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One Man, One Case, One Real Life Heist: United States v. Mark Anthony Given

 A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

     I GOT SENTENCED to five years confinement in the United States Bureau Prisons to be followed by five years of Supervised Probation for violation of 18 USC 3536 Bank Fraud.  I plead to two counts, and four counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, but the cantankerous old judge ordered restitution on all six counts. When I walked out of the courtroom, I told the dumpster attorney that,

      “He can't-do that, order restitution to counts dismissed.” 

I don’t know how I knew that, but I did. “I know,” the hapless lawyer said, “But if I go tell him that he's liable to give you the Max on both counts.”  He was probably right.
      Took me two hours to find Hughey v. United States, 495 U. S. 411 (1990), just Shepadizeing the Statute. Dude was caught with 84 different credit cards and five different identification, and they did the same thing to him; ordered restitution to counts dismissed. "Held: A restitution award is authorized only for the loss caused by the specific conduct that is the basis of the offense of conviction. @Pp. 495 U. S. 415-422." That means you only pay restitution to the counts you were convicted of, not counts dismissed in the Plea Agreement, just like I told him.

       A PHOTOCOPY OF the United States Supreme Court’s decision attached to it, my simple three-page pro-se (without counsel) Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence or Rule 35 Motion it’s called, I fucked them out of a couple million dollars with the swipe of the pen. The US Attorney’s Office previously conceded and joined the motion but started backpedaling at Sentencing when they realized the Two Counts I was convicted of amounted to less than $2,800, and I had just snookered them out of over two million dollars, AGAIN! The judge asked me if I had anything to say before he granted my Pro-se Motion as previously unopposed. I told them when I swiped all that money I didn’t plan on paying it back. I seen him scribble something furiously on his desk and look down at me over his reading glasses with a look on his face like he wanted to personally administer the Lethal Drug Cocktail to me under the newly enacted Federal Death Penalty Act, and I thought I saw his face turn Beet Red and a puff of smoke coming out of his ears...

      I WAS THE HEAD LAW CLERK at FCI SEAGOVILLE, TEXAS, when I won this motion and I accidentally on purpose, left a dozen copies of the Order Granting my Pro-se Motion in the copy machine, and even though I didn't have any codefendant's, my two million dollars Real Life Heist was upwards of Twenty Million by the end of the week, after David had taken on Goliath and single-handedly wrangled a cash settlement and a reduced sentence. And there were exactly a dozen eyewitnesses.  It was then that the line of Men waiting to see me starting to get long.

       I HAD GUY’S STANDING IN LINE to talk to me after I was placed in charge of the Inmate Law Library, and a half dozen guys right off the bus. A half a dozen guys who proved daily, that a little knowledge is dangerous, and another dozen guys hanging around who would love to have their jobs. I handpicked people who weren’t trying to whore the law by charging men $1,000 to prepare badly articulated legal documents. I met a long-haired jailhouse lawyer in there who trolled the Law Library, pulled down 10k a year hawking his "Jackpot Motion." That's what he told me. In law, it would have been called a Rodriquez Motion where at the time of sentencing, the judge forgot to ask you if you had anything to say. Guaranteed resentencing at the time, and probably still valid. Short and sweet (anything under 7 pages) case, where a federal prisoner reached the US Supreme Court, and the High Court reasoned that, while it was exceedingly unlikely, there existed an ever so slight chance, that something may come out of your mouth to turn the whole case on its ear....Right of Allocution, it's called.

              FEDERAL RULES OF CRIMINAL Procedure Rule 20 is where, like me, my bank fraud split deposit song and dance routine spanned from Manhattan to Malibu, and for the convenience of all parties, the offenses are combined into one jurisdiction.    I was Indicted out of the United States District Court for Southern Alabama by a real go-getter, and now the senior judge on that illustrious bench, the Honorable Ginny Granade.  The Honorable Brevard Hand was a grizzled died in the wool Southern jurist who when I appeared before him, as in more than once, I was terrified I had not only met my match when it came to the Law, but I could detect not a shred of sympathy for me or the likes of me…  Unlike my court-appointed lawyer, who the first time I met him the first words out of his mouth was, “I hate banks!” after reading the Indictment in front of me for the first time.  He expected me to tell him my story and throw myself at the mercy of the court and he’d be my knight in shining armor. 

