Tucson inmate wants pay for snakes seized in Miss. porn case

2013-05-20T11:50:00Z 2013-05-20T13:42:27Z Tucson inmate wants pay for snakes seized in Miss. porn caseThe Associated Press The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. —A man serving 30 years after pleading guilty to enticing a teenager to pose for pornographic pictures with venomous snakes has filed a federal lawsuit seeking compensation for the loss of his reptiles.

John Joseph Maillet’s lawsuit in Mississippi says that his snakes were worth more than $12,000 and that he didn’t have a chance to object to their forfeiture because he wasn’t properly notified of court filings. Maillet, 50, is serving his sentence at a high-security federal prison in Tucson.

Maillet says that $12,000 is a lot of money, especially considering he makes only 12 cents an hour working his prison job, and that he wouldn’t have knowingly given up the snakes.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Miss., the same place Maillet was sentenced on the enticement conviction in January 2011. Maillet filed the lawsuit himself but asked for an attorney to represent him.

Sheila Wilbanks, a spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney’s office, said the office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Maillet, of Port Jervis, N.Y., was living in Carriere, Miss., when authorities say he enticed a 15-year-old girl to pose with the snakes in 2007.

Mallet’s lawsuit also says the number of snakes listed in government filings mysteriously changed from 41 to 12.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden has said there were 41 venomous snakes in Maillet’s home when agents executed a search warrant in 2009. When they returned Aug. 10 the next year, shortly after Maillet’s arrest, there were only 12 snakes remaining. Agents called in an expert who removed the remaining snakes from the property.

It’s not clear what happened to the other snakes. It’s also not clear what kind of snakes they are.

Maillet pleaded guilty in September 2010. The next month he asked to withdraw the plea and fire his lawyer, saying that he didn’t know there was a mandatory sentence and that the attorney didn’t explain it well.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden refused the request and sentenced Maillet to 30 years. Maillet then asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to allow him to withdraw the plea.

The appeals court refused, saying “Maillet has not asserted that he is actually innocent of the charge.”

The appeals court used similar reasoning in denying Maillet’s request to withdraw his guilty plea to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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