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Ezika Pled Guilty Then Tried To Withdraw Plea But Denied in SDNY, Gets Time Served + Week

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 28 – Okechukwu Peter Ezika entered a guilty plea in January 2019 to "engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity." 

 Then he tried to withdraw his plea.   

    On January 28, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Katherine Polk Failla held a lengthy proceeding. Inner City Press covered it.

    Ezika said that what he previously pled to under oath was false.

He had changed lawyers, twice, and his current lawyer on January 27 said delicately that sometimes defendants are coached what to say by their counsel. 

 Judge Failla said she would not return the plea for such minutae as Ezika calling her Your Majesty or Mrs. Failla.

 But she inquired with the AUSA what the prejudice would be to them. They stopped their investigation in light of the plea.

  Judge Failla, with another proceeding coming onto CourtCall at 11 am (in fact, it did not), said she will soon issue an oral ruling.

 And Judge Failla convened another conference on February 2, to read her ruling. Inner City Press covered it. Running through the applicable legal standards, Judge Failla said she found no basis to find ineffective assistance of counsel or any other ground to allow for the withdrawal of the guilty plea.

On June 3, Judge Failla held Ezeji's sentencing, and Inner City Press covered it. Ezeji spoke of the difficulties of being in the MDC amid Covid, his wife coming up from Greensboro, North Carolina but not being allowed to visit him. He went to school in Ghana; his parents live in Nigeria. But there were false statements about hawala money transfers from his father, and an obstruction enhancement.
  Still, Judge Failla sentenced him to time serived (23 months) and a day, and wanted Immigration to know that this is not a six month sentence. Ezeji is disputing removal.

The case is US v. Ezeji, 18-cr-117 (Failla)


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