              AFTER BEING TRANSPORTED BY US MARSHALS from upstate New York where I was arrested in a traffic stop, to the Southern District of Alabama having hit every hillbilly jail from Lewisburg USP, I had plenty of time to formulate a viable defense, and besides not having a codefendant’s to get on “The Bus,” before me, I knew that they knew exactly what I had done, but they had no idea “How ” I did it…  And absent that, there can be no criminal intent or men's rea.  I borrowed the worn out soft copy of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure so many times they let me keep it and studied it like the Daily Program at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York, (which I did when I was a kid).  I knew they had exactly 70 days to try me or free me, and with no codefendant’s they had to come to me.   Sure enough, on the sixty-fourth day, my dumpster attorney shows up right before dinner on a Friday late afternoon.  The worst time to be in jail when everyone is going out partying and the Courts are closed…. 
          I WAS FACING SIX COUNTS of federal bank fraud each count carried a maximum of five years in federal prison.  The very next year Congress increased the penalty to a 20-year minimum for the very same offense.  He had a slight smile on his face the moment I saw him like he got some small measure of satisfaction seeing people’s ass in a crack, and he say’s the Government is offering me 20 years to plead guilty.  I told him he was out of his mind, I’d go to trial and only get 20 years. He mentioned that old Brevard Hand and Ginny Grande were known as the “Hand Granade,” in legal circles and I wouldn’t stand a chance at trial.  I told them “Strike up the Jury,” and threw his ass out of my jail.
           MONDAY MORNING he's back with five (5) years and five (5) years probation:  But I have to tell them how I did it. How I defrauded seventy-five banks from one end of the country to the other out of two and a half million dollars, and by the way, we’ll combine the seventy-five counts in fifty different jurisdictions into one:  The Southern District of Alabama.

