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Torrealba Who Traded Child Porn of Toddler Gets 24 Months After Bid To Get SDNY Courtroom Sealed

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope, Photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, August 21 – Jorge Torreabla was charged with trading child pornography, including involving toddlers, to sexual access to what he though was the nine year old child of what turned out to be an undercover agent.   

Under the US Sentencing Guidelines he faced 135 to 168 months in prison. On August 22, after his defense attorney Jerald Levine tried to get Inner City Press removed from the courtroom, Torrealba was sentenced to 24 months in prison.    U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Valerie E. Caproni to her credit denied Levine's application to seal the courtroom, saying "This is a sentencing, I see no basis to seal it." She did however direct that victim impact statements, even redacted, be filed under complete seal.   

Torrealba said that in the three days he was in the Metropolitan Correctional Center before being bonded out, three separate inmates had sexually harassed him. One, he said, asked a prison guard to move Torreabla to his cell.   

 The gravamen of this argument, repeated by Levine with reference to Jeffrey Epstein, was the Torrealba should not go to jail at all. But why can't the United States ensure jails where people can't be raped?    Judge Caproni imposed five years of Supervised Release, saying that Torralba should not see even computerized child porn, and adult porn only with the approval of the treatment provider.  A reference was made to immigration but the semi-seal docket will have to be reviewed for that.  

It is noteworthy that the U.S. Attorney's office, represented by AUSA David Felton, did not make any argument beyond its written (partially withheld) submission. Only the day before, SDNY Judge Katharine Polk Failla told the AUSA for the sentencing of Frank Bright that she wanted him to speak, beyond the papers. We'll have more on all this.

  Elsewhere in the SDNY, John Depeyster is charged with failing to register as a sex offender when he moved from New York to New Jersey. On August 21 his trial date was set for February 3, 2020 - then he said he wanted to drop his Federal Defender lawyer for the Criminal Justice Act lawyer on duty, later in the week.

 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods in setting the trial date had told Depeyster that if he had a desire to change lawyers, sooner would be better than close to trial time. So the request was made.

  In a July 17 conference, Assistant US Attorney Jarrod L. Schaeffer recounted to Judge Woods that the previous conference has been rescheduled because the Federal Defender "was unavoidably detained in another matter in court." These things do happen. Are they the basis for switching counsel? Inner City Press, the only media in Judge Woods' courtroom on August 21, will continue to follow this case. It is US v. Depeyster, 19-cr-253 (GHW).

Earlier on August 21 a man pleaded guilty to transporting cocaine on a stateless vessel but neither his Federal Defender nor the Assistant US Attorney prosecuting him would tell the Press even the case number.

  It happened at the murky Magistrates Court of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Inside, Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein was asking how the U.S. has jurisdiction over the vessel, the case and this defendant. AUSA Elizabeth A. Hanft said there is letter from US Coast Guard Officer Samuel D. Irwin in the case file. But what is the case number?

  The Federal Defender assigned to the case, or to this specific defendant, Clay Kaminsky asked that his client not be transferred to Valhalla because he would not be able to make telephone calls to Venezuela from there.

  Afterward just outside the courtroom Inner City Press asked Federal Defender Clay Kaminsky, What is the number of this case?

  He said, I have no comment.

  Inner City Press clarified it only wanted the number of this public case (which he is paid public money to defend).

  "And I said I have no comment," Kaminsky repeated. Inner City Press asked AUSA Elizabeth Hanft, who is prosecuting the case. She also declined to give the case number. We'll have more on this.
  It turns out it is a case that Inner City Press covered on May 2, 2019, see below, before Judge Paul G. Gardephe. In that proceeding, Kaminsky said "We would like to resolve the case as soon as possible." Then AUSA Hanft told Judge Gardephe, "As would the government, Your Honor. We'll continue to discuss the best outcome with Mr. Kaminsky."

  The case is United States v. Leandro Gonzalez et al., 18-Cr-601 (PGG) and the man pleading guilty was the lead / named defendant Leandro Gonzalez. There are several other defendants, not represented by Federal Defenders. We'll have more on this.

   On August 21 there had been a change of plea scheduled for Judge Gardephe's courtroom on the 7th floor of 40 Foley Square. But when Inner City Press went there, his courtroom door was locked. Apparently the plea was delegated without notice to the Magistrates Court, where Magistrate Judge Gorenstein is on duty this week.

From May 2, 2019: Ten defendants charged in connection with an unflagged vessel carrying 624 kilos of cocaine in international waters were on May 2  brought before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul G. Gardephe. Some, from Suriname, spoke only Dutch. Some connected to the case were await extradition from Croatia while one of the accused had extradition to the U.S. denied in a court in Spain, where that decision is being appealed.

  The First Step Act made the so-called safety value applicable to these maritime offenses. Judge Gardephe asked the many defense attorneys if their clients were ready to proffer to the government. One of the lawyers explained that his client is from Suriname, this is so different, so it will take time. Another complained of the difficult of reviewing confidential discovery material in Valhalla, and in the MCC. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Hanft assured Judge Gardephe that she will calling the wardens and doing all she can. The overall case is USA v. Gonzalez et al., 18-cr-00601 (PGG).

  Not counting the two defendants presumably on their way from Croatia, and the lucky thirteen who may remain in Spain, the ten defendants actually in Judge Gardephe's courtroom on May 2 are being split into two separate cases. The first, with six defendants, will meet again June 20. The second, with four defendants -- Argemiro Zapata-Castro, Shervington Lovell, David Cardona-Cardona and Steven Antonius -- will not meet again until August 16, when one of the lawyers will be out of the country and another at an anti-death penalty training in Santa Clara. Could should an issue be the basis for Spain's refusal to extradite? Watch this site.


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