Tales From The Cells is the reality inside United States Prisons, both Federal and State. We are involved in advocacy and reform! Redemption and confession with our My Story section and lost, lonely souls with our Pen Pal section. We give prisoners a voice, a platform to tell their story, to offer up their lifestyle inside, and to air problems within the prison walls. This is as close to the inside as you will ever get without actually walking inside the world within a world. Reality at it's finest, Can you handle the Truth?

Leonard Brown PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nikita   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 01:49

My name is Leonard Brown from Compton, CA. I am forty three (43) years old and my story starts like this.

I was indicted in Manhattan New York on May 8, 2002 on a one count drug conspiracy charge. I was arrested in Los Angeles, CA on February 28, 2003 and have been incarcerated up until the present date. I was extradited to New York in March of 2003.

My story is a simple one about betrayal, corruption and injustice. I retained a criminal defense attorney from Los Angeles, CA named Frank E. Digiacomo to represent me in the New York case. Mr. Digiacomo made his first appearance in my New York case on May 9, 2003. A day prior, I had a meeting with Mr. Digiacomo to discuss the particulars of my case. During that meeting I requested that he file an illegal search and seizure suppression motion for my vehicle based on the fact that when I retrieved my vehicle from the site of the search I found no search warrant affidavit or invoice of the items taken. My identity was unknown to agents prior to the search of my vehicle but was illegally discovered as a result of the seizure through photo's of me and mail addressed in my name. Drugs were also recovered from my vehicle. Mr. Digiacomo told me that "he didn't see a need to file a suppression motion that would fail" because "he was sure that agents had a telephonic warrant for my vehicle."

My illegally obtained identification and the drugs that were found was the impetus behind the government's investigation of me which significantly directed the government's investigation towards me.

The filing of a successful suppression motion would have dismissed the New York indictment. When he declined to file the motion I then instructed Mr. Digiacomo to file a motion to dismiss the indictment for delay in prosecution, Based on the fact that warrantless search of my vehicle which occurred in Los Angeles, CA by New York and Los Angeles D.E.A. agents occurred on February 22, 2000. The motion was filed on July 1, 2003. The government's response brief was due on July 23, 2003. My reply brief was due on August 6, 2003, but was not filed. Oral arguments were set for August 25, 2003. On August 18, 2003, Mr. Digiacomo sent me a letter stating that I was looking at a life sentence if convicted and that the government would use evidence from the search of my vehicle to corroborate their case against me and he suggested that I enter a plea agreement. A plea was not what I wanted.

I immediately called him and requested my full and complete case discovery material. He only sent me copies of co-conspirators trial transcripts. The transcripts contained testimony of a "C.I." named Card who testified that my co-conspirator Bridges sold Card drugs numerous times in California and on one occasion, Card alleged that Bridges fronted him drugs in California to take to New York sometime in April of 1999. This transaction plus monitored calls between Card and Bridges from New York to California having alleged coded drug conversations gave jurisdiction to New York for the indictments. Bridges was indicted in early 2000, went to trial in September of 2000 and was convicted and sentenced to life. Card also told the jury that Bridges told him that he took the drugs from someone name Rod who owed him money and then gave those drugs to Card in April of 1999.

My indictment charged me with an overt act that described Card picking up the drugs in California from Bridges and selling them in New York in April of 1999, but Card's testimony at Bridges' trial that the drugs came from Rod contradicts the allegations that I provided or had any knowledge of the April 1999 drug transaction. This conspiracy was manipulated by the New York prosecutors, based on the fact that they indicted four individuals for the same conspiracy at different times. Bridges was indicted in early 2000. McKenzie was indicted in early 2001. Williams was indicted in 2001 and I was indicted on May 8, 2002. I later realized that I had two defenses against the charges:

1) a Fourth Amendment violation based on a warrantless search,

2) Actual innocence based on never fronting any drugs in California to be sold in New York.

On August 21, 2003, I was also indicted in Los Angeles, CA on a four count drug conspiracy. During a phone conversation on August 23, 2003, Mr. Digiacomo informed me of the California indictment and again suggested that I take a plea deal for both the New York and California cases. He offered to handle the California plea for an additional $10,000,00. I told him no thanks; I'll worry about the California case later. He then offered to handle California free of charge. I declined the offer again.

On August 25, 2003, Mr. Digiacomo made his second and final appearance in New York for oral arguments on the delay in prosecution's motion which was denied by the District Judge. After the oral arguments hearing, Mr. Digiacomo visited me before he departed back to California. He started the conversation by suggesting that I cooperate with agents from California that he knew previously from past cooperation deals that he negotiated for other clients. I told him that he must have lost his mind because cooperation from me was out of the question, period. I told him that I wanted to make a full and competent evaluation of a possible defense in the New York case. He replied that I could get life if I lost at trial. We ended our conversation with me agreeing to allow him to negotiate a joint plea agreement. My next pre-trail conference was set for September 29, 2003, but was cancelled and reset for November 3. 2003. This pre-trial conference was cancelled and reset for December 8, 2003, where I was represented by associate counsel John Raimondo from New York.

The District Court set my next pre-trial conference for January 6, 2004 to permit defendant to review the additional wiretap discovery from the California case to permit discussion of a possible disposition. I was never notified that my cellphone was the subject of the California wiretap nor did I ever receive or review any wiretap discovery.

The January 6 2004 pre-trial conference was reset for February 27, 2004. Mr. Digiacomo did not start any plea negotiations until February of 2004. The February 27, 2004 pre-trail conference was reset for March 26, 2004. At this point in time, I became very concerned about entering the plea agreement without reviewing all of the evidence in both cases. I called Mr. Digiacomo and told him of my concerns toward entering the plea deal and again requested my full and complete New York and California case discovery. He again failed to comply.

