Alex Rodriguez is not well-liked.
And the evidence that he violated Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy seems overwhelming. That’s where Joe Tacopina comes in. Tacopina is one of A-Rod’s lawyers, representing him both in the arbitration appeal of Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension — which has already involved several days of hearings and is scheduled to resume the week of Nov. 18 — and in his lawsuit against MLB. And compared with some of the people that Tacopina has defended in the past, A-Rod is a friggin’ hero. He might be overpaid, narcissistic, and already an admitted past PED user, but on the plus side, he’s never been accused of murdering a policeman or exploiting 9/11, which can’t be said of Tacopina’s other clients.
But here’s the thing. While many of the people who’ve been defended by the assertively Italian-American, media-friendly lawyer (see above) are most certainly 100% sleazeballs, they often end up found innocent — or at least not guilty — of the most serious accusations Tacopina is defending them against. Working every angle for clients with terrible reputations is his specialty. So while the A-Rod vs. MLB legal battle might not end with anyone liking the Yankees’ third baseman, a total MLB victory would be a shock given the (relatively) successful outcomes Tacopina pulled off for the even creepier creeps below.
1. Joran Van Der Sloot
Suspected of: Killing Natalee Holloway in Aruba.
What happened? Van Der Sloot was arrested twice but never charged for any crime related to Holloway’s disappearance. In 2012, however, he pleaded guilty to murdering a Peruvian woman and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. (Tacopina did not defend him for the latter crime.)
2. Bernard Kerik
Accused of: While Kerik — the former NYPD commissioner once nominated by George W. Bush to lead the Homeland Security Department — was Tacopina’s client, he was at various points accused or suspected of misusing city credit cards, employing on-duty police officers as security at his wedding, misusing funds diverted from cigarette sales to inmates, authorizing the wasteful city purchase of never-used “security doors” from a company that he later worked with in the private sector, using an apartment originally obtained for Ground Zero emergency workers to conduct an extramarital affair, and speaking to another city official to recommend a construction company that was later revealed to have paid for renovations on Kerik’s house and hired his brother.
What happened? Out of all that, Kerik pleaded guilty only to misdemeanors for improperly allowing the construction firm to finance his home repairs, avoiding jail time. Only after Tacopina was no longer his lawyer was Kerik convicted and sentenced to prison for federal felonies including tax fraud and making false statements to authorities.
3. Judith Regan
Suspected of: Judith Regan was the New York editor/publisher with whom Kerik allegedly conducted an affair using the Ground Zero apartment. She was also set to publish O.J. Simpson’s book If I Did It before public condemnation halted the project. Tacopina appears to have worked only for Regan before any of this — he spoke to police on her behalf in early 2001 when her previous lawyer accused her of stealing documents from his office related to her divorce.
What happened? Regan was not charged in that incident.
4. Lillo Brancato
Accused of: Brancato, the Bronx Tale and Sopranos actor (above, right), was accused of murdering an off-duty police officer who attempted to stop a burglary that Brancato and an accomplice were committing. (Brancato had also previously been arrested for heroin possession.)
What happened? Brancato was acquitted of murder charges; his accomplice, whom Tacopina didn’t defend, was convicted. The former actor was, however, convicted of burglary. He’s eligible for parole next year.
5. Hiram Monserrate
Accused of: The New York state senator was charged with felony assault for slashing his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, with a glass. A security camera showed Monserrate grabbing and pulling a distressed Giraldo away from a neighbor’s apartment on the night of the incident.
What happened? Giraldo testified in court that the slashing was an accident; Monserrate was convicted of a misdemeanor and kicked out of the New York legislature but acquitted of felony assault, and he never served jail time.
6. Thomas Wiese
Accused of: Helping cover up the police beating and sodomy of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant living in Brooklyn who was arrested after a brawl at a nightclub in 1997 but ultimately never charged with a crime.
What happened? Wiese’s conviction for obstructing justice was overturned on appeal.
7. Kenneth Moreno
Accused of: Moreno, a New York City policeman, was charged with placing a fake 911 call as a pretext to return to the apartment of an intoxicated woman he’d helped home, then raping her.
The outcome: Convicted of official misconduct and fired — but acquitted, in a hugely controversial decision, of rape charges.
Every case is different, and many of the specific details of A-Rod’s dispute with MLB are sealed. But here’s what we do know: Past evidence suggests that when Joe Tacopina takes on a widely loathed client, it’s not simply because he wants to be on television — it’s because he thinks he can win.