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In SDNY Judge Engelmayer Stays Deportation of Andoh To Ivory Coast While Dubious Of His Own Jurisdiction

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 9 – A man from Cote d'Ivoire who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years faces removal back to Abidjan, stayed for a second time on September 9 by
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Engelmayer.

  In a nearly two hour habeus corpus petition hearing, two lawyers from the Rapid Defense Network argued that Judge Engelmayer does have ongoing jurisdiction. He seemed dubious but continued his stay pending his decision, previewing that even if he decides against petitioner Antoine N'Gouan Andoh he may give another week's stay so the RDN can file papers in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and / or in New Jersey.

   Half an hour before the hearing, at which Inner City Press was the only media, the U.S. Attorney's office filed a declaration by ICE Deportation Officer Daniel T. McDonough that "on August 1, 2019, ICE attempted to remove Andoh from the US to the Ivory Coast on a flight department JFK Airport... Andoh became both verbally and physically combative... until contractors transported him to the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, NJ pending his removal from the US."

  He then admitted "incorrect information in ICE's electronic records." Inner City Press aims to have more on this. The case is Andoh v. Barr et al., 19-cv-08016 (Engelmayer).

Previously before Judge Engelmayer: Edgardo Ponce appeared on charges of using cocaine and meth on September 3 before Judge Engelmayer. Probation had initially proposed three months of additional incarceration then two more years of supervised release. But both the government and Judge Engelmayer said, in essence, what's the point?

  The way Judge Engelmayer explained it was as a waste of Probation's resources, supervising a person who simply will not stop taking drugs. (Ponce's lawyer blamed the relapse on both the death of his mother in Puerto Rico and him being blocked from traveling there.)

  Judge Engelmayer said the message could not be, however, that by failing to comply one gets out of Supervision. So instead of three months, he imposed six months and wished Ponce well.

In the trial of US v. Jason Polanco many videos of store robberies in masks were shown on June 19, complete with play by play by one of the now unmasked participants, Joshua Kemp. Hours later a higher profile defendant scheduled for the same courtroom had a more effective mask: his unnumbered case was quietly adjourned, see below.

 The Polanco jury's decision, too, was quiet for a while. Inner City Press ran to Judge Engelmayer's court room from another sentencing only to hear the Judge scheduling Polanco's sentencing, seemingly for December 19. Hours later this: "JASON POLANCO, a/k/a “Jin,” a/k/a “Wolfman,” was found guilty today of the August 31, 2014, murder of Shawn Ross, a/k/a “S.B.,” on Decatur Avenue in the Bronx, as well as participating in a narcotics conspiracy, a robbery conspiracy, the robbery of a Citgo gas station in the Bronx, and the discharge of a firearm in connection with the Citgo robbery.   A jury convicted POLANCO today on all six counts of the Indictment following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer.... The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Celia V. Cohen, Danielle R. Sassoon, and Gina Castellano are in charge of the prosecution."

  On June 25 in the early afternoon the parties agreed that a video, Government Exhibit 609 which has yet to be put online, could be sent in to the jury without any formal comment. Then, after telling the court reporter "off the record," Judge Engelmayer asked the lawyers if the video really showed, as it seemed, people ordering food while in the presence of a dead body.

  Yes, was the consensus. This was just after Judge Engelmayer had told the lawyers in the case to go out to lunch in shift, or to bring lunch into the courtroom as long as it would not be visible to the jurors if and when they came back. And when would that be? How could the Press be notified?

 On June 24 in the middle of closing arguments the defense objected to the government's use of propensity, using the phrase "as part of his violence." Judge Engelmayer quickly overruled the objection, saying that the reference to violence came from evidence in the trial.

 On June 21 Polanco's lawyer Donna R. Newman argued in writing and then in person to Judge Engelmayer that based in part on Kemp's testimony he should adopt the "multi-conspiracy" charge used by his follow SDNY Judge J. Paul Oetken in US v. Polanco, 16-Cr-826 (PAE) at Dkt. #388.

  In a charging conference that ran past noon and then 1 pm, Newman and the Assistant US Attorney urged changes to Judge Engelmeyer's charging. One issue was whether to name to the jury alleged conspiracy members who had their names redacted in the indictment given to the jury. One of them, it emerged on June 21, is dead and will not be named.

