Ponzi schemer Joel Steinger, who was the principal owner of what was at one time the world's largest life settlements firm, Mutual Benefits Corp.,who pled guilty to a single count, to avoid what could have potentially been a life sentence*, and was sentenced to 20 years in Federal Prison, has now strangely filed an appeal of the judgment and sentence in the two cases. There's just one problem; in his Plea Agreement, and in consideration for the prosecution dropping all the other counts, he waived the right to appeal. So why has he appealed ?
The Plea Agreement, which he and his attorney signed, and which is, so far as I can see, the standard form used by the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Florida, recites:
"... In exchange for the undertakings made by the United States in this plea agreement, the defendant hereby waives all rights conferred by Sections 3742 and 1291 to appeal any sentence imposed ... or to appeal the manner in which the sentence was imposed.... This waiver applies to any appeal of the defendant's conviction and sentence in Case No. 08-21158 and case No. 12-20123." Plea Agreement March 28, 2014 at 9.
Mr. Steinger, who has prior criminal convictions, and is no stranger to the rules of procedure, would know that he cannot appeal, either his conviction or his sentence, and his trial attorney, as the lawyer of record on the appeal, would have certainly so advised him, when he signed the Plea Agreement, that he gave up certain rights, including the right to appeal.
When the issues appear, in the initial brief of appellant, we will be in a better position to understand under what theory he is proceeding, although the appeal may be quickly dismissed before any brief is filed. We will be monitoring this curious case, and will update our readers as soon as any clarifying information appears.
* The Sentencing Reform Act has abolished Gain Time for Life Sentences. Any defendant receiving a life sentence will die in prison, and never be released.