"Life is a challenge," reads the first line of text on Ralph Crozier's website. "The practice of law, simply put, is about successfully solving personal challenges."
Crozier, who lives in Oxford and practices in neighboring Seymour, has faced his own personal set of legal challenges in the past, ranging from domestic violence accusations to drunken driving to disorderly conduct for placing a Christmas-time kiss on a female court marshal.
But this time, the potential repercussions are far more serious than anything he has ever encountered before.
Crozier, 61, is charged with laundering money that came from a client's drug dealing. According to a federal indictment, he faces one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and one count of attempt to launder monetary instruments. Each count carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
According to an affidavit from a federal Drug Enforcement Agent, Crozier began representing a certain client — identified in court papers only as CW-1 — in May 2010. In September 2011, the person was arrested for narcotics trafficking and, shortly thereafter, began cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
According to the affidavit, CW-1 told Crozier that he had a large quantity of currency that he gained from selling narcotics. Such assets can be confiscated by authorities. But Crozier reportedly persuaded the defendant to invest $30,000 in a solar energy company.
According to the affidavit, Crozier told his client he would deposit the money in separate $9,000 payments into multiple accounts. The attorney, according to the affidavit, said he would provide his client with documentation of the investment, signed by the solar energy company's three investors. The agreement reportedly called for 10 percent interest on the invested money, and a deal in which the payment could be converted into a 10 percent share of the company.
The document then was reportedly signed by Crozier's law partner.
After that, law enforcement authorities apparently arranged for a second cooperating witness — CW-2 in court documents — to meet with Crozier. In a meeting on February 21 of this year, Crozier and the second witness held a conversation about the first defendant's sentence of 10 years in prison. The conversation was recorded, according to the affidavit.
In the course of the conversation, according to a transcript provided with the affidavit, the second cooperating witness mentioned assets that had been taken from the first witness. "They took his Lincoln, they took cash, they…"
Crozier than interrupts: "Well, they didn't take everything, because I know he was hiding…" The transcript says that, at this point, the conversation becomes unintelligible, as Crozier starts to whisper. But a moment later, Crozier reportedly says: "Well, yeah, they … didn't know where his cash was…. Cash was hidden and he told me some of the places where the cash was hidden."
The second cooperating witness met with Crozier again the day of the attorney's arrest — on April 11. According to the affidavit, during that conversation the second witness told Crozier that another $11,000 was available to invest, with more payments on the way.
After receiving the $11,000, Crozier allegedly told the witness he would provide a receipt in the name of his client. "I don't want to put your name on anything . . . because I don't want you involved with hiding things from the Feds."
Federal prosecutors said Crozier was arrested after allegedly accepting the $11,000. A federal grand jury indicted him on June 11. His arraignment is scheduled for July 10 at U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. Crozier has been released on $200,000 bond.
Crozier's attorney profile on his website says that his "early life prepared him to meet unusual challenges." He states that he was born on the campus of the University of Michigan and moved from "state to state and country to country, living and studying on four different continents."
He cites a long list of impressive relatives, including three who were scientists. His grandfather reportedly helped develop the birth control pill and then fled from Nazi Germany to Brazil. His father was reportedly an expert in mining and metallurgy who worked for Dow Chemical in South America.
Crozier himself attended the University of Miami as both and undergraduate and a law student. After receiving his J.D., he worked at Pullman & Comley in Connecticut, and then at the Seymour firm now called Perelmutter, Potash & Ginzberg.
He launched a solo practice in 1980. On his website, Crozier describes himself as a "maverick" who has "spent the past four decades challenging authority and conventional wisdom in a vast array of legal arenas." He describes his legal practice as handling everything from real estate to criminal law, and "domestic relations" to personal injury and malpractice cases.
He makes specific mention of handling hundreds of divorce trials and being among the first to get alimony for a man. He also states that he represented the trucking industry and challenging the constitutionality of certain trucking laws. Additionally, he said he has "dealt with literally dozens of murder cases and scores of homicides."
"The courtroom is his oyster and his results are literally pearls," the site states.
'Not A Violent Person'
Nowhere is there mention of any of his own transgressions.
In March 2005, he was accused of beating his live-in girlfriend. She later took back her statements and refused to sign a statement she had given under oath that talked about Crozier's firearms and alcohol use.
After that incident, Crozier told a reporter that he was embarrassed for his five children and felt bad for his family and friends. He said the arrest stemmed from an incident where he and his girlfriend fell down on ice, and he dislocated his shoulder, then ended up on top of her. "I'm not a violent person. I never have been," Crozier said in an interview shortly after the incident.
Though no criminal charges were pursued for domestic abuse, Crozier was sentenced to 179 days in jail for violating probation, second-degree making a false statement, interfering with an emergency call and violating conditions of release. He was also disbarred for six months.
That domestic case later involved a grievance against Senior Assistant State's Attorney John Massameno, who was accused of threatening to have the girlfriend deported if she did not help with Crozier's prosecution. In 2009, the Statewide Grievence Committee dismissed the complaint against Massameno.
In December 2007, Crozier was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct for kissing a female judicial marshal in Waterbury Superior Court. "This is the biggest baloney I've ever seen in my life," Crozier told one reporter. "How many tens of thousands of people in Connecticut wished their co-workers and friends `Merry Christmas' the day before Christmas?"
He added: "It was a Christmas greeting. I had no intention to annoy or harass anybody… This was a peck on the cheek."
In 2009, Crozier was charged with drunken driving and spent two days in jail. He has also been suspended from practicing law several times, most recently from March to August 2010. He was reinstated, but ordered to take random urine tests for drugs and alcohol.