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On Honduras Narco Case Prez JHO Now Spins SDNY Nejad Misconduct As Clearing Him

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon, Thread Video
Honduras - The Source - The Root - Podcast

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 25 – During the trial that convicted Tony Hernandez, the brother of Honduras' president Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), on all four counts of guns and narcotics trafficking and false statements, the Honduran National Police came up again and again in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

  Now Team JOH is trying to use misconduct by SDNY prosecutors in an entirely unrelated case, of Iranian banker Nejad, to argue away the evidence against them. Inner City Press, covering both cases, predicts it this defense strategy will not work.

  The Nejad case misdeeds - which Inner City Press along with only one other media organization fought to get unsealed - are about a piece of exculpatory evidence provided late and misleadingly to Nejad's lawyers. It is misconduct. But in the Honduras cases, the evidence is damning. Is JOH saying that beyond that, there is some other evidence that would clear him? What might it be? Podcast here We'll have more on this.

  Tony Hernandez' sentencing has been repeatedly delayed, and has now been extended again, to March 23. But a related trial is set to begin March 8, that of Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez. And evidence about President JOH, it emerged in a February 12 proceeding before Judge Castel, will come in. Memo on Patreon here; proceeding live tweeted here and below:

The US Attorney's Office has asked for "Witness-1" to testimony under a pseudonym, and for jurors and "venire" (prospective jurors) be left unnamed, due to threats of retaliation and "inability of Honduran government to protect witness." Or unwillingness?

 Judge Castel: I presided over the Hernandez Alvarado trial, but this one will be different. Defense?

Defendant's counsel: I understand reading between the lines what your Honor is saying [about corruption in Honduras] and the alleged homicide...

 Defense counsel: There have been public statements from the government of Honduras that this is all false. We could get that testimony even if the witnesses did not come here, using letters rogatory.

 Defense lawyer: Either the jury will believe my client important tons of cocaine or not - whether he gave political campaign contributions in Honduras is a sideshow." [To him, maybe] Defense: The evidence should be kept out.

 Judge Castel: The government says it has evidence defendant bribed CC-3 for information to protect his drug lab... Then he bribed CC-10, a high ranking judge in Honduras to avoid arrest. And in 2013 to CC-4's campaign for presidency for protection

 Judge Castel: These are acts that were conducted in furtherance of the conspiracy, the US says. Judge Castel: The US says these individuals were receptive to bribetaking. Presumptively, that evidence is admissible. Turning to the US' 2d motion in limine, these are co-conspirator statements....

 Judge Castel: So what is Witness-1 going to say about CC-4 soliciting campaign contributions from Owner-1, who is not a co-conspirator? Assistant US Attorney: He was in the presence of CC-4 and Owner-1 when the statements were made.

Judge Castel: So this shows the receptiveness of CC-4 to campaign contributions for a corrupt purpose?

AUSA: They spurred assistance and allowed CC-4 to conduct monetary negotiations. It shows why CC-4 would have meetings about drug trafficking at Business-1

 AUSA: It would both in furtherance, and important background. We cite some cases on this. Judge Castel: Business-1 was allegedly used by the defendant to launder drug money. Was that the case when CC-4 was soliciting campaign contributions? AUSA: Yes, Your Honor.

 Defense lawyer: I don't have much to add except, if the Court is to allow these statements in, we need to be able to attempt to take the testimony of the alleged recipient, who denies being corrupt. [JOH - to have testimony taken?]

 Judge Castel: The statements are coming in. Let me put one thing to rest: there are procedures for obtaining disclosure under Rules 16 and 17 and the fact that the government plans to offer evidence puts a defendant on notice and the need to investigate

 Judge Castel: The defense will not be allowed, during the trial, to say it is going to investigate. Are we going to move on to the third motion in limine? Defense lawyer: We didn't know this was going to be part of the trial. We knew there were allegations, but...

 Defense lawyer: Until they raised it, we didn't have to say, we're going to Honduras.  AUSA: Corruption and violence, we identified from early in the case as relevant to the case. We made early 3500 production.

Judge Castel: Now, statements to Lionel Rivera... Defense: The witness known as Medro, his statements to Mr. Rivera, they are big part of the US' case. It is outrageous. Mr. Rivera made the witness unavailable by murdering him.

