S. Michael Musa-Obregon
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Our firm is headed by S. Michael Musa-Obregon, a
former New York City prosecutor who is highly experienced in
deportation, criminal deportations,
citizenship, and business immigration law.
S. MICHAEL MUSA-OBREGON, chief defense attorney at Musa-Obregon & Associates
is a veteran criminal trial lawyer who has tried many dozens of
criminal cases to jury or judge verdict, often achieving extraordinary results, such
as not guilty verdicts, acquittals, reduced charges, and alternatives
to incarceration sentences.
Mr. Musa-Obregon speaks Spanish, has a working knowledge of French, and
understands some Polish and Arabic.
Representing Both Criminal and Immigration Clients
Many of his jury trials involved violent felony charges including:
- Domestic violence
- Armed robbery
- Rape and sex crimes
- Gun possession
- Drug sales, possession
- Recidivist DWI cases
Mr. Musa-Obregon has also successfully handled a variety of
white collar and economic crimes, including:
- General fraud
- Wire and tax fraud
- Money laundering
- Criminal copyright
- Trademark violations
In addition, he has helped numerous individuals facing
immigration crimes such as:
- Human trafficking
- Alien smuggling
- Forgery of documents
- Illegal re-entry
- Marriage and immigration fraud cases
Using the breadth and depth of this vast experience acquired during almost
twenty five years,
Mr. Musa-Obregon has prevented his clients from collectively serving thousands
of years of jail time; incarceration that they would have otherwise had to serve had they been
represented by less experienced criminal lawyers.
Mr. Musa-Obregon has successfully tried many dozens of immigration cases
to verdict. Using effective legal strategy and rock-solid legal preparation
combined with a keen understanding of the immigrant communities he represents,
Mr. Musa-Obregon has repeatedly obtained extraordinary results for his clients.
Early Life and Education
A native New Yorker raised in the Bronx, and the son of immigrant parents
from international backgrounds, Mr. Musa-Obregon is a graduate of the
Bronx High School of Science, a school that will always hold a special place in his heart. He obtained his
Bachelors of Arts in History from
Georgetown University in 1988 and his
Juris Doctor from the
University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1991. As a student, Mr. Musa-Obregon also worked as a judicial law
clerk for a federal judge in Philadelphia, the late U.S. District Judge
Clifford Scott Greene.
After graduating from Penn Law School, Mr. Musa-Obregon served for several
years as an
Assistant District Attorney, a criminal prosecutor for New York City under the Honorable Richard
Brown. Wanting to realize his life-long dream of defending people, he
launched his private practice in 1993.
Thoroughly Studied Immigration Issues
Mr. Musa-Obregon has attained a high level of expertise in the field of
immigration law and deportation. As a researcher at
Georgetown University's Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. he studied the immigration problems and issues confronting
Mexican migrant workers in Lubbock, West Texas.
Under the auspices of
U.S. Catholic Charities Migration Project, he began his legal career working at the grass roots level, defending
Mexican migrant workers in Lubbock, Texas. In Texas, Mr. Musa-Obregon
handled thousands of immigration applications of migrant workers applying for
legalization and other benefits in 1987. His work culminated in the production of a
documentary film on the immigration issues facing Mexican migrant workers
in West Texas.
Working With Clients From Around the World
While in private practice in the most densely immigrant-populated area
of the United States- Jackson Heights, Queens - Mr. Musa-Obregon personally
defended hundreds of immigration matters ranging from tough criminal deportations,
to political asylum, complex family petitions,
appeals and motions to reopen.
