NY court sees no basis for preferential treatment to Ed Ahmad over jail location

Stating that it could see no basis for preferential treatment to convicted Guyanese businessman, Ed Ahmad, a  New York court has given the US government up to Thursday to state its position on Ahmad’s request to serve his two-year sentence in a minimum security facility.

According to court documents seen by Stabroek News, Judge Dora Irizarry, who had sentenced Ahmad, stated in reply to the request for a minimum security facility that ”Thus far, the Court sees no basis for giving this defendant any kind of preferential treatment given the great leniency he was shown at sentencing”.

Referring to Ahmad’s lawyer, Steven Kartagener’s  concerns about Ahmad’s  fear of retribution because he testified against former New York Senator John Sampson, the judge said the “Court hereby directs the government—no later than July 20, 2017—to state a position, either opposing or not, as to defendant’s request for redesignation”.

Earlier, the US government had declined to take a position on the request by Ahmad to be kept in a minimum security facility except to say that it doesn’t want Ahmad and the man he successfully testified against, former New York State Senator, Sampson kept in the same facility.

Ed Ahmad

Ahmad who pleaded guilty in a New York court to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud is seeking to spend his 24-month jail term in a minimum security facility.

Ahmad’s lawyer Kartagener wrote to the judge stating that his intended incarceration at the Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC)  in Brooklyn, New York would be onerous and could also pose a danger to him considering his co-operating testimony in a case for the US government.

In its reply, the US government wrote to the judge stating “The government takes no position on the defendant’s request, other than to state that the defendant should be physically separated from John Sampson, the person against whom Ahmad testified. The government will submit a separation request to the Bureau of Prisons to ensure that Ahmad and Sampson are not housed in the same facility”.

The judge has now given the government up to Thursday to take a position on the matter.

Ahmad’s testimony for the US government against his erstwhile friend resulted in Sampson being jailed for five years in January this year. Ahmad’s light sentence in April this year was as a result of his co-operating testimony.

In his letter of June 8 this year to the judge on behalf of Ahmad, Kartagener said “For someone of (the) defendant’s age, 50, this assignment is particularly onerous. I have since learned that the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) will consider re-designation of a defendant assigned to the MDC, but that it requires the willingness of the court to make such a designation”.

Kartagener asked that Ahmad be recommended for re-assignment to a minimum security facility such as Fort Dix, McKeon, Otisville or Lewisberg Camp.

The lawyer added, “(The) Defendant’s assignment to do his time as part of the `work cadre’ at the MDC in Brooklyn is among the worst of all possible facility designations for this 50-year-old with no criminal background, who has been sentenced for a nonviolent offence”.

Counsel said that the MDC is a secure detention facility where pre-trial detainees who are viewed as flight risks or dangerous are housed.

“Inmates who are pre-detained have often committed violent crimes and may have an extensive criminal history. There are few educational opportunities as most `residents’ are there for a relatively short duration as they await their court date. Inmates have limited access to fresh air, sunlight and exercise. Inmates are housed in cells. Inmates who are designated to the MDC are so designated to provide  the backbone of the `work cadre’ whose sole purpose is to ensure the work force to maintain the facility. For an inmate facing 24 months in prison, particularly one who is 50 years old, the heavy work chores at the MDC can be debilitating”, Kartagener said in his letter to the judge.

By contrast, he said that camp facilities are designed for offenders such as Ahmad and there are no razor wires or fences surrounding the facilities.

Ahmad was arrested on July 21st, 2011 in New York on a range of charges but later entered a plea agreement with the government and on October 13, 2012 pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud conspiracy before Judge Irizarry.

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