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United States v. Kalaydjian

January 28, 1986

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
BEDROS KALAYDJIAN, A/K/A "PETER", AND AKRAM MOHAMMAD HAYAT, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Appeals from judgments of conviction entered in the Eastern District of New York, Herbert N. Maletz, Senior Judge,*fn* after a jury trial, convicting appellants of violations of the federal narcotics laws, the chief question on appeal being whether defense counsel should have been permitted to cross-examine a government witness on his religious belief arising from his decision to affirm rather than to swear on the Koran.

Author: Timbers

Before: TIMBERS, KEARSE and PRATT, Circuit Judges.

O P I N I O N

TIMBERS, Circuit Judge:

Appellants Bedros Kalaydjian and Akram Hayat appeal from judgment of conviction entered June 25, 1985 after a jury trial in the Eastern District of New York, Herbert N. Maletz, Senior Judge, United States Court of International Trade, sitting by designation.

Kalaydjian was convicted of conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute (Count I) and attempted possession of heroin with intent to distribute (Count III), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841 (1982). He was sentenced to two concurrent three-year terms of imprisonment and to a special parole term of five years.

Hayat was convicted of conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute (Count I), possession of heroin with intent to distribute (Count II) and attempted possession of heroin with intent to distribute (Count III), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841 (1982). He was sentenced to three concurrent twelve-year terms of imprisonment and to two concurrent special parole terms of ten years each.

We find that the principal claim of error raised on appeal is appellants' joint claim that the district court erred in refusing to permit defense counsel to cross-examine a government witness regarding the witness's reasons for deciding to affirm rather than to swear on the Koran. Defense counsel sought to cross-examine on this matter purportedly to cast doubt on the witness's credibility. Other subordinate claims of error are raised. We affirm.

I.

We shall summarize only those facts believed necessary to an understanding of our rulings on the legal issues raised on appeal.

The events leading to the indictment, trial, and conviction of appellants began in June 1984 when Haji Karim, a Pakistani nationalist, was arrested in New York following his receipt of ten kilograms of heroin. On June 23, 1984, he agreed to cooperate with the government in an undercover investigation. He later pled guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute. On July 10, 1984 Karim, acting in cooperation, with the government, called Hayat and told him with ten kilograms of heroin. Hayat agreed to meet Karim the next day at the Holiday Inn.

On July 11, Hayatt, accompanied by Sultan Ahmad,*fn1 arrived at the Holiday Inn and went to Karim's room. Karim gave Hayat a simple of heroin to test. Hayat took the heroin to test. Hayat took the heroin and told Karim that if he found it satisfactory he would arrange for a buyer.

After sampling some of the heroin and finding it satisfactory, Hayat gave the remainder to Ahmad with instructions to deliver it to his "boss", Kalaydjian,*fn2 and to ascertain whether Kalaydjian would be interested in purchasing more. Ahmad delivered the heroin to Kalaydjian, who informed Ahmad that he wanted to purchase 125 grams of the same quality every two weeks. Ahmad conveyed this information to Hayat, who in turn conveyed it to Karim.

The next day, July 12, Hayat told Ahmad that he had spoken with Karim, and that the price was $75,000 per kilogram, "money up front". Ahmad related this information to Kalaydjian, who agreed to ...


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