Vincent Asaro was just acquitted at trial in the Eastern District of New York of charges related to the ‘Lufthansa Heist’ depicted in the movie GoodFellas. And by his side at trial were two prominent female criminal lawyers: lead attorney, Elizabeth Macadonio, and co counsel, Diane Ferrone. This was probably one of the biggest mafia trials in most recent history – but unlike other organized crime trials, Vincent Asaro walked out of the courtroom flanked by his two lawyers after a jury acquitted him of all counts.
I loved watching a video of Asaro walking out of the courthouse, arm around his two female criminal defenders saying, “I’d like to thank my two lawyers, without them I wouldn’t be here now.” You can watch the same video in the New York Times article, “Vincent Asaro, Accused in Lufthansa Heist, is Found Not Guilty.”
The trial has been closely followed by the media and was based entirely on paid Government snitches, including Asaro’s own cousin. The defense reportedly did minimal cross examinations, and put on only two witnesses. They later came out swinging in closing argument, focusing on the credibility of paid snitch witnesses. It was reported that Macedonia argued that the cooperators were “despicable people” and “accomplished liars.” She went on to explain to the jurors that they would have to rely on career criminals, expert liars and confessed killers to convict Mr. Asaro – obviously points that were persuasive to the jury. You can read The New York Times detailed portions of the closing arguments here and in the Wall Street Journal here.
Ironically, another fact that caught the media’s attention was the gender of Asaro’s counsel – I am not the only one paying attention to the strong defense provided by his female attorneys. Bloomberg Business published an article entitled ‘Goodfellas’ trial, macho lawyers give way as women take over,’ which called the Asaro trial both an ’anomaly’ and a ‘sign of progress’ for women in the field. The Bloomberg article also cited the fact that men are almost four times more likely to act as lead counsel in criminal trial defense based on the ABA study we highlighted early this year.
The image of the acquitted client flanked by two women defenders is so powerful it transcends the case – more powerful than any article, blog post, or interview. It creates a lasting picture of women defenders, and speaks to the fact that we are fighters, victors, and successful. Bravo to Elizabeth and Diana for a job well done and for moving us all forward.