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Frank Bright Got 20 Years For Killing Paulino Wins on Financial Conditions Amid Tattoo Talk

By Matthew Russell Lee, @SDNYLIVE

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 22 -- On April 19, 2019 soon after his prosecution for murder resulted in a mistrial, Defendant Frank Bright pleaded guilty.

That day Bright said: "On December 24, 2014, near 129th Street in Manhattan, I agreed with another person to rob oxycodone pills from two drug dealers. During the robbery, Mr. Paulino was shot and killed. I knew my actions were wrong and illegal."    

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Katherine Polk Failla said, "Ms. Noriega, may I have a sentencing date?" 

Ms. Noriega replied, "Tuesday, August 20, at 3:30 pm."   Inner City Press went to the sentencing at that time, see below.

Then on November 27, 2020 Bright's new lawyers for re-sentencing from Kramer Levin filed a letter with Judge Failla requesting that she "decline to impose the financial disclosure and search conditions that it imposed at the August 21, 2019 proceeding." They say, "Mr. Bright is not a career criminal... he will be nearly 50 years old when he is released from prison." Watch this site.

  Bright on June 17, 2019 told Judge Failla, "I just felt like I was misled into taking this plea deal."   

Then on July 19 Judge Failla told Bright's new counsel John C. Meringolo (whom Inner City Press previously covered when he represented John Zancocchio in a Mafia / racketeering trial before SDNY Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein)  "Mr. Meringolo, I appreciate you coming in on what is somewhat short notice. I received a letter from your client dated the 7th of July and it was, in my reading, in conflict with other statements that have been made."

  Meringolo said, "We still want to move forward with the plea sentencing."  

And so on August 20 Assistant US Attorney Justin V. Rodriguez advocated for the 240 months that his Office had agreed to as the cap; he told Judge Failla that two of Amaury Paulino's sisters wanted to make victim impact statements. 

 Bright's family members in the gallery asked if they could make such statement.

No, Judge Failla said, the law does not provide for that. But when she went back into her robing room to come up with the seemingly pre-ordained sentence, one of Bright's family members went and expressed condolences to Amaury Paulino's family members. Another of Bright's family members, however, older, said loudly that one day you'll see who really killed your son. This was quickly hushed down.  

Judge Failla returned and said no grounds for a variance below 240 months could be found; the 20 year sentence was imposed. It will apparently be in Fort Dix, with the RDAP program. Or will the replacement of counsel and the complaints made, the at least two pull-backs from the plea, give rise to an appeal?

  It did. And on September 22, 2021, another proceeding, which Inner City Press again covered. At issue were conditions of release such as looking at financial records (removed from conditions) and a request to be moved from Bright's facility in West Virginia, FCI Hazelton.

 The AUSA spoke about Bright's tattoos, calling their message "aspirational." Judge Failla was not impressed. But Fort Dix does not have a medium security section.  Watch this site.

The case is US v. Bright, 18-cr-56 (KPF).


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