Coss and Sippola say their defense teams were ineffective

Two former U.P residents – at the center of a case that received national attention – were in U.S District Court in Marquette today.

Allison Coss and Scott Sippola were convicted in 2010 of trying to blackmail actor John Stamos of more than a $680,000. The two had an evidentiary hearing today in Marquette, claiming to have had ineffective legal counsel during their trial.

Sippola and Coss say their defense attorneys did not provide enough information to them during their trials in regard to making a plea agreement and the sentencing guidelines.  Both now say they would have been willing to make a plea bargain arrangement.

Coss was represented by Frank Stupak Jr. of Escanaba. Sippola’s attorney was Sarah Henderson of Marquette.

The pair is requesting that their sentences be changed…or that they be released from prison.  They were each convicted of conspiracy to extort money and sentenced to four years behind bars.  (One four year sentence, with two two-year terms to be served concurrently.)

Coss, Sippola, Stupak, and Henderson all took the stand in court today.

Coss claimed Stupak did not tell her about a plea agreement, meet with her to talk about trial proceedings, or send her case information.  When Stupak took the stand, he said he may not have sent Coss all the information, but did explain plea agreements, trial proceedings, and sentence guidelines.

Sippola claims Henderson told him what he did was not a crime.

Judge R. Allan Edgar said he will make a written statement on the hearing.  He requested the plaintiffs and defense give a brief that outlines the facts of the case on October 31.