United States v. Volpentesta, No. 11-2187 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Volpentesta owned and operated a construction business and used the company to defraud customers, investors, subcontractors, and the government. Charged with six counts of mail and wire fraud and 17 counts of federal tax violations, Volpentesta was represented by Federal Defender Gaziano. Due to the volume of discovery (about 11,000 pages of Bates-stamped discovery and 40 banker’s boxes of documents seized by the IRS), Gaziano ensured that Volpentesta could review the discovery electronically from the jail. When Volpentesta complained that the computer was too slow, Gaziano obtained an order for periodic transport to review the documents. Volpentesta eventually filed nine motions to substitute counsel, most related to the difficulty in reviewing discovery. The court ultimately allowed him to proceed pro se. Volpentesta was convicted, sentenced to a total of 133 months in prison, and ordered to pay more than one million dollars in restitution. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel; that his waiver of his right to counsel was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently given; and that the district court erroneously denied his motions to continue the trial once he had decided to represent himself.