Cadwalader Obtains Compassionate Release Motion for Meta Ullings

May 13, 2020

A Cadwalader White Collar Defense and Investigations team led by Group Chair Jodi L. Avergun obtained compassionate release for Meta Ullings, a Dutch national and former senior executive at MartinAir N.V., based on the increased risks posed to prisoners by COVID-19.

Ms. Ullings was extradited to the U.S. from Italy in January and was serving the remainder of a 14-month sentence for her role in a long-standing criminal antitrust case involving fuel surcharges in the air cargo industry. Earlier this week a federal judge in Georgia granted Cadwalader’s motion for compassionate release. The firm argued that, due to COVID-19 and the risks that it poses to incarcerated persons of Ms. Ullings’ age and medical condition, as well as her relatively low remaining sentence, the court should resentence Ms. Ullings to time served. Even though the government opposed the motion, federal district court judge Michael Brown of the Northern District of Georgia agreed with Ms. Ullings.

Cadwalader was retained to represent Ms. Ullings in 2007 after U.S. and foreign authorities launched coordinated investigations of a number of air cargo carriers based on allegations of a worldwide conspiracy to fix air cargo prices. Ultimately, MartinAir, along with many other airlines, settled with the DOJ. Ms. Ullings was charged in 2010 in federal court in Atlanta with violating U.S. antitrust laws and a warrant was issued for her arrest. As is common, the U.S. requested that an Interpol Red Notice of its outstanding warrant for Ms. Ullings also be issued.

Ms. Ullings was arrested in July 2019 while on vacation in Italy. The U.S. then sought her extradition. Cadwalader, along with local counsel in Italy, defended Ms. Ullings in extradition proceedings in Palermo, Italy, arguing that the required dual criminality was not present between Italian and U.S. laws. The lower court disagreed and found Ms. Ullings was extraditable from Italy. Ms. Ullings ultimately waived her right to appeal and agreed to be extradited.

Pursuant to an agreement with DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Ms. Ullings was initially sentenced to a 14-month term of imprisonment, and was given an additional downward variance to account for the time she served in Italian custody pending extradition.

The Cadwalader team was led by Avergun and included partner Todd Blanche, special counsel Lex Urban and associates Wes Wintermyer and Kendra Wharton.