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In Honduras JOH Case Salguero Guilty Pleas Are Entered After Ardon Motions Withdrawn

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book
BBC-Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN NY Mag

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 6 –  After the president of Honduras' brother Tony Hernandez was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life plus thirty years, on April 21, 2022 the ex-president himself, Juan Orlando Hernandez, was extradited to the United States.

[Espanol aqui]

  Inner City Press which covered the trials of Tony Hernandez and Giovanny Fuentes Ramirez immediately published the unsealed JOH indictment, which was returned on January 27, 2022 but left under seal.

Now, a related case that was moving toward trial, on Salguero Morales and Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo, with problems about a witness, Ardon Soriano -- will not. Instead, after withdrawing the Ardon motions after Inner City Press sought their unsealing, they were set to plead guilty on October 6. And they did: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge P. Kevin Castel: Plea entered by Otto Rene Salguero Morales (6) Guilty as to Count 1,3 and Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo (7) Guilty as to Count 1,3."

On September 19, 2022, JOH's trial was pushed back to April 24, 2023: "ENDORSED LETTER as to (S7 15-Cr-379-10) Juan Orlando Hernandez addressed to Judge P. Kevin Castel from AUSAs Jacob H. Gutwillig, Michael D. Lockard, Jason A. Richman, Elinor L. Tarlow, dated September 19, 2022 re: The parties jointly write with respect to the September 28, 2022 status conference and other upcoming dates currently scheduled in this matter. ENDORSEMENT: September 28, 2022 conference is adjourned to October 27, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 11D. The date for the Government's CIPA motion is extended to February 1, 2023. The trial date is moved from January 17, 2023 to April 24, 2023. Time is excluded to April 24, 2023 so that the parties may engage in the activities described in the Government's letter of September 19, 2022 and otherwise prepare for trial. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge P. Kevin Castel on 9/19/2022)(bw)

 Inner City Press live tweeted a proceeding on August 17, 2022, here then filed to unseal the secret motions, response due August 22, docketed request here.

  On Sunday September 4, before any ruling on Inner City Press' unopposed motion to unseal, now they are seeking to "withdraw" the motions. But they are judicial documents. The request: "Dear Judge Castel, On or about August 17, 2022, sealed motions were filed by previous defense counsel for defendant Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo. The motions were jointly filed, Mr. Feitel, attorney for Otto Salguero-Morales, joined in the motion on behalf on his client. Defendant Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo hereby withdraws the sealed motions filed on his behalf. Faithfully yours, /s/David Zapp Attorney for Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo CC: AUSA Kaylan Lasky."

On September 6, Judge Castel granted the motion to withdraw, and dismissed Inner City Press' application to unseal as moot: "MEMO ENDORSEMENT as to Otto Rene Salguero Morales (6), Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo (7) on re: [466] MOTION filed by Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo to Withdraw Document specifically, previously filed motions. ENDORSEMENT: Based upon the decision of both defendants to withdraw the motion the motion filed by defendant Ronald Salguero Portillo joined in by Otto Salguero-Morales are deemed WITHDRAWN. The application to UNSEAL is DENIED as MOOT. SO ORDERED: (Signed by Judge P. Kevin Castel on 9/6/2022). We'll have more on this.

Some of Inner City Press' request - which should be granted as the motions they now seek to disappear:

"Dear Judge Castel:    On behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal capacity, this is near immediate request to unseal, in full or at least in part, the motions discussed this afternoon in open court in the above-captioned proceeding, which Inner City Press is covering.    Outgoing counsel for Mr. Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo, it was said, submitted a motion on August 3, 2022 regarding alleged problems with the testimony of a witness, "Ardon Soriano." This was apparently followed up with a second motion submitted today, August 17, 2022.   But neither motion is contained in the docket on PACER, nor any request to file under seal. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees to the public a right of access to court proceedings. U.S. CONST. AMEND. I; Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court, 457 U.S. 596, 603 (1982). The public’s right of access is strongest when it comes to criminal proceedings such as these, which are matters of the “high[est] concern and importance to the people.” Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 575 (1980) (plurality opinion).    This is a Press request that the filings be unsealed consistent with Lugosch v. Pyramid Co. of Onondaga, 435 F.3d 110 (2d Cir. 2006). Parties such as Inner City Press and myself have standing to intervene in criminal proceedings to assert the public’s right of access. United States v. Aref, 533 F.3d 72, 81 (2d Cir. 2008).      This is a request that this opposition to sealing be docketed as, for example, took place in US v. Bright, 19-cr-521 (PKC), and in this case, regarding Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, on May 11, 2022,, after which Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker ruled: "The Financial Affidavit was filed under seal. On May 11, 2022, Matthew Russell Lee (“Lee”), a reporter with Inner City Press, filed a  letter intervening on behalf of the public and requesting that the Financial Affidavit be  unsealed.  I find that the Financial Affidavit should be unsealed."

The same should happen here.

On May 11, JUAN CARLOS BONILLA VALLADARES, or Tigre Bonilla, formerly of the Honduran National Police, was presented and Inner City Press live tweeted it here

On May 10, Juan Orlando Hernandez was brought into court to be arraigned. Inner City Press live tweeted it, thread here

Back on April 21, a lawyer filed a notice of appearance to represent JOH: Raymond L. Colon of 131 Pugsley Avenue in The Bronx, with 30 other cases over the years in SDNY.

On April 22 by video Colon represented JOH at his presentment. Inner City Press live tweeted here

 Previously, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres why he supported already-disgraced JOH in helping to steal his second election, by sending a four person panel with no read-out.

There has still been no answer from UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric - but Guterres' head of media access Melissa Fleming has banned Inner City Press, ongoing. 

On April 21 Inner City Press posted vlogs in English and Spanish, and streamed the DEA press statement from DC, here. We will cover JOH's presentment, arraignment and trial. 

The case is US v. Juan Orlando Hernandez, et al., 15-cr-379 (Castel). 


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