Michael Baldassare concentrates his practice on defending individuals and corporations in criminal investigations and prosecutions. According to The New York Times, in New Jersey, he is “known as among the state’s most aggressive” criminal defense attorneys. Michael has tried numerous federal and state cases to verdict on a variety of charges such as RICO, mail and wire fraud, bribery, extortion, attempted murder, drugs and weapons crimes, and armed robbery.
Michael was lead trial counsel for the first named defendant in the matter commonly known as “Bridgegate.” He also represented the former Bergen County Democratic Party Chairman during his two-month federal trial.
He has represented clients in connection with internal and government investigations as well as trial-level proceedings relating to insurance fraud, bank fraud, health care fraud, money laundering/structuring, the Arms Export Control Act, the False Claims Act, qui tam claims, tax fraud, visa fraud, counterfeiting, drug possession and distribution, child pornography offenses, murder, sex trafficking, and sexual assault.
Michael has argued matters of first impression before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
He also represents clients in the administrative, licensing, and regulatory proceedings that frequently flow from criminal matters.
In re Investment Bank Managing Director: We represented a Managing Director of a well-respected investment banking firm in connection with a federal investigation. Our client was never charged.
State v. Client: Michael’s client was charged with second-degree insurance fraud. After Michael cross-examined the prosecution witness, the State agreed to dismiss the charges if the client completed a non-custodial program of supervision from his home in Florida.
In re Mayor: Our client was the sitting mayor of a New Jersey municipality. The Attorney General’s Office said the client was “two weeks away from indictment.” After our written and oral presentations – which proved that, as a matter of law, the mayor committed no crime and that, in all likelihood, the State’s wiretap was illegal – the matter was closed and no charges were filed.
In re Hedge Fund Executive: We represented a hedge fund executive during an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Our client was never charged.
In re Real Estate Developer: Our client was an executive and consultant under investigation by a County Prosecutor’s Office for an alleged $1 million fraud. We convinced the prosecutor to forgo an indictment and permit a civil resolution between the parties.
United States v. Israeli National: The client was an Israeli national accused of conspiring to sell radio jammers to individuals in the Middle East. The federal criminal charge was dismissed and the matter was settled in a civil proceeding.
State v. Client: Michael’s client was charged with second-degree theft by deception and issuing bad checks in connection with a series of business transactions. We negotiated a civil settlement and the charges were dismissed.
In re Client: We represented the Assistant Executive Director and Engineer of a Municipal Water Commission, charged with violations of the New Jersey Safe Water Drinking Act, Conspiracy, and Official Misconduct.
In re Client: Michael represented a business owner in connection with a federal grand jury subpoena focused on suspected criminal activity related to international banking activities and accounts in Asia.
United States v. Client: Michael represented a defendant in connection with federal charges based upon a large scale identity theft ring. His client received probation and was ordered to pay approximately $34,000 in restitution.
United States v. Real Estate Agent/Title Agent: Following a guilty plea in federal court, our client faced a suggested guideline sentence of 27-33 months in prison and a restitution order of $2.5 million. The client was sentenced to three months incarceration, six months house arrest and ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution.
United States v. Client: Michael’s client was charged with bribing a LIUNA Union official. His client was sentenced to probation.
State v. Physician: Michael represented a physician charged with racketeering and insurance fraud. His client was sentenced to probation.
In re Securities Client: Michael represented a client in parallel criminal and civil matters brought by the N.J. Attorney General’s Office arising from allegations of securities fraud.
In re Client: Michael represented a witness in an investigation being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services.
State v. Client: Michael’s client, the young mother of two children, was charged in a criminal complaint with first-degree murder in connection with the stabbing death of her child’s father. During the following 45 days, we established for the prosecution that it was self-defense. The grand jury declined to indict her, the complaint was dismissed and the matter was closed.
In re Client: Our client was a young mother under investigation for the tragic, sudden and unexplained death of her six-month old daughter. After working closely with the prosecutor’s office, our client was not charged.
In re “Death Race 2012” Investigation: Our client was under investigation in connection with the “Death Race 2012” matter. After working with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, our client was not charged.
