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Hunts Point Market Vegetable Scam Has March 2020 Trial Date As Judge McMahon Says Lot of Lettuce

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, August 15 – Vianney Capellan and Rodin Diaz were indicted in July 2018 for a scheme to get vegetables without paying for them, to the tune of $3.5 million.

 The scheme involved the Hunts Point Produce Market in The Bronx, but at a status conference on August 15 before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Chief Judge Colleen McMahon, it was said that Ms. Capellan who tried to call in by cell phone has moved up to Middletown. "My old stomping grounds," Judge McMahon said.

  For months the US Attorney's Office and the defense have been saying they are discussing a disposition, hung up on the loss amount. Judge McMahon on August 15 tried to focus their minds by setting a trial date: March 2, 2020. There will be another status conference on October 17 at 1:30, before one of the lawyers runs across Pearl Street to appear before SDNY Judge Valerie Caproni.

  It'll be tight, to run across to 40 Foley, the lawyer said. Back on August 15, 2018 - exactly a year ago - Judge McMahon said of the loss amount, that is a lot of lettuce, okay? Yes it is. Inner City Press will stay on this case.

Back on June 20 when U.S. Postal Service briber Ibrahim Issa came with his lawyer Benjamin Brafman to be sentenced by Judge McMahon, the U.S. Probation Department suggested 60 months in prison. Brafman wanted 29 months, name checking an Olive Society symposium he attended at Columbia University.

Judge McMahon said she had meant to attend that symposium. Then in an hour and a half sentencing proceeding she imposed the 60 months recommended by probation - where she came out before seeing their recommendation, she said.

  While Brafman said he thought Issa would come out better after going to trial albeit losing, Judge McMahon said what she learned during the two week trial did not redound to Issa's benefit. He evaded taxes, changing accountants when they gave him advice he didn't like.

  Brafman described Issa in a restaurant with a target of his bribes gesturing at what he called the other businessmen taking others out to dinner. But these were bribes to get contracts to repair Postal Service vehicles.

 Brafman's best argument was that the tax charges were only brought when Issa decided to go to trial rather than plead guilty. The government declined to comment on the timing, and Judge McMahon focused in the unsavoriness of shifting tax burdens on to others.

  Brafman requested Canaan camp in Pennsylvania, self-surrender September 5.  Judge McMahon said they might not be ready for Issa by then. We'll see.

As if in another world, in the trial of US v. Jason Polanco many videos of store robberies in masks were shown on June 19, complete with play by play by one of the now unmasked participants, Joshua Kemp. Hours later a higher profile defendant scheduled for the same courtroom had a more effective mask: his unnumbered case was quietly adjourned, see below.

  In Bureau of Prison blues in the late morning, Kemp described buying Halloween masks on Fordham Road and targeting a liquor store in Washington Heights.

   In the courtroom of SDNY Judge Paul A. Engelmayer the jurors started intently at their screens as Kemp chased a liquor store worker. The defendant, presumably, pushed a liquor store customer to the ground. Later they ran off down the sidewalk. Today everything is filmed.

  But there are still disputes. Polanco's lawyer Donna R. Newman on June 18 wrote to Judge Engelmayer about "the substantive Hobbs Act robbery of a Citgo station on November 24, 2014," saying that "there is no disinterested eyewitness identification of Mr. Polanco, no DNA, no fingerprints, and nothing that links Mr. Polanco to these robberies other than the word of a cooperating witness, Joshua Kemp."

  Inner City Press has asked the US Attorney's Office for the government exhibits. Later on June 19, a plea that Judge Engelmayer was supposed to take in US v Meyers, initially with no case number, was abruptly postponed. But Inner City Press is on the case, see below, @InnerCityPress and the new @SDNYLIVE:

   The US has quietly filed a criminal antitrust case against Banca IMI trader Larry D. Meyers, concealing the case number and adjourning what was listed as a plea proceeding on June 19 before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Inner City Press can report.

  The case involves violations with the Sherman Act with respect to American Depository Receipts. It is a quiet part of a larger case.

   Back on 9 May 2019 DOJ Antitrust Division criminal chief James J. Fredricks signed a "Notice of Intent to File An Information" against Meyers. Through so-called "Wheel B" it was assigned to SDNY Judge Engelmayer, by Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.

 On June 5 - it is not clear where -  Meyers and his attorney Dan Portnov "waive[d] in open court prosecution by indictment and consent[ed] that the proceeding may be by information instead of by indictment."

   That way, instead of through the more public Magistrates Court, Meyers' presentment was before Judge Engelmayer, with a Docket Number listed as "19-CR- [blank]," quickly released on $100,000 bond, travel restricted to the US and Ireland unlike most defendants confined to two or three US Districts.

  This is the VIP aisle of indictments, with the DOJ helping to avoid any possible perp walk.

  And so it was that while the week's SDNY "Civil and Criminal Proceedings Calendar" for the week of 06/17/19 listed on June 19 at 5 pm a plea before Judge Engelmayer in USA v. Meyers, 19-cr-[blank], the courtroom of Judge Engelmayer where Inner City Press had been earlier in the day on a Hobbs Act robbery trial was empty.

  There was no sign on the door explaining why, as was done for example on the door of Judge Deborah Batts about Michael Avenatti. There are VIP lines, and vip lines.

 Currently the docket does not show where the next proceeding will take place. But Inner City Press believes it knows. Watch this site - and for more, see its Patreon, here.

While many even most cases in the Magistrates Court of the SDNY are sealed, on June 19 Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in processing three alleged co conspirators did not use the word sealed or docketing delayed.

 No case number was given, that the surnames of the defendants were Perez, Grito and (it seemed) Gazono. Or Bisono. He was represented by the Federal Defenders, so one would think it would be listed there. He was also pressed for an 8 pm curfew, which Federal Defender Julia Gatto effectively fought off.

 This was undermine by a CJA lawyer agreeing to the curfew for his client - but Judge Netburn in any event did not agree to it. Instead she told Pre-Trial Services to go check out the home to see if the monitoring needed to enforce a curfew could work there.

The day's last case before Judge Netburn seemed straightforward. Ricardo Reynoso, resident of Massachusetts, had been arrested at 11:30 am that day in Connecticut. Judge Netburn released him on $75,000 bond.

 Judge Netburn, who the previous day sealed and delayed docketing on a money laundering case from New Jersey completing the tri-state trifecta, told Ricardo Reynoso about a program she and another SDNY judge (apparently SDNY Chief Judge Collen McMahon) run. It is called Young Adult Opportunity Program.

Because Inner City Press is not *only* about pushing for transparency, for example of the a suddenly sealed sentencing before Judge Lorna G. Schofield on June 17, we link to this program here. It's all to the good. So is transparency, including on warrants. We'll have more on this.


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