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Venezuela Sanctions Had Coro Pleading Guilty Now AP Joins Inner City Press Bid to Unseal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Transcript
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 6 – Victor Mones Coro was charged with brokering private passenger air travel for Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah - and like co-defendant Michols Orsini Quintero was given his discovery late by the US, mixed with other DHS info.

Inner City Press has formally sought unsealing in the case (now joined by Coro's counsel), as docketed on April 1:

"These are clearly judicial documents. And there is a public interest in US sanctions, on Venezuela and elsewhere, and their enforcement and violation and all filings in such cases.    Mr. Coro's counsel this evening filed that "Notice is hereby given to the public.. that two sealed submissions, dated March 8, 2021 and March 22, 2021, were made by the defendant Victor Mones Coro." Docket No. 194.   While appreciating the notice, no legal argument justifying withholding in full, rather than redacting where absolutely necessary was provided. Inner City Press hereby opposes the sealing, and requests unsealing.   Covering this for Inner City Press, I have noted how many filings are listed as sealed: see, e.g., Docket 120 (10/13/20), and further back. Compare, Judge Jed S. Rakoff's request ruling on Inner City Press' request in US v. Weigand, viewable here."

 On April 1, U.S. District Court for the Southern District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered a response by April 9  by the US Attorney's Office.

On April 2, Coro through counsel joined in Inner City Press' application to unseal: "Dear Judge Hellerstein: We write on behalf of defendant Victor Mones Coro to join the application of Inner City Press with respect to sealed and redacted documents. As is apparent from the public record in this case, and was referenced in open court at Mr. Mones’ sentencing, a number of briefs in this action filed by Mr. Mones and the government have been filed only in redacted form.  There has never been an application to seal or any order stating reasons for the sealing or redactions."

And on April 6, Associated Press joined: "ENDORSED LETTER as to Victor Mones Coro addressed to Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein from Brian Barrett dated 4/5/2021 re: Mr. Barrett writes: I write on behalf of The Associated Press and AP reporter Joshua Goodman to request permission to intervene in this matter in support of the applications to unseal submitted by Inner City Press (Dkt. No. 199) and Defendant Victor Mones Coro ("Mones") (Dkt. No 201). ENDORSEMENT: Leave to intervene is granted. This letter will be accepted as petitioners motion. So ordered. (Signed by Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on 4/6/2021)." Watch this site.

  Also in the case has been Alejandro Javier Marin, who plead guilty on March 23 to a deal, only one count of false statements to Federal agents about $140,000, see below.

  On January 4, Mones Coro appeared before
Judge Hellerstein to plead guilty. His lawyer said there were contacts with intelligence service(s) but that the issue would come up as mitigation at sentencing, which Inner City Press said it also intended to cover.

Now it has.

On March 17, with Mones Coro up for sentencing, his lawyer began to speak of providing information to the US intelligence services. The Assistant US Attorney cut in and said this should be under seal. The phone line went silent as they went into the robing room.

Afterward the AUSA made reference to what he'd said in the robing room. Mones Coro was sentenced to 55 months, and the US Attorney's Office put out a press release, with sealing not mentioned, as it was not in the current Eaze trial in which an application by Inner City Press has resulted in some unsealing. And here?

  The March 24 guilty plea of Marin was a mystery. Why only a single count? Even the AUSA said it was more complicated. Judge Hellerstein asked for the discrepancy between restitution and forfeiture to be addressed prior to sentencing.

 There are other discrepancies. For example, Judge Hellerstein said the plea deal said Marin is a Venezuelan citizen who will be deported. But he said he is a US citizen; for education he mentioned service in the Venezuelan Naval Academy. We'll have more on this.

  On February 19, with Michols Orsini Quintero's release to home confinement in Florida to review the extensive discovery running out mid March, Judge Hellerstein held another proceeding. Inner City Press covered it.

  AUSA Sam Adelsberg pushed for Orsini Quintero to return to jail on March 15. Judge Hellerstein seemed to agree, but told defense lawyer Sabrina Shroff to "make a record" for his decision or for appeal. So expect some affidavits and legal arguments. Shroff emphasized that there is not even a trial date, and that her client was only a pilot.

On February 25, Shroff wrote to Judge Hellerstein requesting modifications of conditions of bail, specifically to receiving mental health evaluation a treatment, and to attend a house of worship "as religion and God are a source of comfort for Mr. Orsini."

And on February 26, Judge Hellerstein granted it: "MEMO ENDORSEMENT as to Michols Orsini Quintero on re: [183] LETTER by Michols Orsini Quintero addressed to Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein from Sabrina P. Shroff dated February 25, 2021 re: Modification of conditions of release. ENDORSEMENT: So Ordered. (Signed by Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on 2/26/2021)."

 This case is US v. Coro, 19-cr-144 (Hellerstein)


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