It is common to scorn defense attorneys in biker RICO cases. The opposite should be true in the drama now unfolding in the federal courtroom of Judge Cameron McGowan Currie in Columbia, South Carolina. It might not be obvious to Noelle Phillips of the State, the only newspaper that has bothered to cover this trial, but the defense is winning,
The defense is winning because the defenders, especially Joshua Kendrick who represents defendant Bruce James Long and John Delgado who is speaking up on behalf of Mark William Baker, are more interested in justice than in their own precious careers. As someone very close to the case said last week, “Delgado will probably never get another federal appointment because of how hard he has defended this case.”
“These guys need some love,” another informed observer said Tuesday morning.
The Fringes Of The Case
The prosecution has more leaks than the Titanic. Not only is former defendant Lisa Bifield unlikely to testify in this trial but she is likely to withdraw her guilty plea. Her husband, Daniel “Diamond Dan” Bifield, was tricked into pleading guilty at the end of December and submitted a handwritten motion a month later to withdraw his plea. There will be a hearing on Dan Bifield’s motion on April 11. Whether Judge Currie grants his request or not is likely to hinge on the fate of the five defendants now on trial. If a jury finds the current defendants not guilty the prosecution should probably just cut its losses and move on.
The prosecutors are two young men named James Hunter May and Julius N. “Jay” Richardson and they are both in over their heads. Throughout the course of the prosecution they have demonstrated the ethics of a couple of twenty dollar lot lizards. Both of them have lied, cheated, dramatized, concealed and shown a general inability to even spell justice. Richardson has a particularly swell resume. He graduated from Chicago Law and clerked for Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist. May is kind of the Yin to Richardson’s Yang. May seems to be actually stupid.
For example, May put a former Hells Angel named Fred Jimmy Condrey, Jr. on the stand yesterday in a lame attempt to discredit the defendants because of the patch they all earned. Condrey made the mistake of pleading guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana and for saving the court a trial he was rewarded with a 240 month sentence. His appeal was dismissed in November 2011 so presumably the only way he could get some of his life back was by agreeing to testify.
Judge Currie refused to allow more than half the questions May tried to ask Condrey. May is so incompetent that at one point Judge Currie waved May into silence and took over questioning the witness for him. Condrey, clearly still cares about his old club and what lingered of his testimony was his assertion that police don’t harass Hells Angels because they are criminals but “because they are Hells Angels.”
Midas Joe The Mafioso
The star witness in this prosecution is a con man named Joseph Dillulio (photo above). Dullulio styles himself as a former Mafia guy. Apparently he is the only wise guy in America who never heard Tony Soprano’s famous dictum, “There is no Mafia!” Also, Dillulio is from New York. And, this trial is being held in mostly rural South Carolina where many residents routinely talk of carpetbaggers and scalawags as if Scarlett O’Hara was a dear family friend. The results of the confluence of all this prosecutorial ineptitude, especially Dillulio’s cross examination by the ferocious Delgado, have been much funnier than Seth MacFarlane hosting the Oscars – literally.
“The FBI does not lie,” Midas (the FBI code name for Dillulio) told Delgado self-righteously and two jurors had to cover their faces to stifle their laughs.
Dillulio may have as many as three unresolved federal charges riding on his testimony in this case. He was convicted of bank fraud and he still owes at least $316,000 in court ordered restitution. Delgado revealed that Dillulio was given $50,000 for moving expenses by the FBI and that Midas used the money to buy a beach house. Delgado asked him about it. “I’m not the one on trial about debt,” the star witness replied.
“Mr. Midas, if a lawyer in this courtroom described you as a man with a checkered past, would you agree with that,” Delgado wanted to know.
“You can call me my proper name or I’m not going to answer your questions,” the con man replied. He spent most of the day talking down to Delgado. It was a strange way to buttress his credibility.
Midas Joe might not be any smarter than May. Out of one side of his mouth the witness claimed the FBI doesn’t lie. Out of the other side of his mouth he agreed that FBI Case Agent Devon P. Mahoney told him what to say and do. And, the prosecution has already played the tape recordings that prove that practically every word that passes over Dillulio’s forked tongue is untrue.
Kendrick supplied the coup de grace. As Dillulio finished his testimony the defense attorney played a tape recording of the New York con man and the unprincipled FBI agent laughing about Bruce James Long’s dead mother. “If Bruce’s Mama wasn’t already dead we could charge her, too,” the con man laughed. As Kendrick let the recording play the dead woman’s sister, there to support her nephew, quickly rose and left the courtroom in tears.
The jury saw that, too. And, that time none of them laughed.