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As Cooperator Vellon Is Sentenced Defensed Wanted Press Ousted But Judge Rakoff Says No

by Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Book Substack

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 22 – A man who absconded from the federal Residential Re-entry Center or halfway house in The Bronx then misspoke about it was set to be sentenced on January 24, 2024 by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Inner City Press went to cover it. The defense lawyer asked that the Press be excluded. Thread:

Just now a defense lawyer asked to exclude the Press from a (re) sentencing og a cooperator. Judge Rakoff said no, specifically praising Inner City Press "he covers this courthouse like no other") - so resentencing thread below/ this story. 

Defense lawyer turns to conditions at MDC Brooklyn jail.  Judge Rakoff says, beyond what Judge Furman wrote in US v Chavez, it's Congress' fault for paying federal BOP guards so little. Defense says MDC is "worse than Rikers"

Asst US Attorney: This case is about materially misleading statements. Judge Rakoff: After his lies were exposed,  he did stop. So he gets 2 points for acceptance of responsibility. AUSA: It still cost us resources, when he said the facility would not protect him  

AUSA: His 40 month sentence was imposed by [now Curcuit] Judge Sullivan, for violation of the Court's trust. Defendant: He did that in 2020. I apologize. I was nervous and wanted to get back to my family. I did 11 years in prison.   Defendant: My defense told me- [Lawyer touches his on shoulder, to stop] Judge Rakoff: If it's in your heart to speak, please do.

Vellon: I never had a job. Then I got one. We pooled our money, paid our bills. I was going through certain things, due to my past   Defendant: In prison I was assaulted while using the computer. I had third degree burns. They put me in the box, then to a halfway house. But then they said they didn't know nothing about it. 

Vellon: I don't need prison no more. You sentence me today, they're just going to put me back in the box. Judge: There are competing issues here. He did get a job. 

Judge Rakoff: Lying is serious. Escape is serious. I sentence you to less than they recommend: six months in prison, then three years of supervised release.

 Defense lawyer: I'll do a filing with recommendation of where his sentence could be served to avoid these problems.  

After the proceeding, Inner City Press found in the docket not only the traces of the cooperation, and redactions in both the Government's and defense's letter, but also a heartfelt letter from Vellon himself, including:

"being label a cooperator in prison is really dangerous, I been stab, cut on the face two time's, hit with a lock on my head. The last assault happened at f.c.i school [Schuylkill], i was using the email when a known blood gang member came from behind me and threw 212 degree water on the back of my neck, I was sent to the box... I had told staff why was I attack and the person who did it was sent by another gang member which is the cousin of the person I testified on back in 2013 in front of judge Sullivan... I made a bad choice and I panic, Honor."

  The case is US v. Vellon, 23-cr-605 (Rakoff)


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