Joel Steinger, the principal owner of Mutual Benefits Corp., the world's largest life settlement company, which turned out to be a billion dollar Ponzi scheme, has filed a Reply Brief in his appeal, where he seeks to set aside his guilty plea. Steinger obtained court approval to make a late filing. Notwithstanding his guilty plea, the defendant received a 20-year sentence.
In the brief, Steinger argues that the standard appeal waiver he signed when he pled "is neither valid nor enforceable, because Mr. Steinger's self-assessment skills and ability to reason were impaired by pain, and the strong pain medication he was prescribed, and was taking for more than a year, to try to control his severe, debilitating pain from Spinal Stenosis*."
He states that his competency evaluation was conducted ten months prior to his plea agreement, factual proffers, and change of plea in open court. He asserts that he should be permitted to proceed with the appeal of his conviction and sentence**, and that he rambled on during the sentencing hearing, because he was under the influence of strong narcotics, deaf in one ear, and with diminished hearing in the other. Steinger is requesting that his appeal waiver be found to be invalid, also his plea agreement, and that his conviction & sentence be set aside. The Government has opposed his appeal.
*Reply Brief at iii.
**Reply Brief at 3.
Research Note: United States vs. Joel Steinger, Case Nos.: 14-14081/14088 (SD FL).