Friday, May 29, 2009

The Judicial Lynching – Part V(b) –The Jack-Booted Assault on her Mother

Though Preston Burton in Jeane’s criminal case refused to respond to the government’s “heavy-handed” tactics of a late night visit to Jeane’s elderly and ill mother, I still had the court’s ear in the civil case and went to work to raise the issue there. . .

I first got Blanche to sign an affidavit stating the circumstances of the late night visit to her on June 4, 2007. On June 14th, after getting the affidavit back from Blanche, I filed a motion to dismiss the civil forfeiture case under the doctrine of “Outrageous Government Conduct.” This doctrine stems from a statement in United States v. Russell, 411 U.S. 423 (1973), a case involving the entrapment defense. The Supreme Court found that the defendant in Russell was predisposed to commit the crime at issue, and, therefore, was not entrapped. However, the Court noted that it might: “some day be presented with a situation in which the conduct of law enforcement agents is so outrageous that due process principles would absolutely bar the government from invoking judicial processes to obtain a conviction.”

After noting that the government had publicly stated that they had been investigating Jeane since 2004 and the “Visit” as I called it occurred (a) minutes after Jeane left her mother alone and (b) the night before a significant court hearing, I demanded from Judge Kessler an evidentiary hearing to establish for the record what occurred during the Visit. I then promised that: “[A]t the hearing, [Jeane] will produce evidence that there is a pattern and practice of the U.S. Government to go after the parents of defendant and/or claimants who will not accept the government’s offer to settle but instead vigorously litigate specious charges that implicate governmental incompetence, malfeasance and/or misfeasance."

This was a minor bombshell exploding. I had been in contact with other Madams around the country who had similar experiences and they were prepared to come in and testify to the heavy-handed tactics of the government in threatening parents of defendants/claimants. 

The first was the notorious Heidi Fleiss, known as the “Hollywood Madam”, whose attorneys had been in contact with me since the seizure in 2006 of Jeane’s assets. In 1997, she was convicted in connection with her prostitution ring with charges including pandering and tax evasion. Her ring had numerous famous and wealthy clients. She was sentenced to 37 months in prison for tax evasion, (pandering charges were dropped) but served just 21. Her original 3.year sentence prompted wide outrage at her harsh punishment, while her customers had not been punished. Outrage, I must note, which never materialized into action.

When Heidi threatened to name her clients, the government decided to send her a message by indicting her father on money laundering charges based upon Heidi’s father co-signing a loan application Heidi had sought from a bank. Ultimately, Heidi and her father plead guilty to avoid a trial and exposure to a significant sentence.

Similarly, another Madam, Jody Williams, was prepared to come forward and testify that the government went after her mother when Jody refused to plead guilty. In 1985, Jody had become known as the high tech Madam, as her Van Nuys, California bordello (which grossed $30,000 a month) was equipped with closed circuit television to screen arriving customers and a video cassette recorder to play pornographic movies. The names of 250 customers, and their sexual preferences, were punched into a computer. It was a sophisticated operation, but what really surprised Los Angeles Police Department vice officers was the bordello’s location: three blocks from the Van Nuys police station.

Last, Vicky, who ran an escort operation in Orlando, Florida, offered to come and testify. Vicky wrote me: “During my own mess they (2 agents) visited my mother for the purpose of intimidation. She is now 75. They told her that I would be doing 30 years in prison. She was then served an investigative subpoena and drilled for hours. "

My demand was for an evidentiary hearing to give the government a black eye. However, Preston Burton would have nothing to do with it and refused repeated requests by Jeane to file my outrageous conduct motion in the criminal case. Judge Kessler refused to address the motion in the civil forfeiture case and thus, as is so often the case, the process made sure the allegations of misconduct by the government would never see the light of day. 

Nice work if you can get it.

Part of Jeane died as she realized that she was indeed helpless against a system that was bent on protecting its own rather than its citizens.


Vicky Gallas said...

Why do Americans tolerate such a system? Of course the conduct was outrageous - how can anyone claim that it wasn't with a straight face? My own civil suit was dismissed by a federal judge that declared the many abusive acts of agents to be "normal" - yes, it seems that it is normal in the U.S. criminal justice system, but it shouldn't be. It sure isn't legal, though the persecutors are never charged. If I sound fed-up, it's because I am. What a system!

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