While a law student, Mr. Modafferi served as a legal intern for the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney, Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Modafferi assisted with political corruption and organized crime prosecutions. His supervisor was Robert Mueller, the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
After graduation from law school, Mr. Modafferi was hired as a Deputy District Attorney, for the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Modafferi prosecuted dozens of high profile murder, organized crime, and narcotics cases during his eleven-year tenure as a prosecutor. Mr. Modafferi became the Chief of the Narcotics Division and a founding member of the Trial Review Board. The Trial Review Board received and assessed trial strategy for every significant case prosecuted by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. Mr. Modafferi assisted in the successful prosecution of the murder of Honolulu police officer Troy Barboza. As a prosecutor, Mr. Modafferi’s supervisor was the Honorable Peter Carlisle, the former Mayor of Honolulu.
Mr. Modafferi taught trial strategy, witness preparation, and search and seizure law to police prosecutors, and defense attorneys. Mr. Modafferi also taught criminal law, constitutional law, and public policy courses at the Hawaii Pacific University and Chaminade University. In 1994, Mr. Modafferi founded his own law firm. One of his first cases as a criminal defense attorney involved the defense of the first Japanese citizen extradited to the United States for the crime of murder. The case of Raita Fukusaku received international attention. Mr. Modafferi also defended Robbie Sylva in what police described as Hawaii’s biggest methamphetamine prosecution.
Mr. Modafferi received training from the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He has sat on panels and conducted seminars concerning money laundering, financial crimes, asset forfeiture, forensic science application, and complex case investigation.
While working for Dominic Gentile Esq., Mr. Modafferi assisted in the defense of former Las Vegas City Councilman Lance Malone for public corruption charges. This case involved the first domestic application of the Patriot Act. Mr. Modafferi also assisted in the successful defense of Marshall Sylver, accused of financial fraud, in the Millionaires Club prosecution.
While working for the law firm of Cristalli and Saggese, Mr. Modafferi provided trial strategy, legal research and expert witness preparation in the successful murder defense of Sandra Murphy. Ms. Murphy was acquitted of the murder of casino mogul Ted Binion in one of Las Vegas’ most highly publicized murder trials. Mr. Modafferi also assisted with the defense of famed bodybuilders Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan in another nationally publicized murder prosecution. His appellate research, in that case, redefined the right to chosen counsel in Nevada. Mr. Modafferi has assisted in the successful defense of several death penalty prosecutions.
Mr. Modafferi currently practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Honolulu, Hawaii. He has acted of counsel to the prestigious firm of Turco & Draskovitch, LLP, assisting them in their concentration of defense against sexual assault allegations. Mr. Modafferi recently joined forces with Mr. Draskovich in obtaining the acquittal of a man wrongfully accused of multiple sex assault allegations. Mr. Modafferi’s recent appellate work has challenged the retroactive application of sex offender supervision laws in Nevada. Mr. Modafferi has also been instrumental in challenging the constitutionality of Nevada’s medicinal marijuana laws. Mr. Modafferi maintains an active legal practice both in Nevada and Hawaii. Mr. Modafferi recently argued before the Nevada Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of Nevada’s old medical marijuana law.
Mr. Modafferi has recently successfully argued before the Nevada Supreme Court for the expansion of indigent services for criminal defendants. In Brown v. District Court, we successfully challenged a trial court’s refusal to pay for investigators and experts even though the client’s family paid for the lawyer (see Media section to read the Writ and the Supreme Court’s published opinion).
Suffolk University Law School, Boston Massachusetts
Seton Hall University
Past Employment Positions
Criminal Division of the United States Attorney, Boston, Massachusetts, Legal Intern
Branch Chief, Narcotics Division, Prosecuting Attorney, Honolulu, Hawaii