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United States v. Aviles

decided: January 12, 1960.


Author: Lumbard

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, and CLARK and MOORE, Circuit Judges.

LUMBARD, Chief Judge.

Alfredo Aviles and fourteen codefendants appeal their convictions for conspiracy to violate the narcotic laws, 21 U.S.C.A. ยงยง 173, 174 and sentences of imprisonment ranging from 5 to 20 years*fn1 after a three months' jury trial in the Southern District of New York.The indictment named a total of 37 defendants and 14 other coconspirators but only 17 defendants stood trial on the charge of conspiracy to import and smuggle narcotic drugs into the United States, to receive, conceal, possess, buy and sell the drugs; to dilute, mix and adulterate the drugs prior to their distribution; and to distribute the drugs. Judge Bicks granted the motion of defendant Vento for judgment of acquittal at the end of the case, and the jury acquitted defendant Fiano.

A summary of the evidence shows that there was ample support for the jury's finding of one overall conspiracy to import, distribute, purchase and sell narcotics in violation of law.

The testimony of the principal government witness, Nelson Silva Cantellops, shows that he first joined the conspiracy in March, 1955 and continued serving it in various capacities until July 1, 1957 when he was arrested. His testimony and extensive cross-examination consumed nineteen days of the trial. The government also called defendants Peter Contes, Joseph Basile, and Salvatore Marino who testified that they participated in the sale and distribution of drugs with various appellants, defendants and coconspirators. The following chronological summary of the evidence of the conspiracy is based on the testimony of Cantellops unless otherwise stated.

In March, 1955 Cantellops attended a meeting at Al's Luncheonette at 34 East 4th Street, New York, with Charles Barcellona, Ralph Polizzano, Carmine Polizzano, Joseph Di Palermo and Anthony Colonna. Cantellops agreed to transport narcotics to Las Vegas for $1000. At the airport bus, while Barcellona was talking to Cantellops, an unidentified man handed Cantellops a package which he took to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas Carmine Polizzano met him and introduced him to the defendant Fiano to whom he gave the package later that evening. For this delivery of narcotics Cantellops was paid $1000 by Barcellona.

In June, 1955 Cantellops made a trip to Florida to pick up a shipment of narcotics. Carmine Pollizzano gave him a bus ticket and money and he went to Miami where he met Carmine Polizzano and drove to Tampa. When the rendezvous in Tampa was unsuccessful, Cantellops and Carmine Polizzano drove to Key West where outside the La Concha Hotel an unidentified man took a suitcase out of his pushcart and placed it in the back seat of the automobile in which Cantellops was waiting. After driving to Miami Cantellops took the train and delivered the narcotics to Ralph Polizzano at the "plant" at 36 East 4th Street, next to Al's Luncheonette, as Carmine Polizzano watched from across the street. For this trip Joseph Di Palermo and Carmine Polizzano paid Cantellops $600 and later he also received an ounce of heroin as a tip.

Cantellops' third trip in August, 1955, took him to Chicago. Carmine Polizzano instructed him about the trip and gave him a package of narcotics from the trunk of a car parked in front of Al's Luncheonette. Cantellops took a bus to Chicago and the day after his arrival met Carmine Polizzano at a bar on Division Street where he was introduced to a man who picked up the narcotics in the booth where Cantellops had placed them. Cantellops and Carmine Polizzano then drove back to New York and, at Joseph Di Palermo's direction, Carmine Polizzano paid Cantellops. Following the Chicago trip, in August and September, 1955, Cantellops distributed narcotics for Ralph Polizzano.

In October, 1955 Carmine Polizzano asked Cantellops to pick up narcotics in Miami. He told Cantellops that if narcotics were not available in Miami he might have to go to Havana to see certain people. Cantellops went to Miami and at the La Concha Hotel met Charles Di Palermo who introduced him to a man named "Cuba." The three men then drove to the La Concha Hotel in Key West and the next day, upon directions from "Cuba" they picked up a suitcase of narcotics in "Cuba's" hotel room and brought the narcotics to New York by train. Back in New York Cantellops delivered the narcotics to Ralph Polizzano at the basement entrance of Al's Luncheonette upon directions from Carmine Polizzano. For this trip Cantellops was paid $250 by Joseph Di Palermo and $350 by Carmine Polizzano, who also arranged for his assistant, John Russo, to give Cantellops an ounce of heroin as a tip.