Defense lawyer: We understanding that Lionel Rivera has admitted to participating in 78 murders. His brother Javier, in 48 murders. Judge Castel: And defendant's participation? Defense lawyer: This is more extreme that the situation with the political corruption Judge Castel: The extent to which the murders are dependent on the credibility of cooperating witnesses, this presents an opportunity for the defendant. The thrust of the US' case is that law enforcement could not be relied upon

[Memo Best line (more to come) - "as CC-4 put it, the defendant & CC-4 wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos” by flooding the United States with cocaine. The defendant believed that with his powerful allies he could operate with total impunity."]

Judge Castel: The fact that someone has a permit for a handgun does not mean it cannot be a tool of a narcotics conspiracy. The fact that the photos are on the defendant's phone goes to the weight of the evidence. He can argue that it not entitled to great weight

 Judge Castel: There is also some electronic messages with a Honduran military official described as "Comanche" and a law enforcement official identified as a Commissioner Martinez or something along those lines. Is there an objection?

Defense lawyer: Yes, your Honor. The government speculates as to who these people are. They don't have a name for Comanche, nor what his role was in the military and if he is still in the military. Same with the Commissioner.

 Defense lawyer: Until they identify these people, the messages are irrelevant. Judge Castel:  There are communications about Lopez Canabria. That murder was covered. So remarking about the death doesn't have much probative value.

Assistant US Attorney: It shows that the defendant was linked with the Honduran military in furtherance of his drug trafficking activities. And with the Los Valles cartel, even after its leaders were arrested.  [An aside: When shall we expect Narcos Honduras??]

 AUSA: Comanche was discussing the drug trafficking. So it's relevant. With the Commissioner, it will corroborate the defendants corrupt connections with law enforcement. They are adoptive admissions.

Defense lawyer: It's not different than them discussing the murder the person connected to the Tony Hernandez trial. It was publicly known, people talked about it. As to why the defendant was asking for a particular kind of software, we don't know.

AUSA: Comanche says, "It's not just anyone, they're going to get f*cked up, you'll see."  This was not people discussing news reports about a murder. The Commissioner refers to being hounded by prosecutors. The Defendant wanted info about this case.

Judge Castel: I'm reserving decision on the issue. The defense argues that statements induced by the government, through a cooperating witness, are inadmissible without the protections of Miranda. Defense lawyer: It's inconceivable that Lionel Rivera is in the same [prison] unit as the defendant. Why no separation order? My client's Sixth Amendment rights have been violated.

Defense lawyer: Lionel Rivera was told, Don't talk to defendant you are cooperating against. But he did. Assistant US Attorney Gutwillig: "Did it again" is not accurate. The episode with Freddy Najara was different. 

AUSA: On the day the defendant arrived at the MCC, we put in our separation order. Judge Castel: There is not evidence of government inducement so I'm not going to exclude the evidence at this juncture. But I'll keep an open mind.

Judge Castel: There are statements by CC-7, a Central American drug trafficker, to Lionel Rivera. Is the US offering these? AUSA: We've identified those statements we intend to use. Defense lawyer: They cherry pick from my client's lengthy post arrest statement.

 Judge Castel: This is not an uncommon situation. The defendant admitted, he knows someone.  Defense: We've seen the new SDNY order that people will have to wear 2 masks or N-95. I'm not sure I can be heard that way. [Note: they put the lawyers in plexiglass box]

 Judge Castel: I am able to shed light on this. Due to a position that I hold within the court relative to jury trials. So, the court will provide a second mask to jurors during voir dire process. However, once seated they will be given KN95 masks, or can 2bl mask

 Judge Castel: I've conducted two jury trials during the pandemic. [Inner City Press covered both of them] "We have constructed and tested a booth with a HEPA filter. You will only wear a mask when at counsel table. Judge Castel: We are adjourned.

 There is delay for co-defendant Mauricio Hernandez Pineda, too. There was a proceeding on January 29 and Inner City Press live tweeted it here:   

Assistant US Attorney says Mauricio's lawyer may have a conflict of interest. There may be a hearing on that - so case is being pushed back again to March 22.

AUSA: We will continue our discussion of a pre-trail disposition. And that's it - very short, adjourned Inner City Press

With the proceeding over so quickly, looking through the docket. Mauricio Hernandez Pineda's current lawyer entered the case on July 13, 2020. There have been adjournments on July 21, Sept 24, Nov 11, and Jan 19....

  More: the new lawyer of Howard R. Leader, who in SDNY has previously represented 154 defendants. So which one is it? Watch this site.

