S. Michael Musa-Obregon

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Michael Musa

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.

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:

Mr. Musa-Obregon has also successfully handled a variety of white collar and economic crimes, including:

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

History of Successful Case Results in New York

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, 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)
  • 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 of entertainment

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

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

Peter Kapitonov

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, 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.

Theodore G. HartmanTheodore G. Hartman

Attorney Theodore G. Hartman is Senior Trial Counsel at Musa-Obregon & Associates concentrating in the defense of serious crimes and criminal deportations.

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.

Patria PichardoPatria Pichardo

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 PantaleonPatricia 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. VelezPhilip 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 Against Torture.

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.

Gloria Arroyave

Gloria Arroyave

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.

Silvia Schnitzer

Silvia Schnitzer

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.

  • Avvo Clients' Choice 2013 - Immigration
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Attorney Judicial Court NY
  • Avvo Superb
  • Avvo Superb

We speak many languages!

At Musa-Obregon & Associates, we are committed to helping clients from every background. To best serve our clients, we offer legal counsel in the following languages:

  • English
  • Español
  • Po Polsku
  • Arabic
  • Portugues
  • English
  • Español
  • Po Polsku
  • Arabic
  • Portugues

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.