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Man Who Called Lawyer to Withdraw Plea before Acceptance Now Wants 30 Days to File

by Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Book Substack

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 10 – Mark Gonzalez pled guilty on August 31, 2022 before a Magistrate Judge to a conspiracy to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl. 

 Then, he says, from jail in Essex County he called his retained counsel and said he wanted to take back his plea.

 He says that was before the assigned District Judge formally accepted his guilty plea. 

   On April 14, 2023 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Victor Marrero held a proceeding. Inner City Press went and covered it.  

 Gonzalez wanted to fire his retained counsel.

The CJA lawyer present said he was honored to be on the CJA panel and would accept appointed. He asked the prosecutors to leave the courtroom, and that the transcript be redacted. Inner City Press was still in the courtroom, openly.

  The upshot is that the change of counsel was made, and the CJA counsel will seek records about the alleged call, which would have been recorded, from the Essex facility.  

The AUSA, back in the room, said they should get a copy too, and a copy of Gonzelez' CJA affidavit which the SDNY AUSA called a judicial record and a public document. (This is ironic because when Inner City Press has moved to unseal CJA affidavits, the SNDY US Attorney's Office has said it "takes no position.") 

  Judge Marrero said that Gonzalez had already been found eligible for CJA counsel, and that the CJA should filed a letter in two weeks about the fruits of the subpoena.

On April 28, the letter was filed - there was a call between Gonzalez and his then counsel, but the file has been mailed to the new CJA lawyer, on a CD.

On May 1, the new (soon to be former?) CJA lawyer wrote to Judge Marrero that he met with Gonzalez on April 29 and was told he is fired. He has requested a conference in which he he said he would request to be formally relieved as counsel.

  Inner City Press went to that conference, on May 5. Gonzalez, dressed in the beige prison garb of the Metropolitan Detention Center, was brought in by two US Marshals, and spoke with a woman in the gallery, where Inner City Press was the only other civilian.
  When Judge Marrero took the bench, the CJA lawyer asked for the prosecutor to leave. (He did). The CJA lawyer explained his "acrimonious" relationship with Gonzalez, and disagreement on legal strategy which Inner City Press is voluntarily not reporting here. But the public version is that Gonzalez contests the 400 grams of fentanyl weight, and whether he could have been in a conspiracy with his co-defendant or some other relationship.
  Judge Marrero set a further - final? - conference on the matter of representation for May 12 at 10:30 am. He said he will not appoint any new lawyer for Gonzalez.

On May 10, the CJA lawyer wrote in to say that Gonzalez wants to keep him on, and he requested 30 days to file the motion for withdrawal of guilty plea. The AUSA wrote in to cancel the May 12 proceeding.

 Inner City Press will continue to follow the case. It is US v. Gonzalez, 21-cr-288 (Marrero)


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