Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lawyer Tony Farese Coaxed Guilty Plea From Client With Threat About a 75-Year Federal Prison Sentence

Tony Farese
How many ways can a criminal-defense lawyer cheat his own client? The prosecution of Mississippi insurance broker Ken Nowlin presents a classic case study on that disturbing question.

The Bush Justice Department indicted Nowlin, alleging he and former Lafayette County Supervisor Gary Massey had engaged in a kickback scheme involving an employee health-care contract. The case never went to trial because both men pleaded guilty, but a growing body of evidence suggests they were unlawfully pressured to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.

How could this happen in a democracy where counsel supposedly has a sacred duty to represent the best interests of his client? The answer seems to be this: Quite a few attorneys do not take their sacred duties seriously--and that especially seems to apply at the Ashland, Mississippi, firm of Farese Farese & Farese.

We've already shown that one member of that august firm, Steve Farese Sr., was so busy sexually harassing client Penni Tingle that she wound up entering a guilty plea that she now seeks to have overturned. Anthony L. "Tony" Farese was slightly more subtle with his client, Ken Nowlin. But the end result was the same--a government target wound up pleading guilty to a "crime" we now know he almost certainly did not commit.

Our research indicates members of the Farese firm are more interested in gaining favor with government prosecutors than in representing the best interests of their clients. We also see signs that the Farese lawyers are not alone; Birmingham lawyer G. Douglas Jones, who once served as defense counsel for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, seems to have a similar habit. In fact, Jones testified before Congress in 2007 about his undying respect for Bill Pryor, the former Alabama attorney general and current federal judge who is responsible for launching the Siegelman investigation.

How did Tony Farese coax a bogus guilty plea out of Ken Nowlin? For one thing, it's important to understand that federal statutes tend to be written in such murky language that most citizens have no idea what they say. God only knows how many Americans have pleaded guilty to violating statutes that they could not begin to understand--and in some cases, we are talking about defendants who are well educated.

Public documents show that Farese used a sort of "yin and yang" game with Nowlin--failing to dig for information that might have proven his client's innocence, while applying extraordinary pressure about the dangers of going to trial. (See document at the end of this post.) Let's take a closer look at how these two con games worked:

* Evidence, what evidence? Court documents show that Nowlin informed Farese repeatedly that Massey had a letter from Lafayette County Scot Spragins, saying that the payment arrangement Nowlin and Massey planned to implement was lawful. In fact, Nowlin told Farese and assistant U.S. attorneys Tom Dawson and David Sanders about the letter during a meeting on March 19, 2007. From the court file, where Nowlin is referred to as "petitioner":

During this meeting, Petitioner explained how and why he paid Massey the way he did. He also told them about the letter Mr. Massey said he had that allowed Petitioner to pay Mr. Massey the way he did. When Mr. Dawson asked Petitioner for a copy of the letter, Petitioner told him that he did not have one but they could get a copy of the letter from Mr. Massey. He explained that he and Mr. Massey did not conspire to hide anything and that there was no kickback or bribe involved in the way he paid Mr. Massey. Petitioner told them that Mr. Massey did not even know how he was paying him.

Did Farese make any effort to obtain a copy of this letter, which likely would have proven his client's innocence? It doesn't look like it. Nowlin wound up pleading guilty, and five days later, a Mississippi newspaper published an article about the Spragins letter to Massey.

* The prospect of a 75-year sentence--Nowlin began frantically calling Farese's office, to get a meeting about withdrawing the guilty plea. They could not meet with Farese until almost two months later. Larry Nowlin attended that meeting with his brother and provides this account in an affidavit:

Partly on my advice, Ken pled guilty on July 27, 2007. On September 28, 2007, I drove Ken to Ashland to see Farese. During this meeting, Ken told Farese that he wanted to withdraw his guilty pleea and tried to explain to Farese that he would have earned his four percent override on the Lafayette County insurance account no matter who had the insurance with the county. Farese became very angry and told Ken that he could not understand how he had ever made what he had made of himself as dumb as he was. Farese told us that we were not going to embarrass him and started dictating a letter saying that he was getting out of the case and told us to get out of his office.
Farese called me later that day and told me that if Ken was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, he could be going to prison for 75 years. Farese also told me that if Ken insisted in going to trial, it would cost Ken more than $200,000. On my advice, Ken wrote Farese and told him that he did not want to withdraw his guilty plea . . .

Ken Nowlin wound up being sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. But we can all be thankful that Tony Farese was not embarrassed before his prosecutorial buddies.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

Boy, this sounds a lot like the Siegelman case, except the feds couldn't get the governor to plead guilty to anything.

Anonymous said...

Aren't a lot of criminal defense attorneys former prosecutors. Could that explain a lot of this behavior.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, quite a few former prosecutors do go into criminal defense work. And yes, that could explain the conflicts of interest that many of them have.

