Drug case defendant wants to withdraw guilty plea
The final defendant in a large cocaine distribution ring wants to take back his sworn guilty plea, claiming there is, in fact, a conspiracy against him.
Venson Tyrone Jones, 30, is the last of 14 defendants to be sentenced for their part in a drug conspiracy that ran from Atlanta, Ga., and through Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell and Hampton counties in South Carolina.
Set to be sentenced recently, Jones decided that he was going to ditch his well-respected attorney and attempt to withdraw a previously signed-under-oath guilty plea. Jones’ motions are two hand-written, often tangential letters, with many spelling and grammatical errors.
“My attorney Jack Swerling is working with government agents and D.A. Jay Richerson to find evidence that can prove I am innocent,” the admitted drug dealer wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Margaret Seymour.
Jones’ seems paranoid and vaguely threatens Seymour with being reported to the South Carolina Supreme Court and the White House if she does not take action in his case. Jones claims he has, “three people on the outside who have the information if anything happens to me.”
While Jones’ claims innocence in his letters, he does not attack the evidence gathered against him. He specifically references working with the Drug Enforcement Agency and also admits buying narcotics from co-conspirator Harry D. Wright, who is currently serving a 90-month sentence.
Incorrectly described as a district attorney, Julius “Jay” Ness Richardson is one of the Assistant United States Attorneys prosecuting the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is asking that Jones’ plea not be withdrawn, stating that it was “knowing and voluntary” while being “buttressed by Jones’ representation by the finest of defense counsel.”
In their filing opposing Jones’ request, Richardson compliments Swerling as “the very best defense counsel,” as evidence that the guilty plea was undertaken with Jones aware of his rights.
At a hearing in Columbia on Monday, Seymour granted Jones new counsel. A formal hearing on his request to have his plea withdrawn will be set once counsel is appointed.