   Like a catcher and pitcher on the mound or a basement manager, Judge Engelmayer and his law clerk whispered behind their hands as those at the defense table tried to come up with proposed language. The defendant Jason Polanco, in a suit with a fashionable haircut, did not appear to be consulted. In the hall the talk was of him shooting police. But the what the jury hears is what was at issue Friday.

  Things got human, just among lawyers and the judge. After telling the court reporter "off the record," Judge Engelmayer apologized for raising his voice. Talk then turned back to a single block of Decatur Avenue in The Bronx, between 194th and 195th Street.

  In the various courtrooms of the SDNY one could construct a map of The Bronx, replete with disparities in sentencing. It is a project Inner City Press is considering for this summer, perched over the PACER terminal in the Press Room, while some sentencings like one on June 17 at 3 pm before Judge Lorna G. Schofield are not disclosed in the daily calendar, or even upon request. We'll have more on this.

  On June 19 in Bureau of Prison blues in the late morning, Kemp described buying Halloween masks on Fordham Road and targeting a liquor store in Washington Heights.

   In the courtroom of Judge Engelmayer the jurors started intently at their screens as Kemp chased a liquor store worker. The defendant, presumably, pushed a liquor store customer to the ground. Later they ran off down the sidewalk. Today everything is filmed.

  But there are still disputes. Polanco's lawyer Donna R. Newman on June 18 wrote to Judge Engelmayer about "the substantive Hobbs Act robbery of a Citgo station on November 24, 2014," saying that "there is no disinterested eyewitness identification of Mr. Polanco, no DNA, no fingerprints, and nothing that links Mr. Polanco to these robberies other than the word of a cooperating witness, Joshua Kemp."

  Inner City Press has asked the US Attorney's Office for the government exhibits. Later on June 19, a plea that Judge Engelmayer was supposed to take in US v Meyers, initially with no case number, was abruptly postponed. But Inner City Press is on the case - on June 20 at 4 pm the talk in Judge Engelmayer's courtroom was all Palanco and not the "disappeared" case, see below, @InnerCityPress and the new @SDNYLIVE:

   The US has quietly filed a criminal antitrust case against Banca IMI trader Larry D. Meyers, concealing the case number and adjourning what was listed as a plea proceeding on June 19 before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Inner City Press can report.

  The case involves violations with the Sherman Act with respect to American Depository Receipts. It is a quiet part of a larger case.

   Back on 9 May 2019 DOJ Antitrust Division criminal chief James J. Fredricks signed a "Notice of Intent to File An Information" against Meyers. Through so-called "Wheel B" it was assigned to SDNY Judge Engelmayer, by Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.

 On June 5 - it is not clear where -  Meyers and his attorney Dan Portnov "waive[d] in open court prosecution by indictment and consent[ed] that the proceeding may be by information instead of by indictment."

   That way, instead of through the more public Magistrates Court, Meyers' presentment was before Judge Engelmayer, with a Docket Number listed as "19-CR- [blank]," quickly released on $100,000 bond, travel restricted to the US and Ireland unlike most defendants confined to two or three US Districts.

  This is the VIP aisle of indictments, with the DOJ helping to avoid any possible perp walk.

  And so it was that while the week's SDNY "Civil and Criminal Proceedings Calendar" for the week of 06/17/19 listed on June 19 at 5 pm a plea before Judge Engelmayer in USA v. Meyers, 19-cr-[blank], the courtroom of Judge Engelmayer where Inner City Press had been earlier in the day on a Hobbs Act robbery trial was empty.

  There was no sign on the door explaining why, as was done for example on the door of Judge Deborah Batts about Michael Avenatti. There are VIP lines, and vip lines.

 Currently the docket does not show where the next proceeding will take place. But Inner City Press believes it knows. Watch this site - and for more, see its Patreon, here.

By contrast the last SDNY Magistrates Court case on June 19 before Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn seemed straightforward. Ricardo Reynoso, resident of Massachusetts, had been arrested at 11:30 am that day in Connecticut. Judge Netburn released him on $75,000 bond.

 Judge Netburn, who the previous day sealed and delayed docketing on a money laundering case from New Jersey completing the tri-state trifecta, told Ricardo Reynoso about a program she and another SDNY judge (apparently SDNY Chief Judge Collen McMahon) run. It is called Young Adult Opportunity Program.

Because Inner City Press is not *only* about pushing for transparency, for example of the a suddenly sealed sentencing before Judge Lorna G. Schofield on June 17, we link to this program here. It's all to the good. So is transparency, including on warrants. We'll have more on this.


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