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In Sex Trafficking Case Paused By Covid Justin Rivera Was Found Guilty, US Wants 25 Years

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Thread
BBC - Decrypt - LightRead - Honduras - Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 4 – In the sex trafficking trial of US v. Carl Andrews that Inner City Press has been reporting on despite a partially sealed courtroom and US Attorney withholding of exhibits, the defense on March 14, 2020 asked for and got a stay and then end of the trial.

The reason? Coronavirus COVID-19.

  For that re-trial one of the US Attorney's Office's witnesses is blamed for putting the jury, court staff, and the Press at risk (Inner City Press witnessed and reported on her March 12 testimony, here), see below.

On April 21, 2021, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Engelmayer held a conference in the run-up to the related US v. Rivera trial, set for June.

On June 9, the US Attorney's office was nearing closing its case. On the afternoon of June 9 victim Natalie Rivera answered question after question from the Assistant US Attorney, like:

  Did you want to keeping to prostitute for him?

Answer: No.

   What did he mean by, you're my bottom b-word?

  Answer: That's how pimps keep their prostitutes.

  Her testimony came across as forthright, as least to this reporter. The jury filed out at 4:55 pm, and Judge Engelmayer arranged for defense lawyer Anthony Cecutti to meet with Rivera inside 40 Foley before he was taken back to the MCC.

  On June 11 until 1:12 pm, Justin Rivera's defense lawyer gave his closing to the 15 jurors and alternates. He admitted, there were guns, Justin beat Natalie, they engaged in prostitution business. But he said Natalie had agency, that she chose to prostitute herself. He began, soon another person will be in that chair --

  The Assistant US Attorney objected, and Judge Engelmayer sustained the objection. With the jury out to lunch, he admonished the defense for misstating the standard on venue. It's not if the jury doubts the memory of being in Manhattan and the Bronx, it's the preponderance of evidece.

At 5 pm on June 11, Inner City Press went back to the courtroom, expecting to see the jurors instructed on not reading about the case (here) over the weekend.
  First, Judge Engelmayer said that the jurors had selected the foreperson, Juror Number 1, and that he would be sending them away for the weekend. Then he said, There's a been a verdict.

That was fast.

  Six U.S. Marshals came into the back row where Inner City Press was standing (the gallery had only nine positions, largely taken up with overflow counsel).

  The jurors were led in. On Count 1, Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, how do you find? The foreman said, Guilty. So did the others when polled.

It being six o'clock, Judge Engelmayer did not yet set a sentencing date. And the verdict won't be docketed until Monday. But it's here, just after, on Inner City Press. And see this live stream stand-up.

Now on December 30, the day after the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell on five of six sex trafficking charges, Rivera's sentence was pushed back: ORDER as to Justin Rivera: The Court has received the Government's letter of December 22, 2021, Dkt. 930, seeking an adjournment of defendant Justin Rivera's sentencing, presently scheduled for January 20, 2022, and the defense's letter of December 27, 2021, Dkt. 931, consenting to such adjournment, albeit for different reasons. The Court grants the unopposed motion and adjourns sentencing until Monday, March 14, 2022, at 9:30 am. (Sentencing set for 3/14/2022 at 09:30 AM before Judge Paul A. Engelmayer) (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 12/29/2021).

On October 4, 2022, with the sentencing still not done but upcoming, the US put in its 18 page sentencing memorandum. While Rivera is asking for something "closer to 132 months," the US Attorney's Office wants at least 300 months. They discuss not only trafficking but witness tampering. Watch this site.

Back on March 22, Judge Engelmayer held another proceeding, and Inner City Press again covered it. One of the issues involved Justin Rivera being moved out of the SHU in the MCC. His laptop with discovery on it should be transferred with him, Judge Engelmayer said. He suggested the Rivera's counsel email the MCC, copying the US Attorney's Office which should "me too it," Judge Engelmayer said. Watch this site.

  On January 4, Judge Engelmayer held a telephone conference about the new and belated files, and Inner City Press covered it. Because the US Attorney's Office maintained that the trial should still go forward on February 16, Judge Engelmayer said 3500 material would be due - and, on January 15, a letter reporting (Nejad-style) on its investigation as to how the discovery lapse came about." Watch this site.

The case is now US v. Rivera, 19-cr-131 (Engelmayer).


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