How I Did an End Run to a Judge & Got a Sentence Dropped From 90 to 18 Months



If you’re like most, you’ve probably crossed paths with a lawyer once or twice in your life, maybe in a lawsuit, a divorce, a criminal matter, or possibly something else; with the end results often unpredictable as a crap game and rolling the dice and winning, and other times rolling a seven and crapping out.

While judges and juries can and do make adverse rulings and decisions against plaintiffs and defendants, when things take a shit in the courtroom and head South, the common theme seems to be to point the finger and blame the fall guy, the lawyer. Which in itself brings up the question as to blame and whether the lawyer is really the one at fault? The real answer’s, well, MAYBE!


From what I’ve seen and experienced I’ve put lawyers in three distinct categories: (A) lawyers who actually care and give a shit for their clients; (B) incompetent lawyers without a clue as to what they’re doing, and (C) greedy dump-truck lawyers who don’t care about their clients and just lazy self-serving fucks looking to pick up a paycheck. And I’ve had them all!

In my own circumstance, I’d have to throw in category (D), to account for a sassy blond USC lawyer I’d had a fling with not long after getting out the Feds. This chick never shut up and talked a mile a minute. It didn’t last long and I think she did it more out of curiosity.

I never found out if she was a good lawyer, but can tell you she lacked skills in other things, and when I cut her loose and told her sayonara, it gave me the amusing right to forever say that I got a chance to “Screw a Lawyer.”

I’m not jumpping into personal shit here, but instead, relate a sad situation where an incompetent CJA lawyer dropped the ball, and led a kid facing a grip of Federal Time down a rabbit hole with some really bad legal advice.

In the end, I pulled the kid’s ass outta the fire using JailHouse Lawyer skills, where I choreographed a Courtroom end-run past the prosecutor and defense lawyer directly to his Judge, with an added bonus of pissing off the lawyers in the process.

Now keep in mind that I’d just hit the street, was on paper and fresh out of the joint (Supervised Release), and already working the system. When it was all said and done, I turned the kid’s likely 90-month sentence to just 18 months on the inside.


This case started with a desperate incoming call, on a Friday rush hour while I was driving on a highway north of LA. It was July and hotter than fuck, and I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a virtual five-lane parking lot near where Interstate 405 meets U.S. 101 at a freeway interchange said to be the busiest in the world.

The temp was pushing 105, and I was hot, tired, and irritated, wanting to just get home and put down a few cold ones and get some shut-eye. The call was from a scared shitless kid named Benny who lived with his grandma just outside Great Falls, Montana. Benny was in trouble, and I quickly determined he was seriously fucked, because he’d gotten popped a few months back for slinging weed and possessing a gun in a drug crime.

He told me he’d signed a Plea for 7 years plus, which seemed normal to me based on the crimes he’d been hit with. I was about to hang up and tell him I couldn’t help, but figured what the fuck, since it was the Feds you never knew what was real or not so I decided to hear the kid out!

Benny was 26 and your local pot dealer. You know the type. He’d been moving small quantities of product like ounces and dime bags to people he knew and their friends for years. While the weight wouldn’t sound like much today, back then cops still treated people who sold dime bags like they’d just robbed a bank.

In my opinion, Benny was a bit ahead of his time, because unlike many dealers, he made house calls like an Uber and delivered, driving around in a pickup truck dropping off weed to his clients. He never moved product from home, or carried a gun in pursuit of his agricultural commerce. To me, he sounded like an enterprising young man just looking to make a buck and help grandma pay the bills.

Since players in the drug trade know each other, Benny was no exception. He’d had a good run and been in the game for years without a hitch. But his luck finally ran out when a competitor-slinging product got popped, and wasted no time ratting out Benny and others to get a sweet deal for himself!


A few days later at the crack of dawn, some local cops playing Cowboy got a search warrant and raided grandma’s home. When they brought in dogs to sniff out Benny’s stash, all they found to their disappointment were a few ounces of weed, and a bong in a shoebox tucked under Benny’s bed, which according to evidence reports weighed in just shy of a “QP” quarter pound.

During their search, the cops found a locked gun safe in grandma’s garage and thought they’d hit the big score, and despite not having a warrant, coerced Benny to open it up. The scared kid complied, and the only thing found inside were old pictures, and a dirty 22 caliber bolt action rifle minus bullets that looked like it’d been there for years.

With my mind running a mile a minute I asked Benny a quick question.

“Was that the gun?”

“That was it”, he said.

“Are you fucking kidding me,” I replied

I knew at this point something wasn’t quite right, and pulled off the road to question Benny and get my head around what had happened.

