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S. Michael Musa-Obregon

Biography

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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 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.

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 Radio Tropicale in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Mr. Musa-Obregon is also a television reporter with MundoHispanoTV 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."


James Benintendi

Biography

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 companies.

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

Juan Carlos Monteza

Biography

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.


Benjamin Weisenberg

Biography

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.

An honors 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 Washington.


Peter Kapitonov

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 2nd District, the NY State Assembly Certificate of Merit, the NYC Council Citation and various military awards and honors.


Patria Pichardo

Patria 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.



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 and 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.