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UNITED STATES v. MUYET

February 20, 1998

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JOSE MUYET, a/k/a "Raze," et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEISURE

 LEISURE, District Judge :

 Defendant Frank Sosa ("Sosa") was convicted with his codefendants on April 10, 1997, following a five-month jury trial, of various offenses arising out of his participation in the so-called "Nasty Boys" criminal enterprise, as more particularly described below. Sosa moves this Court pursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, seeking dismissal of the charges against him based on insufficiency of evidence. For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 According to the evidence adduced at trial, Jose Muyet, a/k/a "Raze," along with his brother John Muyet, a/k/a "Buddha," operated a drug gang known as the Nasty Boys in the Bronx, New York, for a period of several years. The gang operated from an apartment building known as the Airborne building, and sold both heroin and crack. The Nasty Boys resorted to violence quickly and often to maintain order, stifle competition, and protect their business. Sosa, a/k/a "Frankie," was a member of the Nasty Boys.

 The jury convicted Sosa of narcotics conspiracy, Title 21, United States Code ("U.S.C."), section 846 (Count Thirty of the Indictment) and illegal use and carrying of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count Forty-two). The jury acquitted Sosa of the RICO charges (Counts One and Two), the violent crimes in aid of racketeering charges (Counts Eleven to Fourteen), and firearms charges relating to the racketeering charges (Counts Thirty-four and Thirty-five).

 DISCUSSION

 I. Legal Standard for Rule 29 Motions

 When a defendant moves for judgment of acquittal under Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Court must determine, based on all of the relevant evidence, whether a rational juror "might fairly conclude guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Mariani, 725 F.2d 862, 865 (2d Cir. 1984) (quoting United States v. Taylor, 464 F.2d 240, 243 (2d Cir. 1972)); accord United States v. Bloome, 784 F. Supp. 23, 25 (E.D.N.Y. 1992). The Court must resolve all reasonable inferences in favor of the Government, see Mariani, 725 F.2d at 865, and resolve all issues of credibility in favor of the jury's verdict. See, e.g., United States v. Weiss, 930 F.2d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 1991); United States v. Roldan-Zapata, 916 F.2d 795, 802 (2d Cir. 1990). To succeed on the motion, the defendant[s] must persuade the Court that, "viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, . . . no rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Leslie, 103 F.3d 1093, 1100 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 117 S. Ct. 1713 (1997) (quoting United States v. Taylor, 92 F.3d 1313, 1333 (2d Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 136 L. Ed. 2d 717, 117 S. Ct. 771, 117 S. Ct. 772 (1997)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

 Defendant Sosa argues that the Court must set aside his narcotics conspiracy conviction for a number of reasons. He claims that: (1) insufficient credible evidence exists to sustain the charge; (2) no evidence exists that Sosa conspired to distribute crack; and (3) Sosa suffered spillover prejudice from voluminous evidence relating to violent crimes committed by his codefendants. Each of Sosa's contentions are devoid of merit, and a reasonable juror could conclude that Sosa is guilty of narcotics conspiracy.

 A. Sosa's Claim of Insufficient Credible Evidence

 Sosa claims that the jury necessarily rejected as lies the testimony of Government cooperating witnesses Juan Machin and Luis Quinones regarding the Wolfpack shooting and the Antonio Flores murder, since the jury acquitted Sosa of the charges relating to these incidents. Defendant contends that because the testimony of Machin and Quinones also implicated Sosa in the narcotics conspiracy, the Court should accordingly overturn the jury's verdict on that count. Sosa additionally argues that the other evidence implicating him in the narcotics conspiracy likewise lacks credibility. Specifically, Sosa claims that the testimony of Government cooperating witnesses Abelardo Ramos and Robert Corona does not sufficiently support that of Machin and Quinones, and that other evidence discredited the Government's witnesses. This "other evidence" includes the inability of Rolondo Gomez to identify Sosa, the fact that Sosa had not been previously arrested for drug trafficking, the absence of Sosa from any group photograph of the Nasty Boys, and conflicting evidence about Sosa's "tag" name.

 Sosa's arguments are misplaced in the context of a Rule 29 motion. Defendant is asking the Court to substitute the defendant's interpretation of the evidence for that of the jury. The Second Circuit indicated in Mariani that the strict rules that Court applies with regard to a Rule 29 motion are necessary to avoid judicial usurpation of the jury function. See Mariani, 725 F.2d at 865. "The Court should not substitute its own determination of the ...


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