“Courage, for a lawyer, is essential; without it, the rest doesn’t count: talent, culture, knowledge of the law, everything is useful to the lawyer. But without courage, at the decisive moment, there are but words, sentences that follow each other, that dazzle then die. – Robert Badinter”
Mr. Runfola has over 40 years of experience representing individuals, corporations and organizations in an extensive variety of criminal cases . We have taken innumerable cases to trial and we have aggressively represented our clients at every stage of their case – including pre-charging, pre-arrest and before the media.
Robbery/Murder Case Resulted In Release on Bail
Mr. Runfola’s young African-American client with no prior record was driving his car through a predominantly Irish-American neighborhood in San Francisco, California when a racists remark was made to him by a white construction worker riding a bicycle. The man broke the mirror of the client’s car and an argument ensued. Mr. Runfola’s client demanded payment for the damaged property and got out of his car. Mr. Runfola’s client felt threatened and punched the Construction worker, who fell to the curb and died in the street. A passenger in our client’s car stole the dying man’s mountain bike.
The case immediately became racially charged and was covered widely in the press. Friends of the deceased tried to attack Mr. Runfola and his client in the courtroom and Mr. Runfola was eventually provided with police protection during the pendency of the case. Mr. Runfola feared for his life while in custody since the deceased had many friends in the police department and the trade unions.
It was an election year in San Francisco and the District Attorney initially raised the possibility of charging Mr. Runfola’s client with murder during the course of a robbery, which could have resulted in the death penalty or life in prison.
Mr. Runfola first succeeded by having his client released on bail so that he could fully participate in the preparation of his case for trial, which ultimately settled for a guilty plea to assault. The client served less than eight months in a minimum security camp. After his release, Mr. Runfola’s client earned a Master’s Degree in psychology, married and is raising a young family.
1.3 Billion Dollars Heroin Case
The largest seizure of heroin in American history was shipped from the Golden Triangle of Asia to the Port of Oakland. U.S. Customs and the Drug Enforcement Administration tracked the shipment to a warehouse in Hayward, California.
Federal agents installed cameras at and around the warehouse, which was owned by Mr. Runfola’s client and her husband, who also owned a plastics factory in Taiwan. Mr. Runfola’s client was eventually arrested, the government held it as a major victory in the war on drugs. Mr. Runfola fought hard to get his client out of custody, challenged the authorization of warrants authorizing the surveillance cameras and the handling of the case. Mr. Runfola filed pretrial motions arguing that the government’s relationship with the NBC news crew created an agency relationship obligating the government to retain and release thirty days of NBC news surveillance recordings. The federal judge ordered the government to produce the recordings within thirty days or the case would be dismissed. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker rebuked the government’s conduct which led to no further time in custody for Mr. Runfola’s client, no cooperation with the government and a conviction only for misprision.
Seventeen Year LSD Sentence Drastically Reduced
Mr. Runfola’s client was a nineteen year old Grateful Dead follower with no criminal record. The client was caught on tape introducing an undercover agent and an informant
how he could obtain LSD. Mr. Runfola’s client introduced
the undercover agent to the source of the LSD and did
Because of the quantity of the LSD, which was based on the weight of not only the LSD but the blotter paper it was affixed to. The Federal sentencing guidelines called for a 17-year sentence. The case was litigated and while pending before the United States Supreme Court the Federal sentencing laws were amended resulting in a sentence of five years.
San Francisco State University Rape Allegations Result In No Charges Filed
Our client was one of two freshmen accused of date rape by a fellow student at SFSU. The fact that sex had taken place was not in dispute, but the question of consent was. We pointed to deficiencies in evidence proving rape — including the fact that the accuser’s memory was spotty due to heavy drinking and that her withdrawal of consent to sex was questionable. The district attorney decided against filing criminal charges against our client.
Conspiracy to Kidnap State Court Judge Case Dismissed
A Washington State Court Judge retained Mr. Runfola to represent his sister who was accused of plotting with her son, a paid gunman, a helicopter pilot and an inmate at Leavenworth Penitentiary, to kidnap and hold hostage a San Mateo County Judge presiding over her son’s murder trial.
Prosecutors had recordings of conversations involving Mrs. McIntosh and the co-defendants detailing the kidnapping plot. Mr. Runfola was eventually able to disprove allegations that his client had sufficient knowledge of the goals of the conspiracy to be found guilty and the charges against her were eventually dismissed.
Insider Trading/SEC Scheme
In the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, Mr. Runfola represented a former Senior Computer Support Technician at Expedia. Mr. Runfola’s client was accused of stealing passwords and infiltrating devices of both Expedia’s Chief Financial Officer and the Head of Investor Relations, allowing the client to make “a series of highly profitable” trade and stocks options. Mr. Runfola’s client faced a 25 year prison term, a $250,000.00 fine and restitution for any illegal gains, all of which were litigated. After a contentious sentencing hearing, his client was sentenced to 15 months at a federal detention camp (10 actual months in custody), no fine and $330,000.00
Read about the story as reported by CNN here.
In the United States District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mr. Runfola successfully defended an individual charged with a $148,000,000.00 scheme to create false documents and access the bank accounts of hundreds of individuals across the United States allegedly netting a $148,000,000.00.
After securing his client’s release from custody and litigating both the loss amount and his client’s role in the international conspiracy, Mr. Runfola’s client was ordered to pay $125,000.00 or .08% of what the Government argued for in restitution and served 24 months in a Federal Detention Camp.
Kidnapping of Nobel Prize Winner
Mr. Runfola successfully represented a New Jersey man facing a life sentence for kidnapping Professor Ellie Wiesel, a Nobel Prize Winner and Holocaust survivor. The client was accused of following Professor Wiesel from New York to Boston, Boston to Florida and to San Francisco where Professor Wiesel spoke at a conference together with Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright by former San Francisco District Attorney and Vice President, Kamala Harris. It was at this hotel that the alleged kidnapping took place. After a three week trial, Mr. Runfola’s client was acquitted of kidnapping, which carried the potential of a life sentence and found guilty of lesser charges. The client was sentenced to credit for time already served.
Mr. Runfola accepted this highly controversial case only after ordering a psychiatric evaluation which detailed his client’s profound psychiatric issues. He presented the psychiatric issues through the testimony of UCSF forensic psychiatrist, Jeffery Gould, MD, who testified that his client was in a delusional state caused by his undiagnosed bipolar disorder and not criminally responsible for his actions.