Anonymous said...

I live in Mississippi and have followed the Ken Nowlin case fairly closely. If my memory is correct, he pleaded guilty to one count of a 53-count indictment. That makes me think the government knew it didn't have much of a case and was just begging for a guilty plea on anything.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone get 75 years over payments related to an employee benefits contract?

That's absurd. We probably have mass murderers who don't serve that kind of time.

Sounds like Mr. Nowlin's attorney was just pimping for the prosecutors. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

This defense lawyer considered it an embarrassment to fight hard for his client?


Anonymous said...

I'm starting to think we need to blow up our current justice system and start from scratch.

Anonymous said...

I want to learn more about those sleazy text messages that Steve Farese sent to Penni Tingle. Sounds like the guy needs to be disbarred or go into drug/alcohol rehab--or maybe both.

legalschnauzer said...

I've got more coming on those text messages. And he sent them to a woman he was supposed to be trying to keep out of federal prison. I have copies of the texts themselves, and they are ugly stuff.

Anonymous said...


The word is well defined and don't take any of the so called main media as what the word defines. NYT WAPost MSM FOX nope.

The 'judicial' is the corrupted institutionalized racket perversion of so called 'law'.

Law isn't but a serious transference of wealth from one bandit to another pirate.

THE part of the system that is getting de-Americanized and must.

The American system of the top get to do whatever IT chooses, wars into Afghanistan-Iraq-Libya-and STOPPED finally at again, Syria.

Rome was sent home from Syria, a long time ago too.

America was and is used. The used that thought they were not used but, they were the level that got to also use and abuse: lawyers that are also judges and then the entire legal tribe is in a bubble busting reality.

Secret devils in the details.

LAW isn't law, when did we notice?

prima facie (pry-mah fay-shah) adj. Latin for "at first look," or "on its face," referring to a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial. A prima facie case presented to a grand jury by the prosecution will result in an indictment. Example: in a charge of bad check writing, evidence of a half dozen checks written on a non-existent bank account, makes it a prima facie case. However, proof that the bank had misprinted the account number on the checks might disprove the prosecution's apparent "open and shut" case. (See: prima facie case)

LEGAL SCHNAUZER, where was a Grand Jury called in the matter, to prove a/the prima facie case,

so called victims that sealed their shenanigans could have demanded a Grand Jury ...

yes/no? Then the people of the southern voting regions could be under the wrong/right idea of trust in our leaders.

Anonymous said...

nickels dimes quarters fifty cent pieces and metal money

best it's said to have lots of this stuff on hand, trade any of the paper reserve never to be promised as was first promised and now even far more sinister

get rid of the toilet paper and get the metals or other commodities that can be thought about as trade for exchanges that require people to agree on how to get the needs and other important values that support life

corruption is about critical mass in the USA and there's no where to go but into the dust bin of countries that lost the power to manufacture 'money' sovereignty

rabid these predators are and dogs must be careful not to get bitten LS so stay ancient in the senses

e.a.f. said...

He would have done better with a first yr law student or public defender.

75 yr sentence? How ridiculous. The U.S.A. needs to stop creating such silly sentences. In Canada, first deg. murder, 25 to life. You're out in 25 and on parole. White collar crime. The odd one has been sentenced to 10 yrs or so, but they didn't plead guilty.

People tend to panic when arrested and charged. First rule, never say anything. Second rule, find a lawyer, other lawyers use when they are in trouble. Third, never plead guilty, especially if you didn't do it. Oh and don't take a lie detector test.

Its also a good idea to tape record your lawyer, in discussions along with those with the cops, etc. Its good protection and if nothing else, it makes for a great book later.

One of the problems with the American justice system is they are either elected to their position or annointed for life. There is too much at stake for the lawyers, etc. to do their jobs properly.

30 months in jail, he would have been better off leaving the state and starting over somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Good point, e.a.f. Even if Nowlin was guilty--and its sounds like he had a solid defense--this lawyer's advice was horrendous.

Unknown said...

lawyer resources link


either not linked properly or got ?

Anonymous said...

When I was only 19 years old I was arrested by the state. Due to not having any previous criminal history, I was allowed to plea under non-adjudication. After 5 years of successful probation and not getting into any more trouble the charges were to be dismissed. By this time, I had a good job and bought a new house. Tony Farese did not do his job because years later I was fired because Tony Farese did not file the correct paper work with the courts after I finished my probation. I ended up having to do it myself and the charges were dismissed, but it was too late I had already lost my job. Do not hire this man. Wasted a bunch of money on him for lackluster work. There are people out there who deserve a second chance and can make good on it, but evidentially tony doesn't believe this. When your client does all the right things you should stand by your paying client.