MOTION UNDER 28USC 2255 TO VACATE, SET ASIDE OR CORRECT SENTENCE BY A PERSON IN FEDERAL CUSTODY
CASE NO. 93CR
UNITED STATES VS LESTER KNOX COLEMAN III
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
(ALSO FILED IN NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS)
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS RE: ITEM 12
On or about 11 October, 1996, Defendant Lester Coleman voluntarily surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a warrant issued on or about 04 September, 1993, alleging Defendant committed perjury with regard to certain statements contained in a civil affidavit (Pan American World Airways Vs United States). At the time of his surrender, Defendant was suffering from cancer and other physical ailments in conjunction with a physical attack in Marbella, Spain. Defendant surrendered into U.S. custody confined to a wheelchair.
Defendant was transported by United States Marshals to the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), Brooklyn, New York, a facility under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the Department of Justice.
On or about November 1996, Defendant was brought before the Honorable Thomas C. Platt in the Eastern District of New York. A malignant tumor the size of a golf ball on the Defendant’s shoulder was not treated until February 1997, and then only after Defendant obtained private counsel, Pro Bono, to represent him. Prior to Pro Bono counsel Vivian Shevitz, Esq. entering the case, Federal Defender Abraham Clott did nothing to address Defendant’s medical problems. After repeated written and oral pleadings before Judge Platt, Defendant was finally taken to the New York Downtown Hospital where the tumor was removed. Defendant was, the same day, returned to confinement at MDC, Brooklyn.
For twelve (12) days, Defendant’s surgical dressing was not changed, nor the wound treated in any way by MDC medical staff. Consequently, the surgical incision became grossly infected. The Defendant was thereupon returned to the New York Downtown Hospital. It is a matter of Court record in the Eastern District of New York as to the event and the statements given by the attending surgeon (Dr. Beaton) in the presence of two United States Special Deputy Marshals so identified in the attached exhibit marked Transcript. In essence, Dr. Beaton said, “Oh my God, look at this, this is criminal.”
Ultimately, Defendant was removed from MDC by the U.S. Marshals Service and taken to a hospital in White Plains, N.Y., where he spent sixteen (16) days recovering from this severe medical maltreatment. During his stay in the hospital, Defendant was seen by Dr. Harvey Berman, M.D./Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Dr. Berman shall state that Defendant is suffering from major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder: “These illnesses were originally precipitated by maltreatment patient received while in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York.”
This was just the beginning. Upon his release from hospital, Defendant was returned to MDC Brooklyn where he was placed in solitary confinement, informed by 4 North Unit Manager Martinez and Counselor Austin that it was for “his own protection.” Defendant would remain in “special housing” until such time as “he would be released.”
Finally, after six (6) months in custody, a month in solitary confinement, already suffering from two (2) mental disorders, Defendant was released (placed under home confinement) by this court. Shortly thereafter, Defendant viewed (on WABC TV 7, NEW YORK, EYEWITNESS NEWS) 4 North Unit Manager Martinez and Counselor Austin being escorted in handcuffs from MDC by U.S. Marshals, charged with smuggling contraband. It is obvious that this Defendant was subjected to cruel and vicious isolation to remove him from 4 Unit North. MDC officials knew of Defendant’s previous associations with the U.S. Government, and being labeled a government “whistle blower.” Therefore, Defendant was viewed as a threat to their criminal activity re: Operation Bad Fellas.
Defendant had and continues to have recurring horrific nightmares with regard to his confinement and maltreatment (both medical and punitive) at MDC. He also suffers from periodic blackouts.
On or about August 1997, while Defendant was under electronically monitored home confinement [at the New York residence of his daughter and son-in-law], Pro Bono Counsel Vivian Shevitz was forced to withdraw, as the court refused to reimburse her for expenses. (Ms. Shevitz was ultimately granted expenses on Appeal to the 2nd Circuit.) Defendant was thereupon represented once again by Legal Aid Attorney Abraham Clott. Mr. Clott and his supervisor appeared at Defendant’s place of residence to discuss the cases before this court and before the court in the Northern District of Illinois. It was explained that the Defendant could enter a plea of guilty to five (5) counts in New York and to the one (1) count in Chicago. Defendant recorded the meeting and shall present an audiotape and transcript of the meeting.
In essence, Mr. Clott stated that if the Defendant agreed to a plea, he could be home with his family within a week. If Defendant continued to litigate this case, Defendant would likely be returned to MDC and face two (2) to three (3) years of litigation. Defendant asked Mr. Clott, “You mean, even with my medical condition?” “Yes,” Mr. Clott replied, “Judge Platt will insist on it.” Mr. Clott continued, “The best we can hope for from Judge Platt is a victory on appeal later on, considering his handling of the Pan Am case.”
The Defendant was obviously being coerced, terrorized with the threat of being returned to MDC, the very facility that maltreated him. Mr. Clott stated the Defendant would be returned to custody due to the fact that his son-in-law and daughter were relocating to North Carolina. Therefore, Defendant was coerced, having a well-founded fear of maltreatment, to enter a plea involuntarily in the Eastern District of New York and in the Northern District of Illinois. At the time his pleas were entered, the Defendant was suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. His only way to avoid the horrors inflicted on him in custody was to enter into intertwined plea agreements in both districts. Defendant has no memory of the events of his pleadings in New York and Chicago due to his illness.
Mr. Clott’s actions, as documented, were shameful, the work of ineffective counsel whose only goal was to resolve the matter, not seeking truth and justice on behalf of his client.
Defendant moves to vacate or set aside his pleas entered in the Eastern District of New York and in the Northern District of Illinois. Defendant further moves that he not be detained in custody pending resolution of these matters, nor in any other subsequent proceedings regarding the U.S. Government’s allegations. Additionally, Defendant (as these courts are both aware via Federal Probation, Lexington, Kentucky) requests to travel to Zeist, Holland to attend the criminal proceedings of two Libyan nationals accused in the downing of Pan American Flight 103.
Stephan M. Mitchell & Co., 3/4 ST. Saviors Wharf, London, United Kingdom represents Defendant in this matter.
Defendant’s true belief is that it is the trial in Holland under Scottish law that will ultimately uncover the truth with regard to Defendant’s sworn statements challenged by the United States.