As a New York immigration defense lawyer, he has worked with immigrants
from all over the world, including:
- Eastern Europe, (Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Uzbekistanis, Azerbaijanis,
Georgians, Czechs, Georgians, Moldavians, Bulgarians, Albanians, Serbs,
- Latin America (Colombians, Ecuadorians, Dominicans, Mexicans, El Salvadorians,
Hondurans, Guatemalans, etc)
- The Middle East (Palestinians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians,
Algerians, Moroccans, Kuwaitis, Bahrainis, Saudi Arabians, Yemenis, etc)
- The Caribbean, (Guayanese, Jamaicans, Haitians, Barbadians, Trinidadians,
- The Indian Subcontinent (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans)
- Asia (Mandarin & Cantonese-speaking)
- Those from Southeast Asia (Filipino, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Myanmarians,
Cambodians, Thais and Laotians)
- Africa (Nigerians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Gambians, Tunisians, Togolese,
Beninese, Moroccans, and Algerians)
Defending immigrants from incredibly diverse backgrounds in the bustling
melting pot that is New York City, has sensitized Mr. Musa-Obregon to
the specific needs and the cultures of clients from all these regions.
- American Immigration Lawyers Association
- The Immigrant Defense Project of the National Lawyers Guild
- The Immigrant Defense Project of the New York State Defenders Association
Regular speaker at the
Center for New Americans of the New York Public Library
- Regular invited guest at various New York City colleges and universities,
high schools, churches, mosques and temples where he lectures on issues
involving immigration law, the rights of immigrants and police-youth interaction
in the inner city
TV and Radio Features
Featured commentator on Spanish Television and Radio and Television on
Telemundo, Univision, MundoHispanoTV, Cosmovision, and Radio-WADO on issues impacting immigrant communities.
Regularly hosted several educational immigration radio programs entitled
"Su Mejor Defensa Legal "
Produces a weekly television show "
Su Derechos Legales con el Abogado Michael Musa-Obregon "
Hosted similar shows on Haitian Radio on
Radio Tropicale in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Television reporter with
MundoHispanoTV and regularly interviews luminaries in the legal, political and the world
Other International Interests
Mr. Musa-Obregon's international interests extend to music: he is an
avid fan of world music including Arabic, Greek, and Turkish orchestral
and dance music as well as Salsa and Afro-Cuban Jazz.
Mr. Musa-Obregon is studying percussion including the doumbek, congas,
timbales and other percussion instruments, sometimes joining musicians
during concerts, clubs and jam sessions in the NY-NJ metropolitan area.
He also raises beautiful Cocker Spaniel puppies, which he counts among
his "best friends."
Juan Carlos Monteza
Attorney Juan Carlos Monteza specializes in criminal and immigration defense
and in the interplay between both disciplines. During the last eight years,
he has practiced exclusively in the New York Criminal and Immigration
Courts. Mr. Monteza has successfully prevented deportations for people
convicted of drug cases, assaults, theft, domestic violence, sex crimes,
crimes against children, forgery-related crimes, crimes against the government
and the court system and an array of economic crimes.
His defense work has taken him to every Criminal and Supreme Court in lower
New York state such as Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten
Island, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties.
After obtaining favorable results on their criminal cases, Mr. Monteza
has often successfully defended the very same clients before the USCIS
and the Immigration Courts at 26 Federal Plaza, 201 Varick Street and
970 Broad Street in Newark, the Executive Office of Immigration Review,
and the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia on their
deportation, adjustment and citizenship cases.
Mr. Monteza received his Masters of Law degree in Intellectual Property
Law, LLM on 2004 from the Yeshiva University, Benjamin Cardozo Law School
in New York City, where he was a member of the Intellectual Law Society.
He received his LLB law degree from the Universidad de San Martin de Porres
in Lima, Peru where he graduated in the top third of his class. Mr. Monteza
also worked at the legal division of Geotecnica, Lima, Peru and at the
Peruvian Ministry of Labor assisting poor persons in their claims against
abusive employers. While in law school Mr. Monteza worked at the Ministry
of Justice handling prisoner's amnesty and pardon applications. He
is licensed to practice in New York and in Lima, Peru. In his spare time,
Mr. Monteza enjoys international travel, literature, music and cuisine.
Peter Kapitonov, a native of the Bronx and an attorney licensed in NY and
NJ, manages the New Jersey court cases for clients at Musa-Obregon &
Associates, concentrating in criminal defense and general immigration,
A sergeant in the United States Marines, Mr. Kapitonov served in Fallujah in
Operation Iraqi Freedom and participated in operations in the US and Japan.
