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In SDNY Elvin Maldonado Gets 66 Months For Selling Crack Supplies To Gang Wrote Letter to Judge Woods

By Matthew Russell Lee

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 8 – When Elvin Maldonado came up for sentencing on May 8 he faced a guideline sentence of 70 to 87 months in prison as part of a gang that sold crack in Hunts Point in The Bronx. In the courtroom of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory Woods there were family and friends of Maldonado, some of whom wrote letters as Maldonado did, handwritten, in the run up to sentencing. Judge Woods quoted from the letters, how Maldonado never really knew his father; he added from the sealed Pre Sentencing Report that Maldonado has not seen either of his own two children since 2017 and owes $20,000 in child support.

  The government's pitch, by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Krissoff, was that Maldonado had in fact been the supplier of the Drug Trafficking Organization, bringing in the ingredients of crack. Ms. Krissoff's sentencing submission recounts that "on or about March 30, 2017, a search warrant was conducted [sic] at Maldonado's residence. Law enforcement officers recovered... 30 grams of cocaine and approximately 2.6 grams of heroin, and over $11,000." Also, "Maldonado was intercepted on the Title III wiretaps in this case discussing the narcotics he was supplying to the DTO, as well as the payment for those narcotics," citing the sealed PSR at Paragraph 12.

  Judge Woods read that sentence, including the phrase Title II, then imposed a sentence of 66 months. He wished Maldonado well, and received in return thanks, from Maldonado and from the gallery. This has all happened before.

  Back on April 15 in the same overall USA v. Palermo case for Felix Cordero Sr there were only Judge Woods and his deputy, a court report, the lone Assistant US Attorney and defense lawyer, Cordero, two U.S. Marshals - and Inner City Press. The tale that emerged what that Cordero Senior was previously imprisoned for conspiracy to commit murder, then for trying to sneak heroin into jail, then for fleeing the halfway house to which he was assigned. He then moved back to Hunts Point to work for a gang run by his own son Miguel Ramirez. In a reversal, Felix Senior took phone calls for his son, including inquiries into whether his son had guns for sale. Later Felix Senior was in a car with a Mr. Alicea, less than 18 years old at the time, fleeing the police. Alicea threw drugs and a gun out of the moving car.

 Judge Woods went through this history in detail before sentencing Cordero Senior to 120 months. His lawyer asked that he be assigned to the same prison as his soon. Judge Woods said no, he would not recommend that. We'll have more on this sprawling case. 

  As if in a parallel universe the previous week at sentencing Will Baez spoke about his seven year old daughter and dream of opening an auto body shop. His lawyer spoke of conditions in the MCC: 26 men on 13 bunk beds in a unit with one toilet and one shower and rodents in the walls. There was no discussion of the safety value provisions of the First Step Act, which later in the day got a reduction for another defendant caught with five kilos of what he thought was heroin. Judge Abrams showed those in the courtroom the sentencing guidelines book and said Baez need not be defined by the worst day in his life. But ten years are ten years. He waved as they led him to the elevator of 40 Foley Square in shackles.

Another defendant on April 9 before SDNY Judge Gregory Woods had no fewer than three defense lawyers with him, more than some defendants who face and receive much longer sentences. But Judge Woods' reasoning for imposing a sentence of 48 month in prison rather than the lower guideline of 57 months was that Martinez was that his was the lower level of the gang, that this will be his longest sentence on 15 convictions, and that Judge Woods hopes Martinez can get back to his 13 year old son faster than 57 months. It was as is often the case with Judge Woods a comprehensive and human sentencing, ending with an "I wish you well" and "Thanks." The lawyers, it seems, were from DLA Piper; it contrasts to other cases Inner City Press has witnessed this year, where a defendant complained that his passport was not returned, for example. We'll have more on this.

  The U.S. Treasury employee accused in October of leaking Suspicious Activity Reports about Paul Manafort and others, Natalie Edwards, pled not guilty back on January 30 before  Judge Woods. Her next appearance was set for April 4 at 2 pm, but when Inner City Press came in again through the metal detectors to cover it, other cases were on in Judge Woods' 12th floor courtroom. His deputy informed  Inner City Press that Edwards was adjourned to May 2 at 10 am.

  One of the other cases in front of Judge Woods, a defense lawyer argued that his client Freddy would never have voluntarily told the detectives that he is a "great dice roller;" he is making a suppression motion. But it will be delayed, by vacation and the prosecutor being on trial. Judge Woods urges both sides to file more quickly, and pointed asked if a police witness had, in fact, perjured himself. That trial is set for July 22 - the case did not seem to be listed on the board in the lobby of 500 Pearl Street, and still without electronics it was not easy to inquire, yet.

 Back on January 20 on Worth Street, Inner City Press asked her lawer Jacob Kaplan of Brafman & Associates about a statement made during the proceeding, that another person's device was also search. Kaplan acknowledged that had been said, adding that he didn't know who it was. Video here, Vine here

  Jump cut to 2 April 2019: "I was a street drug dealer in from of my building in the Bronx," a defendant told U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on April 2. Defendant Gonzalez was pleading guilty to a lesser included charge, with a guideline sentence of between 120 and 150 months in jail. But he won't be sentenced until July 11 at 2:30 pm, after the Probation Department does its interview and issues a Pre Sentencing Report that will remain sealed until, somehow, Gonzalez appeals. We'll have more on this - there were no family members in the courtroom, no media other than Inner City Press. Less than hour earlier when Eldar Rakhamimov appeared for sentencing for inflating the number of Pepsi and Canada Dry bottles returned through his business in the SDNY courtroom of Judge Ronnie Abrams, he had many of his employees and family members with him. His lawyer Tony Mirvis pointed them out, arguing that if not sentenced to jail he could pay back the $700,000 restitution faster. But half of the debt is to the State of New York; recently Judge Abrams rejected just such has argument from a medical software company executive on tax fraud. Here, Judge Abrams went below the 37 to 46 month guideline sentence, to 15 months with two years of supervised released - the books of his recycling company will be open - and a $15,000 fine. Two of his employees were asked to take off their caps by the Court Security Officers. The prosecutor said, It would not be a bad thing if his company just fell apart. The case is US v. Eldar Rakhamimov 18 – CR – 72 (RA).


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