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WBAI Versus Pacifica Is Not a Federal Case Judge Engelmayer Rules But Stays To Friday

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Scope Thread
The Source - XXL - The Root - Vibe, etc

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 21 – A dispute at long time NYC radio station WBAI landed before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alongside the Tekashi 6ix9ine case, see below.

 On Monday, October 21 just after 3 pm Judge Engelmayer entered his full courtroom, for now a Tweet-free zone, and ruled that he has no jurisdiction: no Federal questions, not $75,000 in controversy. But he continued the stay until Friday at 5 pm (or until NYS action), and urged the parties to talk and try to settle.

 The Pacifica lawyer asked how he could continue the stay, and for him to put to best "nationwide rumors" that the Pacifica board could not meet. Judge Engelmayer said the order speaks for itself. And it was over, tweeted from hallway.

 This, from WBAI's lawyers: "On the morning of October 7, 2019, at around 7 a.m., agents of IED Vernile, who acted without approval of either the National Executive Board or WBAI’s elected Local Station Board of Directors, entered the WBAI studio and forced all of the staff to leave. All programs which were locally produced were cancelled and programming was piped in from other Pacifica affiliates. Reimers and all other staff were “fired” by Vernile, an act he had no authority to take under the Pacifica Bylaws. Prior to taking this action, there had been no vote of the Pacifica National Board of Directors authorizing Vernile’s action, nor had the Local Station Board of Directors been notified or consulted. Vernile, in effect, proceeded as a rogue actor, without authority, who used physical force and his access to WBAI’s web site and its broadcast antenna, to put the station off the air.

In the late afternoon of October 7, 2019,Vernile, in the name of Pacifica, issued a press release stating that WBAI would be “transformed into an outlet for the best of the nation’s progressive shows [with] top programs from across the National Pacifica Radio Network.” See First Amended Petition Exhibit E. In fact, the Foundation Bylaws give control over content to the Local Station Board. Nowhere in the Pacifica Bylaws is the Executive Director given power to seize a radio station. The Bylaws, at Article 9 Section 7 (First Amended Petition Exhibit A, at page 30), give the Executive Director power to generally supervise, direct and control the business of the Foundation “subject to control of the Board.” They do not give him power to decide what content to present on a station. It does not even appear that the Pacifica National Board can seize control of a station. While at Article 5 Section 1(E) (Exhibit A at page 16) the Bylaws give it the power to “oversee the conduct, management and control of the Foundation’s affairs and activities,” the Bylaws do not expressly give it the power to seize control of a local radio station. Even if the Bylaws, or California law, allowed such activity, the Board hadn’t voted to do this, and its subsequent votes, one in favor and one against, both post-dating the filing of this Petition, are in controversy. It is clear however, in the Bylaws, that the Local Station Board of Directors has full control over the content of the radio station. See Bylaws at Article 7 Section 3(G), on page 23. Furthermore, in firing the Manager of WBAI, the Executive Director failed to consult with the Local Station Board as required by Article 7 Section 3 (Exhibit A at pages 22 and 23). Under that provision, if the Local Station Board and the Executive Director disagreed, the issue had to be decided by the National Board." Inner City Press will have more on this.

Also before Judge Engelmayer:  Video of the car-jacking of Tekashi 6ix9ine shown as evidence in the trial of Aljermiah "Nuke" Mack and Anthony "Harv" Ellison which Inner City Press put online on YouTube (here with 83,000 views) has now been subject of a complaint, YouTube informed Inner City Press on October 19. Photo here.

  Many legal questions are raised here. If a song is playing when a crime is committed, on video - as here in the car of 69's drive Jorge Rivera, can the video be played? Or censored, even partially or temporally - as for now seems to be happening with sentencing that have followed the guilty verdicts on Harv Ellison and Nuke Mack, leading up to 6ix9ine's in December?

The jury on October 3 returned a mixed verdict, see below. Daniel Hernandez / Tekashi 6ix9ine who testified for three days against them is now set to be sentenced on December 18 at 10 am, with the government's submission including under Section 5K1 due on December 11 or before.  Inner City Press tweeted the order here, and the underlying submission rules here.

  On October 17 co-defendant Jamel Jones was set to be sentenced, initially at 2:30 pm, then 9:45 am. Inner City Press inquired into having a live feed into the SDNY Press Room, as was the case for the sentencing of Roland Martin. But it was not done.

  At 9:45 am Jamel Jones' family members were in Judge Engelmayer's courtroom, but not Jamel Jones himself. Later he was brought in by Marshals and the proceeding began. It turned out he and his lawyer had not been given an opportunity to in writing address what the US Attorney's letter said was shown at trial, that Jim Jones spoke of "violating" 6ix9ine and Jamel Jones said "super violate."

   Inner City Press tweeted, as it did during the trial and the Roland Martin sentencing, here. Then Judge Engelmayer said, Mr Smallman tells me someone is tweeting. Who is it?

  Inner City Press immediately said, Me, adding that it had asked for a live feed into the Press Room.

  Judge Engelmayer said that if request for live feed are made they are granted. But it wasn't in this case. Inner City Press immediately shut down its phone, power off. An Assistant US Attorney came in and started using her phone, as has always been the case. She was told to turn it off.

