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In Bronx Killing of Luiz Vargas US Asked 25 Years on Spencer Gets 10 Years and $12000

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 20 – A multi-defendant narcotics conspiracy prosecution centered on the James Monroe Houses in The Bronx now features charges dropped due to a cooperating witness not complying with his cooperation agreement.  

 The overall case is known as US v. Spencer, et al. and Inner City Press has reported on it at every stage, here and here.

On August 30, 2022 lead defendant Nyshiem Spencer before Magistrate Judge Jennifer E. Willis pled guilty to Count 1 of the S3 Superseding Information, "Firearm Offense," with a control date of March 7, 2023.

After Inner City Press published the above, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “On October 31, 2017, Nyshiem Spencer opened fire in the courtyard of the Soundview Houses and killed Luis Vargas, who was 16 years old.  Spencer also shot and injured two other people in the courtyard, including a 15-year old child.  Today’s guilty plea shows that we will vigorously investigate and hold accountable those who are responsible for shootings and acts of gang violence in our community."

 Back on March 25 the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York wrote to SDNY Judge Analisa Torres:

"In light of evidence indicating that a cooperating witness (“CW-1”) breached CW-1’s cooperation agreement, the Government has determined that it will not call CW-1 at trial in this case. The Government will provide this evidence, including notes of CW-1’s meetings with the Government, to defense counsel by April 2, 2021.

"Given the foregoing, the Government no longer intends to proceed with respect to Counts Two and Three of the 20 Cr. 78 (AT) Indictment. The Government also no longer plans to proceed on Count Nine of the Indictment with respect to Defendants Nyshiem Spencer, Shalik Jenkins, Nasir Vincent, Allan Gonzalez, and Jonell Danforth. With respect to Defendants Malik Tunstall and Price Tunstall, the Government intends to proceed on Count Nine, but without seeking findings by the jury with respect to drug weight. The Government is evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed at all with respect to Defendant Shalik Jenkins."   

Earlier in the case, nearly a year ago on March 30, 2020, Inner City Press reported that Assistant US Attorney Justin Rodriguez repeatedly cited a video of which he wrote he would "arrange with the Court's Chambers for the transmission of an electronic version of the video montage, rather than a physical copy." The video was and is as of this writing not in the case's docket on PACER.    Judge Torres relied on this video in denying bond, finding a danger to the community. Minutes later, she approved a switch to CJA lawyer James Branden for co-defendant Lafone Eley.

On October 20, 2021, Lafone Ely came to plead guilty to a single count of attempted bank fraud. When asked to allocute, he said he had gotten the password to a bank account not his own, raised the limit but still hadn't been able to get the money. He got a plea deal with a guideline of nine to 15 months, with a speedy sentencing set for November 9.

On June 7, 2022 Judge Torres imposed time served sentences in the case on Shalik Jenkins and on Ashanae McLaughlin, noting her past as "a Bronx-born basketball star" and relatively lesser role.

On November 1, 2023, Eley got 180 months: "JUDGMENT IN A CRIMINAL CASE as to Stefvon Eley (3). THE DEFENDANT: pleaded guilty to counts lesser included offenses of counts 5 and 7. IMPRISONMENT: 180 months' imprisonment.  The Court recommends that the Defendant serve his sentence at Federal Correctional Complex, Butner (FCC Butner) in Butner, North Carolina."

 On November 17 Judge Torres authorized filming in the courthouse: "ORDER as to Nyshiem Spencer: The United States Marshal Service is hereby directed to bring Defendant Nyshiem Spencer to the United States Courthouse, located at 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY, 10007 for the purpose of facilitating a meeting, which will be recorded, with his mitigation expert, Katherine Carter. Mr. Spencer shall be placed in a room where Mr. Spencer can be recorded for at least two hours, without any barriers between himself and Ms. Carter. The date and time of this meeting is to be coordinated with defense counsel and the United States Marshal Service within one week of the date of this order, and shall take place before December 8, 2023.Katherine Carter will be allowed to enter the United States Courthouse with the computer and video equipment necessary to record Mr. Spencer. This includes: 1. One backpack that includes: a. One DSLR Camera; b. One small pouch that includes two small lavalier microphones, one small receiver microphone, and one audio aux cable; c. Two small light panels; d. Two batteries for camera; e. Two SD cards; f. One pair of headphones; 2. One shoulder bag that includes: a. One camera tripod; b. Two light panel tripods; 3. One MacBook Air computer and Velcro computer case. (Signed by Judge Analisa Torres on 11/17/2023)."

Spencer's father, in Sing Sing, has already been filmed. BOP said filming will not be allowed in the MDC. Hence, in SDNY at 500 Pearl...

On February 6, the US Attorney's Office in a sentencing submission that starts with photos of the murdered Luis Angel Vargas asks for 25 years on Spencer.

On February 20, after Vargas' father spoke, Spencer got 10 years, threadette:

Victim's father: He was shot in the back of the head. This heartless monster wears my son's death as a badge of honor.

AUSA: Ten years is not enough. Luis was going to play Hamlet in the school play. He never will. Mr Vargas also seeks $12,000 restitution.

Spencer: None of this was supposed to happen. I'm not that person. Luiz Vargas was not the target.

Judge: You shot 6 bullets and hit 3 people including 16 year old Luiz Vargas... I sentence you to 10 years

Judge Torres also congratulated Spencer for getting his GED, noting he wants to work in the food industry. She quoted SDNY Judges Oetken and Furman (US v. Chavez) on prison conditions, and Judge Rakoff on the youthful brain.

The case is US v. Spencer, et al., 20-cr-78 (Torres)


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