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NYPD Maintains Romeo Put Ruger in Wheel Well In The Bronx Accused Lady of Fake Seizure

By Matthew Russell Lee

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 16 – When Hassan Romeo was approached by an NYPD officer in a squad car on Ogden Avenue and West 166th Street in The Bronx, he tried to hide a handgun in the wheel well of a car and run away,  the officer testified on May 15 before a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York courtroom of Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

 On May 16, Federal Defenders began grilling his recounting of the story. Why had he not taken more photos of the car he says the run was found in the wheel well of? (License plate JBJ 7877) Why didn't he call Crime Scene to take the photos? (Answer: "Crime Scene does crimes scenes," very Samuel Beckett).

 Why did he not turn his body camera on, once the incident involved a gun? Why didn't his partner Danny take more photos? Answer: you'll have to ask him.

And he, Daniel Maria, took the stand on the afternoon of May 16, along his cross examination was put off until May 17. He identified himself on the videos from 1133 Ogden Avenue, in jeans unlike his partner in mid-calf cargo pants. He has been with the 44th Precinct for more than five and a half years. Is he credible as an undercover cop? What about his losing case before the CCRP, for having searched a woman's bag? He told the jury he thought a women was faking a seizure. Inner City Press will continue to cover this case.

  Since Romeo had a previous conviction in 2003 for Robbery in the Second Degree, in violation of New York Penal Law Section 160.10, he was a so-called felon in possession - in this case, of a Ruger LCP .380 handgun.

 But he had not pled guilty. Represented by Federal Defenders, Romeo asked Judge Rakoff to be allowed to inquire into the CCRB records of the officers and detectives involved, and to preclude the showing of a video from June 2018.

  While the PACER docket for the case, 19-cr-13, has a list of exhibits, as to the witness list it tells the Press "You do not have permission to view this document." Likewise the link to the transcript of Romeo's presentation is merely a "Notice of Filing of Official Transcript," even when viewed on the terminals in the courthouse. We'll have more on this.

The Federal Defenders scored a big win in a misdemeanor proceeding that only Inner City Press attended and covered on April 2. They defeated the U.S. Attorney's Office which argued that the simple assault they agreed to on a dispute on a cruise ship required allocution to actual physical conflict. There was case law on the Federal Defenders' side, and a plea to making a threat on the cruise ship - in "international waters" -- was found sufficient. The case was United States v. Batista, 18 Cr. 730 (NRB). The Federal Defenders lawyer was Sabrina P. Shroff, whom Inner City Press has previously covered in the UN bribery cases of Patrick Ho (new Hong Kong documentary here), getting bail for Cheikh Gadio, and of Ng Lap Seng, representing hapless Jeff Yin. The issue in Batista was whether simple assault requires the defendant to "strike or choke." Ms. Shroff cited the US v Denis and US v Chestaro cases, and the matter was quickly disposed by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in her relatively small courtroom on the 21st floor of 500 Pearl Street. The question is why the U.S. Attorney's Office in this case had not researched basic case law - and whether the defendant Carlos Batista, Junior, from the Dominican Republic, must now be deported. We hope to have more on this.

Earlier on April 2, in 40 Foley: "I was a street drug dealer in from of my building in the Bronx," a defendant told SDNY 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. 


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