In March of 2004, I then had a family member contact N.L.P.A. (National Lawyers Professional Associates) in an attempt to retain their services to help me obtain my case discovery from Mr. Digiacomo in order to evaluate a possible defense against the New York charges. N.L.P.A. contacted Mr. Digiacomo who was not forth coming with them by not providing the case discovery material and informing them that I would be signing the plea deal. The March 26, 2004 pre-trial conference was reset for April 22, 2004-

Sometime around April 16; 2004, associate counsel John Raimondo was sent by Mr. Digiacomo to visit me at M.C.C. New York. He had with him a plea agreement that had already been signed by Mr. Digiacomo on April 6, 2004. Mr. Raimondo asked me to read the plea agreement and asked if I understood it. I told him that I didn't understand some of it and didn't agree with some of the information contained in it such as the illegally seized drugs from my vehicle on February 22, 2000. The drugs were never charged in the indictment as an overt act or possession count. I told him that I was not going to sign the plea. He left a copy with me and I mailed it to a family member with instructions to fax it over to N.L.P.A. Due to the fact that money was tight, N.L.P.A. was not legally retained and could not assist me with any legal advice or demand that Mr. Digiacomo turn over my case discovery. I was holding out until N.L.P.A. could be retained but unfortunately Mr. Raimondo returned to visit me on April 22, 2004 just hours before the scheduled pre-trail conference. He asked me did I sign the plea, I told him no and that I had mailed it to a family member. He then told me that he was glad that he brought another copy with him. He also said that Mr. Digiacomo had called him earlier that morning and cursed at him when he told Mr. Digiacomo that I hadn't signed the plea agreement the first time it was presented to me, Mr, Raimondo went on to say that Mr. Digiacomo was very angry and told him to tell me that there was no more time to consider the plea agreement and if I did not sign the "GOD-DAMN" plea on that day of April 22, 2004 the New York prosecutor would be ready to take me to trial in one week, I was fearful of going to an unprepared trail in one week where I had not read the discovery. I felt that I signed the plea agreement under duress from mental coercion and misrepresentation. At the time I signed the plea, I had not been presented with the California indictment nor had I been arraigned or received any copies of the discovery of the California case.

Combined with the fact that Mr. Digiacomo withheld important parts of my New York case discovery, the mental coercion and duress had been put in play*

I was transferred to California and in July of 2004 I entered a guilty plea to both the New York and California cases. As part of the plea, I could not be sentenced until my co-defendant in California went to trial.

In December of 2004, my other co-defendant was transferred from M.D.C.-LA to San Bernardino County Jail where I was being detained. Fortunately, he was assigned to my unit and when he and I spoke for the first time, he told me that he signed a deal for 48 Months on a phone count. I learned for the first time that my cellphone was wiretapped.

In January of 2005, I immediately wrote the California District Judge Audrey B. Collins and explained that my attorney, Mr. Digiacomo failed to inform me that my cellphone was the target of a wiretap. T also stated that I wished to fire Mr. Digiacomo for being ineffective throughout all of the proceedings and I wished to withdraw my plea of guilty.

On April 14, 2005, I was brought before the Judge for a status conference based on the letter I wrote. I stated for the record my reasons for wanting to fire my attorney. The Judge allowed Mr. Digiacomo to withdraw as counsel after he requested to be relieved and failed to rebut the allegations. Since then, I have had three different court appointed attorneys. I filed a pre-sentence motion to withdraw my plea based on ineffective assistance of counsel which is governed under the "fair and just reason" standard. The District Court abused its discretion by denying the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. I then filed a reconsideration based on "newly discovered evidence", which was also denied.

On my sentencing date of March 27, 2007, I argued on the record that I should be allowed to file a renewed motion based on new evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel, based on the fact that in January of 2007, I was notified by a co-conspirator in the New York case who informed me that he filed a successful illegal search and seizure suppression motion in 2001 pertaining to his home and my vehicle which was parked on his property based on a warrantless search. He was granted suppression of his home but lacked standing to challenge the search of my vehicle. I argued that Mr. Digiacomo was ineffective because he misrepresented to me that there was a warrant for my vehicle, which he failed to inform me that my co-conspirator filed a successful suppression motion and that he failed to file the suppression motion for my vehicle that was meritorious. I was informed that Mr. Digiacomo collasped in a California court room and was taken to the hospital in November of 2004 where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required emergency surgery.

On April 16, 2007, Mr. Digiacomo died of his illness. I now claim that his irrational behavior which resulted in him being ineffective was a product of his serious unknown medical condition that ultimately ended his life.

I discovered that the D.E.A. and the L.A=P=D. were in collusion to plant drugs in my California case in order to uphold a search warrant affidavit for my home which contained deliberate false information regarding drugs that were never seized. The L.A_=P,D. are notoriously known for fabricating drug evidence and having corrupt officers in its department.

The disturbing thing is the prosecutor helped cover-up the collusion to plant drugs by the D.E.A. and L.A.P.D. by committing perjury.

The ending of my story is that on March 27, 2007, I was sentenced to 212 Months. I feel that Mr. Digiacomo betrayed me, that justice was not served but manipulated and abused through corruption. I add a quote from the late Johnny Cochran "an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"!!!

I am currently awaiting adjudication on my appeal and through my faith in God I know that justice will prevail and I shall be set free.

When I am vindicated, I plan to bring a civil suit against the corrupt parties involved.

Anyone interested in. how my situation turns out, feel free to write. I am also seeking the assistance of any civil attorney who would be willing to review my civil claim.



Mr. Brown


Leonard Brown # 25641-112

Federal Correctional Institution

1900 Simler Avenue

Big Spring, Texas 79720

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Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2009 01:54