Matthew McGowan – Senior Staff Attorney

Matthew McGowan

Senior Staff Attorney

(518) 438-8046  ext. 1801

Matt joined the Albany office of PLS as a staff attorney in 2013. He works throughout PLS’s core practice areas, with a particular focus on challenges to administrative disciplinary hearings, youth and late-stage adolescent advocacy, parole and sentencing matters, and records access issues. His past work includes full time internships with Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, the Legal Aid Society’s Civil Law Reform Unit, and the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. He also served as a judicial intern for the Hon. Shirley S. Abrahamson, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where he represented clients as a student attorney in both the Prisoners’ Rights and Poverty Law and Practice clinics. He is admitted to the state bars of New York and Massachusetts and admitted to practice in the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of New York.

Maggie Lindstrom – Immigration Staff Attorney

Maggie Lindstorm

Immigration Staff Attorney

(716) 844-8266

Maggie Lindstrom, Immigration Staff Attorney. Maggie joined PLSNY’s Buffalo office as an Immigration Staff Attorney in November 2020. Maggie received her JD from the UCLA School of Law where she studied Philosophy of Law. While at UCLA, she volunteered with El Centro legal clinic performing VAWA intake interviews and interned with the Federal Public Defender, Central District of California. After graduation, Maggie moved to Seattle, where she worked in civil litigation at a large law firm. In 2017, family brought Maggie back to the Buffalo area. After volunteering with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s SIFI team at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, and observing the immense challenges facing noncitizens in removal proceedings, Maggie decided to shift her practice to removal defense. She joined the ECBA Volunteer Lawyers Project as an Immigration Staff Attorney where she represented noncitizens in proceedings before the Batavia and Buffalo immigration courts. Maggie is admitted to three state bars — New York, California, and Washington — and in Tulalip Tribal Court. Maggie resides with her husband, dog, and cat in a small town outside of Buffalo. She enjoys hiking, orienteering, and opera. While she is admittedly not the most avid baseball fan, Maggie attended the 21st-ever perfect game (Philip Humber of the White Sox against the Seattle Mariners on April 21, 2012).

Andrew Stecker – Staff Attorney

Andrew Stecker

Staff Attorney

(716) 854-1007 ext. 1304

Andrew joined PLS in November 2017.  He was previously a Staff Attorney at Disability Rights New York, where he advocated for the civil rights of people with mental illness in a variety of areas, including housing, employment, state prisons, and local jails.  Prior to his work at DRNY, Mr. Stecker served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Lawrence E. Kahn of the U.S. District Court for Northern District of New York.  He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2013

Rohmah Javed – Immigration Supervising Attorney

Rohmah Javed

Supervising Attorney

(518) 694-8699 x 2104 

Rohmah was born in Southampton, England and raised in Toronto, Canada. Rohmah received her Bachelors of Science in Life Sciences at McMaster University in 2014 before moving to Cleveland, Ohio to attend law school. Rohmah graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of law where she spent her final year working in the Milton. A Kramer Civil Rights, Human Rights and Immigration Law Clinic. She became interested in immigration law because of her family’s unique immigration story and after working on asylum cases and other affirmative immigration applications at the Clinic. Rohmah was admitted to practice law by the New York State Bar in January 2017. In her spare time, she enjoys acrylic painting, running, trying different kinds of coffee, cosmetology, and fashion.

Molly M. Deacon – Immigration Staff Attorney

Molly M. Deacon

Immigration Attorney

(716) 844-8266   ext 1324

Molly joined Prisoners’ Legal Services as an Immigration Staff Attorney in January 2019. Molly began practicing immigration law in the private sector in 2015, where she primarily handled employment- and family-based visa petitions. Prior to joining PLS, Molly was employed with the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project, where she represented respondents in removal proceedings before the Batavia and Buffalo Immigration Courts, mentored pro bono attorneys handling immigration matters for the first time, and served as a Qualified Representative for respondents who were found incompetent to represent themselves. Molly remains particularly interested in matters concerning the rights of non-citizens with disabilities who are in removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Molly is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo Law School and Wells College.​