             THE GIANT OVAL TABLE in a Conference Room in the Office of the United States Attorney was surrounded by every Federal Agency that wanted a piece of me. FBI, Postal Inspectors, DEA, US Marshal’s, Federal Probation and Parole to compile a Presentence Investigation report or PSI, there were no less than 10-12 people in the room.  The third-floor office looked out onto a parking garage roof, and all the little agencies get-together was like old hometown week.  Suit’s and Ties and polished oak or Mahogany I was ushered into the room by two US Marshal’s like they were delivery a present and they all quickly sized me up like this could be interesting, but not a clue in the world what was about to come out of my mouth, and I knew it.  I ordered Black Coffee and sit in silence eyeing all these people and realizing my little long-term vacation plan was working so far. 
               GINNY GRANADE was all that, and took charge of the meeting or “Proffer,” she kept referring to it as.  She wanted to be clear that anything I told them I could not be charged with except one caveat:  If I told them anything that had to do with an open investigation, i.e., Homicide, etc., I would be prosecuted for that.  But anything to do with the federal government and its treasured “Banking Transactions,” prosecution was off the table, providing everything was the Truth.  One Falsity or one Lie, and I will use everything you tell us and bury your ass.  Are we clear?  That was the gist of it, and a lesson I repeat to everyone I meet:  “Don’t Fuck with the Fed’s.”     BUT I DID, AND I screwed THEM GOOD.  This Proffer didn’t last long.  Within a few minutes, each Agency individually gathered up their Legal Pads and Black cheap Government Pen’s and excused themselves.  I looked at them like I hoped I would never see them again; and told my brilliant saga locking them into a five-year sentence followed by five years probation.  Had I any codefendants they would have got five years to roll on me and I would have gone to trial and received twenty!  Don't break the Law:  but if you do:  do it alone....
              Getting resentenced might not sound all that relieving, but the One Book Rule requires that you be sentenced by the current book, and under the USSG constantly changing and most not retroactive, just getting back in front of a judge after many years can open a lot of doors. Opens the door for more mistake, gets you a few weeks of Diesel Therapy to and from the court on the other side of the country.
            NINE OUT OF TEN PEOPLE who came to me had pleaded guilty, so I didn’t have weeks of transcripts to mine. A twenty-minute guilty plea hearing and a 30-minute sentencing hearing; at a page a minute I can tell you before dinner if you got something coming. In the beginning, I'd open the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 11, governing Guilty Pleas in Federal Court which are duplicated or Codified in many state courts. I'd start reading and check off the five or six requirements. Same as the Sentencing Hearing, Rule 32, there’s a whole format they follow, and when they fall off the path, I might be able to get you back in court.
               I MET GUYS WOULD love to go back where they came from and spend months in the local jail just to be close to their family...get the very same sentence. After I knew every single section and subsection, it occurred to me that virtually every single requirement is mandated by at least one US Supreme Court case or precedent, and if you have read that case a half-dozen times and researched it top to bottom, when you get in front of a judge, any judge, you tell them what the law is! Politely, of course. When I do tackle a trial transcript, I start at the Jury Instruction, the end of the trial. One wrong word, one word out of place gets your entire conviction vacated, meaning it not only is the conviction reversed and you're innocent again, but it is also as if it never occurred! Gotta love that.
     Every month the new Federal Reporter’s came in I was in Hog Heaven for a few days.  You weren’t supposed to take law books out of the library, but after a few long weekends of withdrawals, I’d spend the whole weekend pouring over the cases for something I could use.  Anyone with Writer’s Block, the monthly publications are a wealth of characters and stories.  One word throws your entire conviction out?  Check this out:
     At the very end of the trial, once again there is a whole set of mandatory jury instructions; you don't have to prove your innocence, you don’t have to testify, the indictment is not evidence is against you, a handful of mandatory instructions when deciding a fellowman’s fate. "Ladies and gentleman, if the government has failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt you should acquit." Right there that one word, "should." There is no “should” about it. It's not like well if you want to, or, you can, but you don't have to. If the government fails to meet its burden of proof you "Must" acquit. 69 F3d something. Believe it or not, as the case explains, that one word affects the very structural integrity of the trial itself, requiring outright reversal in habeas or direct appeal, and it is the first place I look for guys who have no other option... that should be the damn "Jackpot Motion" right there. It is actually in the current Montana Pattern Jury Instruction, and no one has caught it.
     George Kosko out of Roanoke Virginia. The former private pilot for George Jones, professional golfer, nightclub owner, and bookmaker, watched me for months before approaching me. He was about Ten years into a Twenty-year sentence for Continued Criminal Enterprise or a “CCE or 848 cases,” and Conspiracy to distribute couple hundred kilos of Cocaine. He's the only guy I ever met who negotiated his surrender to the Chief Federal District Court Judge on the tarmac of the local airport. When they were cuffing him up the Federal District Court Judge told George he was appointing his longtime clerk to represent him, and it was his first case. He was Sixty-three and looked like he stepped out of the page of a Ralph Lauren ad, complete head of white hair and tanned like a walnut. Walked the track all days eating Oranges and calculating his return to the casino's, where he had devised a betting system that beat any fast-moving game with a near fifty-percent chance of winning, against a betting formula that required he win one of every three games or hands. Pure Mathematics' and virtually unstoppable. He told me he was going to "Turn a Toothpick into a Lumber Yard," with this thing and I believed him....
