A man who fears his cooperation with a narcotics prosecution in the 1980s will get him killed now that he has been deported to his native Macedonia has lost his attempt to have his guilty plea thrown out.
Adnan Asan pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and earned the plaudits of the government for his cooperation in testifying against major figures in an Eastern European narcotics shipping conspiracy in 1983 and 1984.
But after returning to his family life in the United States, where he was a legal immigrant and holder of a green card, the Department of Homeland Security, based on his guilty plea over two decades earlier, had him deported to Macedonia in 2007, where he now claims his life is in danger.
Asan filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, seeking to have his guilty plea vacated based on ineffective assistance of counsel.
His counsel at the time of the guilty plea and cooperation was Jed Rakoff, now a federal judge but then an attorney in private practice at Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Ferdon, who was appointed to represent Asan under the Criminal Justice Act.
Asan claims Rakoff was ineffective because Rakoff failed to apprise him of the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea.
But Southern District Judge Charles Haight (See Profile), who presided over Asan's guilty plea and sentenced him to three years of probation because of his extraordinary cooperation, has denied the petition in Asan v. United States, 11 Civ. 5370.
Haight's decision comes after a two-day May hearing in Manhattan, where Rakoff testified in person and Asan testified by closed television hookup from the U.S. embassy in Macedonia.
Alan M. Cohen, the former Southern District assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Asan, also testified. Cohen now heads the global compliance division at Goldman Sachs.
Asan was represented by Raymond Lahoud and Daniel Baurkot of Baurkot & Baurkot at the hearing, which Haight held because he "accepted as plausible Mr. Lahoud's representations that Mr. Asan's safety and life were imperiled by the close proximity to him in Macedonia of kingpins in the underlying drug conspiracy, now released from their prison terms in the United States and deported to Macedonia."