Well as you can guess, the cops busted Benny and carted him and the weed to the county lockup. Since he’d never been in trouble or had much product, he was able to make bond and sent home. Grandma got him a lawyer and when he was questioned, admitted he’d been selling weed since the 11th grade, with the cops guesstimating he’d moved over a couple of hundred pounds from the time he’d started.

Since Benny was a first-time offender, the county prosecutor went light on him and offered a plea deal of 2 years state time, and a year’s probation with the gun never coming up. On his day of sentencing, the county judge mysteriously dismissed the case and Benny and his family thought he was home free. That’s when his real troubles started.


As they were leaving the courtroom, a trio of ATF Agents in blue windbreakers with the words “Federal Agent” on their backs showed up, cuffed him, and took him into custody. It turned out the Feds made it a practice to scan county court dockets, had big-footed his case, gotten the state charges dropped, and turned what should have been simple state weed charges into full-blown Federal gun and drug charges.

When Benny’s case touched down at a Federal Grand Jury, he got indicted under 21 USC 841 for the weed; and 18 USC 924 on the gun for Use or “Possession of a Firearm” in furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense” The statue itself reads as follows:

Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A) provides, in pertinent part:

“Any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking
crime . . . for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, . . . uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime –

(i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years;
(ii) if the firearm is brandished, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years; and
(iii) if the firearm is discharged, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years.”
18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A).

Now instead of Benny facing just 2 years Parolable state time, the Feds wanted to break him off with 30 months on the Weed (adjusted level 19 in the guidelines), with another statutory 60 months stacked (Consecutive) for the gun on the backend, for a total of Seven and a Half years of Federal custody.

Since his state lawyer didn’t work Federal cases, his District Judge appointed him a panel lawyer, aka CJA Counsel or a Criminal Justice Act Lawyer, which are essentially Private Lawyers acting as Public Defenders and paid a fixed sum by the court.


As Benny’s case weaved through Federal Court, his new lawyer, a likable guy named Jimmy negotiated with the Prosecutor and supposedly got him a sweet deal, with a Plea Agreement for 90 months selling him hard on it with the prospect, if he didn’t take it he was looking at doing hard time.

By the time I got home, Benny’s Indictment and Plea Agreement sat in my inbox. After reading everything and shaking my head in disbelief, I called Benny back and told him and Grandma point blank, that “Jimmy the Lawyer” was incompetent fuck, and had just screwed him big time.” I also knew despite my not being a lawyer, there was a big problem here and I could probably fix it.

When I checked his docket and saw the big day of change of plea was just a week away, I chewed him out for not calling me sooner and put together a damage control plan and laid it out to them.

To begin with, I let them both know that Jimmy wasn’t their friend, despite Grandma being snowed into thinking he was “such a nice young man”, and with what I was proposing there was a high likelihood Jimmy and the prosecutor were gonna be royally pissed, but they needed to trust me and stand strong and told Benny what he needed to do and why, and broke it down for them.

First off, since the gun had never been used in conjunction with his alleged crimes, had been locked in a safe, had never been near the weed, and had never been brandished, it lacked what’s called “Reasonable Proximity to his crime, and because that it would be hard to convict him on it, and if Jimmy hadn’t had his head buried up the prosecutor’s ass and done his job, he would have known that!


As I read on, I saw the Feds slammed him on a two-count indictment with Count 1 on the Drugs, and Count 2 on the gun. I explained that he needed to plead guilty on Count 1 since he’d admitted to selling weed and it was provable and that he needed to plead NOT GUILTY on the rifle since it was a bullshit charge and his lawyer should have known it.

I remember him being dumbfounded and continually asking me, “Are you sure I can do that?” I repeatedly assured them that he could. According to Grandma, at Benny’s Change of Plea hearing the Prosecutor and Defense lawyers were all smiles and laughing with each other as they walked in the courtroom.

What a neat little package I thought! The Prosecutor would get his conviction, Jimmy would get a fat paycheck on Uncle Sam’s dime for doing nothing, and Benny would be rewarded with a 90-month sentence behind the fence at the big house. This is where I put a crimp in these asshole lawyers’ plans.

From what grandma told me this is how it went down: When his case was called and the Judge asked how he pled, Benny stood, jumped right in, cut off his lawyer mid-speech, and followed my instructions to the letter!

“I plead guilty to count one your honor, and not guilty on the Gun!”

