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After Murder Trial Israel Garcia Guilty and Got New Lawyer Now Gets Life Plus 5 Years

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 7 – Jevaun Charles and others were charged in a narcotics conspiracy, with guns. 

   On August 2, 2021 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff held back to back bond hearings. Inner City Press covered them both.

 First up was Jason Gonzalez, with his step father in the gallery. The problem was his previous conviction for attempted murder. But, his lawyer pointed out, after that he worked for Door Dash.

Assistant US Attorney Jacob Gutwillig described a jail call to Gonzalez, telling him to collect the bread, which Gutwillig offered meant money, from street level dealers. Gonzalez was detained.

  Next up was Israel Garcia. His lawyer pointed out that he had been the dean of a school, and had traveled back to the SDNY by bus after finding out he was wanted on a warrant.

   AUSA Gutwillig countered that this return took a month, that they have a social media posting of the dean with students flashing a gang sign, with the caption, When your students find out you were the Big Homie.

  Gutwillig raised another social media post, of the dean in Panama saying he wanted to be a millionaire by the age of 30.

  "Isn't that the American Dream?" Judge Rakoff remarked. The dean's supporters and seemingly his 9-year old daughter in the gallery perked up.

   His lawyer turned to the jail call - it was the dean who had called Gonzalez - and said it might have been about raising bail money. It was a winning argument. Judge Rakoff said he would release him to home detention, on $500,000 bond. In the gallery, applause. And now this story.

On July 22 Judge Rakoff held a requested bond hearing on Jevaun Charles. It emerged that Charles, detained in Essex, has not been vaccinated.

 Judge Rakoff mused whether he should consider this, under the Bail Reform Act, as a danger to the community - or if getting vaccinated in a week could be a condition of release. As it was it was academic - Charles was not released.

Jump cut to February 2023. With co-defendant Israel Garcia facing a March trial date, on February 16 his indicted was superseded to include the murder of Alphonso McClinton a/k/a Joey by Morris Avenue and 182nd Street in The Bronx, and witness tampering about it.

  The AUSA on February 17, with Inner City Press in the courtroom, told Judge Rakoff they've asked Main Justice about the death penalty, and should know by March. The trial was pushed back to July 10 (Judge Rakoff said he and his wife have entered a ballroom dancing competition in Rome in early August, given rise to good-natured - or envious - laughter from all sides).

A week before trial set for July 10, counsel for Israel Garcia filed a lengthy request to charge - and opposition, including a screen shot of the publication date of "Talkin Hot."

At the final pre-trial conference on July 7, Judge Rakoff excluded a rap video. Then it emerged that the prosecutors aim to get in a second video, on which Garcia raps. Judge Rakoff said he's inclined to exclude that too, on July 10, which would make a defense rap expert moot.

The prosecutors made a record that Garcia is convicted faces life imprisonment - mandatory. Judge Rakoff said 83% of Federal judges oppose mandatory minimums, adding that they impose a trial penalty. But, he said, he would be required to impose the law of the land. Inner City Press is covering the case.

On July 10 the jury was picked and the trial began. The US played audio of 911 calls of man shot on 182nd Street and Morris Avenue, and put a NYPD patrolperson of the time on the stand.

On July 12, with a cooperator on the stand saying he didn't remember saying the shooter wore blue New Balance, the court room was sealed, then sidebars. Thread:

OK - back in murder trial of US v Israel Garcia, cooperator Parker in Essex Couny [NJ] jail yellow on the stand undrr cross examination, next to board with 6 mugshots in a pyramid.

Defense lawyer: You told police the shooter had on blue New Balance sneakers? [They play him audio, ostensibly of himself saying it.]

Defense lawyer: Were you high? Look at this transcript. You told the government the gun did not have a cylinder?

AUSA: Objection! 

Courtroom has been sealed. Inner City Press was out in hallway - now once back in, a sidebar with white noise. What occurred?

On July 13, Inner City Press was told it could not enter Courtroom 14B but rather an overflow courtroom on the 24th floor. There staff arranged a feed of audio, with the camera pointed at the ceiling. This meant not being able to see not only the witness' face, but also the exhibits, which are supposed to be public.

On July 14, a witness in a ski or skull cap identified himself in NYPD videos of crack purchases on Morris and 184, and another associated named Kenny with a torquoise skull cap and I-84 tattoo which, the witness said, stood for the 184 in 184 Street. The sale of 18 dimes was split between two dealers. The stage was and is being set.

On July 17, the US put on the stand a witness about what Garcia said in the MDC - the witness would have been deported to Jamaica but for his cooperation agreement. He was asked about the deferral of action, presented as a stronger incentive for testimony even than a 5K1 letter.

On July 19, after the jury asked for the testimony of cooperators - and delayed by another proceeding for which the courtroom was sealed - the jury returned with all guilty verdicts on Garcia, including murder. A woman in the gallery cried out; another left the room. Rule 29 and 33 motions were denied. Judge Rakoff said given the witness tampering and other issues in the case, no one in the courtroom could talk to the jurors. Counsel, he later said, could request permission by written motion. And the media? Sentencing was set for October 20 at 9:30 am.

Then in August, Israel Garcia wrote to Judge Rakoff complaining about he was represented - and on August 21 the prosecutors wrote to request a hearing on the letter, and on "the defendant's purported bases for the appointment of new counsel."

On August 22, Judge Rakoff set it for August 28: "NOTICE OF HEARING as to Israel Garcia. A status conference will be heard Monday, August 28, 2023 at 4:30 PM in courtroom 14B of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse, 500 Pearl Street, New York City, New York. (Status Conference set for 8/28/2023."

Inner City Press went on August 28. At first Judge Rakoff said he would not appoint new counsel, saying that a life sentence is mandatory. (He added that he think that's stupid). Garcia asked if he thinks the system system is fair. When Judge Rakoff said, Yes, Garcia said, That's not what you wrote in your book." Judge Rakoff said he was focused on false guilty pleas, and Garcia had withdrawn his plea. In any event, the August 29 CJA duty attorney got the case.

On December 11, Garcia's new lawyer filed a sentencing submission against the mandatory life sentence, arguing that "at age 19, Mr. Garcia's brain was also not fully developed."

Jump cut to May 28, when Garcia's lawyer asked that he remain in MDC Brooklyn pending his anticipated appeal - like Sam Bankman-Fried requested and got granted, but only after he was en route to BOP's transit facility in Oklahoma... "Sentencing Letter by Israel Garcia addressed to Judge Jed S. Rakoff dated May 28, 2024 re: requesting the Court recommend Mr. Garcia remain at the MDC pending the filing of briefs in his anticipated appeal."

On June 7, Garcia got life plus five years: "ISRAEL GARCIA, a/k/a “Shorty Rock,” the former leader of the Get Money Gunnaz set of the Young Gunnaz street gang (the “GMG YGz”), was sentenced to life plus five years in prison for the October 11, 2010, murder of Alfonso “Joey” McClinton.  GARCIA shot and killed McClinton on a residential street in the Bronx, New York, as part of a dispute over narcotics trafficking territory."

Watch this site.

The overall case is US v. Charles, et al., 21-cr-412 (Rakoff)


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