My Story - Part Two
So began my stay at Seminole County Jail. The G-2 Pod was small and housed up to 24 men. I bunked with a younger black man, "Keith" and he helped me learn how to move and behave in jail. Big Mike had prayer circle every nite and wished every man a God Bless and hand shake each nite before lockdown.
Within weeks I had read the Bible front to back and was going to all the Church sessions, even the Spanish ones. Mike and I would have long talks about life. His was full of violence and prison. He was 42 years old and facing another possible 15 years. He was married and had kids who never got to be with their dad except for no contact visits behind glass. He told me of his 18 year old daughter having birthdays while he's inside missing her
PT 2 - 1 - grow up. Even though he spent years in prison, he still had a wife, kids and many family experiences, whereas my life was full of loneliness - never married, no kids a life chasing money and material possessions to fill an empty soul. I had opportunity to travel and see the world but chose to stay home watching TV. So full of waste.
I told Mike I had very few life experiences to share, I was told my life was like a "monk with benefits." Mike didn't care about that - I had been free for 55 years. We talked about God and prayed together.
I often asked whether I would survive in prison, as more prison talk and what went on inside the prisons was discussed by the other inmates. Some was really scarey - while others said prison was not like on TV!
PT 2 - 2
Mike was positive I could survive prison being myself "Just stay in your lane" and stay away from the 5-G's! (Gangs, Gambling, Gays, Guards, and Geezers) I started to realise how much free normal folk take life and freedom's for granted. I had been living in a daze of assumptions. Like, assuming we get a tomorrow!
My particular jail Pod life was extremely boring with very little to do except for sleeping, reading or playing games. Card games and chess games were played loudly, aggressively with vulgar trash talking and taunting of the loser! I watched and observed from my upper tier bunk. Talk of cases, baby mama's and rap music were the main topics. I read my Bible and books off the library cart. I stayed out of the way and kept
PT 2 - 3 - to myself, like I always had done.
During this time I trusted my mega lawyer to 'save' me and did no legal research myself about my case. What do I know? This was another poor decision that cost me.
For people reading this, understand I was following my lawyer's advice to the letter, but leaves me dependent on his word. As they say in the movies, lack of knowledge will kill you! The government wants you to be in the dark! Your lawyer wants to do the least amount of work for you, so they want you in the dark too! Being ignorant means the lawyers can slide on the procedures and push for plea agreements. 98% of federal convictions are the result of plea agreements.
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Too many pleas are coerced with no benefits to the defendant. (more on this latter) My advice from hindsight: Get a second opinion! If your doctor said you had cancer, you'd consult another doctor. If your lawyer does not listen to you, request another! A simple motion to the court stating your lawyer has a conflict of interest. This is very important: if you feel or told a plea is the only way to see home again - make sure its a binding contract agreement on the prosecution and court! Trust Me, the government will change the situation prior to sentencing. Remember too - you can back out of a plea agreement prior to sentencing.
In January 2018 I was superseded indictment with additional charges. During my 20 years of
PT 2 - 5 model photography (my site was online from 1997 to 2017) I had started shooting minor age models in bikinis and mild lingerie for my teen website modeling. Starting in 1998, many minor age model websites came online selling memberships for their non-nude collections. I decided to shoot minor models in addition to the over, 18 girls I had been shooting since 1993. All of my minor age models shoots were done in the presence of their parents or legal guardians, with written permission. I shot and posed my models in a way to avoid any legal issues. My sessions were non-nude in nature.
After the FBI did intensive discovery on all my modeling products released and sold to the public, from my public website (I've never been on the dark web)
PT - 2 - 6 they (FBI) decided one video segment, actually a few minutes of a 24 minute segment of a teenager I had been shooting for six years violated the 2256(e) for sexually explicit conduct. So a few minutes from over 20 years of photography. Think about that.
My lawyer did not appoint any experts to counter this claim. Only his "expert " opinion was used. I advised him that during my photography career I had some negative media attention, however everytime the media tried to get the authorities involved they were told my content was legal. Even the Florida Attorney General Mcullum stated on national TV my site and content were legal. Yet my lawyer refused to listen to other, more experienced lawyers
PT 2 - 7 with First Amendment issues. Of course I knew none of this until after I was sentenced and in Federal Prison. A friend has been very helpful revealing this to me.
