New York defense lawyer and Pace University professor John Meringolo died “unexpectedly” on Nov. 16 after requesting two months earlier that he be allowed to represent former President Donald Trump’s Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corp. at the last minute.
Meringolo told the judge in another case — the retrial of alleged “We Build the Wall” scammer Timothy Shea, who stands accused of defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars — the he had been retained by the Trump family to defend its companies after CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty in a deal that required him to testify in the case.
“I have been retained to represent the Trump Payroll Corporation in its criminal trial scheduled to begin on the very same date as Mr. Shea’s retrial,” Meringolo wrote Judge Analisa Torres on Sept. 14, asking her to delay the Shea case three weeks, according to the New York Daily News. That request was denied.
On Sept. 2, Meringolo had asked Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to delay the trial against Trump companies and was also refused.
“That motion I received last week, or the notice of appearance, frankly, was almost bizarre, and it was dealt with appropriately,” Merchan said. “I’m repeating, we are not delaying this trial.”
Meringolo’s death was confirmed by his father, Richard Meringolo, who told the Daily News that it was unexpected.
“It’s horrifying,” Richard Meringolo told the Daily News. “It’s a very sad day.”
John Meringolo had racked up numerous acquittals and mistrials on behalf of prominent clients, earning him a reputation for “besting federal prosecutors,” the Daily News said.
“His professional accomplishments are beyond compare, but that is not what defined John,” his obituary read. “John will always be remembered for the way he loved his family and friends and the generosity he extended to everyone he met. He frequently went out of his way to help total strangers, knowing that a single kind gesture can go a very long way. His greatest legacy will be his two sons, Charles and Anthony, whom he loved beyond measure.”
Veteran NYC defense lawyer John Meringolo dies at 48.
Meringolo became a thorn in the side of federal prosecutors after winning streaks defending notorious clients in several prominent mafia, RICO, and large-scale narcotics cases.https://t.co/A0rN1XMB8h
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) November 17, 2022
Meringolo was an adjunct professor at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law, teaching a course on trial advocacy. The school’s website listed some of his most significant litigation experience:
Mr. Meringolo negotiated a historical $10,000,000.00 settlement for the Estate of Joseph P. Graffagnino, a New York City firefighter, who died in the infamous Deutsche Bank Building fire. The building had been damaged during the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. The New York Daily News reported, “A document filed in court states that Meringolo will take 23% of the settlement, much less than the usual one-third cut.”
In United States v. Ofer Biton, Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied the Government’s direct appeal and affirmed the magistrate’s order granting bail to Mr. Biton, an Israeli national, after seven bail hearings.
In United States v. John Venizelos, Mr. Venizelos pled guilty in the Eastern District of New York to participating in a $1 billion international drug trafficking enterprise, which had been in existence for more than a decade.
In United States v Yesid Rios Suarez, Mr. Rios Suarez pled guilty in the Southern District of New York to participating in an international conspiracy to distribute cocaine from Colombia to Venezuela, Mexico, and the United States.
In United States v. Armando Rea, Mr. Rea was charged in a RICO indictment with the murder of Gerard Papa, a notorious member of the Genovese Crime Family; conspiracy to murder; and extortion. After extensive motion practice and defense investigation of the charges, the Government dropped the murder count. Most importantly, after jury selection, the Government dropped the RICO charges against Mr. Rea, who then pled guilty to a single count of extortion and received a sentence of probation.
After three weeks of trial in People v. Dr. Richard Lucente, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office capitulated and dropped 151 C-Felony counts against Dr. Lucente, who subsequently pled guilty to a single count and received a non-incarceration sentence.
On December 1, 2009, the jury trial in United States, v John A. Gotti ended in a mistrial, which ended Mr. Gotti’s four-trial saga. In the fourth and final trial, Mr. Gotti, for the first time, was charged with two murders and faced life in prison. After the mistrial on the murder counts, the Government declined to bring these murder charges or any other charges against him.
No cause of Meringolo’s death has been reported. He was 48.