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UNITED STATES v. SALLEE
March 11, 1985
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, against BENJAMIN SALLEE, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: OWEN
Defendant Benjamin Sallee was indicted -- and convicted -- for two sales of heroin in bulk. His dealings, unfortunately for him, were with undercover agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. It appears from early colloquy in the case that his initial plan was to defend on the ground of entrapment.
On the morning his trial was originally scheduled, with the jury panel and government witnesses waiting, Mr. Sallee arrived late and, to everyone's surprise, fired his retained lawyer, allegedly for revealing secrets to the prosecution. Sallee thereafter endeavored to use his lack of counsel and an asserted lack of funds
to obtain an extensive postponement -- up to a year. When this was met by the Court's appointment of a Federal Defender, Sallee fired that lawyer, too, claiming that a lawyer paid under the federally-funded Criminal Justice Act had a conflict of interest in representing him against that same Federal government -- a man cannot "serve two masters," he said.
He took his step knowing that by this conduct he would have to proceed pro se.
The trial started approximately one month later.
Mr. Sallee's opening statement to the jury outlined the anticipated entrapment defense, but with a significant addition. It went as follows:
MR. SALLEE: So Buddy approached me [in August of 1982]. He said, "I have a supplier. The only thing you have to do is stand good for me for the money part."
So I said, "Okay." I said, "Stand good for you for the money." I said, "Buddy, I don't care what, I'm not touching it. You do what you want to do." He said, "Okay." He said, "All you have to do, pick it up, bring it to my house." I said, "Buddy, you pick it up. You go to the guy. You go sit down and talk to the guy." Me and Buddy, we sit down and you talk to the guy.
The people, they know my reputation in the streets, because they know if I stand good for something I would pay it. I have been in the number business since '63. There is no one in Jamaica, New York City, Long Island, or anywhere that would say I owe them for a number or anything as far as money is concerned. You see, I have a reputation up in the streets at which I would say I was born with it, or I just lived up to it. So Buddy introduced me to these people where I got the drugs from.
So after Buddy introduced me, he asked me -- he asked me, whatever the price was, so and so and so and so, and I said I would stand good for it.
Okay, I come back down. I'm going to get down to the conversation where the prosecutor already mentioned about the drugs. I talked to his agent on the phone. That was in 1982. Somehow, with the guy that wanted the money that I had to stand good for, and where the agent wanted to buy it for, we could never come to terms. So I passed.
So the next time it was in, I would say, Thanksgiving of 1983. It could have been a week before Thanksgiving of '83. Buddy approached me again and asked me to get him some drugs. So this time, as I said before, I was a Born Again Christian. This time I took it to the Lord. I sat down and I asked the Lord, what shall I do. Buddy, He tells me, He says, Buddy is the police, He says, Those are the police that you are dealing with. He tells me, what they want, give it to them anyhow.
So, that came to me in a dream one night. Going back to Buddy, He tells Buddy okay.
Now, the first meeting that we have, Buddy, myself and Jefferies, I believe was the name that he was using -- Jefferies. I told him almost the same thing as - I told him - Jefferies asked a question or whatever: I can't remember right now, but it will come up later. And then at no time - I want you to keep this in mind - at no time did they find drugs on me or if I touched the drugs. At no time.
When we picked up the drugs, I had someone else pick the drugs up for me. They was with me, I was with them. I would come to, as they say, Buddy's house. The friend I had picked picked the drugs up and would give it to Buddy. Buddy would take the drugs from his house to Pennsylvania Station. The only thing I'm doing there was ...
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