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Detroit Fed Judge Fines Ex-Prosecutor $2,000 For Allegedly Trying to Intimidate Mother of Victim in Child Porn Case

Judge Friedman imposed sanction

Judge Friedman imposed sanction

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Detroit federal judge has fined a former assistant U.S. Attorney  $2,000 for making an “unwarranted and baseless request” in a child pornography case, the Detroit News reported.  The judge alleged that the ex-prosecutor, turned defense attorney, tried to intimidate the mother of the victim.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman last week imposed the sanction against ex-prosecutor John Freeman, ruling that he had no business asking that the prosecution file a formal motion seeking  permission for the victim’s mother to speak at the sentencing  for Craig Aleo.

Aleo, a former school official in  Walled Lake, a Detroit suburb, was sentenced to 60 years in April for producing child porn in which he victimized a 4-year-old girl, the News reported.

Friedman said in an opinion that attorney Freeman already knew the mother was likely to testify at sentencing and filed  the motion with the express purpose of trying to intimidate her. The judge said it was not necessary for prosecutors to formally file such a request.

The motion that caused the stir was filed by defense attorney Freeman on April 13.

“Craig Aleo , by and through the undersigned attorney, hereby moves this Honorable Court for an order directing the prosecutor to file a formal motion, with notice to defense counsel, seeking permission for the child complainant’s mother to speak at sentencing,” Freeman wrote.

“Moreover, since a victim’s ability to speak at sentencing pursuant to the terms of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act is not unlimited, counsel further requests that the Court direct the prosecution to specify what it anticipates the complainant’s mother will say, so that counsel may appropriately respond.”

In a  12-page opinion, Friedman responded, saying  Freeman’s motion was ” unwarranted and baseless, and that the motion served solely as a ‘blatant attempt to intimidate the minor victim’s mother’  The Court found that Defendant’s Motion inaccurately cited … the Crime Victim’s Rights Act… and made unfounded assertions regarding steps a victim must take to be heard in open court.”

“This timeline alone, and Counsel’s claim of lack of notice, strikes the Court as inconceivable,” the judge wrote.  Counsel’s brief states that ‘[a]s a zealous advocate for his client, Attorney Freeman’s concern was that the victim impact statement could contain new, previously undisclosed, factual allegations which could then be used to establish factual matters relied upon by the Court in determining a sentence,” Friedman wrote. “This sentiment is akin to ‘if pigs could fly’.”

“Had that truly been Counsel’s concern, it should have been addressed with his initial objections to the Presentence Report; as a separate, yet timely filed, motion; the exchange of emails; a new e-mail; a phone call; or compliance with Rule 7.1.2.”

Freeman has disagreed with the judge’s  ruling and fine, and his attorney Martin Crandall told the Detroit News he was looking at ways to “clear this up.”

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers supported Freeman and also opposed the sanctions, the Detroit News reported.

Read Judge Friedman’s Ruling

Read Defense Attorney’s Motion


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