The apparently ongoing racketeering case in Columbia, South Carolina took a strange turn today. Former lead defendant Dan Bifield and his wife Lisa, who is also a defendant in the case, appeared in court together for a two hour motion hearing. Some of that hearing was held in camera – which is the Latin phrase used to describe secret justice.
The result of the hearing was that both the Bifields have agreed to plead guilty; although Dan Bifield filed a ten-page, handwritten list of 56 “issues” he has with the case so far; and the plea agreement Lisa Bifield signed on December 27 was finally made public. It is anybody’s guess where this will lead or what implications any of this might have on future, similar cases.
Formally, what Dan Bifield did today was withdraw his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Bifield signed a very one-sided (in favor of the prosecution) guilty plea last December 27 and pled guilty in court on January 3. After learning the details of his wife’s plea deal Dan Bifield moved to withdraw his guilty plea on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct on February 29. This morning he withdrew that motion.
The prosecution had Bifield over a barrel. A clause on page seven of Lisa’s ten page deal states: “This plea agreement is expressly contingent upon the court accepting Co-Defendant Daniel Eugene Bifield’s guilty plea to Count 2 of the Superseding Indictment.” In other words, if Dan didn’t tow the line the unscrupulous prosecutor in the case, a man named Julius N. “Jay” Richardson, promised “expressly” to hurt Lisa.
Bifield remains furious at his treatment and he is obviously trying to wrangle an appeal. There are several statements in his list of “issues” that are directed at the world at large.
One issue rebuts a statement made by FBI Agent Devon Mahoney that Dan Bifield agreed to let his wife testify against her fellow defendants. Bifield writes, “When we were at our plea agreement (conference) they allowed FBI Agent Devon Mahoney to stay in the room with us. When I asked my lawyer (Allen B. Burnside) about this because I did not want him in the room with us, we were told that whatever was said in this room could not be used against us. We were told that whatever was said had to stay in this room and could not be repeated. Well, not only did Agent Devon Mahoney make a statement concerning things said in that room. He also lied about what was said in that room. I have never approved, sanctioned or told my wife Lisa Bifield to testify against the Hells Angels, members or anybody else. Lisa Bifield or Agent Devon Mahoney never expressly told me that Lisa would have to testify against her codefendants or anybody else. I never said we were a package or any of that other stuff FBI Agent Devon Mahoney said! He is a liar.”
The first three issues in Bifield’s list describe what he is after despite what happened in court today. “(1) Dismissal of all charges against Lisa Bifield and Dan Bifield. (2) Reasons – Prosecutorial misconduct, violation of our constitutional rights, unbecoming behavior of federal law enforcement officials and cruel and unusual punishment. (3) I want all issues put into the record for appeal purposes.”
Lisa Bifield had voided her plea deal when she refused to testify against her fellow defendants. That plea deal was modified today to allow her to remain silent. Overall, it is a draconian agreement. Her previous lawyer, a man named John Wesley Locklair, must be an idiot.
The agreement, signed six months after the first indictment and three months after a superseding indictment, makes multiple references to an “ongoing investigation.” The deal all but brags that the harsh treatment of the defendants was intended to gather the proof the prosecution needed to substantiate charges the prosecution had already made. And it stinks of the shameless bullying Mahoney and Richardson used to get their “win.”
One passage requires Lisa Bifield to agree “to submit to such polygraph examinations as may be requested by the Government and agrees that any such examinations shall be performed by a polygraph examiner selected by the Government. Defendant further agrees that her refusal to take or her failure to pass any such polygraph examination to the Government’s satisfaction will result, at the Government’s sole discretion, in the obligations of the Government within the Agreement becoming null and void.”
The government’s, or as Richardson would spell it Government’s, with a big Gee, actions in this case have been reprehensibly Stalinist. The judge in the case, Cameron McGowan Currie, has allowed Richardson to get as dirty as he wants to get his victory. The case should be retried.