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Jack Gray

He needs to be stopped, and as the victims of his misconduct, we can put an end to it!

In 1986 I was charged with the murder of a security guard, attempted robbery and burglary of Rapid Fr eight Systems, a trailer freight company in Paramount, California. A Los Angeles jury convicted me and the superior court imposed a prison term of life without possibility of parole (case No. A636578]. I am innocent. I did not know the victim, Gary Steven Kuhns, had never seen him before and never been to or even heard of the freight company where he was killed. My family hired Attorney I. Mark Bledstein of Encino, California to defend me at trial, and he did no investigation into the case, interviewed none of the prosecution’s witnesses and did not even present any of the readily available evidence that could have proved my innocence or even raised a reasonable doubt as to guilt.

The prosecution’s case in chief consisted of two witnesses, one who was a so-called eyewitness, and the other a so-called jailhouse informant. The eyewitness was a gentleman named Joseph Michael Hensley, who worked at Rapid Freight with Mr. Kuhns and was on duty the night he was killed. Mr. Hensley never actually saw the shooter and could not describe the individual to Lakewood sheriff’s deputies. Indeed, reports on his statements list the attacker as an ”unknown, male adult, no facial description,” a ”possible male” and a ”possible Black male wearing a multicolored ski mask.” Absolutely no other details were given, such as height, weight, age, skin tone, facial features, color and shape of eyes or anything else. Fourteen months later, however, Mr. Hensley identified me as the shooter. The identification was false, deliberate and calculating.

Mr. Hensley claimed he was a deputy sheriff for five years for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He said he ”left” the department and began working as a security guard. At trial, he said he had testified in court as a deputy sheriff, was familiar with the operations of court systems, knew where defendants sat in courtrooms, and where they would be brought into the courtroom from if they were in custody. He said he was aware courtrooms had a lockup area. He testified he was informed about my being arrested when it occurred, told I was a Black man, given my full name and told I belonged to a large family. I was in custody throughout the court proceedings and remain so today.

Preliminary hearing Judge Larry Frumes, Prosecutor Bruce Balinger McGregor, Sergeant Reynold Verdugo and Mr. Hensley all colluded and arranged wholly suggestive identification procedures that would ensure Mr. Hensley would be able to falsely identify me. Indeed, he saw me being brought into the courtroom in jail attire and chains on the first day of the preliminary hearing, even though the transcript of the hearing indicates he was ordered out of the courtroom before court bailiffs escorted me inside. He also saw me being chained to a chair at the defense counsel table. Judge Frumes then ordered him out of the courtroom, but the court stenographer did not record the exchange between the judge and Mr. Hensley.

The following day, Mr. Hensley testified for about an hour as I sat before him in court. After he described what happened leading up to the shooting, Mr. McGregor asked him to give a description of the attacker. It was then that he began saying that the shooter was definitely Black, 6’5”, weighed 225 pounds, was well built, had a deep voice and brown, almond-shaped eyes. (Those were my features almost exactly. I believe Sergeant Verdugo and Prosecutor McGregor gave him my physical features.)

Judge Frumes then stopped the preliminary hearing and ordered a lineup at the Los Angeles County Jail. There, Sergeant Verdugo and other deputies also arranged highly suggestive procedures to further ensure Mr. Hensley would be able to identify me, which he did. The truth is Mr. Hensley simply did not know who attacked Mr. Kuhns and him, but he was willing to falsify an identification of anyone being accused of the killing of his security guard partner. Mr. Kuhns was the nephew of an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, and ATF Agent Michael Matassa was assigned to work the case with Sergeant Verdugo.

The jailhouse informant was facing life without possibility of parole in federal prison and was coerced by both federal and state authorities to falsify a statement that I confessed to the crime in telephone conversations with me at my home from jail. Completely false. I could have proved the informant was being untruthful by my telephone records. All county jail detainees can make only collect phone calls and I lived in a toll call area from the Los Angeles County Jail. If the informant had actually called me at home, the phone number of the county jail phone used would have been listed on my phone records as both collect and toll calls. Even though I asked him several times to obtain the records, Mr. Bledstein never even sought to get them.

