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In SDNY After Van Manen Jailed for Heroin Cooperator Cejovic Gets 48 Months Sealed

By Matthew Russell Lee, @SDNYLIVE

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 23 – In a detailed heroin dealing prosecution stretching from Staten Island to Brooklyn and New Jersey, but prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, on May 14, 2019 the government rested its case with a slew of exhibits about the defendants' telephone practices, motel stays in the Circle Lodge Motel, and the amounts of grams in bundles of 10 glassine envelopes, some cut with fentanyl. 

 Two days later, one defendant found guilty while the other was acquitted, see below.

  On June 23, 2020 - more than a year later - a cooperator in the case appeared for sentencing in a proceeding which was public, but not advertised - and after which the government asked to seal the transcript. It concerned Jasmin Cejovic, whose lawyer said everyone in the MCC knew was a cooperator.

 Judge Crotty zeroed in on the fact that Cejovic continued selling heroin long after it killed his friend. He sentenced Cejovic to 48 months, followed by three years of Supervised Release. Then, incongruously, he agreed to seal the transcript. We have have more on this. This sub-case is US v. Cejovic, 18-cr-30-2 (Crotty).

 On May 21, 2020, in an obscure telephone proceeding amid the COVID-19 pandemic cooperating witness Shaun Sullivan was by contrast given a time served sentence and congratulations. Then his file was sealed. Inner City Press covered it - Sullivan corrected Judge Crotty, that Academy Bus is not for schools but Atlantic City. And so it goes. The case is US v. Sullivan, 18-cr-30-5 (Crotty).

 "A unanimous jury convicted VAN MANEN after an eight-day trial before United States District Judge Paul A. Crotty.  Kenneth Charlton, who was tried with VAN MANEN, was acquitted of the charge against him.   U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  'As proven at trial, Paul Van Manen peddled poison to the community of Staten Island and its vicinity, causing one of his many victims to die from a tragic overdose, despite knowing of a non-fatal overdose just two months earlier from the group’s drugs.  Today’s verdict should send a message to those who flood our community’s streets with lethal drugs.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prosecute and convict criminals seeking to profit from the current public health crisis afflicting our city.'" Both defendants had an air of victim about them.

When one took the stand and tried to testify how Hurricane Sandy impacted him, the government objected. Also to the defendant's attempts to retox, rehab and get clean. Likeness to the effect of his addition on his relation with his family. Anything that might humanize the defendant was objected to, and in most cases Judge Paul A. Crotty sustained the objections.

The jury, however, seemed more interested with each sustained objection. The case is USA v. Paul Van Manen and Kenneth Charlton, 18-cr-30 (PAC).

Back on May 9 three residents of Estonia just extradited to the United States on drug charges were arraigned on May 9 in the SDNY Magistrate's courtroom, presided over for the week by Magistrate Judge Kevin Ona Wang.

According to the U.S. Attorney,  "Estonian residents JEVGENI BOKOV, VIKTOR LITVINTSUK, AMID MAGERRAMOV, NIKOLAI NIFTALIJEV, and VITALI VORONJUK have been charged in an Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court with narcotics trafficking and money laundering offenses, including conspiracy to import carfentanil and fentanyl into the United States."

  According to the Complaint, at Paragraph 26a, "carfentenil is used commercially to tranquilize large animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses."

Three of the men appeared in shackles in the Mag Court on May 9, with Inner City Press the only media present. Each had a CJA lawyer (one was involved in a Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods guilty plea allocution earlier in the day, here); they shared an interpreter. Viktor Litvintsuk, represented by the Federal Defenders, had asked SDNY Judge J. Paul Oetken for an adjourment until May 17 in order to attempt to work out a disposition.

Now that court date will involve the three who appeared shackled in Mag Court on May 9. Inner City Press will be there - watch this site.

 The U.S. Attorney's put out a press release before the men were arraigned before Magistrate Judge Wang, without saying when it would be, on the same day it held a press call about North Korea sanctions, here....

At the start of the Mag Court week on May 6 in the courtroom, along with Inner City Press as the only media, were Defendant Canales and his lawyer, the Assistant U.S. Attorney and a colleague, two court security officers, and Judge Wang and her Deputy. Canales' lawyer said that the trend is toward decriminalizing marijuana, "especially in New York." But Judge Wang pointed out that on a VOSR, the burder shifts to the defendant, who had not carried it this time.

  The offer to have the girl friend or wife sign a bond did not convince Judge Wang, as it was also said the girlfriend or wife had misled the marshals who went to arrest her husband or boyfriend. And so it goes in Magistrate Court - we may have more on this case this week, amid a few new trials. For now, one note on best practice in Mag Court: Deputies should announce the names and identifying numbers of the cases before them. Watch this site. 

  A week before Inner City Press has tried to cover a Magistrates' Court case announced by the Office of the US Attorney, involving "John Lambert – the defendant is charged with perpetrating a scheme to defraud consumers of legal advice and services by falsely representing that he is an experienced attorneys who had attended elite law schools, when in fact he is not attorneys and had never attended law school – in Magistrate court (courtroom 5A)." But that courtroom was locked at 10 am, and at 10:45 am. The Office politely informed Inner City Press just after Lambert was presented and before he left the courthouse. We will try to follow this case, and the several appointments of counsel and other proceedings that occurred before Judge Fox on the first day of his week presiding in Mag Court.


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