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Gun Trial Ended in Guilty Verdict Now Vereen Sentencing Pushed to Oct 10 for Army Expert

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 18 – A defendant on home confinement awaiting trial on drug charges sought to modify his conditions to a curfew, and have his ankle monitor removed.  

    On February 15, 2023 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff held a bond hearing. Inner City Press went and covered it.

  The defendant had written a three and a half page letter to "Mister Rakoff," saying that he was ignoring his oath and not upholding the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

 Judge Rakoff read from the letter, and mused if it might be bear on the factors on bond.

 The Federal Defender said it was covered by the First Amendment, and that the ankle monitor was an irritant. 

 Judge Rakoff, remarking that life can be an irritant sometimes, nevertheless directed the parties to draft a new bond order, with a curfew, albeit in the early evening.

He said, It is my job to apply the law, it does not matter to me if a defendant hates or loves me. Then, deftly, Valentine's Day was mentioned.

On May 30, a suppression hearing was held. Inner City Press was there. Threadette here:

Now Federal Defender cross examines Officer Smalls about his  testimony in People v Adams. Judges doubts relevance. Defense tries again... In Adams, gun was suppressed - before Smalls told grand jury in this case that he saw a bulge

Judge:  Would a heavy-looking bag be enough? AUSA: Yes. The caller identifed the defendant as her friend.

Judge: Former friend. I can't believe the Supreme Court decided the Bruen case the way it did. But I am bound by it

  Judge Rakoff said he - and not ChatGPT - would read the cases, review and video and give at least a bottom line ruling in 10 days, given the August trial date.

On June 8, this: "ORDER as to Steven Perez: Following full briefing and argument on defendant Lucha El Libertad1's motion to dismiss the indictment and full briefing, argument, and an evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion to suppress the results of a 6/23/21 search, the Court hereby denies both motions."

  On August 25 there was a final pre-trial conference, and Inner City Press went. Judge Rakoff read into the record a pro se letter the defendant had sent him, calling him evil and a representative of British colonial law. Judge Rakoff cited a recent Second Circuit decision against hybrid representation.

 Judge Rakoff said he will refer to the defendant as Lucha El during the trial, but will hold off under the Monday beginning of the trial before authorizing the removal of his ankle monitor, noting that he's had two defendants flee and not be found.

The trial started on August 28. In the afternoon, a police officer testified about finding a gun in Lucha El's bag. During re-direct, Lucha El passed a note to his Federal Defender. But there was no re-cross.

On August 29, a government witnesses reviewed cell site data, The Bronx to South Carolina. At day's end, Massachusetts trooper Gregory Jones was on the stand, showing the jurors a gun retrieved from one of the pick up trucks pulled over in Wakefield and taken to the Danvers barracks. A video had been show, but the screen facing the public gallery is not on. Between the witness and the charging conference, the press and public were told to leave for another criminal proceeding.

On August 30, Lucha's closing argument by the Federal Defender had the jurors paying much attention. As well as citing - on the monitor now visible from the more-full gallery - Bronx cell towers at 815 Gerard Ave and 643 Tinton Ave, Lucha's beliefs, Constitutional issues and his "struggle for freedom" were cited. The AUSA objected, Judge Rakoff said it was belated, and that the Federal Defender had been careful.

On August 31, the jury found Perez or Lucha El guilty - and the US asked that he be immediately remanded to jail. Judge Rakoff ordered remand, saying that while he put out of his mind throughout the trial the letter calling him evil, he believed he could consider it now. The US Marshals moved in.

The Federal Defender asked for a stay in order to appeal. Go ahead and appeal, Judge Rakoff said - but motion for a stay denied.

Lucha El put his belongs in his camo backpack; two relatives cried. Lucha El was stoic. And then he was gone.

On September 18, the co-defendant's sentencing was postponed: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Jed S. Rakoff: Status Conference as to Keith Vereen held on 9/18/2023. Court's decision: the sentencing is adjourned to October 10, 2023 at noon. The Court requires the parties to produce an Army Legal Expert before this sentence can go forward. Sentencing adjourned to 10/10/2023 at noon. Deft contd remanded."

Inner City Press will continue to cover the case.

More, including the "evil" letter,  on Substack here

  The case is US v. Perez, 22-cr-644 (Rakoff)


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