In October, 1955, upon Carmine Polizzano's directions, Cantellops explored the policy banks in the Eldridge Street area on Manhattan's lower east Side to find out whether these banks might be used as a front for narcotics distributing plants. After Cantellops had explored the policy banks, Carmine Polizzano invited him to a meeting at Ralph Polizzano's apartment on East 4th Street. This meeting was attended by Ralph and Carmine Polizzano, Joseph Di Palermo, John Russo, John Ormento and Benjamin Levine. The group discussed taking over and operating policy banks as a cover for the distribution of narcotics. Cantellops reported that it would cost between $100,000 and $150,000 to purchase the banks in the Eldridge Street area. The group reached no final decision as it was stated that the matters would have to be discussed with "The Right Man," who, as Cantellops' testimony later developed, turned out to be appellant Vito Genovese. The meeting also discussed the possibility of importing narcotics through Puerto Rico because of turmoil in Cuba and recent misfortunes respecting two shipments by boat. Cantellops suggested the use of the Island of Vieques, off Puerto Rico, as a distributing point.

During the early part of 1956, at the request of Joseph Di Palermo and Carmine Polizzano, Rosario Colletti delivered narcotics to Cantellops who in turn delivered them to John Gonzalez, alias Guayamita, at Gonzalez's apartment at 793 Ninth Avenue, where they were diluted for resale. In June 1956 Cantellops took over Gonzalez' operations and Joseph Di Palermo and the two Polizzanos arranged for Ralph Polizzano to supply Cantellops with the narcotics necessary to expand this business in the Spanish speaking market. Cantellops called Ralph Polizzano when he needed drugs and he picked them up from Russo at Al's Luncheonette or nearby places. While picking up narcotics at the East 4th Street plant Cantellops saw Ralph Polizzano and Charles Di Palermo diluting narcotics. On two occasions during 1956 when Cantellops was in the East 4th Street neighborhood, he saw Vito Genovese talking to Carmine Polizzano and on one of these occasions when Cantellops approached, he was told by Carmine Polizzano "never to interfere when he was talking to 'The Right Man.'" In the summer of 1956 Cantellops, at Ralph Polizzano's request, made other local deliveries of narcotics.

In July, 1956, Cantellops made his fifth out-of-town trip, this time to Cleveland at the behest of Ormento and Carmine Polizzano. Carmine Polizzano introduced Cantellops to appellant Vincent Gigante who drove Cantellops to Lorain, Ohio. At Lorain, Cantellops took the narcotics from behind the spare tire in the automobile trunk and then took them by bus to Cleveland. In Cleveland he met Charles Di Palermo and he delivered the narcotics to an unidentified woman in a taxicab. After Cantellops returned to New York Carmine Polizzano arranged for him to meet Ormento and in Mazzie's presence Ormento paid Cantellops for the trip.

In August, 1956, a sale by Colletti to a narcotic agent resulted in the arrest of Colletti and Russo and the latter was replaced by the defendant Salvatore Marino who thereafter handled narcotics deliveries for the Polizzanos, at the Squeeze-Inn Bar, the plant at 36 East 4th Street and Al's Luncheonette at 34 East 4th Street. Thereafter Marino made frequent deliveries of drugs to Cantellops.

In August, 1956, Cantellops made his third trip to Miami to pick up narcotics. Before the Miami trip there were discussions and meetings at which Ormento offered Cantellops $1,500, to pick up narcotics in Mexico. After Cantellops refused to do this, meetings were held with a man called "Mexican," Mazzie and Carmine Galante regarding the details of a trip to pick up drugs. Cantellops still refused to go to Mexico.

The following evening Cantellops went with Ormento, Mazzie, "Mexican" and the appellant Natale Evola to a restaurant on East 86th Street. Here Ormento spoke to Genovese and reported back to Cantellops that "The Right Man" wanted to take a look at Cantellops to see if he was all right.

After this Cantellops went to "Mexican's" hotel room somewhere on West 85th Street and discussed the trip to Mexico with the appellant Salvatore Santora, Evola, Mazzie, Ormento and "Mexican." Cantellops persisted in his refusal to go to Mexico but suggested that he go to Miami instead. As the change in plan involved a delay, Ormento gave Cantellops money to entertain "Mexican" in New York City, which Cantellops did for the next three days. After this Cantellops drove with "Mexican" to Miami. The day after their arrival "Mexican" drove Cantellops to Pompano Beach, secured a suitcase in a motel, and gave it to Cantellops. Cantellops then returned to New York by train and later gave the bag to an unidentified man. For this trip Ormento and Mazzie later paid him $950. After this Cantellops made two deliveries of narcotics to Philadelphia. On the first occasion Cantellops delivered three or four pounds of narcotics to a lame man, with Mazzie watching the delivery from a distance. For this Ormento paid Cantellops $350 in the presence of Santora and mazzie and told Cantellops that Santora would have another trip for him.

