US Govt. objects to Ezjet boss changing plea
…accuses him of dishonesty, says he filed motion when he learnt of jail time-Attorney
March 2, 2014
EZjet Boss, Sonny Ramdeo
Ramdeo, who was behind the failed low cost carrier EZjet, was charged in the US with embezzling millions from the hospital chain he had been employed.
Ramdeo initially pleaded not guilty, then changed his plea to guilty and last month filed another motion to withdraw his guilty plea.
Wifredo Ferrer, the United States prosecutor handling the case, on Friday last filed a motion with the court asking that Ramdeo’s attempt to change his guilty plea be refused.
According to the attorney, Ramdeo’s motion to change his plea alleges contradictions to his sworn testimony.
The US Government, through Ferrer, noted that in Ramdeo’s motion, he said that counsel had not reviewed the evidence that the government would present at trial and that he had been coerced and threatened resulting in his entry of pleas of guilty.
Ramdeo further alleged that counsel did not meet with him during the recess granted by the court to discuss the plea and the factual proffer.
The US Government contends that the Court should not permit Ramdeo to withdraw his guilty plea, for he has shown no legally cognizable reason to do so.
According to the US Prosecutor, a defendant may withdraw his plea before sentencing if he “can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal.”
He notes, further, that the defendant bears the burden of showing that he is entitled to withdraw his guilty plea.
“A mere declaration of innocence does not entitle a defendant to withdraw his guilty plea… Guilty pleas would be of little value to the judicial system if a defendant’s later conclusory assertion of innocence automatically negated his plea,” Ferrer argues in his motion.
He said that there are a number of factors for the Court to consider in deciding whether Ramdeo has met his burden of showing a just and fair reason to withdraw his guilty plea.
“Whether close assistance of counsel was available; whether the plea was knowing and voluntary; whether judicial resources would be conserved; and whether the government would be prejudiced if the defendant were allowed to withdraw his plea.”
He cited, also, that Ramdeo’s admission of factual guilt at hearing and the timing of the motion to withdraw.
Ferrer charges that “each of these factors militates against permitting the defendant to withdraw his plea.”
The attorney argues that Ramdeo had counsel from the time of his initial appearance to the time of his plea.
The Federal Public Defender’s Office represented him from his initial appearance, on January 2, 2013, through this Court’s order granting its withdrawal on February 5, 2013.
Valentin Rodriguez represented defendant from at least as early as January 30, 2013, through June 13, 2013.
Alan S. Diamond represented defendant from at least as early as May 13, 2013 through his entry of his pleas of guilty on October 1, 2013 and for a period of time thereafter.
According to Ferrer, Ramdeo admits that all of the attorneys noted met with him and specifically admits that attorney, Diamond met with defendant approximately seven different times both in attempt to prepare for trial and to resolve the case by plea.
He said that Ramdeo consulted with Diamond immediately prior to the change of plea hearing itself, and stated under oath that he was fully satisfied with the counsel, representation, and advice his attorney had given him.
“The defendant thus had the benefit of extremely close assistance of highly competent counsel…As such he should not be permitted to withdraw his plea.”
Ferrer further charged that “there could not be a clearer case of a defendant wanting to waste judicial resources.”
He says that Ramdeo had continued his trial time twice to prepare for resolution of the case, changed attorneys three times and utilized the services of court appointed counsel at least once during the process.
Ferrer in his motion objecting to the withdrawal alleges that Ramdeo is now making false accusations as to competent counsel in an effort to withdraw his plea.
“There is little question that his representations are false in light of the directly contradictory nature of his present claims when considering the plea colloquy including the false claim that counsel did not meet with defendant during the recess granted by the court on October 1, 2013, as evidenced by the US Marshal visitor log.”
Ferrer further argues that the timing of Ramdeo’s motion to change his plea again “indicates that it is motivated by the amount of time the defendant may face.”
He said that this motion by Ramdeo was filed approximately one month after the draft presentence report was made available to him.
“Consequently, the possibility of a motion to withdraw his guilty plea became fully formed approximately one month after he knew the possible sentence he faces.”
In seeking to reinforce his argument, Ferrer in quoting previous rulings noted that “A guilty plea is not a meaningless gesture to be renounced on a lark; it is a ‘grave and solemn act, which is accepted only with care and discernment…The Court should treat the defendant’s guilty plea as the grave and solemn act it was, and deny his motion to withdraw it.”