Albert Gonzalez was close to reaching a comprehensive plea agreement before he was arrested on Monday.
According to the New York Times, Gonzalez's lawyer, Rene Palomino Jr, Gonzalez was close to reaching a comprehensive plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Massachusetts and New York when federal prosecutors in New Jersey indicted him on Monday on a new raft of computer crimes.
Palomino said the settlement would have ended all active investigations. He claimed that New Jersey prosecutors moved up their indictment to short-circuit the settlement talks, saying: “I guess so they could bask in the glory of all the publicity they are getting from this.
“We are giving it our best shot trying to resolve these cases and to prevent the government from wasting all these millions of dollars to bring to trial all these cases. We were very close.”
Gonzalez is accused of stealing hundreds of millions of credit and debit card numbers from the computer networks of companies such as TJX, Dave & Buster's, Heartland Payment Systems and 7-Eleven.
Palomino told the NY Times in a phone interview that before the New Jersey indictment froze the plea talks, he was ready to take responsibility for the crimes and accept a considerable prison sentence that was ‘more or less' in the range of 20 years.
The paper also claimed that Palomino seemed frustrated that the on-again, off-again process of persuading his client to agree to a settlement and work with prosecutors had come apart.
He said: “I'm making my best effort to save the government a lot of money and man-hours but all I'm doing is getting slapped in the face by New Jersey. I find that very upsetting.”
Erez Liebermann, an assistant United States attorney in New Jersey, said he could not comment on the matter.