 Tony Hernandez' new lawyer, saying that the previously lawyers neglected to get the pre sentencing report translated, now has said Tony Hernandez - or he - will not consent to a virtual sentencing: "Re: United States v. Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado 15 Cr. 379 Dear Judge Castel: I represent Mr. Hernandez Alvarado. I write to update the Court on the current status of Mr. Hernandez’s matter, and to request an adjournment of sentence. Translation of the PSR and prior sentencing submission are almost complete. I will need to get the translations and then meet with my client to discuss them, then include any points from that discussion into our sentencing submission. At this time, I cannot consent to a remote sentencing proceeding on Mr. Hernandez Alvarado’s behalf. As such, I ask the Court to set an in-person sentencing date at its convenience, after the Court reopens to such appearances." Watch this site.

  On June 29 SDNY Judge P. Kevin Castel held a bond hearing on Otto Rene Salguero Morales. Inner City Press live tweeted it, here.

  Now on January 20, that defendant and the "other Salguero" have their discovery and a next date on March 24, Judge Castel ordered in a proceeding that Inner City Press live tweeted here:

Proceeding involves Otto Rene Salguero Morales and Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo. 

 Judge Castel asks if these two defendants have gotten their Rule 16 discovery information from the US Attorney. Yes, but only on January 14.

Judge Castel suggests meeting again March 26 - in person, he says (or hopes). Or, 2 weeks before that, if MCC prison can

Judge Castel switches it to March 24, calls it the "outside date," plans for it in the courtroom, the same one Tony Hernandez was found guilty in.

Judge Castel: Thank you all very much. We are adjourned.

  On September 16 at 11 am, then, Judge Castel turned to Tony Hernandez' co-defendant Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

Assistant US Attorney: We may need a separate trial date for Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez. There may be other defendants who may make sense to include in this trial, others may seek to sever. 

Judge Castel: Is the US seeking a severance?

AUSA: Not at this time.

Fuentes Ramirez' lawyer Moskowitz: This is the first I'm hearing there is another defendant out there. My indictment only names Mr. Fuentes Ramirez. I'm aware there are other out there...

Judge Castel: I too am in the dark. I'm extracting this from the US now

AUSA: There is also Mauricio Hernandez Pineda...

Judge Castel: Alright. OK. What's the status of the case against him? AUSA: He was arraigned. Since then everything has been adjourned.

Judge Castel: If Fuentes Ramirez wants a separate trial, he doesn't have to do anything - his indictment does not name anyone else. AUSA: If we need to make a motion, we will do so. Moscowitz: We are working with the Balde case [about virtual grand juries]

Fuentes Ramirez' lawyer: I have a three month trial in 2021 before Judge Furman, then onc in front of Judge Ramos, then Judge Cote.

Judge Castel: trial dates in 1st quarter of 2021 have not yet been set by the Court. That's the fact.

Judge Castel: Let's meet again in this case in early November - there's a Nov 15 deadline to ask for a jury in the first quarter of 2021.

Fuentes Ramirez' lawyer: We cannot consent to exclude Time under the Speedy Trial Act. AUSA: We ask to exclude time.

Judge Castel: I exclude time until November. There is uncertainty, there may be a motion about the grand jury materials. Two, because of COVID-19 there is a limitation on the number of trials.

 Judge Castel: OK, the next proceeding will be November 13 at 11 a.m. Fuentes Ramirez: May God bless you. Judge Castel: Thank you. We are adjourned

 Inner City Press will stay on the case. Justice delayed can be justice denied.

At 9 am on October 28 Geneva time Inner City Press in writing asked UN "High Commissioner for Human Rights" Michelle Bachelet and her spokesman Rupert Colville this: "Hello, this is a Press request for OHCHR / Bachelet comment on the murder, on video, in Honduras of 'Magdeleno' whose drug trafficking notebook were used in recent SDNY conviction of Presidential brother Tony Hernandez, a trial Inner City Press covered every day. See video of killing here.

   More on Patreon here.

 On October 26 after the murder and release of the video, Inner City Press went to (try to) pose the question to Guterres. The response? Video here. Three UN security vehicles, and even a publicly funded NYPD detective, "protecting" Guterres who already wastes untold public funds on security. Disgusting. A protest has been called for, and is needed - @InnerCityPress response here.  More on Patreon here.

Inner City Press on October 18 asked the defendant's lawyer Omar Malone about this client's post arrest statement, the admitted murders by the cooperating witnesses, and upcoming sentencing submission. Video and answers here.

    Here was the post arrest statement as initially put in to the jury, as uploaded to YouTube by Inner City Press, here. The case is US v. Diaz Morales, 15-cr-00379 (Castel).


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