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In SDNY Murky Mag Court Middle Aged Murder For Hire Duo Tag Team With Still Sealed File

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 13 – While many even most cases in the Magistrates Court of the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York are sealed, on June 13 SDNY US Attorney Geoffrey L. Berman announced the arrest and presentment of two middle aged men for murder for hire, and said they had already been presented in the Magistrates Court. But even an hour later, the case file or docket for 19-cr-395 said "This case is under seal." Why?

 And why did a second man help the husband, Ramon Ramirez, to try to hire another man to kill the man they though was sleeping with the first man's wife?

   The announcement said, "Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a federal indictment charging VANCE COLLINS, a/k/a “Big AK,” 50, and RAMON RAMIREZ, a/k/a “Obendy,” 48, with hiring a hitman to murder an individual believed to be having an affair with RAMIREZ’s wife. COLLINS was arrested this morning in the Bronx and RAMIREZ was arrested this morning in Staten Island. The target of their murder-for-hire plan was not killed. Both defendants were presented this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker and detained. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge P. Kevin Castel.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged in the indictment, Vance Collins
and Ramon Ramirez put a price on another human’s life when they hired someone to kill a
person believed to be having an affair with Ramirez’s spouse. Thanks to the work of our
remarkable law enforcement partners, Collins and Ramirez now stand charged in federal court
for their alleged roles in this terrible crime.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment:

In or about late 2017, COLLINS and RAMIREZ hired another person to murder a man believed to be having an affair with RAMIREZ’s wife, and conspired to carry out this murder-for-hire plot from 2017 through 2018, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1958 and 2. Each charge in the two-count indictment carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The maximum
potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for
informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit and White
Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Brumwell and Celia V. Cohen
are in charge of the prosecution." If they defendants lived or at least were arrested in The Bronx and Staten Island, why is it being worked by the White Plains Division? Inner City Press will follow this.

 On June 12 Alberto Carrasco a/k/a Moreno came through, charged with agreeing to sell a kilo of heroin in The Bronx.

   The Complaint, 19-MAG-5567, has the DEA's Mark Hadzewycz recounting that on June 3 Confidential Source-1 spoke with Carrasco or Moreno then met him on June 5 on Washington Avenue in The Bronx. CS-1 was showing a "six pack" photo array afterward and picked up Moreno. On June 11 on Lorillard Place they met again, agreeing to the sale of heroin in what the complaint calls a Bronx Shopping Center.

 Carrasco or Moreno in fact brought the drugs, or a weighed bag, from a "particular multifamily home in Mamaroneck, NY."  It was 1.17 kilograms of heroin. He has been detained, with Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker writing on the order additional reason: pending order of protection, strength of evidence including results of search of D's premises." His lawyer is CJA Kelly Sharkey; this; his preliminary hearing is set for June 26. Inner City Press, occupied at that time with a rogue cop's sentencing, aims to be there.

The day before on June 11 a man charged with Social Security fraud in Nebraska was brought by U.S. Marshals before Judge Parker, at the end of the day.

  Judge Parker's Deputy, following a best practice, read out not only the defendant's name, Colbert, but also a number, 19-MAG-5552. An hour after the proceeding, still nothing. Then the Rule 5(c)(3) affidavit, by Deputy Marshal Eric Kushi. It refers to a criminal case number 19 Cr. 3041.

 The defendant has two names: Justin Alexander Colbert, and Nicholas Ryan Hanshaw.

 The Assistant U.S. Attorney referred to an order- it sounded like a sealing order, which is done too frequently, but turned out by 8 pm to be UNsealing - drafted by a colleague seemingly Rushmi Bhaskaran, and Judge Parker said whatever it was it would be signed. (To her credit, she did not grant the baseless request to exclude time until Colbert's slated appearance at the Lincoln, Nebraska courthouse on June 26 before a Judge John Gerard.)

  Colbert or his family have the funds to travel back for that appearance, and perhaps back to New York after that. His Federal Defender, Ian Marcus Amelkin along with an FD intern arranged for Colbert to get a Metrocard. He was released on his own signature of a $20,000 bond, to be signed by June 25 by his mother as well. And that was it. For now. Inner City Press was the only media in the Mag Court and is continuing to dig into all this. Watch this site, @InnerCityPress and the new @SDNYLIVE.

A defendant was released with reporting "only by phone or web, no home visits" in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York's Magistrates Court as the last case of the week of Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.

  Why could Pre-Trial Services not conduct any home visit? If it it because the defendant - murkily announced as Miguel (Tobias?) Mendez is a cooperating witness, why do it in open court? How to justify remanding some, compared to this?

  There is no Miguel Mendez as a defendant in PACER; the Assistant US Attorneys on June 7 were whispering as if part of a conspiracy themselves. Where is the accountability? Where is the transparency?

The next hearing for Bryan Pivnick is July 1.  Inner City Press and @SDNYLIVE will be there.


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