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 immigration law, deportation, criminal deportations,
asylum, residency, 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 . Many of his jury trials involved violent
felony charges including domestic violence, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping,
armed robbery, assaults, burglaries, rape and sex crimes, gun possession,
as well as drug sales, possession and conspiracy,and recidivist DWI cases.
Mr. Musa-Obregon has also successfully handled a variety white collar and
economic crimes such as general fraud, securities, wire and tax fraud,
money laundering, theft, embezzlement, criminal copyright and trademark
violations, vehicular crimes, as well as immigration crimes such as human
trafficking, alien smuggling, forgery of documents, illegal re-entry,
as well as 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.
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
Georgetown University in 1988 and his
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.
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.
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,
Croats, etc), 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 Antilles, the Indian Subcontinent
(Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans), Asia (Mandarin &
Cantonese-speaking), Koreans, Japanese, those from Southeast Asia (Filipino,
Vietnamese, Indonesians, Myanmarians, Cambodians, Thais and Laotians),
and also from 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.
As an immigration lawyer, Mr. Musa-Obregon is a member of the
American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Immigrant Defense Project
of the National Lawyers Guild and the Immigrant Defense Project of the
New York State Defenders Association
He is a regular speaker at the
Center for New Americans
of the New York Public Library, and is a regular invited guest at various
New York City colleges and universities, high schools, churches, mosques
and temples where he lectures before assembled members, students and parents
on issues involving immigration law, the rights of immigrants and police-youth
interaction in the inner city. Mr. Musa-Obregon has been a featured commentator
on Spanish Television and Radio and Television on
Telemundo, Univision, MundoHispanoTV, Cosmovision, and Radio-WADO
on issues impacting immigrant communities. For many years Mr. Musa-Obregon
has regularly hosted several educational immigration radio programs entitled
"Su Mejor Defensa Legal
" and produces a weekly television show "
Su Derechos Legales con el Abogado Michael Musa-Obregon
". He has also hosted similar shows on Haitian Radio on
in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Mr. Musa-Obregon is also a television reporter with
and regularly interviews luminaries in the legal, political and the world
of entertainment. Mr. Musa-Obregon speaks Spanish, has a working knowledge
of French, and understands some Polish and Arabic.
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."
Mr. James Benintendi is a veteran trial lawyer with over twenty years of
experience trying tough, complex civil and criminal cases. He has served
as a prosecutor in Dade County Florida under Janet Reno and as well as
Assistant State Attorney General in New York City. He has also served
as a Senior Counsel in the Manhattan Trial Unit for the City of New York.
Mr. Benintendi is intimately familiar with trying difficult cases before
tough judges against powerful adversaries in front of demanding juries
- with successful results.
While under Janet Reno, Mr. Benintendi tried close to one hundred criminal
cases, including almost a dozen jury trials, in matters ranging for misdemeanors
to felonies. While defending the City of New York in lawsuits against
the city, Mr. Benintendi has obtained remarkable results, saving the New
York City many millions of dollars in monetary claims, often by trying
the cases to jury verdict. Since entering private practice, Mr. Benintendi
has also successfully argued various civil matters before the Appellate Court.
During the last 10 years, Mr. Benintendi has practiced exclusively on the
plaintiff’s side, serving as senior trial counsel for several highly
recognized personal injury law firms before joining Musa-Obregon &
Associates. Mr. Benintendi represented accidents victims against insurance
companies, and city and state governments in a variety of matters involving
police misconduct, automobile accidents, as well as premises and workplace
accidents. Using his years of experience as a former prosecutor and civil
trial attorney for the benefit of his clients, Mr. Benintendi knows how
to fight for “the little guy” against corporations and insurance
Mr. Benintendi anticipates his opponents' defenses and strategies and
like a skilled chess strategist, modifies his moves anticipating the other
sides' conduct. Mr. Benintendi knows his courtroom opponents’
methods and tactics and brings to bear his many years of experience to
fight vigorously and effectively for his clients.
Mr. Benintendi lives in Manhattan with his wife and enjoys spending time
with his family as well as the many exciting activities the five boroughs
of New York City have to offer, including parks, museums and Broadway shows.
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.
Attorney Benjamin Weisenberg is an experienced trial lawyer at Musa-Obregon
& Associates. A persuasive courtroom advocate, Mr. Weisenberg concentrates
on both criminal and immigration trials. Mr. Weisenberg has tried dozens
of immigration trials to verdict, often obtaining winning results for
his immigrant clients. In his criminal trials as well, Mr. Weisenberg
is a formidable adversary in the courtroom often emerging victorious in
many of his criminal trials. He aggressively practices "in the trenches"
at 26 Federal Plaza, 970 Broad Street in Newark and the formidable Varick
Street Immigration Court in Manhattan and throughout New York City and
the suburban criminal courts in Westchester, Rockland and Long Island.
cum laude law graduate from Capital University Law School in Ohio, where he concentrated
in criminal litigation, Mr. Weisenberg founded the Seattle, Washington
law firm, the Weisenberg Law Office before joining Musa-Obregon &
Associates. In private practice, Mr. Weisenberg defended individuals charged
with felonies and misdemeanors, before relocating to New York City. Mr.
Weisenberg also served as an Assistant City Prosecutor at Whitehall Mayor's
Court in Ohio where he prosecuted different types of crimes, concluded
plea negotiations and made sentencing recommendations to the court. He
also interned at the United State's Attorney Office in Columbus, Ohio
where he assisted in prosecuting environmental crimes. While in law school
Mr. Weisenberg studied international law at the International Criminal
Tribunal at The Hague, in the Netherlands, as well as Conflict Resolution
at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Mr. Weisenberg holds a
BA with concentrations in criminology and sociology from Ohio State University.
He is licensed before the federal and state bars in both New York and
Peter Kapitonov, a native of the Bronx and an attorney licensed in NY and
NJ, manages the NJ practice of Musa-Obregon & Associates, concentrating
in criminal defense and general immigration, including deportation.
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.
Meredith Kalman is a law graduate admitting admission to the New York Bar,
a scholar and a community activist who has advocated for important minority
and pro immigrant causes in the U.S. Being a Connecticut native, Ms. Kalman
received her Juris Doctor from the College of Law of Florida International
University (FIU); her M.A. from the University of Vermont and her B.A.
from Southern Connecticut State University.
Ms. Kalman has studied law and languages wide and far in Europe. She has
studied at The Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands,
receiving a Certificate in International Law. She has also studied at
the University of Paris X in France, the Goethe Institute of Paris and
Berlin, The Universidad de Sevilla in Spain, the TMC Asser Instituut at
The Hague and the Don Quijote School in Salamanca, Spain.
While in law school, Ms. Kalman interned at the Immigration Human Rights
Clinic at FIU and also worked on voters' rights issues for Catalyst,
Miami. My. Kalman has worked with Haitian Women of Miami, assisting many
women in securing Temporary Protect Status as well as teaching English
and the U.S. citizenship Exam.
Ms. Kalman is a Fulbright Scholar in the field of French and Spanish Caribbean
Literature and previously served as an Adjunct Professor of English at
Florida International University. Fluent in Spanish, French and German,
Ms. Kalman is a Hispanophile as well as a Francophile. Ms. Kalman bring
to bear her extensive knowledge of different languages, cultures and worldviews
on her immigration law work. Ms. Kalman assists Musa-Obregon & Associates
in immigration cases particularly dealing in the areas of asylum, gender
and women's issues, juveniles, domestic violence and criminal deportations.
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. Schnitzler 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.