A graduate of the famed Bronx High School of Science, Mr. Kapitonov went
on to graduate
Magna Cum Laude from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NY minoring in law, philosophy,
and history. Dean-listed with
high honors at the New York Law School he graduated with Honors
cum laude and twice received the Alfred D. Lerner Schorlaship for "a veteran
of the armed forces who demonstrates excellence in legal studies. "
Mr. Kapitonov also served as In-House Counsel for a real estate holding
company in NY handling residential and commercial disputes in court.
Wanting to fulfill his passion of defending people and serving the immigrant
population, he joined Musa-Obregon & Associates. While in law school,
Mr. Kapitonov interned for the Honorable Judge Richard L. Price of the
Bronx Supreme Court and drafted judicial decisions for the judge and assisted
in judicial proceedings including search warrant applications. During
law school, he also interned at Appellate Advocates in NY drafting appeals
for people convicted of serious felonies crimes.
Mr. Kapitonov who is fluent in Russian, has received numerous awards including
a Certificate of Recognition from Senator Carl Andrews NYS Senate 2
nd District, the NY State Assembly Certificate of Merit, the NYC Council
Citation and various military awards and honors.
Attorney Patria Pichardo is a courtroom litigator assigned to our Westchester
and Rockland Offices and concentrates in the areas of criminal defense,
immigration and family law. Ms. Pichardo uses her international background
and experience in developing holistic and incisive legal strategies to
aggressively represent her clients.
Ms. Pichardo received a
Masters of Law in Comparative Law from Pace Law School in White Plains, NY in 2007. She
also received a
Bachelors of Law degree from the Catholic Pontifical University in the Dominican Republic
in 1996 and another
Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the City College in New York in 2005.
Ms. Pichardo's work in criminal law began as a Community Associate
under the Honorable Robert Johnson at the prodigious complaint room of
the Bronx District Attorneys Office's where she learned the artful
task of critically interviewing police officers, victims and witnesses
to draw up criminal complaints under the NY State Penal Law for thousands
of misdemeanor and felony crimes. Prior to that, Mr. Pichardo worked at
various New York City civil and immigration law firms since 1996. A native
Spanish speaker, she enjoys the busy cultural life that both Westchester
and New York City offer with her husband and son.
Patricia Garcia Pantaleon
Attorney Patricia Garcia Pantaleon is a Trial Lawyer at Musa-Obregon &
Associates, concentrating in immigration, criminal and civil cases. Ms.
Garcia tries cases before the Immigration Courts in New York and New Jersey
as well as the criminal and family courts in New York. Prior to joining
the firm, Ms. Garcia interned at the New Orleans Public Defenders Office
in Louisiana where she focused on studying the impact of domestic violence
convictions on immigration status.
A graduate of the University of Buffalo Law School where she received her
Master’s in Law Degree,
LLM in Criminal Law
with Honors, she served as a Judge in the Herbert Wechsler Moot Court Competition
for the Buffalo Criminal Law Society. A native of the Dominican Republic,
Ms. Garcia held a host of high profile positions in the D.R. before receiving
her American law degree.
Ms. Garcia graduated
summa cum laude from the Universidad Iberoamericana where she received her
Bachelor of Law,
LL.B degree in 2006. While in private practice, Ms. Garcia worked at one
of the most prominent law firms in the D.R. handling complex, high profile
criminal and civil cases. Ms. Garcia also served as the Special Investigations
Managing Attorney investigating corporate fraud at EDEESTE, an electric
utility in the DR. During 2007 and 2009, she worked at the District Office
Director for the National Victims Rights Service of the Attorney General’s
Office of the D.R. where she supervised a team of lawyers, implemented
policy and served as legal counsel for victims of domestic violence and
other human rights abuses. Ms. Garcia also served as Legislative Counsel
for the Dominican Republic’s House of Representatives between 2008
and 2009. A member of the New York Bar, Ms. Garcia lives in Manhattan
with her husband, a NY trial lawyer.
