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Queens Mother of Three Turned Bronx Car Jacker Gets Downward Variance to 36 Months

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
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SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 19 – Shelly Washington, a 26-year old mother of three charged with an armed car-jacking in The Bronx, was brought in shackles into the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrates Court on January 31, 2020. She was the last case of the day, and Inner City Press was the only media present. 

 Assistant US Attorney David Robles said that she should be detained, that surveillance video showed the car jacking and that her co-conspirator is still at liberty.  

Federal Defender Julia Gatto emphasized that her client does not appear on the surveillance video, which covered only the driver's seat. She said Washington lives in Far Rockaway with her mother who has legal custody, by the family's choice, over her three children. Washington "does hair" in their residence, and would consent to home detention.

   Magistrate Judge James L. Cott retired to his robing room to confer with Pre Trial Services. He emerged some 15 minutes later to ask about the children's custody arrangement, then took a shorter recess. 

 When he returned, Judge Cott said he is sympathetic to any mother of three, and is not prejudging the merits of the prosecution. But he could not see a set of conditions on which Washington could be released.

   He ordered her detained, with the understanding that at a conference set for February 3 she and Federal Defender Gatto could argue again for release before assigned District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

 Now a year later on January 19 Washington was up for sentencing before Judge Kaplan, and Inner City Press again covered it. Judge Kaplan said while he is sympathetic to any mother of three, the conduct was very serious. While the Government asked for 60 months, he gave a sentence of 36 months - a substantial downward variance, he emphasized - in large part due to the extra penalty of being jailed during COVID.

The case is US v. Washington, 20-cr-37 (Kaplan).


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