     BUT TO GET TO ME, he had to get past Terry. Terry had a square jaw like Sergeant Slaughter, stood 6'6 ramrod straight like he was still in uniform, was a former USMC Sniper, and doing Twenty-five years for bank fraud after his wife started dipping in the dying Aunt's estate. He wouldn’t let anyone look at his stuff, but he brought me drafts to correct, or motions needing an immediate response. I always hired guys who were seriously working on their case and like me, every time you saw me I had my face buried in a law book.  My crowning moment came in my own mind when I was at FCI Marianna, Florida and back on a parole violation for smoking pot and maxing out my ten-year sentence twelve years later.  Hot Florida Sun I was sitting in an air-conditioned library slash law library when one of the law clerks hollered through the half door, "Hey, Mark?  What's a case where the lawyer didn't file the right motions to get rid of bad evidence?"  "Franks versus Delaware, 56 L.Ed.2d something, it's in the Index."  It was at that time that many people started waiting in line to talk to me so long that never got a chance to talk, the bell rang, time to go, "Controlled Movement," the Fed's called it starting in the late 80's. Everyone moves at once, no more people wandering around the prison.  It's every hour on the hour, if you have to go, you have to go then...
        HALF THE Law Library was table’s typewriters and chairs, and you had to go to a Half Door and ask for the particular book you wanted. This is where Terry stationed himself when I was holding court. I sat in the next biggest chair, and bank president’s desk on the Compound, handed down from the warden’s office, overlooking the entire complex and the chow hall on the left, and my building on the right.
       ONE WEEK OFF THE BUS and I had probably the best inmate job on the compound in Head of the Inmate Law Library, a staff of six wannabe’s, had a Mexican cleaning my room and doing my laundry, pressing the clothes for Fifty dollars a month. I paid another little Mexican who sat on the landing of the second story floor, down the hall from my cell for Twenty-five dollars a month to watch my cell Twenty-four-Seven for anything I needed to know about, and run next door and tell me if necessary.
     GEORGE OWNED a handful of bars strip joints and restaurant in and around Roanoke. He told me he would drop by each of the places once a week for the receipts, and drop off an ounce of coke to particular bartenders and managers, and would have pleaded guilty to that, he just didn’t think he conspired with anybody.  He jumped Bond in his Cessna President, flew to Mexico spent all his money, and turned himself in. The Chief United States  District Court Judge, negotiated and met his surrender on the tarmac, and appointed his former law clerk on the spot, his first case in private practice to represent George, and informed him his trial started Monday morning. This was late Friday afternoon. 
     NINE OUT OF TEN PEOPLE who came to me had pleaded guilty, so I didn’t have weeks of transcripts to mine. A twenty-minute guilty plea hearing and a 30-minute sentencing hearing; at a page a minute I can tell you before dinner if you got something coming. In the beginning, I'd open the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 11, governing Guilty Pleas in Federal Court which are duplicated or Codified in many state courts. I'd start reading and check off the five or six requirements. Same as the Sentencing Hearing, Rule 32, there’s a whole format they follow and when they fall off the path, I might be able to get you back in court.
     I SPENT WEEKS just reading the three-week trial transcript. At the end of the first week of trial, all his co-defendants stood up and plead guilty and sit on the other side of the courtroom behind the prosecution. As much as I wanted to help him because I wanted the Keys to the Kingdom he was offering me with this betting formula, which I immediately seen arbitrage applications for, I knew, and I told him and dozens of others, this ain't civil law where you show they messed up, show damages and, we split the money and everybody goes home happy.
      IT'S BEEN SAID that bad cases make good law? Well, there exists a bad case called Strickland v. Washington, a death penalty case out of the Northern Florida in the early 1980’s, where Mr. Washington, Strickland was the warden of Florida State Prison at Rayford, went a crime spree raping and killing people.
His lawyer claimed he got dropped on his head and had a horrendous childhood and the jury should spare the death penalty. But he forgot to introduce the Hospital Records and a whole list of other done me wrong. The US Supreme Court nailed the coffin on tens of thousands of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel cases by using this case to practically put an end to all, and future ineffective assistance of counsel claims, by requiring a two-prong test. You have to show that not only did the lawyer mess up, which is often hard enough, you then have to demonstrate that the outcome would have been different. There’s the rub. Essentially the court held that “Yeah he messed up but even if he did have a messed up childhood and had introduced the Hospital Records, or called a certain witness; he still killed all them people and, it wouldn’t have made a difference."
     LESS THAN 72 HOURS to prepare for a three-week trial with six co-defendants? He couldn’t read the fifty-page Superseding Indictment in three days, that’s Ineffective Assistance of Counsel right there, failure to properly investigate the case, time to even Subpoena witnesses, etc. The Judge told him he should have thought of that for he went on his Mexican vacation, and picked a jury Monday morning. 
      I THOUGHT IT WAS a "Dead Bang Winner," which is a legal term in I actually read in a Supreme Court Case. My claim was supported by the famous case, Powell v. Alabama, where a train load of Black men was charged with raping a young White girl. The Judge had ordered the Alabama bar to assist the defendants, but the only attorney who volunteered was Milo Moody, a 69-year-old attorney who had not defended a case in decades. The judge persuaded Stephen Roddy, a Chattanooga real estate lawyer, to assist him. Roddy admitted he had not had time to prepare and was not familiar with Alabama law, but agreed to aid Moody. He agreed, "I will go ahead and help do anything I can."
        Tried nine men back to back in a day and a half before an all-White jury. The attorneys were not given time to conduct an investigation, nor to research the law. There were three trials, and some of the defendants were juveniles tried as adults. Against accepted practice, Roddy presented both the testimony of his clients and the case of the girls. Because of the mob atmosphere, Roddy petitioned the court for a change of venue, entering into evidence newspaper and law enforcement account, describing the crowd as "impelled by curiosity". Judge Hawkins found that the crowd was curious and not hostile. 
       IT DIDN’T APPLY TO GEORGE EITHER because his serendipitous Mexican Vacation relinquished his right to a deliberate trial, much less Due Process of Law or the Sixth Amendment right to Effective Assistance of Counsel.  It turns out while George was hitting the links there was a case making its way through the courts and arrived at the US Supreme Court coinciding with George’s direct appeal.  Crosby v. United States, decided January 13, 1993, held that George’s rights began and ended when his lawyer showed up, whether he was there or not, and he had voluntarily waived his constitutional rights.  Just like you can waive your right to an appeal or call witnesses, you can voluntarily waive your right to trial and be tried in absentia.

