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In SDNY Man Who Pled Guilty To Biting ICE Agent Is Not Asked If He Had Any Defenses

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 23 – When Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents went to arrest Christopher Santos Cruz at his apartment on Sedgwick Avenue in The Bronx on March 3, things did not go as planned.

     As alleged in a complaint sword to on March 4 before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman, Santos Cruz bit and removed a segment an ICE officer's left ring finger.

  On October 21, Assistant US Attorney Kedar S. Bhatia wrote to District Judge Richard M. Berman, who whom the case was assigned, acknowledging that on October 18 "due to an error in producing the defendant from the Bureau of Prisons to the courthouse, the defendant was not produced."

    That took place on October 23 in the early afternoon, with Inner City Press the only media in the Mag Court. Santos Cruz pled guilty, but to AUSA Bhatia it wasn't enough. He urged Magistrate Judge Freeman, as luck would have it back on the Magistrates Court bench this week, to ask Santos Cruz if he had discussed any defenses with his attorney.

    Judge Freeman, who earlier in the day had asked Bhatia's fellow AUSA Thane Rehn to inquire in the US Attorney's Office why their plea agreements have defendants agreeing to forfeiture tied to the offenses in their indictments, and not the lesser included offenses they end up pleading guilty to, declined to ask the question that Bhatia requested.

     AUSA Bhatia insisted that the question was appropriate but said he would not push it, he thought the allocution to be sufficient. Judge Berman has yet to set a sentencing date. The case is US v. Santos Cruz, 19-cr-228 (Berman / Freeman).


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