ALEXANDRIA, Va. (July 30, 2021) — Following a four-day jury trial and three days of deliberations, on July 17, 2021, a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia acquitted our client on 5 out of 6 charges against him. U.S. v Zilevu – the Honorable Rossie D. Alston presided over the trial. The jury found Mr. Zilevu guilty of one count of access device fraud (unauthorized use of a credit card), and found him not guilty on two other counts of access device fraud and not guilty on three counts of identity theft – each of which carried a mandatory minimum 2-year sentence.
The government’s case relied heavily on the testimony of an alleged co-conspirator who was a convicted felon (in VA in 2010 and in MD in 2019). In acquitting Zilevu on 5 of the charges, the jury clearly did not accept this witness’ testimony that Mr. Zilevu purchased the victims’ identities off of the dark web, that he used a fake charity to launder funds from the credit cards, purchased international plane tickets and expensive hotel rooms, or submitted the fraudulent credit card applications via the internet from his home and received the cards there as well. All of that testimony was rejected given Zilevu’s acquittal on 5 of the 6 counts.
Unfortunately, the Dept of Justice’s press release about the conviction on the 1 count is disappointingly misleading and claims a resounding victory on behalf of the U.S. Atty’s office that prosecuted the case. Again, as noted above, Zilevu was acquitted on 5 of the 6 counts, including the 3 ID theft counts that each carried a mandatory minimum 2-year sentence.
Christopher Brown, principal of The Brown Firm, PLLC, served as lead counsel for Mr. Zilevu and was assisted by Atty. Pleasant Broadnax. Per Atty. Brown “this is a huge victory for justice and our client, given the vigor with which the US Atty’s office prosecuted this case, the perjurious testimony of their primary witness (which raises serious ethical concerns), and the seemingly overwhelming but ultimately ineffective evidence it put before the jury.”
Mr. Zilevu is scheduled for sentencing on November 10.
The Brown Firm, PLLC is a historic, African American law firm based in the DC Metro area. Maintaining a tradition of excellence as legal practitioners for over 65 years, the Brown family proudly champions their clients. Focused on employment discrimination, civil rights, police excessive force, wrongful death, real estate, and commercial law matters, the Brown Firm is committed to using the law as an instrument to pursue a more equitable and just society.