Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisha Kobre is rejecting an argument by attorneys for Craig Carton, arguing that the popular sports radio personality should be tried alongside co-defendant Michael Wright, a strip club owner and an associate of Carton. Both men face three counts of securities and wire fraud over allegations they stole millions from investors as part of a Ponzi scheme with confessed scammer Joe Meli.
“Carton’s main argument” is that “Wright’s defense includes witnesses” that are “expected to point the finger at Mr. Carton to try to show Mr. Carton’s guilt” as a way of proving “Mr. Wright’s innocence,” Kobre writes in a June 8 memorandum of opposition to a pretrial motion by Carton. The former WFAN radio personality filed a three-part request from U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon in May, asking for a separate trial from Wright, the dismissal of one of the three charges against Carton and to throw out evidence found on both men’s phones, obtained by the FBI following their September arrests.
Carton and Wright are named in an indictment that fingered Meli as a co-conspirator. On June 28, Meli will surrender to the U.S. Marshall’s office to begin serving a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for one count of fraud. According to a November 2017 indictment, Carton and Wright allegedly stole $4.6 million from a hedge fund and private investors with the help of Meli. The money was supposed to be used by the two to purchase high-end tickets for resale but instead was allegedly used to repay gambling debts and previous loans.
Carton’s lawyer is arguing for his case to be severed from Wright because he is concerned “Mr. Wright’s defense team is procuring an affidavit and testimony from Mr. Meli – who will testify at trial exculpating Mr. Wright and inculpating Mr. Carton.”
Kobre rejected the claim, saying it’s not uncommon for two defendants to be put on trial together and blame each other for crimes while arguing their own innocence.
“Carton’s main argument for severance is that Wright’s defense includes witnesses ‘that are expected to point the finger at Mr. Carton to try to show Mr. Carton’s guilt . . . as the approach to show Mr. Wright’s innocence,'” Kobre writes. “Wright likewise asserts that his defense will involve witnesses whose ‘testimony would be exculpatory as to Wright but harmful to Carton.’ These bare assertions are wholly insufficient to justify severance.”
The case is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 29, 2018.