United States v. Client: The client was charged with conspiring to distribute approximately 700 grams of MDMA, i.e., Ecstasy. He was sentenced to probation and six months of house arrest.
State v. Former College Basketball Player: The client was charged with multiple counts of first degree kidnapping, first degree robbery, second degree burglary, second degree aggravated assault, and second degree weapons offenses. After a trial ended with a hung jury, the client pled guilty and was sentenced to serve slightly less than three years in prison.
- State of New Jersey, 1999
- State of New York, 2000
- United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, 1999
- United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 2012
- United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 2003
- Seton Hall University School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 1999)
Member, Seton Hall Law Review
- Iowa State University (M.A., 1989)
- St. Peter's College (B.A., 1987)
- State v. Mauti, 208 N.J. 519 (2012)
- United States v. Kouevi, 698 F.3d 126 (3d Cir. 2012)
- United States v. Bergrin, 650 F.3d 257 (3d Cir. 2011)
- United States v. Jones, 566 F.3d 353 (3d Cir. 2009)
- United States v. Grier, 475 F.3d 556 (3d Cir. 2007)
- State v. Delgado, 188 N.J. 48 (2006)
- United States v. Newsome, 439 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2006)
- State v. A.G.D., 178 N.J. 56 (2003)
- al-Marri v. Bush, 274 F. Supp. 2d 1003 (C.D. Ill. 2003)
- Cannon v. Cherry Hill Toyota, Inc., 161 F. Supp. 2d 362 (D.N.J. 2001)
Awards & Honors*
- Super Lawyers, Top 100 New Jersey Lawyers, 2012-2020
- Super Lawyers, Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2010-2020
- Super Lawyers Rising Star, Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2006-2009
- Past President, New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2015-2016
- New York Area’s Top Attorneys 2012, New York Magazine, December 2011
- Federal Sentencing: U.S. Supreme Court Continues to Expand Opportunities for Zealous Advocacy, New Jersey Law Journal, August 31, 2009 (Lawrence S. Lustberg, Michael A. Baldassare, Joshua C. Gillette)
- Balancing the Law with Fighting Terrorism, 10 New Jersey Lawyer 1903 (2001)
- Cruella De Vil, Hades, and Ursula the Sea-Witch: How Disney Films Teach Our Children the Basics of Contract Law, 48 Drake L. Rev. 333 (2000)
- Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered: What Does the Establishment Clause Really Mean?, 3 Holy Cross J. of Law and Pub. Pol'y 7, 1999
- Pandora's Box or Treasure Chest? Circuit Courts Face 28 U.S.C. ? 1367's Effect on Multi-Plaintiff Diversity Actions, 28 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1497, 1997
- Miranda Rights Could Be Getting Last Rites, 9 New Jersey Lawyer 699, 2000
- High Court Limits Congress' Power, 9 New Jersey Lawyer 1035, 2000
- Panelist: Overcriminalization In Practice: Trends and Recent Controversies, 2012 Circuit Review Symposium, Seton Hall Law School, March 13, 2012
- Panelist, “Using Experts in Criminal Cases,” NJICLE, February 17, 2011
- Panelist, “16 Hour New Jersey Bridge-The-Gap,” sponsored by the New York City Bar, February 7, 2011
- Panelist, 'Tackling White Collar Crime Issues,' NJICLE, West Orange, NJ, August 17, 2010
- Speaker, 'Trends in Miranda Rights and Violations,' National Teleconference, Lorman Educational Services, June 24, 2010
- Panelist, 'New Jersey Criminal Trial Preparation,' NJICLE, Newark, NJ, December 15, 2009
- Speaker, Essex County Bar Association, 'Beyond the Colors: Gang Cases are Different,' Newark, NJ. February 4, 2009
- Panelist, The First Monday in October: U.S. Supreme Court Review, October 2, 2000 (presented by NJICLE)
- Member, Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey
- Adjunct Professor of Criminal Law, Seton Hall University School of Law
- Past Chair, Criminal Law Practice Committee, Essex County Bar Association
- Past Vice-Chair, Criminal Law Section, Essex County Bar Association
- Past Chair, Individual Rights Section, New Jersey State Bar Association
- Past Instructor, Criminal Trial Preparation, ICLE
- Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
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