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Speedy Trial Rights Were Asserted for Extortion of Fire Victims Trial Now Smith Pleads to 63 Months

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book
BBC - Honduras - CIA Trial book - NY Mag

SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 14 –  The lead defendant in a criminal case alleging gang extortion in the field of clean-up services to properties damaged by fire is asserting his Speedy Trial Act rights. 

 On September 9, 2022, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff held an in-person arraignment and detention or bond proceeding, with the defendant's family and supporters filling half of the courtroom gallery. Inner City Press was there.

  On the request to move up the scheduled May 2023 trial to October, Judge Rakoff said he will speak with Judge Analisa Torres about changing the schedule of her US v. Tim Shea (We Build the Wall) trial. We'll see.

  On detention or release, the Assistant US Attorney - who may have to choose between this trial and Shea's - recited from audio recordings of threatens, saying "N-word, I'm gonna kill you."  

 The defense lawyer, retained from Staten Island, pointed to those in the gallery and called the threats hyperbole. Judge Rakoff said the defendant clearly had supporters, but was a danger to the community. He was ordered detained.  

Afterward by the elevators, supporters said of the prosecutors after they left in a separate elevator, "They lie."

On September 13, Judge Rakoff held a proceeding with co-defendants. Now the lead defendant applied to move his trial from October 17 to November 28 was granted, and three co-defendants were allowed to join him for trial beginning that date, one with a new lawyer. The others remain for trial on "5-1-22," which we take to mean May 1, 2023.

On March 14, 2023, defendant Hasim Smith appeared before Judge Rakoff to enter a guilty plea. Inner City Press was there. The plea deal is for 51 to 63 months. After a detailed allocution, defense counsel asked for an end to home detention, to seek employment. Judge Rakoff said that working could have an impact on his sentencing, set for July 18 - but that first a firm employment offer, vetted by Pre-Trial Services, is needed.

  The case is US v. Smith, et al., 22-cr-352 (Rakoff)


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