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After SDNY Courtroom Sealed To Press And AUSA Comey Silence Bronx Process of Elimination

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, Patreon
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 25 – There was a Federal criminal proceeding publicly listed on PACER at 2:30 pm on October 25 in the courtroom of Judge Denise L. Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Inner City Press went to cover it - and was immediately told to leave the courtroom. Then the door was locked.

     When US Assistant US Attorneys Maurene Comey and Christopher Clore exited some 20 minutes later, Inner City Press asked them if they knew the basis for excluding the Press. Ms. Comey shook her head.

   Now some seven hours later Inner City Press can report: Maurene Comey has only four cases before Judge Cote. On only one of the four is Christopher Clore her co-chair AUSA: the 20 defendant Bronx MacBallas case named from the initial and lead defendant, US v. Xavier Holman, 18-cr-41 (Cote).

  But Holman was already sentenced to 120 months. Keenan McFarland and Sean Jones also got 120 months. Navone Dozier got 84 month. Jafari Jones and Francisco Torres also got 84 months; Austin Morrishow got 60 months, described in a sentencing submission as "one of the gang's 'shooters.'"  So who's left?

  Not listed as "closed" are Bo Williams, 20 of 20, Deonte Morrison 15, Nathaniel Fludd 7 and Toshnelle Foster 2, who while not sentenced has a sentencing date in November.

 Of these, only Bo Williams does not have an appearance by defense lawyer, although Inner City Press on October 25 observed who his lawyer is.

Virtually every filing in 18-cr-41-DLC-20 from May through September 2019 is listed as "Sealed Document."

As Inner City Press has explained to judges, executive and prosecutors, it has full respect for any legitimate sealing and / or safety concern. But to simply order the Press out of a Federal courtroom without given a reason does not comply with the letter or spirit not only of case law but of the principles behind it. More on Patreon, here.

 And the US Attorney's Office, so solicitous to some, has not even responded to Press requests they put online their exhibits in US v. Michael Jones, for example, a case where they seek 20 years against an emo rapper with bad luck with heroin, while allowing another in suburban Rockland County off on 27 months for the same conduct. Watch this site.

    Inner City Press had, as it exited as ordered without asking any questions in order not to be disruptive (or have its other access for reporting disrupted), asked Judge Cote's courtroom deputy what the basis of asking it to leave, without the on the record finding that are required by applicable Second Circuit Court of Appeals case law, was.

   The Deputy said, I'll ask the Judge if she wants to say. But the Deputy did not re-emerge, even after AUSA Comey left. To their credit, staff of the Office of the District Executive when informed arrived on the scene and, using their key, went into the abruptly locked courtroom.  

  Minutes later this explanation was given: the proceeding involved a cooperator. The AUSA had either not sought or had not obtained permission from "main Justice" in Washington to request the sealing of the courtroom.

    So the Judge, a former prosecutor as others have noted to Inner City Press - in fact, the first woman to serve as SDNY Criminal Division Chief, to her credit - had done it sua sponte. She called the lawyers to a sidebar moments after Inner City Press entered the courtroom, then emerged from the sidebar to order the courtroom sealed and the door locked.

   Inner City Press, in-house media in the SDNY working from front cubicle in the Press Room has suggested, to increase transparency, that such proceedings be sealed in advance, rather than on an ad hoc basis when the press walks into an open courtroom. That was an opporunity to be heard, in advance, would be possible. It is also advocating for more opportunities for real-time reporting from the SDNY, as recently on the #6ix9ine and Honduras trials and in 10 days on OneCoin / US v. Scott. The responses have largely been promising.

    The twist to the October 20 sealing of Judge Cote's courtroom was that it was partial:  it was not only the lawyers, court staff, and defendant and the two U.S. Marshals who remained inside. So it was a selective sealing. We hope to have more on this, reporting with all due respect, of course. No docket number. Watch this site.

On a case we can, we think, report on:

October 23 Inner City Press exclusive: Asa Saint Clair was questioned for wire fraud by the US authorities at 845 United Nations Plaza last month, for his involvement in a dubious cyber-currency called Igobit, issued through a UN-linked "inter-governmental organization" called the World Sports Alliance.

    Inner City Press has previously reported on the World Sports Alliance, including here and here and here, on Burundi.

    On October 23 Inner City Press covering the SDNY was the only media in the Magistrates Court when Asa Saint Clair was brought into the court in shackles. He was arrested in California trying to get on a plane to Madagascar by way of Paris. More on Patreon here.

   Despite telling the government he was making $50,000 a month, he was given a publicly funded Federal Defender lawyer, who argued he should be immediately released.

     Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman rejected the AUSA's request to limit his use of electronic devices, and like the US Attorney's Office made no connection to the UN itself.

    There is a pattern here: in the Ng Lap Seng case, so recently in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Ng went to jail but those he bribed in the UN remain free and in action. The same is true for Patrick Ho of CEFC China Energy, up to the level of Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

   Even in terms of fraudulent coins, Inner City Press has exposed and asked the UN in writing about the use of Guterres' image to sell coins by former UN ambassador of El Salvador Carlos Garcia.  He was shown in the Ng Lap Seng case to be helping with money laundering by Francis Lorenzo, still someone not sentenced by SDNY and its AUSAs Richenthal and Zolkind.

Nor did they ask on UN official Meena Sur, whom Inner City Press publicly exposed as linked to now SDNY-investigatived WSA, here.

And Garcia continued his coin scam with Guterres' image, and now WSA's Saint Clair is about to be bailed - even as his case remained hours later sealed.

 Inner City Press will continue on these cases. Watch this site.


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