Two eyewitnesses living directly behind the freight company actually saw two men enter the freight yard with a shotgun shortly before Mr. Kuhns was shot and killed with a shotgun. Lisa Adkins and Michael Bradfield gave sheriff’s deputies good descriptions of the men and said they would be able to identify them. The descriptions were of men much shorter and weighing considerably less than I. Mr. McGregor subpoenaed Mr. Bradfield and Ms. Adkins to the preliminary hearing and trial, and he tried to have them identify me by extrajudicial means, but they said I was not one of the men they saw. Mr. McGregor did not put them on the witness stand. Mr. Bledstein knew about these witnesses because their statements were in the police report, which he gave me a copy of. Yet he did not interview or even call them to the stand for testimony.

The assailants got away from the scene (and remain at large to this day). The shooter dropped a pair of gloves and a multicolored bandanna, and the police retrieved them at the scene. The gloves and bandanna were too small to fit my hands and to be tied around my head as Mr. Hensley testified the attacker wore it. Neither Mr. McGregor nor Mr. Bledstein presented those items in court and never had me attempt to try them on before the jury. The size of those items were consistent with the descriptions of smaller individuals given by Ms. Adkins and Mr. Bradfield. Both Mr. McGregor and Mr. Bledstein knew I was not the killer of Mr. Kuhns, but the former prosecuted the case anyway and the latter allowed it to go forward and even assisted in the false prosecution.

Coworkers of Mr. Hensley and employees of the freight company itself knew he never saw the attacker and could not identify anyone, but Mr. Bledstein never talked to any of them. He did not investigate the background of Mr. Hensley nor sought any information on him for impeachment purposes. Indeed, he never even inquired into why Mr. Hensley ”left” the sheriff’s department for a security guard job or to find out if in fact he ever was a deputy sheriff. Mr. Hensley repeatedly gave false and contradictory testimony, yet Mr. Bledstein never challenged it. This so-called witness was the only person who placed me at the scene of the shooting, and Mr. McGregor referred to him several times in court as his most important witness. Yet Mr. Blsdstein never talked to Mr. Hensley, did no investigation into his background and did nothing to challenge his patently obvious false testimony.

Mr. Bledstein failed to do countless other things that would have helped prove my innocence or create a reasonable doubt. He was the worst attorney my family could have employed. Indeed, I might well have fared better with the public defender who was on the case for the preliminary hearing. Deputy Public Defender Stanley Shimotsu at least went to the scene of the shooting, read over the police report and other records and questioned Mr. Hensley with some efficiency.

For decades Mr. Bledstein has been taking sums of money, sometimes large sums, from his ”clients” and their families and then dumping the clients or selling them out to the prosecution or sweet talking and even coercing them into taking so-called deals. He does these things even though he could have put forth a proper defense to the charges. Like me, I am sure there are other innocent people languishing in prison because Mr. Bledstein inadequately represented them or actually assisted the prosecution in a false case and conviction. Just as the so-called eyewitness actually falsely identified me, I believe Mr. Bledstein deliberately compromised the case so that I would be falsely convicted. I believe he assisted Mr. McGregor and Sergeant Verdugo to secure the conviction.

I am sure there are many families who were taken in by this attorney, and your family member or friend is languishing in prison like I am. Mr. Bledstein promised you the world and delivered nothing. Your child or friend is in prison serving an astronomical amount of time and your life savings are in the hands of this dishonest attorney. Mr. Bledstein conducted no investigation into your family member’s or friend’s case and did little or nothing to challenge the prosecution’s case at trial, even though there was a mountain of evidence showing innocence or a serious case of reasonable doubt.
As victims of his misconduct, we all need to find a way to come together and pool our minds and whatever other resources we might have to go after this crooked attorney. Mr. Bledstein needs to be disbarred, permanently. If you are willing to fight a good fight to get some justice for your incarcerated loved ones and possibly even some of your fees back, please contact me at either the p.o. box or email address listed below. Together we will find a way to bring a case against this despicable lawyer and get his license taken away. He actually needs to be in a jail cell where all his victims are.

Yes, speak now or forever hold your peace!

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Personal Information
SEX: MaleRACE: Black
D.O.B.: 7/19/1959
HEIGHT: 6'5" WEIGHT: 225 lbs.
CONVICTED OF: Murder 1st degree.


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