        When I told George all that and had him read the case himself a few times, it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He knew all that and had been through nearly ten years of direct appeals, knew his case inside and out, and felt after watching me for months that I was the only guy he would ever let look at his case.  George’s case is in the law books at, US v. George Lee Kosko, 870 F.2d 162 (4th Cir. 1989), He was wanted to invoke a rare exception to the Second Prong of Strickland, by claiming Cumulative Error. That’s a doctrine in law that says that even if one error is barred, the cumulative effect of a number of errors renders the outcome unreliable and that the errors affected the "structural integrity," of the trial like where the jury was read the wrong jury instruction and the lawyer didn’t object.  In my experience, the first precept of American Jurisprudence is that there is always an exception in the law .
How many cops does it take to push a handcuffed prisoner down a flight of stairs?  None.  The asshole slipped and fell.–The Black Marble, Joseph Wambaugh
      THE NEXT MORNING I walked into the Law Library, past all the tables and chairs and a half dozen convicts banging away on ancient IBM Selectric’s, straight to the back, through the half door and met my new crew for the first time. The back office was floor to ceiling law books and they had to be watched because guys would get off the bus, and run straight to the library and cut their cases out of the books. We had a whole file called “Cut Cases’”. You would be going thru the book and all of the sudden a whole case is missing. I’d go look in the index to see what was missing and order it from another library. It was also a great place to hide things for long time storage and retrieve later.
   “Alright, the first thing we do is get rid of all these damn books!”
   That broke the ice. I could see everyone was concerned I would fire them all, and hand picks my own people, but I didn’t do any of that. I had to tell someone to get up out of my chair behind the biggest desk I ever saw that was obviously there for the guy in charge. I appointed the old convict that was frothing at the mouth for my job the Copier Hustle and told him I didn’t want any of it, just don’t wreck us. He was delighted when I walked him right over to the Director of Education and told him this was the new Copy Man. The other guys were trying to work on their own cases Twenty-four hours a day if they could and didn’t want to do any more than they had too. One of them I placed in charge of the new Law Books, voluminous mail and Periodicals coming in that have to go into the back of law books to keep them current. Another guy was in charge of the front area to keep it orderly and Man the Half Door and make sure no one went in the back who didn’t work there. I interviewed a couple of guys wanting jobs in the law library, then appointed someone else in charge of all them and I hit the Yard to run track, lift weights and play Tennis on the next movement at 9:15 am, everybody was happy.
If you want to know who your friends are get a jail sentence. -Bukowski
      I HAD MORE THAN A FEW GUYS cozy up to me to find out if I knew of their Cut Cases.  I could spot them after awhile because like a rubbernecker at an emergency scene they run straight to the library and look for their case or sweat the day it got on my desk.  And I examined every case published.  Most of them weren’t so much concerned with what they were convicted of, but who they testified against, or just the written death penalty in some circumstances, “Cooperated with the prosecution,” in any manner.  More than once I had things brought to my attention by the very fool who didn’t want me to know about it.  The agreement to cooperate with the government became the boilerplate language in all Plea Agreements by the early 90’s.  All my stuff was head and shoulders above anything you would see from a jailhouse lawyer.  I wasn’t into it for the money. I wanted to read their 302’s (FBI Reports) and their appellate briefs. I would examine their stuff for free and if they had a valid claim, I’d show them the case law to support it. But more than anything when you start sending folk’s to the house or back to court four or five times a year, if there is such a thing as Jailhouse Royalty, your, it.  Sometimes not because you’re the best there is but happen to helped the right person who everyone knows as “The Man,” or merely because of their celebrity.
       MY FIRST DAY on the job in charge of the Inmate Law Library, the Director of Education, took me into his Education Office and gave me my marching orders.

