By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Hamzah Ali Ahmed, convicted in a 2006 convenience store cold-medicine sting, claims his trial attorney told him he’d never serve a day in prison, if he pleaded guilty.
He also tells a federal court he and his family were strung along “for the purpose of obtaining considerable funds” from them.
Ahmed, 54, of Columbus is serving his 138-month sentence in the federal prison at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.
His trial attorney, Rodney A. Ray of Columbus, could not be reached by the Daily Journal on Monday.
Ahmed and numerous co-defendants are natives of the Middle Eastern country, Yemen.
His claims against Ray are included in a seven-page motion with lengthy attachments, including a sworn affidavit by his daughter, Raga Ahmed, 27, who helped hire Ray when her father was arrested on 12 counts associated with the illegal sale of pseudoephedrine, which is a key ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
“Mr. Ray led us to believe that if my father signed a plea agreement and cooperated, he would not face one day in jail,” her statement says.
The Ahmeds say they paid Ray a total of $25,000 to represent Hamzah.
The daughter also claims Ray told her and her father that the FBI “really was interested in any terrorist acts.”
She said her father was shocked and said he wasn’t involved “in any such act.”
As time went by and her father went to jail, Raga Ahmed said Ray first told them he could work it out with one of the assistant U.S. attorneys, then she claims he told them they’d have to wait until after the 2008 presidential election, apparently to await nomination of a new U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.
“After countless excuses, we asked Mr. Ray if he cannot get my father out we will hire another attorney, and that intimidated him,” she continued. “He convinced us that he was the only one to get my father out because he knows the MBN (Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics) and the FBI very well.”
Ahmed’s petition to vacate his conviction comes several weeks after Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson threw out the conviction of co-defendant, Adeeb Naji Amer.
Davidson agreed with Amer’s contention that he was badly advised by counsel, whom he said did not tell him he would be deported to Yemen upon pleading guilty.
The government has until late September to try him again.
The transcript of Ahmed’s hearing to plead guilty shows he, the judge and the interpreter had much difficulty understanding each other and making clear what exactly what was happening.
At one point, Ahmed tells Davidson that “no one except the attorney” has made any promises to him about his sentence.
The judge asks him again, and Ahmed says, “only the attorney.”
In her affidavit, Ahmed’s daughter claims Ray warned the family not to repeat anything he told them or “everything will be messed up.”
Then, the judge addresses Ahmed again asking if any promises were made to him about his sentence.
“No, he did not,” Ahmed responds, with an echo from Ray, “No, sir, I have not.”
While the deadline to file such a petition has passed, Ahmed’s new attorneys say the circumstances rise to the legal level of “rare and exceptional.”