Home #Hwoodtimes Criminal Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman Talks Rudy Giuliani, El Chapo, Government Cooperators, Gotti...

Criminal Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman Talks Rudy Giuliani, El Chapo, Government Cooperators, Gotti Jr.

By Allison Kugel



Famed Criminal Defense Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman is known for taking on the nation’s most high profile and controversial criminal cases involving white collar criminals, members of organized crime, and celebrities in legal hot water. His clients include: John Gotti Jr., Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, EL Chapo’s family, Fat Joe, The Game, music executive James “Jimmy the Henchman” Rosemond, late boss of the Colombo Family Andrew Russo, and most recently rapper Kay Flock and Lichtman, himself, has found his way into the headlines on numerous occasions for his unorthodox and over the top methods, both in and out of the courtroom, and for getting his clients acquitted. Lichtman’s own podcast, Beyond the Legal Limit with Jeffrey Lichtman delves into never before heard stories from his high profile cases.

In this two-part interview with the Allison Interviews podcast, Jeffrey Lichtman pulls no punches in discussing how he takes on the U.S. government, manipulates the jury pool, befriends dangerous criminals, how he gets to the jury, and how he buries witnesses and government cooperators during cross examination. In Part 1 of this 2 part interview, he also comments specifically on Rudy Giuliani, John Gotti Jr., El Chapo, and more in never before heard stories.





Criminal Defense Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman

On never asking his famous clients if they are guilty of the crime they are charged with:
“Every client I meet that is sitting in front of me freaking out and thinking why would I want to try hard for them if I think they are guilty, they come in and a lot of times they give me a cockamamie story that doesn’t make any sense. I tell them this every single time: ‘I don’t care if you killed your mother. I don’t care if you killed everybody on your block. As long as you didn’t kill my mother, I’m okay with that because it doesn’t matter to me whether you are guilty or innocent. I’m never going to even ask, because it doesn’t matter.  What matters is, what is the evidence? Can we win the case with the facts that exist?’ That is all that really matters [to me].”

“I get hate mail and calls pretty much every day. Sometimes they come and visit me, which is why I have so many guns, but I’m not here to make a value judgement on the people I represent. The people that are critical are usually people that either have criminal records themselves, or if they needed a criminal lawyer, they would be on their knees begging me to represent them. I’m here simply to give people their constitutional rights, to give them a zealous defense. I’m not here to be God.  I’m not here to be the judge.  I’m just here to be an advocate and that is what everybody deserves in America. I think there is this feeling of, ‘How can you represent these people? This is wrong. These people should be killed.’  I want to say, ‘Go f*ck yourself. Go live in Iran if that’s how you feel.’ In 31 years of practice, I’ve never asked, ‘Did you do it?’”

On what was going on in his life while he was defending John Gotti Jr. & how it helped him win the case:
My kids, my twins, were born on August 16th, two weeks after John was indicted on that case.  They were premature and they spent nine weeks in the hospital.  During that period the trial began.  It was the most stressful time in my life, but also the most amazing time.  I look back on it and wish I could be back during that period. I was completely focused.  I focused on two things, my kids and that trial. I had never been so focused in my life.  I never had so much joy doing my work. During the time of the trial I was in my apartment with the kids and all I did was work, than walk in their room and check on them.  John was such an easy client to represent.  I would go visit him at a prison that is now closed down because it was so bad; it’s where Jefferey Epstein killed himself. Every time I would visit him, he would say to me, ‘You don’t have to be here. Go see your kids.’”

“Nobody expected me to win that case.  The government was laughing in my face. They thought because they had just convicted his uncle Pete the year before in the same courthouse, same prosecutors, on virtually the same charges [they would win]. They got a conviction in two minutes and they just assumed it was going to be the same with me.”

“When I fight for these clients, I’m fighting for them secondarily. You can fight for somebody else and you will fight at a certain level of energy. But if you’re fighting for yourself, for life or death for yourself, you fight a hell of a lot harder.  I was fighting for me.  I was fighting for my kids.  As I said to John in the beginning, ‘Look, this is an incredibly difficult case. We are going to win. You will see that if I put the energy and effort in that needs to be done, we can win this. But I’m fighting for me. I’m taking you along for the ride. I’m going to take you with me and we are going to get you out of jail, but I’m being honest with you.  I love you as a brother.’ I do love John like a brother, still to to this day, but there is nothing like fighting for your children. My kids were born right after he got charged.  I had to deal with the hospital and the scary parts of having kids that are born two pounds and change.”

