PRESS RELEASE: March 30, 1998
Subject : Is Your Attorney A Confidential Informant?
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
Why are the state Bars and the Government allowing confidential informants-attorneys for the Government or attorneys under criminal investigation themselves to-represent clients accused of criminal conduct, knowing there is a direct conflict of interest? I had a conflict of interest hearing (44C Hearing) five months after hiring former attorney STEPHEN A. GLASS of Miami, Florida. During this hearing, I was not informed that attorney STEPHEN GLASS was under a Federal and State investigation on "Operation Court Broom" and for other investigative matters prior to Operation Court Broom. GLASS was also in trouble with the FLORIDA BAR. All of which the Prosecutor of my case, MARY JANE STEWART and GLASS were aware of, or should have known, but did not reveal to me or the Court during the conflict hearing or at any time.
Further, during this hearing, I was not informed that my co-defendant, who was also represented by GLASS, had been debriefed and agreed to cooperate with the Government. GLASS and the Government had direct knowledge of this matter before I retained GLASS. During the course of my 2255 motion my family hired private detective, GARY J. McDANIEL, of West Palm Beach, Florida to investigate GLASS. Mr. McDANIEL keeps running into a solid wall with matters related to GLASS. The Government has GLASS' case and case number sealed. During the obstacle course to gather evidence, Mr. McDANIEL discovered that GLASS had a Federal indictment in 1984, Docket No. 84CR34-00153-N in Norfolk, Virginia. GLASS was recorded on videotape bribing a witness. It has long been believed that GLASS worked for the Government thereafter.
GLASS' attorney in the North Folk, Virginia case was RAYMOND J. TAKIFF of Miami, Florida. TAKIFF was at one time General NORIEGA'S attorney. TAKIFF plead guilty in 1989 and agreed to cooperate with the Government. TAKIFF is the chief witness for the Government in Operation Court Broom along with GLASS. GARY McDANIEL has spoken to JANICE SMITH, GLASS' probation officer, but, unfortunately, we are unaware as to why GLASS is on probation. SMITH will not say.
I believe that because of the sensitive nature of the matter my present attorney, MARCIA SHEIN, is having problems subpoenaing GLASS' probation officer. She has filed a motion requesting the following:
1. Time frames of the cooperation and plea negotiations of attorney GLASS with the Government.
2. Any and all investigative reports concerning GLASS.
3. The offense section of the pre-sentence report.
4. The Judgment and Commitment Order.
Attorney SHEIN'S motion has not been responded to. GARY McDANIEL received permission from former Judge SHENBERG to review the trial transcripts of my former attorney STEPHEN GLASS, however, this permission was blocked by SHENBERG'S public defender, attorney PAUL RASHKIND, of Miami. (SHENBERG is sentenced to 188 months.) GLASS was disbarred in 1994, but continues to practice law.
I was granted an evidentiary hearing which was held on December 16, 19U7. At this time, the Court had an in-camera hearing. My attorney, MARCIA SHEIN, was asked to leave the courtroom, leaving the Prosecutor, MARY JANE STEWART, Government agents and Judge ROBERT VINING to conduct the hearing. Does my attorney not have a right to be at the in-camera hearing on my 2255 hearing? At the hearing after the in-camera hearing, witness PATRIC D. CURREY testified as to GLASS' drug activities and GLASS having CURREY strip down in GLASS' office to look for surveillance bugs. This occurred in 1990. CURREY also testified that he went to the FBI in 1989 and debriefed them with regard to GLASS' illegal activities. CURREY'S probation officer refused to allow him to work with the FBI (See Miami Herald dated 6/ 16/91).
My co-defendant, KEITH KURLAND, also testified that GLASS elicited his cooperation and recommended that he cooperate in order to initiate a plea agreement with the Government. Mr. GLASS approached KURLAND and told him that the Federal agents wanted him to testify against me. Mr. GLASS went on to state that if KURLAND did not cooperate against me that I would cooperate against him. Mr. GLASS advised KURLAND that he would come to him first with the deal because KURLAND had retained him first. GLASS also stated that if he did not cooperate against me, he would go after me to see if I would cooperate against him. The Government, also during KURLAND'S debriefing, asked him to cooperate against me. At no time did GLASS advise me of any of this information.
I did not know GLASS prior to my arrest. GLASS solicited his services soon after I was arrested in Miami on January 27, 1990. GLASS came to me at MCC, Miami and advised me that he knew all about my case and assured me that he could get me out on bond. After bond release, my brother and I went to GLASS' office to discuss fees. I informed him that I wanted to "shop" in Atlanta, Georgia for an attorney. GLASS stated that if I did not hire him as my attorney, he was going to pull my bond and put me back in prison, so, I hired him.
My December 16th hearing has been postponed for March with no date as of today. The Government has provided my attorney, MARCIA SHEIN, with thirty-six tapes related to GLASS, with strict instructions as to the dissemination of the tapes. I am not allowed to hear them. My family has paid MARCIA SHEIN $10,000 and she has requested an additional $5,000 which my brother does not have, but paid with his credit cards. In addition, there are investigative fees and witness expenses, none of which would have been necessary if the Government had not conspired to set up a series of legal roadblocks to this unfortunate inmate's perfectly proper discovery process. What is the Government hiding from the public and from this unfortunate inmate who simply wants facts in support of his appeal? Why are the state Bars and the Government allowing confidential informants-attorneys for the Government and attorneys under criminal investigation themselves to represent clients accused of criminal misconduct, knowing there is a direct conflict of interest? How is one to know if the attorney he is about to hire is under criminal investigation, is under state Bar investigation, or is an informant for the Government? These are not questions that any defendant would ever ask of a potential defense attorney for fear of insulting him, especially since the normal assumption is that any attorney would decline the case.
If you have any questions, or would like further information, please contact my attorney, MARCIA SHEIN, at (404) 633-3797, facsimile (404) 633-7980; or my private investigator, GARY J. McDANIEL, at (561) 845-1414, facsimile (561) 845-2468. You are welcome to request the date of my next hearing and attend same. I am requesting that all of GLASS' sealed documents be released to my attorney and myself in order to have effective representation at my 2255 hearing. If my attorney and I are denied the documents or any part thereof, which are required to properly investigate my case, I will request "time served." I am a first time offender, serving a seventeen-year sentence for cocaine conspiracy. I have served seven plus years while my co-conspirator served eighteen months while having more than one criminal prior. I am not a threat to society.
Thanking you all in advance for your time and consideration.
Sincerely, Nelson Sardina
P.S.: This letter has been sent to various newspapers and the Atlanta ACLU.