Mary Cipriano-Walter – Pro Bono Director

Mary Cipriano-Walter

Pro Bono Director

(518) 438-8046  ext. 1110

Mary joined PLS as a staff attorney in January 2015, became the supervising attorney of the Family Matters Unit in August 2017, and became the Pro Bono Director in March 2022. Before becoming a staff attorney, Mary was a legal intern at PLS from June 2013 through April 2014. Mary is a graduate of Albany Law School, where she focused her studies on civil rights law and served as the project director of the Pro Bono Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project.

Rebecca Calvetti Madan – Paralegal

Rebecca Calvetti Madan


(716) 844-8266   ext 1320

Rebecca received her B.A. in English and World Literature from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, and moved to Western New York to attend SUNY at Buffalo, attaining a M.A. in Linguistics in 2013. She previously spent five years in Atlanta, GA, where she worked as a Montessori Primary Teacher after getting her AMI certification. Rebecca speaks Italian, Spanish and French, and has worked in translation, transcreation, and copyediting for over 15 years, and has also done extensive copywriting for various social media platforms. She has worked in legal services for the past four years, joining PLS’s immigration team in 2019. When she is not running after her two young children, Rebecca enjoys learning about antique and vintage jewelry, and as she cannot keep it all, she has an online boutique dedicated to its redistribution, Insolita Bijoux.

David Bentivegna – Managing Attorney

David Bentivegna

Managing Attorney

(716) 854-1007 ext. 1302

David attended Canisius College for his undergraduate education, successfully completing the school’s rigorous Honor’s program to graduate with Bachelor degrees in History and Philosophy. David next moved on to the University at Buffalo Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor in 2007. David has been a staff attorney with the Buffalo PLS office since  2010. Raised in Western New York, David is also an avid runner who participates in races for various charitable causes throughout the year.

Maria Pagano – Senior Supervising Attorney

Maria Pagano

Senior Supervising Attorney

(716) 854-1007 ext. 1301

Photo of Maria Pagano

Maria has practiced public interest and poverty law for over 20 years in New York, Arizona, and on the Navajo Nation. Prior to her current position at PLS, she was the Managing Attorney at DNA-People’s Legal Services in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she practiced family law, public benefits, consumer, and housing law.

She is a graduate of Barnard College, and received an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from the University of California in San Diego. She left a career in the visual arts to attend C.U.N.Y. Law School, and has followed its motto of “practicing law in the service of human needs”.

Maria has focused on youth in the adult prison system and the rights of disabled individuals. She is director of the PLS Education Unit, and a member of the Erie County ReEntry Task Force.

Betsy Hutchings – Deputy Director

Betsy Hutchings

Deputy Director 

(607) 273-2283

Betsy has been the Deputy Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services since 2017. In this capacity, Betsy writes and edits the PLS newsletter Pro Se, organizes the prisoner education materials, handles professional responsibility issues, reviews and comments on proposed legislation and regulations and is responsible for writing PLS staff and management policies.

From 1984 through 1998, Betsy worked in the Ithaca Office of PLS as a staff attorney and from 2004 through 2017, as the Managing Attorney. She specialized in litigating federal excessive force cases, challenging disciplinary hearings in federal and state court, resolving sentencing and jail time issues and editing Pro Se.

From September 1998 through June 2004, Betsy worked at the Criminal Appeals Bureau of the NYC Legal Aid Society.

Betsy graduated from Rutgers University School of Law in 1978. She began her career in legal services as an attorney first at Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, Inc. in Pikeville, Kentucky and then at North Central West Virginia Legal Aid Society in Morgantown, West Virginia.

When she is not working on prisoners’ rights issues, Betsy and her husband Brad Rudin write articles on Professional Responsibility issues. Their articles have been published in the New York Law Journal and the New York Legal Ethics Reporter.