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U.S. v. SANCHEZ

April 16, 2003

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
MANUEL A. SANCHEZ, JR., A/K/A "MANNY SANCHEZ, MARTIN BOSSHART, GENARRO BRUNO, JEANE SARLO, AND DENNIS MCSWEENEY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Conway Casey, United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Jeane Sarlo, Dennis McSweeney, Manuel Sanchez, Jr., Martin Bosshart, and Genarro Bruno have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and representatives of the Pre-Trial Services Administration. Defendant Manuel Sanchez is additionally charged with making false statements to the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the United States Customs Service. Sarlo and McSweeney have both pled guilty, and Bosshart was murdered shortly after he was released on bail. Defendants Bruno and Sanchez now move for severance of their trials. Bruno additionally moves for dismissal on statute of limitations grounds and has filed various discovery motions. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions are denied in their entirety.

I. Background

On March 27, 2001, a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of New York returned a one-count Indictment ("Indictment") against Jeane Sarlo and Dennis McSweney charging them with (1) conspiracy to obstruct justice and (2) making false statements to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and to representatives of the Pre-Trial Services Administration ("PSA") in order to secure the pre-trial release of a drug-dealer, Cesar Agramonte. Sarlo and McSweeney allegedly posted their home as security for Agramonte's release, perjured themselves in open Court at a bail hearing and made false statements to representatives of the PSA in exchange for $275,000. The conspiracy is alleged to have lasted from in or about July of 1996 through September of 1996.

On September 4, 2001, a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of New York returned a two-count Superseding Indictment ("Superseding Indictment"). Count One of the Superseding Indictment names Manuel A. Sanchez, Jr., Martin Bosshart, and Genarro Bruno as additional defendants in the conspiracy to obstruct justice and make false statements charged in the original indictment. Count Two charges Manuel Sanchez with participating in an additional conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the United States Customs Service in order to corruptly obtain a cooperation agreement and sentencing consideration for Agramonte.

Count One of the Superseding Indictment alleges that Bosshart and Bruno delivered a total of approximately $275,000 in cash to McSweeney and Sarlo in two installments — $10,000 in or about June 1996 and another $265,000 in or about the middle of August 1996 — as payment for Sarlo and McSweeney's agreement to post their home as bail for Agramonte and for their false testimony. Bosshart and Bruno allegedly drove Sarlo and McSweeney to the Eastern District to testify at the July 3, 1996 bail hearing. Count One also charges Sanchez with serving as an intermediary and translator between Agramonte and his lawyer Pat Stiso.*fn1 Stiso had concocted the plot to bribe Sarlo and McSweeney to act as suretors and have them provide false testimony to the Court about their relationship with Agramonte. Count One also alleges that, after her testimony at the bail hearing, Sarlo delivered approximately $200,000 in cash to another co-conspirator not named as a defendant in this case, CC-2, on or about September 9, 1996.

Count Two of the Superseding Indictment charges defendant Sanchez with participating in an additional conspiracy to obstruct justice and make false statements. From in or about September 1996 through December of 1997, Sanchez, Stiso, and others allegedly conspired to obstruct justice and make false statements to representatives of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the United States Customs Service in order to obtain a cooperation agreement and a reduced sentence for Agramonte. The conspirators allegedly agreed to create a phony heroin mill with the understanding that Agramonte would provide false information to law enforcement officers in order to obtain a reduced sentence. Count Two alleges six overt acts committed by Sanchez and his co-conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy. With regard to Sanchez, Count Two alleges that he again acted as an intermediary and translator for Stiso, who devised the scheme to create a phony heroin mill and have Agramonte provide misinformation to the Government.

Sarlo and McSweeney have both pled guilty. Bosshart was murdered shortly after he was released on bail. Thus, Bruno and Sanchez are the only two defendants who are now prepared to go to trial in this case. Bruno has filed a motion to dismiss the government's case on statute of limitations grounds and various discovery motions. Both Bruno and Sanchez have moved for severance.

III. Discussion

A. The Statute of Limitations

Bruno advances two arguments in support of his request that Count One be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. First, he argues that the last overt act committed in furtherance of the conspiracy charged in Count One occurred in the middle of August 1996, not on September 9, 1996, as alleged in the Indictment. Bruno claims that Count One must be dismissed because the Indictment was filed on September 4, 2001, beyond the five-year statute of limitations.*fn2 Second, Bruno contends that he was incarcerated from April 1996, well before the formation of the conspiracy alleged in Count One, until several years after the end of the conspiracy and, therefore, could not have participated in the conspiracy. See Affirmation of Paul McAllister, Esq., para. 6 ("McAllister Aff.").

The applicable statute of limitations is five years. See 18 U.S.C. § 3282. Because the indictment was returned on September 4, 2001, the conspiracy must have continued until at least September 4, 1996 in order to fall within the statutory period. A conspiracy charge falls within the statute of limitations if at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy was performed within the statutory period. See Grunewald v. United States, 353 U.S. 391, 397 (1957).

The indictment alleges that Sarlo returned the $275,000 to Bosshart on September 9, 1996. If this act was done in furtherance of the conspiracy, the alleged crime falls within the statutory period. Bruno argues that the government's case should be dismissed because Sarlo's return of the money was clearly outside the scope of the conspiracy. This Court agrees with the government that whether Sarlo's return of the money was an act in furtherance of the conspiracy is an issue of fact for the jury. See United States v. Benussi, 216 F. Supp.2d 299, 311 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) ("The precise scope of the conspiratorial agreement [is] an issue for the jury."). See. e.g., United States v. Frank, 156 F.3d 332, 338 (2d Cir. 1997); United States v. Aracri, 968 F.2d 1512, 1517 (2d Cir. 1992). Thus, Bruno's motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds is denied.

Bruno's motion also suggests that the Government's case should be dismissed because Bruno was incarcerated from April 1996, before the formation of the conspiracy alleged in Count One, until several years after the conspiracy had terminated. Bruno contends that he therefore could not have participated in the conspiracy. Bruno has offered no proof of his incarceration. Moreover, whether Bruno was incarcerated during the ...


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