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Judge Asked to Dismiss “Big Daddy” Charges

Alabama- The lawyer for a man accused of running an interstate prostitution ring based in Mobile has asked the judge to dismiss the charges in the 5-month-old federal case.

Paul Brown, attorney for Charles McLemore, said a new indictment returned by a grand jury in late June is vague, failing to include critical details of the charges against McLemore, who has told authorities that he runs a legitimate escort service.

Though motions to dismiss can be routine in court cases, Brown said there is a substantial argument that the indictment is insufficient. According to the indictment, McLemore took women from Mobile to Biloxi and the New Orleans area on five occasions so they could have sex with clients. Transporting individuals across state lines so they can engage in prostitution is a federal crime. McLemore, who is referred to as “Big Daddy” in the indictment, is charged with one count for each of the five incidents. He also is charged with arranging two instances in which the women drove themselves to Mississippi and Louisiana.

The indictment, however, does not identify the women McLemore allegedly transported, their customers or any details of the incidents other than the days on which they occurred.

Brown said more information, particularly the names of the women, must be included if McLemore is to receive a fair trial.

“It’s a basic tenant of due process that the defendant be able to understand exactly what he’s charged with so that he can defend himself,” Brown said. He also said the indictment’s lack of detail fails to protect McLemore from double-jeopardy, or being prosecuted twice for the same crime.

Charlie McNichol, spokesman for Michele O’Brien, the federal prosecutor in the case, said it was not critical that the government name the alleged prostitutes in the indictment.

“Department of Justice policy is always to tend toward discretion,” he said. “If we don’t need to name the victims, we don’t do it.”

Pam Bucy, a law professor at the University of Alabama and a former federal prosecutor, said there is no definitive rule on how detailed indictments should be. The defendant should be able to deduce the specifics of the charges against him from the indictment and the evidence, she said.

“The charges do need to be specific enough to inform the defendant,” she said. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be in the indictment.”

Brown said the names of the women should be included in the indictment, regardless of whether they can be ascertained by looking at the evidence. “It should not be the burden of the defendant to go figure out what the charge is,” he said. McLemore is also charged with seven counts of money laundering stemming from transactions involving his escort service.

The prosecution sought the new indictment, McNichol said, after more convincing evidence concerning money laundering surfaced.

The original indictment lists McLemore’s bills for advertisements in the Mobile Register and his transactions through American General Financial Services, a finance company.

The new indictment, however, lists his credit card payments, cellular phone bills, a hotel bill and a gas bill. The second document also specifies the exact amounts within each bill that the prosecution says McLemore used for the prostitution business.

By seeking the new indictment, the government does not contend that the information about the newspaper ads and the finance company is not accurate, McNichol said. The transactions in the second indictment make a better case against him, he said.

“We believed, as obviously did the grand jury, that the charges better reflected the applicable facts,” he said.

However, in a motion to dismiss the money laundering charges, Brown argued that the indictment presented no evidence that the transactions were for anything other than personal expenses.

Brown is McLemore’s second attorney in the case. He was appointed after Jim Brooks withdrew in late June, citing health problems that prevented him from being able to properly prepare for trial.

Partly because Brooks wasn’t able to file all the motions because of his health, McLemore hand-wrote several long motions on his own behalf, prompting U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr. to warn him to stop and later to threaten him with sanctions.

Based on McLemore’s dogged attempts to work the court with his own motions, McNichol said he doesn’t foresee the government striking a plea deal with him, though he said it’s possible.

“He seems to be the one determined to fight this thing,” McNichol said of McLemore.

Brown said he won’t be able to consider a plea deal until he can review the prosecution’s evidence.

McLemore, 50, has a criminal history that includes a 1993 conviction in Mobile County Circuit Court for trying to hire a hit-man to kill his business partner, for which he served about 2 years.

This is not the first time McLemore has appeared in Butler’s courtroom with Brown as his attorney. More than a decade ago, Butler overturned a federal firearms conviction related to McLemore’s murder-for-hire plot on procedural grounds.

Back story July 5, 2004: Charles McLemore Sr. — “Big Daddy,” according to a fresh indictment charging him with running an interstate prostitution ring based in Mobile — has tried the patience of the federal judge hearing his case, court records show.

In defending himself, McLemore has filed repeated motions challenging various actions by judges and prosecutors. The motions are written longhand on ruled paper and contain well-composed legal phrasing.

That’s mainly because McLemore, 50, has a lawyer but continues to file his own pleadings, a procedural no-no except in rare circumstances. In May, U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr. told McLemore’s lawyer, Jim Brooks, to rein in his client, and said he wouldn’t accept further filings written by McLemore.

Three weeks later, McLemore filed again, prompting Butler to issue an order threatening him with sanctions.

McLemore appeared before a different judge June 25 to plead not guilty to the updated charges a federal grand jury leveled against him the day before. U.S. Magistrate Judge Bert Milling Jr. granted Brooks’ motion to withdraw as McLemore’s lawyer. Brooks said later he opted out because he had experienced some health problems that prevented him from being able to properly prepare for trial.

“It wasn’t anything to do with the merits of the case,” he said.

Brooks repeated what he had told Butler several weeks ago, that one reason McLemore was filing his own motions from jail was because Brooks wasn’t able to visit him as often as he would have liked to review the case. Brooks’ health, he said, “made it difficult for me to file all the motions that Charlie wanted to file.”

Brooks said McLemore picked up some legal lingo in previous cases in which Brooks represented him. McLemore served about 2 years in prison in the mid-1990s after he was convicted in Mobile County Circuit Court of trying to hire a hit man to kill his business partner. He also was indicted twice and convicted once on federal firearms charges in connection with the murder-for-hire plot, but both times the charges were thrown out on procedural grounds.

“Charlie’s pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the law,” Brooks said.

Milling appointed Paul Brown to represent McLemore in Brooks’ place, and McLemore’s July trial date was postponed until August.

McLemore was originally indicted on the prostitution charges in January, but a judge sealed the case until March at prosecutors’ request. According to the latest indictment, McLemore took women from Mobile to Biloxi and the New Orleans area so they could have sex with clients on five occasions. He also is charged with arranging two other such trysts in which the women drove themselves, and with seven counts of money laundering stemming from transactions involving the escort service he ran.

After the case was unsealed and the Mobile Register wrote about the charges, McLemore called the newspaper to deny the allegations and accuse investigators of unfairly targeting him. He acknowledged running the escort service, which authorities have identified alternately as Executive Escorts, Beautiful Babes, ladeez4hire and Secret Panties.

“We’re just like MatchMaker International,” he said, referring to the well-known dating service.

McLemore claimed his escorts never took money to have sex with customers.

“Our services are time and companionship,” he said. “We have very upscale clients, from the local bar, CEOs of major corporations, appellate court judges.”

McLemore said he rarely accompanied his “girls” because there was no need.

“Our clients are better-type people than most people in this business,” he said.

By statute, McLemore would face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the most serious allegations. His criminal record increases the chances that he would get the maximum sentence.

 

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