“The last guy lost his job because he like many before him tried to turn the office into their little personal law office and charging people $5,000 for routine motions,”
or, something to that effect. Before he unlocked his office, he turned around and said,

“That is your Carrot right there,”
Pointing, to the $10,000, brand-new state of the art copier and cases of copy paper.There was a little Ten-cent coin operated Copier in the Law Library that had to be kept filled and, there was a great need for bulk copying of legal material, Motions and Appellate Briefs, to send to new lawyers at Five–cents a page.He was counting the days to retirement and didn’t want any drama. I could do three or four hundred dollars a month easy doing copies for five cents a page at night; or Ten Cents in the machine. Who you gonna call? It's a straight up hustle in most libraries anywhere and just like the real world, I like to cut out the Middle Man. My almost Mother in Law in New Orleans told me after I evaded the cops a couple time's that I was "Born with a Star on my ass!" She might be right. I was lucky to be showing up at just the right time and I knew it.Some joint’s there are guys in the law library that has been in there for years and there is no room for another, no matter who you are. It's usually Fifteen hundred Convicts and one Head Law Clerk almost everywhere. Pure luck and I knew it.      


Copyright 2014 by Mark Anthony Given

 All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and
Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection
of Literary and Artistic Works

2:34 PM 3/8/2015

STEALING OSCAR took a shortcut to fame and fortune.  From 'story to movie to fame.  I GOT TIRED of waiting for my 15 minutes of fame, so I made it up...

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