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In DEA Corruption Trial of Costanzo & Recio US Sealed Courtroom, Now Subpoena Dispute

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 6 – On May 20, 2022 DOJ announced that "JOHN COSTANZO JR., a Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent, and MANUEL RECIO, a former DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge, were indicted in Manhattan federal court."

Costanzo appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrates Court that day and was released on $30,000 bond. His case was assigned to District Judge J. Paul Oekten, who held a conference in the case on June 6. Inner City Press attended and live tweeted, below.

On October 27, with the trial belatedly underway, Inner City Press was in the courtroom when Special Agent Brandon Jaycox testified. Audio tapes were being played. Behind the scenes there were dueling letters on the admissibility of recordings about Recio telling Costanzo about the impending arrest of Cesar Peralta.

On October 30 witness Hernandez - he explained his nickname grew from having "a head shaped like a bowling ball" - read from his text messages with Costanzo, who he called "boss."

  On October 31, after Hernandez testified about his relationship with Alexander Saab, it emerged - not in the docket - that the US seeks to seal the courtroom, citing what they described in open court as an exhibit concerning a "unilateral operation" without the consent of the country it took place in, an operation that apparently involved or involves committing crimes. Inner City Press joined an oral request to unseal - with a written letter.

Judge Oetken to his credit docketed the letter at 4:30 pm. But by then, the courtroom was sealed, and Inner City Press waiting outside in the hall until past 5. Inside throughout were, among others, two woman in the gallery who left with a defendant, seemingly family members. So isn't the horse out of the barn?

On November 3, the charge conference was held. The elements of bribery were debated, with reference to a jury instruction by SDNY District Judge Paul G. Gardephe in US v. Adams, 20-cr-494 (that defendant was acquitted).  Four elements...

On November 6, along with indications a second sealing of the courtroom will be essayed for the closing argument, a subpoena dispute bloomed with a letter from Miami based lawyer Christopher M. DeCoste, concluding that "it has become impossible to confer with the government safely or constructively." We will continue to cover the trial.

Back on July 15, Judge Oekten held a conference, which Inner City Press live tweeted here

 US letter alleging conflict on Patreon here.

The case is US v. Costanzo, 22-cr-281 (Oetken) 


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