After my lawyer won a big case against the FBI and government (April 2018), he came to me and shrugged his shoulders and said he can't do anything. My only chance to go home again was to sign a plea. He told me I was looking at 15 years with a possible chance of getting under 15 years If I gave the government names of customers who might have possible links to "real" CP rings. I had no one to give as I didn't know my customers other tastes or fetishes. My clean non-nude images appealed to a small group. I had no one to talk to in jail, to ask
PT 2 - 8 advice or hear about prior prisoner experiences. I trusted my lawyer with everything: my life, my freedom my money, my possessions - what did I know? My lawyer stated if I went to trial I could be facing 100's of years! It was forcibly communicated I would be convicted on all counts. This is what is now known as a "trial penalty."
I pleaded to one count of 2251(a) and one count of 111(a)(i). After a few months, my PSR came to me in jail. What a shock! The language in the PSR painted me as a serial violent sexual repeat offender! Over non-nude images in front of parents!!?? What was this absurdity!? I've never been arrested before! What was the "repeat" sexual offender crap? My lawyer
PT - 2 9 didn't seem to be too concerned, stating I wasn't supposed to even see the PSR! He said he would file "objections." On September 19, 2018 I was sentenced to the statutory maximums for both counts: 20 years for the 111(a)(i) assault and 30 years for production 2251(a). What happened to the 15 years?
The government wants to take my life with a de facto death sentence for a few minutes of non-nude video images, essentially an un-intended "camel toe" of a teenager in a school girl outfit wearing a white bikini bottom. Filmed in front of her mother and another adult friend in 2014.
By pleading guilty my lawyer coerced me to avoid the "trial penalty" and did no mitigation for the
PT 2 - 10 assault charge, stating on multiple times "Oh thats only two years." Needless to say he failed. For a first time offender I received no benefit for the plea or any mercy from the judge? Why not?
I learned later on the government plays dirty tricks pretending to make concessions and "deals" in the plea agreement, yet knowing full well at sentencing they will ask for enhancements based on "catch all" statutes. The probation office works to secure funding for the districts and longer sentences guarantee their pensions. Nobody should ever be faced with a de facto death sentence for no physical victim, no blood or death, especially a first time offender, yet murderers rapists and sexual molesters get less time! Why?
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Is this just a simple case of vindictive prosecution that is rampant in the prison industrial complex? Unfortunaltely its about money - not justice. The DOJ, BOP, and probation office is a business - more prisoners equals more money. Simple My sentence will cost taxpayers approx $10 million for a few minutes of video. Thats a expensive government purchase!
I asked my lawyer to appeal, he refused, twice. I had to file a handwritten notice of approval with assistance of a Coleman inmate back in jail for a count appearance. My paid lawyer was pissed and asked the court to withdrawal. There goes my money with no mitigation of sentence. A public defender could not have done worse! Now I
PT 2 - 12 wait for my early am pack up call.
I left on November 6 2018 after spending 15 months in Seminole County Jail. I left behind some friends and mentors who I likely will never see again. I thank God for placing men in my path to advise me and continue my faith. My time in jail was quiet and boring. I was not in any fights or any loud arguments. I said yes sir and no sir to the "CO's" who were for the most part professional. There are always some CO's that go out of their way to be mean or indifferent. Seminole County had no TV or Radio and I really missed hearing music. We talked about food a lot as the jail food was pretty bad
PT 2 - 13 but so much better than the Orlando jail. There was no real rec yard only a concrete box, but I do remember crying and thanking God when I saw the blue Florida sky and fluffy white clouds when I was moved to another Pod with windows. Something we take for granted, an expectation of another day on this earth. Jail and Prison remind me of being in the military, so I can handle this.
My concern waiting for the prison bus, was where would I go? My 30 years kicked me out of a low and now my "dirty" charge would cause trouble in a medium. I didn't think about a pen, as I would be dead in a matter of weeks in a pen. I prayed to God and read Psalm 91 to watch over me.
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Would I have courage? Or would my family hear about me on the news? "Killed in assault by other prisoners" was that going to be my legacy?
God has a plan and purpose for every life. God will redeem us if we repent and ask for forgiveness. We must pray that God has placed us in a situation so that we can grow and become the men God wants us to be. I thought I was a "good" man in the world. Reading the Bible and hearing Pastors - I was not. I have time now to educate myself and change my heart and mind to be better and have a chance to change my legacy. Will I get a second chance to go home before my family passes?
Part Three - Off to the Feds!
Pt 2 - 15
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