Convicted Fraudster Says He ‘Perishes’ In Jail

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Convicted fraudster Luke Brugnara is trying to fire his lawyers and get out of jail yet again, using the well-worn argument that he is near death and needs bail to recuperate and hire private counsel.
     “I cannot sit on a cement floor, 24/7, two feet square in an 8’x6′ cell with no fresh air, stuffy, no exercise, much longer,” Brugnara wrote in an emergency motion for new counsel. “I simply will perish as a human being.”
     He said he’s had a complete breakdown in communication with court-appointed lawyers George Boisseau and Dena Young, even as they work for his freedom.
     “In short, Boisseau and Young refuse to communicate with Luke,” he wrote, adding that he hasn’t spoken with Boisseau in weeks despite calling the attorney daily, and that “the few meetings that Luke has had with Boisseau since his appointment were abbreviatedly [sic] short, and wholly unproductive.”
     On Monday, Boisseau and Young filed a motion for acquittal on two counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of making false declarations to the court, citing insufficient evidence.
     After a two-week trial in May, a jury found the 51-year-old Brugnara guilty of these counts, along with escape and contempt. He is set to be sentenced in September.
     The federal government’s prosecution of Brugnara stemmed from his bilking art dealer Rose Long out of $11 million in fine art, including a Degas bronze that remains missing.
     In their motion, Boisseau and Young said Long had approached Brugnara about buying the art and shipped it to him “without so much as a deposit, contract, or escrow arrangement to insure payment.”
     They said the missing sculpture cannot be considered part of the fraud scheme as Long willingly parted with it without requiring any agreement from Brugnara to pay.
     “To hold otherwise would turn every failure to pay for goods delivered into a federal offense rather than a breach of contract,” they wrote.
     “Had there indeed been a scheme to defraud, to deprive Long of all this property, as alleged, it stands to reason that all the art work would have turned up missing,” the attorneys added.
     The chances of U.S. District Judge William Alsup granting Brugnara’s latest motion are slim.
     Brugnara represented himself at trial, after being denied bail to hire his own attorneys following a February escape from the San Francisco Federal Building.
     Alsup was furious with Brugnara for breaking his trust and fleeing the building after being granted a temporary furlough to meet with his ex-lawyer Erik Babcock.
     And after Brugnara’s recurrent outbursts before, during and after trial, he has pretty much forfeited his speaking privileges in Alsup’s courtroom. Shortly after his conviction, Alsup issued an order saying he will never again be allowed to represent himself.
     Boisseau and Young also moved for a new trial, saying Brugnara was denied the chance to bring in an art appraiser as a defense witness and that he was denied access to his legal materials during trial.
     They also said Alsup should have terminated his right to self representation sooner, “when it became apparent that Brugnara could not control his behavior.”
     Alsup should have declared a mistrial instead of giving Brugnara 471 days for contempt, Boisseau and Young argued, writing, “Brugnara’s loud, obstreperous, and sometimes frightening behavior negatively affected the jury’s impression of him, and negatively impacted the entire trial.”
     They asked Alsup to reverse the contempt orders in addition to granting him a new trial.

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