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Three Estonians Charged With Rhino Tranquilizer Are Indicted In SDNY Hearing May 17 With Fourth Seeking Disposition

By Matthew Russell Lee, @SDNYLIVE

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 9 – Three residents of Estonia just extradited to the United States on drug charges were arraigned on May 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate's courtroom, presided over for the week by Magistrate Judge  Ona Wang.

According to the U.S. Attorney,  "Estonian residents JEVGENI BOKOV, VIKTOR LITVINTSUK, AMID MAGERRAMOV, NIKOLAI NIFTALIJEV, and VITALI VORONJUK have been charged in an Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court with narcotics trafficking and money laundering offenses, including conspiracy to import carfentanil and fentanyl into the United States."

  According to the Complaint, at Paragraph 26a, "carfentenil is used commercially to tranquilize large animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses."

Three of the men appeared in shackles in the Mag Court on May 9, with Inner City Press the only media present. Each had a CJA lawyer (one was involved in a Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods guilty plea allocution earlier in the day, here); they shared an interpreter. Viktor Litvintsuk, represented by the Federal Defenders, had asked SDNY Judge J. Paul Oetken for an adjourment until May 17 in order to attempt to work out a disposition.

Now that court date will involve the three who appeared shackled in Mag Court on May 9. Inner City Press will be there - watch this site.

 The U.S. Attorney's put out a press release before the men were arraigned before Magistrate Judge Wang, without saying when it would be, on the same day it held a press call about North Korea sanctions, here....

At the start of the Mag Court week on May 6 in the courtroom, along with Inner City Press as the only media, were Defendant Canales and his lawyer, the Assistant U.S. Attorney and a colleague, two court security officers, and Judge Wang and her Deputy. Canales' lawyer said that the trend is toward decriminalizing marijuana, "especially in New York." But Judge Wang pointed out that on a VOSR, the burder shifts to the defendant, who had not carried it this time.

  The offer to have the girl friend or wife sign a bond did not convince Judge Wang, as it was also said the girlfriend or wife had misled the marshals who went to arrest her husband or boyfriend. And so it goes in Magistrate Court - we may have more on this case this week, amid a few new trials. For now, one note on best practice in Mag Court: Deputies should announce the names and identifying numbers of the cases before them. Watch this site. 

  A week before Inner City Press has tried to cover a Magistrates' Court case announced by the Office of the US Attorney, involving "John Lambert – the defendant is charged with perpetrating a scheme to defraud consumers of legal advice and services by falsely representing that he is an experienced attorneys who had attended elite law schools, when in fact he is not attorneys and had never attended law school – in Magistrate court (courtroom 5A)." But that courtroom was locked at 10 am, and at 10:45 am. The Office politely informed Inner City Press just after Lambert was presented and before he left the courthouse. We will try to follow this case, and the several appointments of counsel and other proceedings that occurred before Judge Fox on the first day of his week presiding in Mag Court.

Back on April 26, a defendant indicted for ketamine, with a Mandarin interpreter, was arraigned by retiring Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman.

The defendant was rail thin; his Federal Defender lawyer asked for a medical order which was the subject of a sidebar discussion also involving the Assistant US Attorney and a US Marshal, who went in and out of the cell block. "What we discussed, you take it once a day?" Judge Pitman asked. The answer was yes, and that went into the medical order.

Just before, another drug defendant Mr. Lopez appeared with private counsel, whom he refered to when Judge Pitman asked as his friend. Later a man in a checkered shirt made a fast appearance to have a free lawyer appointed - then followed the U.S. Attorneys into their office on the fifth floor. Apparently a material or cooperating witness, though nothing was said of it in open court. The same lawyer was appointed to represent a Mr. Brito. Thus ended the SDNY week - see @SDNYLIVE.

Earlier in the week on April 23, two defendants arrested at Newark International Airport for an advance fee scheme, essentially predatory lending, were presented before Judge Pitman. One of them, Omar Young of 107 West Fourth Street, Granton, Wisconsin, was given a free / publicly funded lawyer despite having $215,000 in a business checking account. The other, a Mister Perlman of northern Georgia, has $161,000 in the bank but his counsel, from the white shoe firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, argued that he should be given a free lawyer - and that the whole proceeding should be sealed. But it was held in open court, and Inner City Press was there, albeit the only media present. Why is a corporate law firm like Sullivan & Cromwell representing a predatory lender -- alleged, of course -- and arguing they should be paid, and it should be sealed? Inner City Press aims to have more on this case. For now we note that in the open court proceeding it was said that no hotel can be found in or around New York City for less than $250 to $300 a night, and each defendant was allowed while getting publicly funded counsel to spend $2000 a week while in New York. That's $102,000 a week, deemed reasonable by the court and Sullivan & Cromwell, in a District where many families don't make that in a decade. Inner City Press will have more on this.

   Earlier on April 23, also by Judge Pitman, a defendant accused of selling fake IDs over the Dark Net was told to stop using that platform while given bail on April 23. The defendant, apparently also an Italian citizen and a restaurant consultant, has social media showing his shooting guns and has, according to the government, purchased "SWAT-ing" services (Google it). But Judge Pitman told him not to use the TOR net, while asking rhetorically if they even make phones anymore without the Internet, other than those advertised in the back pages of AARP Magazine. Indeed.

Earlier on April 23 a man was denied bail after naming his Instagram account "Catch Me If You Can."  A Mister Crowder, wearing a "World Sacrifice Tour" t-shirt, was requesting bail. But Judge Pitman asked about the naming of his Instagram account, and the two excuses given, that it was named after a Leo DiCaprio movie ("I've seen it," Judge Pitman said) and that he later changed "if you can" to "if you could," were unavailing. The marshals took him back into the cell block Judge Pitman said to close the door to, less than an hour before affluent opioids distributor Laurence Doud was released on $500,000 bail and walked with his lawyer Mister Gottlieb across Foley Square with Inner City Press asking questions, Periscope video here. We'll have more on this.

Back on April 18 a defendant pled guilty to selling marijuana and having a gun in Manhattan, to a plea agreement specifying 37 to 46 months. Magistrate Judge Moses asked the defendant if he had written his allocation himself. Sporting an ACE bandage on his right wrist, he said Yes. Moments later a Mr. Butler, with neck tattoo, stepping up with a financial affidavit and a lawyer, to be appointed as he is a material witness. So you work construction? Judge Moses asked. The answer was yes, and that it was seasonal - he was not going to work tonight because it was going to pour rain. Judge Moses asked, Is it? And by 6 pm, there was still no rain. But her week was over, and not uninteresting, including disputes with both the Federal Defenders and, less so, with the government. We will continue to cover this.

A defendant accused in New York courts of attempted murder but released because not indicted in six days was denied bail on April 17 by SDNY Magistrate Judge Moses  after a contentious 5 p.m. proceeding with Inner City Press the only media present. The Federal Defender argued that the NY ADA's inability to indict within the six day time frame of NY CPLR 3030 meant there really is no evidence. The Federal Assistant U.S. Attorney said she had called her state counterpart who assured they are investigating. Federal Magistrate Judge Moses said she would not credit anything not actually before the court - but that attempted murder sounds serious. The defendant is being remanded and held, it seems, until a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Keenan. Inner City Press will cover that as well.


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