Cuba because, well, ... because they are communist, ... right? Nahhh, can't be, we trade with China and Vietnam and other socialist nations like Canada. So the big crime is what, trading with the enemy? Cuba is not our enemy! Cuba has never blown up an American plane, never attacked America. But, and please do your homework, persons on American soil have blown up Cuban Airplanes, have bombed Cuban hotels and have engaged in activity deemed a threat by Cuba. We here in America calls these folks terrorists. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!! Wake up.
GrandOrient December 06, 2011 at 08:47 AM
25 years and 15 years of prison are the prices of doing business with Cuba...It should not be that easy to soil a businessman's name. Even if they are absolved, I don't think that Arici and the other man will have the same relationships with their businesspartners.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 11:57 AM
I really do not know how to respond to your comment, but it is amusing. Here is the thrust of the issue, by way of analogy. A few years back a little boy named Elian Gonzalez, not unlike persons from other poor countries throughout the world, was taken to the high sees by his mother in search of greater material opportunity in the U.S.A. The difference, however, is that unlike other countries, the U.S.A. has a unique policy toward Cuba regarding their citizens who actually physically touch American soil. If they touch it, they are in! A poor Haitian is sent home. This law is horrific because what it does in fact, with the Aim of embarrassing the Cuban Government, is encourage Cubans to risk their lives in the passage by sea to the U.S.A.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 11:57 AM
And, this is exactly part of the tragic event experienced by Elian when he lost his mother at sea. But, the more tragic event was that when Elian landed in the U.S.A. he was manipulated by the Miami Cuban community who refused to obey and respect our law as well as basic human rights, ... they refused to return Elian to his father who resided in Cuba. The Miami Courts (Family Court and higher Courts) refused to move against the Cuban community in their efforts to manipulate this child. If the Cuban Americans in Miami had it their way, they would have amended all laws to state, perhaps, that a child who leaves a communist dictatorship like Cuba and who loses their parent at sea, shall not be returned to their remaining parent in said communist country because, politics trump parental rights.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Absurd. Fortunately the US Government, not the State because the state did not dare move against the Miami Cuban community, did the correct thing and removed the child from the illegal detainment. My point, the existing policy toward Cuba and the laws surrounding it are as absurd as the actions of the Miami community. It continues to stand not because a majority of Americans believe it should stand or are even aware of the law. It continues to stand because a small group of Americans in Miami have such political weight that politicians lack the spine to end this absurdity. This law stands because wealthy Miami Cubans desire to strangle Cuba in hopes of regaining what they claim to be their property in Cuba. This law is about restricting the rights of the majority of Americans while the few (Cubans with family in Cuba and Americans with family in Cuba) can travel to Cuba freely and spend what they desire. Clear violation of the 14th Amendment to the USA Constitution - Equal Protection Clause.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 12:00 PM
But this is even more interesting, and points out the error that these three stooges made in light of current political absurdity: This is part of the testimony under oath of Richard Newcomb, Director of the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) given to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 11, 2002. "Prior to 1992, OFAC lacked civil penalty authority to enforce the Cuban embargo. Criminal prosecution was extremely rare. In my experience, U.S. Attorneys often do not accept travel violations for criminal prosecution absent other illegal commercial or financial transactions by the traveler involving Cuba or Cuban Nationals. The lack of criminal prosecutions is widely reported in the media and in almost any travel publication that discusses Cuba.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 12:00 PM
With the passage of the CDA in 1992, the Trading With the Enemy Act ("TWEA") was amended to provide civil fines of up to $50,000 (now adjusted to $55,000 for inflation) could be levied for violations of the Regulations. The CDA also required that he Secretary of the Treasury impose such penalties "only on the record after opportunity for an agency hearing...with the right to pre-hearing discovery. In 1996, the LIBERTAD ACT increased the number of categories of violations for which civil penalties may be sought to include all travel related violations. In February 1997, OFAC promulgated proposed regulations to govern the hearings, and in March 1998 published the final regulations. Judicial review by Article III courts is available once the Administration Law Judge's civil penalty determination is made final. As of 2009, no Americans have been prosecuted for traveling to Cuba for a vacation or to visit family.
Josh Wessel December 06, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Allan, its the law! I don't agree but its the law!
Allan December 06, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Josh, thank you and I respect your opinion. Your point is, in part, the point I was making about the Elian case. However, I too recognize that their are just and unjust laws. An example, that is not fully on point, but still appropriate were the segregation laws of the past. In said time the law too was the law, but the law was morally in error and it was just, right and appropriate to civilly disobey such laws.
Allan December 06, 2011 at 02:03 PM
By the way Josh, if I am correct about the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause violation in regard to permitting some Americans to travel to Cuba while restricting the majority (this is Tantamount to saying only Jewish Americans can vacation and spend money in Israel), ... which is currently the case, then this too is the law. In fact, there is no higher law in our country than the U.S. Constitution, ... as legislative acts fall second to the Constitution. Too, those immoral laws that were opposed civilly and guess what happened, we got new laws. The law is never static, it is a living body just as the framers designed it to be. To wit, "amendments".
Jvive January 01, 2012 at 10:43 PM
İf you want to make investment make in usa
Jvive January 01, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Earn money in USA plus dont pay tax and invest in Cuba ...its not fear.only you smart in this world.
Jvive January 01, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Hey Allan are you lawyer of Adem or are you his man;)
David June 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
It's the proximity of Cuba to the US that makes it much more of a threat than a Vietnam or North Korea. We don't want others in the region to make the same mistake that Cuba did, so keeping them on the enemies list makes a lot of sense. Allan, I am sure they have room for one more.


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