The private lawyers El Chapo wants at his upcoming drug trafficking trial are definitely getting on the blockbuster case, an attorney confirmed Friday.
Joaquin Guzman retained a deep bench defense team including Jeffrey Lichtman, the one-time attorney for John A. (Junior) Gotti, the Teflon Don’s son who beat federal cases four times.
Except the lawyers weren’t ready to officially get in the case because Brooklyn federal prosecutors refused to promise they wouldn’t ever try plucking away their legal fees.
But the lawyers say theyre going for it.
“We’ve satisfied our concerns to enough of a degree that it will allow us to come into the case,” Lichtman told the Daily News on Friday.
When it came to the sticking point over potential forfeitures, Lichtman said prosecutors gave a little more clarity on their position. He declined to elaborate. “It’s still a risk. But we believe it’s a risk worth taking.”
In addition to charges carrying up to life in prison, authorities say they’re seeking $14 billion in drug money forfeitures from Guzman. Prosecutors say Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel is “one of the world’s largest and most prolific drug trafficking organizations.”
Lichtman said he and the other three lawyers A. Eduardo Balarezo, Marc Fernich and William Purpura planned to put in their notices of appearance some time next week.
Those documents aren’t just a formality. Without the paperwork saying they’re the defense lawyers on the case, the quartet cant look at the evidence for a months-long trial, which is set to start in April 2018.
Guzman had appointed lawyers from the Federal Defenders of New York ever since he was extradited from Mexico in January.
Guzman says the Brooklyn indictment is defective because his extradition to New York was invalid. On Thursday, prosecutors filed papers saying the extradition was perfectly legal.
A Brooklyn U.S. Attorney spokesman declined to comment.