Philip J. Velez
Attorney Philip J. Velez is a Trial Attorney at Musa-Obregon & Associates
concentrating in complex and problematic immigration cases often requiring
the use of waivers, appeals and motions to reargue and re-consider prior
adverse decisions. Mr. Velez defends persons charged with deportation
in the New York and New Jersey immigration courts and throughout the U.S
as well as the Board of Immigration Appeals. His practice includes, VAWA,
DACA, gender, ethnic group and religious asylum claims, cancellation of
removal, withholding of removal and applications under the Geneva Convention
Attorney Velez earned his
Juris Doctor degree from Hofstra University Law School where he was a member of the Immigration
Law Society. He received his
Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, where he also
minored in philosophy. His parents hail from Puerto Rico and raised three
lawyers. Mr. Velez - who is fluent in Spanish - has traveled extensively
throughout Quito, Ecuador, Lima, Peru, the Andes as well as Chiapas, Mexico.
He is a member of the New York Bar.
Theodore G. Hartman
Attorney Theodore G. Hartman is Senior Trial Counsel at Musa-Obregon &
Associates concentrating in the defense of serious crimes and criminal
Before joining the firm, he was principal of Hartman Immigration and Criminal
Defense in Houston, TX and Lake Charles, LA, where he practiced mainly
in the federal and immigration courts in Texas and Louisiana from 2009
to 2015. He also regularly defended clients before the Louisiana Immigration
Courts in Oakdale, Louisiana and New Orleans. At Hartman, he defended
people charged with the most serious Louisiana state and federal felony
cases including murder, aggravated rape, major drug smuggling, armed robbery,
and illegal alien hostage taking. While at Hartman, he served as a member
of the Criminal Justice Act Panel where he was assigned to represent federal
defendants by the Houston federal court in the Southern District of Texas.
During 2006 through 2008, Mr. Hartman was a felony trial attorney at the
Public Defender’s Office in New Orleans, LA, where he tried over
30 felony jury and judge trials to verdict.
Mr. Hartman received
Juris Doctor degree from the Washington University School of Law in St Louis, MO in 2003.
He earned a
Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania in 2000,
where he minored in Spanish and studied in Sevilla, Spain. A native New
Yorker, he is a member of the bars of New York and Louisiana and of various
federal courts. Mr. Hartman is also fluent in Spanish and lives in the
beautiful Hudson Valley in upstate NY.
Gloria Arroyave is immigration paralegal at Musa-Obregon & Associates.
Specializing in all types of family petitions, domestic violence and victim
petitions, Ms. Arroyave has successfully processed hundreds of applications
for our clients.
Formerly an educator in her native Medellin, Colombia, Ms. Arroyave was
a very effective and successful teacher before immigrating to the United
States. As a Latin American and an internationalist, Ms. Arroyave uses
her understanding of Latin American culture in her immigration work, using
tools to identify endemic issues such as domestic violence, women's
issues, gender and sexual identity discrimination in assisting our clients.
Ms. Arroyave received her
Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Pedagogy from the University of Antioquia; her
Associates Degree in Computers and Technology from the Cede-Computo College. She also holds an
Associates Degree in English and Spanish studies from CESDE College in Medellin Colombia.
Ms. Schnitzer serves as Special Client Liaison & Paralegal at Musa-Obregon
& Associates. A retired criminal defense attorney from Argentina,
Ms. Schnitzer brings her years of courtroom advocacy and experience to
assist our lawyers in achieving the best results for every client. During
her career as a criminal defense lawyer in Argentina, Ms. Schnitzer successfully
defended numerous individuals charged with serious crimes. Ms. Schnitzer
obtained her law degree (LLB) from the University of Cordoba in Argentina.
Before joining Musa-Obregon & Associates, Ms. Schnitzer worked in finance
and sales for the Potamkin Group for over a decade. As a top leasing and
closing profession, Ms. Schnitzer consistently received the company's
highest accolades in customer satisfaction and sales, scoring the number
place in the nation. Ms. Schnitzer is trilingual in Spanish, French and
English and a member of the American Translators Association. Ms. Schnitzer
lives in Tudor City and enjoys introducing her grandchildren to New York
City's superb cultural attractions. Ms. Schnitzer is currently on
sabbatical from the firm while she earns a
Masters of Law degree as a student at St. Johns University Law School.