A few days later Carmine Polizzano arranged for Cantellops to meet with Ormento, Santora and Mazzie at which time Ormento asked him to deliver narcotics to Philadelphia for Santora.Cantellops was driven to Philadelphia and delivered the narcotics according to instructions. For the second Philadelphia trip Santora gave money to ormento who gave it to Cantellops in the presence of Mazzie and Evola. In addition, Cantellops testified to making a Brooklyn delivery for the same group, for which he was paid by Ormento.

In August, 1956, defendant Contes ordered a large quantity of heroin from Nicholas Lessa and Cantellops delivered this to Contes at the request of Mazzie who paid Cantellops for the delivery. The testimony of Peter Contes tended to confirm these transactions.

A few days later Ormento and Mazzie twice sent narcotics to Daniel and Nicholas Lessa, using Cantellops as the messenger. Mazzie supervised the second delivery and Ormento paid Cantellops for both deliveries.

At the end of August, or early September 1956, Cantellops attended a meeting at Mazzie's home at 2332 Seymour Avenue in the Bronx where plans were made for extending the distribution of narcotics. Earlier in the evening Cantellops drove to a German restaurant on East 86th Street with Evola, Ormento, Galante and Andimo Pappadio. After Ormento made a telephone call, they all drove to the West Side Highway and met another car. Cantellops and Ormento entered the other car which was driven by appellant Gigante. Ormento introduced Cantellops to Genovese, who was sitting in the back seat, saying to Genovese "This man is doing a good job for us. He is helping us and doing a good job for us." Ormento told Cantellops "This is the Right Man." Genovese said to Cantellops that they "were going to a meeting where territorial control was to be discussed," that the people at the meeting were counting on Cantellops to help them and that Cantellops could earn some money by doing so. The two automobiles drove to Mazzie's home and everyone entered except Genovese and Gigante who stayed outside. Evola, Mazzie, Ormento, Pappadio, Galante and Cantellops discussed the distribution of narcotics in the Spanish market in the East Bronx by use of policy banks and sealing off the area to eliminate competing narcotics peddlers and policy banks so that they could control the narcotics traffic in this area. Evola and Pappadio thought that the plan would take a month or a month and a half to complete and the others agreed. After twenty or thirty minutes Genovese came in. He wanted to know "what was the decision in the plan, what they had in mind." When he was told about the discussion which had taken place, Genovese said that he needed this information because he wanted to know when to send his men into the area. Later, in the presence of Evola, Ormento, Pappadio and Galante, Cantellops was advised that he would be the contact man for the distribution of narcotics in this area. Cantellops later delivered neurotics in this area at Ormento's request.

In September, 1956, Ormento and Galante sent Cantellops to Puerto Rico for narcotics. In Puerto Rico he contacted someone named Laurensano who instructed him where to find one Perez on the island of Vieques. When Cantellops met Perez he was given a double marine canvas bag containing narcotics. Cantellops advised Laurensano that he was sending the drugs to three fictitious persons in care of General Delivery, Post Office, New York, and Laurensano advised that he would inform Ormento. Cantellops then mailed the heroin in three packages from three separate post offices. When Cantellops returned to New York Carmine Polizzano arranged to have him meet Ormento who said the drugs had arrived and Ormento paid him for the trip.

After this Cantellops met with Joseph Di Palermo, "Cuba" and a man named Montanez, and Montanez advised that there would be no more shipments from Cuba to Miami and Key West for the rest of the year because of unsettled conditions in Cuba. This meeting took place just a few days before Cantellops was arrested in September, 1956, and he remained in prison until February, 1957.

According to the testimony of three customs inspectors, Joseph Di Palermo, Jean Capece and Salvatore Benanti visited Cuba for two days in November, 1956, and returned to New York on November 20. Jean Capece was searched by a customs inspectors who found $9,000 in new one hundred dollar bills hidden in an undergarment. Jean Capece gave three different stories regarding this money.

When Cantellops left prison in February, 1957, he resumed his narcotics dealings with the Polizzanos, the Di Palermos and Ormento. The appellant Alfredo Aviles became a customer and Cantellops and Marino delivered narcotics to him, Cantellops making his deliveries about once or twice a week from the East 4th Street plant. Aviles paid Cantellops who turned the money over to Ralph Polizzano or Marino and received $100 for each delivery. On one occasion, when Joseph Di Palermo was present, Cantellops saw Ralph Polizzano hand to Jean Capece the proceeds of one of these sales to Aviles. Later Aviles bought directly from Ralph Polizzano and Cantellops received commissions on the sales. Aviles in turn resold the drugs which ...

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