I wasn’t there, but from what Grandma said, the Prosecutor and Defense Lawyer’s smiles evaporated immediately. The prosecutor jumped out of his chair mumbling loudly at the Defense Lawyer something to the tune of, “What the hell’s going on here, that’s not what we agreed on, I thought we had a deal,” while waving around Benny’s signed Plea Agreement.


I’ll give the Federal Judge some credit here, because the old guy, unlike many judges I’ve heard about, had actually been paying attention to what was going on and told the Prosecutor to can it and sit his ass down.

“Are you sure about this son,” his Honor asked?

“Yes your Honor,” replied Benny.

The Judge wrote down some notes and read some documents from up on his bench and said, “I’ll allow it. The Defendant can plead to the drugs and we’ll take the gun to trial, bond conditions remain” and with a slam of his gavel set a date with his clerk for trial.

From what I was told, the judge called a recess between proceedings and left the courtroom as Jimmy and the Prosecutor engaged in heated conversation. Benny was still in the courtroom with grandma when Jimmy the Lawyer came over and gave him some bullshit, that if he didn’t take the Plea deal right then and there, he was facing at least 20 years and the prosecutor was gonna hammer him.


I’d clued Benny and Grandma in ahead of time on Prosecutor’s scare tactics, and told them not to fall for it and they didn’t. Benny shook his head and repeated to Jimmy that he was going to trial then him and Grandma left the courthouse.

When they got home Benny and Grandma were nervous as fuck and got me on the phone. I told them to sit tight, and reassured them that because Benny wasn’t a felon he could legally own the gun, and repeated my explanation about “Reasonable Proximity” and how the gun and the weed lacked a connection, as well as how no intelligent prosecutor would risk taking a case to trial he knew he’d lose.

Over the next few weeks, Jimmy called and badgered Benny with the same bullshit every day on how the Prosecutor was gonna hang him, to the point the kid needed anxiety pills just to sleep at night. Every time Benny called me, I told him it was all bullshit and to just hang tight.

About a month later Benny called me all animated and I could tell something happened.

“Guess what?” he said, “They dropped the gun charges.”

“No shit kid, congrats. Oh and by the way I told you so,” I replied.

While there’s always the chance of being wrong, I knew it was the weakest Gun Case I’d ever seen, and no prosecutor would risk taking a bullshit case like that to trial when they knew they’d likely lose.


The next time Benny went back to court, he got sentenced to 30 months on the weed as expected. And since he didn’t have a gun charge or enhancement, I helped get him designated to a minimum-security camp instead of some dirty FCI behind the fence.

As you can guess, Benny had a drug problem, and of course, Jimmy the dump truck lawyer failed to document it in Benny’s PSR or anywhere else. So the early RDAP release looked kind of remote! Not wanting to let this go and let the Feds get over on us, I went into my bag of tricks and pulled another hole card.

I reached out to a lady shrink I knew. She spoke to Benny over the phone about his problems, and then the next day sent me a DSM chemical dependency assessment and report on him, that validated his drug use and diagnosed his dependency.

And in the end, with good conduct time, RDAP Early Release, Community Custody, and everything else, Benny only spent 18 months at the camp and was sent home.

Had Benny not retained me and followed my lead, he’d have been stuck with the Gun Charge, gotten a 90-month sentence, disqualified from RDAP Early Release, and served time behind the fence instead of a cushy camp.

And if you can believe it, before he went in, Jimmy the Lawyer reached out to him and tried to take credit for my work, and said it was his plan all along. As to what kind of Lawyer he was, Incompetent, Lazy, Greedy, well that’s up to you to decide!

I Can Help you too!

If you’re in trouble with the Feds and you know what I mean, contact me, Larry Levine, by email at or 213.948.1069 for a no-bullshit consultation.

I served a 10-year sentence in the Feds at 11 different prisons on several charges and know the game inside and out. They even tried to release me 6 months early just to get rid of me. If you’re looking for a second opinion I can help. Check me out at or just read my client testimonials here.

If you’re looking for an Early Release and need help, me and my team can provide answers from the time you get charged, go through the judicial process, take it to trial or a plea, get sentenced and designated, Extra Halfway House, as well as serving your sentence and dealing with the Probation Office! Remember, where a lawyer or prosecutor can bullshit you, they can’t bullshit me, because I know the game just as well as they do.

Larry is the Publisher of the Midnight Report, CEO of World Crime Media, and Owner of Justice Broadcasting and He also served 10 years in Federal Prison at 11 different correctional facilities and is the Founder of Wall Street and Pink Lady Prison Consultants. Larry is a frequent On Air contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News, Inside Edition, Court TV, and WGN America discussing Criminal Justice Related Matters.

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