“They had the three best prosecutors in the building one of them became the U.S. Attorney of The Southern District of New York, and I mopped the fucking floor with all three of them.  I never had an easier trial.  I’ve never had more fun in my life.  I’ve never felt more determined, and sometimes I wish I could get back to that.  It’s hard to feel that level of locked-in intensity.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had it since then.”

“I used a withdrawal defense, withdrawal from the Mafia. I would be sitting with John and he would be telling me how much he hated his life. I said to him, ‘Did you ever tell anybody?’  He said, ‘Yes.  Anybody that comes to visit me, I say that I’m out of this life. I don’t want anything to do with it.’  I asked, ‘Did you ever tell anyone over the phone?’  He said, ‘No.  The phones are taped.’  Well, guess what? The government, as we found out before he got indicted, they had taped the lawyer visiting room and all the visits that he had with people that came to see him.  Why?  Because they wanted to catch him on something. What they did is, they ended up destroying their case. On those tapes, when he is speaking to people that came to visit him, he is complaining to them the way he was complaining to me, including to people who are alleged to be part of organized crime, part of that family. So my position was, and I remember I was in the shower thinking what defense could work and I said to myself, ‘Holy shit!  All he did was tell people he wanted out during that five-year period and the government taped it.’”

On Rudy Giuliani’s days as a federal prosecutor and RICO law:
“There was a professor from Notre Dame who created RICO in the late ‘70s. Certainly, Rudy Giuliani popularized it in New York with Mafia families in the ‘80s.  Giuliani was a horrible prosecutor and incredibly unethical.  He got reversed more times than probably any U.S. attorney in history. But look, the government is still pulling these kinds of games today. There are constant reversals and cases being dismissed federally, because of unfairness and breaking the law. The reason for this is because you have prosecutors, usually in their 30s early 40s, and they are so ambitious that they care more about winning than they do about fairness and the law.”

On jury nullification and taking down government cooperators in court:
Jury nullification is where you’re telling the jury, ‘I want you to acquit, not based on the evidence, but based on fact that the government has done some bad things.’ It’s not appropriate, but I do it in every case. I do it a lot in every case. You’re going to have to stop me to make me stop doing it, because I know what juries are concerned about, and that is what I said [in John Gotti Jr.’s trial]. I said, ‘Mikey Scars has killed four people. Joey D’Angelo has killed multiple people. Frank Fappiano, multiple people.’ I said, ‘If you stack the bodies of all their victims, it would reach the ceiling of this courtroom. John is not accused of killing anybody. They are getting out of jail as soon as this trial is over.’ I wanted the jury to realize that the bad people were the government, and they shouldn’t feel obligated to convict [John].  This is all psychology.”

On representing Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the dangers involved:
“I think that defense lawyers have been killed, certainly in Mexico many defense lawyers were killed, supposedly by Chapo’s organization.  I find that the people that get killed are usually shitty lawyers.  They are lazy.  They don’t do right by the client, and the clients aren’t dumb.  I’ve never been concerned about a client and I had never been concerned about Chapo. I ended up really getting along with him. I loved the guy, and his family as well.  I represent his wife.  I represent his kids now as well. We really hit it off. The reason why we hit if off, initially, believe it or not, we had some things in common. He has twin girls that have their birthdate the day before my twin boys. And we both have a serious love of guns. Not so surprisingly, he has a love for guns. Well, I do as well.”

Part Two airs next Tuesday July 5thand includes never before heard information on rapper Kay Flock’s murder charge, working with El Chapo, corrupt prosecutors, late Colombo boss Andrew Russo, and more.

About Journalist and Podcast Host Allison Kugel
Allison Kugel is a veteran entertainment and pop culture journalist with close to four hundred long form celebrity and newsmaker interviews published and syndicated, worldwide. She is author of the memoir, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record, and host of the Allison Interviews podcast. Watch and embed the entire video interview with Criminal Defense Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman @YouTube. Listen to the audio podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and  AllisonInterviews.com.