   Now will less detailed information we report that Judge Engelmayer told Jamel Jones that he, unlike Roland Martin, had not renounced Nine Trey. That it was too late in life to use lack of a father figure as an excuse. (In fairness, Judge Englemayer later called out the father in the gallery.) Ultimately Judge Engelmayer imposed a full 135 month sentence on Jamel Jones, more than 11 years.

  While some might not like it compared, many white collar criminals in the SDNY are given light or time served sentences. This is one of the many reasons that detailed, real time reporting of these sentencing should be encouraged, not stopped and penalized. As Inner City Press left the courtroom, it was asked for its name and business card and was told that an "incident report" will be made. We'll have more on this.

  On October 10 co-defendant Roland Martin a/k/a Ro Murda was sentenced by Judge Paul Engelmayer. The sentencing guideline specified in his plea agreement was 77 to 96 months; the government recommended 60 months.

  After back and forth which Inner City Press live tweeted, below, Judge Engelmayer said he would have sentenced Ro Murda to 90 months, but because he was stabbed in the MDC after renouncing the gang, he gave him 66 months.

 Since he has already served 10 months, it will be 56 more months; his request is in Fort Dix. Here's some of how it went:

AUSA begins pitch for long sentence, citing "cooperating witnesses" at trial (that is, #6ix9ine and Kristian Cruz) that Roland Martin was a high ranking Nine Trey official, in the Prison Line Up for 9 years then once out in February 2018.

Judge Engelmayer cuts in, asks AUSA Wasn't Roland Martin not really involved in the shooting in the Barclays Center? Cites the video shown at trial. AUSA saying he was there in the hall, citing "Mister Hernandez."

 AUSA cites 2016 jail calls in which Roland Martin told Kristian Cruz he could help get drug debts "settled" by raising it to the Nine Trey leadership in prison.  Judge Engelmayer reminisces about trial testimony, which he says showed the Prison Line Up.

 AUSA says a significant sentence is warranted but acknowledges Ro Murda suffered a "horrific attack" in the MDC. Now defense counsel is up.

Ro Murda's lawyer starts with the power outage in the MDC.  Judge Engelmayer cuts him off, tells him he has a much more substantive and unique argument for Mr. Martin for a sentence reduction.

His lawyer says Ro Murda in May 2019 renounced being a member of the gang. And on May 30 he was stabbed multiple times. And when taken between hospitals, "it is still no clear why... there was no oxygen tank in the ambulance."

 Judge Engelmayer jumps in, saying he's seen the video and what is "striking" is that the corrections officers did not come in to help, Ro Murda was running about trying to save his own life

It seems NYU Langone [on 55th Street in Sunset Park, near the MDC] dumped Roland Martin to Bellevue as it does not have a contract with the BOP. [Inner City Press hopes to have more on this.] Upon return to MDC, Ro Murda was put in the SHU [Special Housing Unit] for his own protection.

 Roland Martin's lawyer is arguing that he shouldn't stay in jail because he is at risk there, having renounced gang membership...  He says that Ro Murda's sentencing submission has 16 letters of support.

 Roland Martin speaks: he apologizes to the court, his family and community. Says he renounced Nine Trey in May and got stabbed nine times. He is having nightmares. He wanted to leave Brooklyn, and later work with kids, he says, and see his daughter.

Roland Martin has already been in jail 10 months in this case. He's saying, as #6ix9ine is, that that is enough. Judge Engelmayer after a break "to collect my thoughts" goes on the record with his view, cites his role in attack on a rival of #6ix9ine April 3, 2018

 As Judge Engelmayer reads out his reasoning - still no sentence - a group file into courtroom. Judge has a case later in the afternoon about... AirBnB

Beyond deterring others, Judge Engelmayer says that society needs to be protected from Ro Murda. He adds, "Sorry to say all that, but it's the truth." Now running through mitigating factors, leading with the multiple stabbings after he renounced the gang.

 Now Judge Engelmayer is reading from the letters of support: Roland Martin's mother, his daughter ("best Dad ever"); fiance says "Ro is a great man."

Judge Engelmayer: Ro's aunt writes that he took care of her girls until she could come home from work. Drum roll: he is about to actually impose sentence

Judge Engelmayer says he would have sentenced Roland Martin to 90 months in prison, but that the attack on him in the MDC for renouncing the gang results in a 24 month reduction. He sentences Roland Martin to 66 months in jail.

 Judge Engelmayer asks Roland Martin to stand up for formal imposition of sentence: 66 months in jail (he's already served 10, so 56 more months). Says don't associate on social media with gang members, hmm. There are not legal objections. Open counts dismissed.

 Roland Martin's lawyer asks that he serve his sentence in Fort Dix. It will be 56 more months.

  6ix9ine hopes to get "time served" for his cooperation, rather than the 47 year mandatory minimum he would otherwise face for what he pleaded guilty to. The government's total discretion under Section 5K, and judges' separate ability to ignore the prosecutors' recommendations, were brougtht to the forefront his week in the Honduras drug trafficking case in the SDNY.

 In that case, which Inner City Press is also covering, Alex Ardon admitted to killing 56 people, but still stands to get a 5K1 letter. We'll continue to cover both cases.

 More here.

For now, more on Patreon here.

Photo of
                        SDNY courthouse, Worth St entrance, (c) Inner
                        City Press

For more on this case, including the multiple defendant discovery conference before Judge Engelmayer, click here.


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