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IN RE EXTRADITION OF RIBAUDO

January 30, 2004.

IN THE MATTER OF THE EXTRADITION OF LUIGI RIBAUDO


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEVIN FOX, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

The government of the Republic of Italy ("Italy"), through the government of the United States of America ("United States"), has petitioned for a certification that Luigi Ribaudo ("Ribaudo") is extraditable pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy, T.I.A.S. No. 10837, signed at Rome on October 13, 1983, and entered into force on September 4, 1984 ("Treaty"). Italy seeks Ribaudo's extradition because he was tried in absentia in Italy, convicted for the crimes of conspiracy and drug trafficking and sentenced to eleven (11) years imprisonment.

  Ribaudo has made a motion to dismiss the petition for extraditability to Italy. The bases for the motion are his claims that: 1) the evidence presented in support of the petition for extraditability fails to establish probable cause; 2) the documents submitted in support of the extradition request fail to conform to the requirements of the Treaty; and 3) the delay in seeking Ribaudo's extradition is a violation of the terms of the Treaty; in the alternative, the request for extradition should be denied pursuant to the equitable doctrine of laces. The United States opposes the motion and urges that the Court issue a certification that Ribaudo is extraditable to Page 2 Italy because a valid extradition treaty exists between the United States and Italy, the crime with which Ribaudo has been convicted is covered by the relevant treaty and the evidence presented by the United States, on behalf of Italy and in support of the petition for extradition, is sufficient under the applicable standard of proof and complies with the requirements of the Treaty. Ribaudo's motion is addressed below.

  II. BACKGROUND

  Ribaudo is a citizen of Italy. He entered the United States in 1982 and became a permanent resident in 1985. Since 1983, he has been employed as an engineer in New York. He has lived under his own name, making no attempt to keep his identity or whereabouts a secret.

  On December 29, 2000, a Complaint for Arrest with a View Toward Extradition was filed against Ribaudo by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York on behalf of the government of Italy. On January 11, 2001, Ribaudo was arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant issued on the complaint. The circumstances leading to Ribaudo's arrest are alleged to be as follows.

  On October 28, 1982, the District Attorney's Office in Florence, Italy, was notified that Gaetano Giuffrida ("Giuffrida"), among others, had been arrested in New York on a charge of possession of fifteen (15) kilograms of heroin. Giuffrida was later released from custody because the evidence against him was insufficient. Thereafter, officials of the Italian government placed wiretaps on telephones used by Giuffrida.

  On January 21, 1983, as a result of information obtained by means of the wiretaps and other investigative activity, law enforcement officers seized 81.6 kilograms of heroin in Florence, Italy. The heroin had been divided into 160 packages, each of which had been placed in a shoe Page 3 box in preparation for shipment to Mintor's Shoes, Inc. in New York, New York. In addition, certain documents seized by law enforcement officers, during their investigation of Giuffrida, showed that he was closely associated with other persons involved in the October 1982 arrests. Among these documents was a letter sent by an attorney, Lorenzo De Luca ("De Luca"), to Giuffrida in care of "Ribaudo." At the time, De Luca was a consultant for Mintor's Shoes, Inc. and other companies located at the same address as that corporation. Based on this and other evidence, Italian investigators concluded that Ribaudo was involved in Giuffrida's drug trafficking organization.

  In reaching this conclusion, investigators relied in part on evidence concerning Ribaudo's daughter, Eleanora Ribaudo ("Eleanora"). Eleanora was known to be romantically involved with Giuffrida. In addition, she was considered to be an intermediary between Ribaudo and Giuffrida and, in that capacity, to have conveyed messages from one to the other concerning the organization's activities. For example, a telephone conversation that took place following Giuffrida's arrest in New York revealed that Giuffrida told Eleanora to inform her father "not to give any shoes to anyone," to give "only five of them to De Luca," and to "let [De Luca] see the samples." Law enforcement officials believed that the word "shoes" referred to heroin and that Giuffrida was speaking about the establishment by De Luca of a new company to receive future shipments of heroin. In addition, a letter written to Giuffrida by one of his associates, Antonio Turano ("Turano"), contained the following statement: "called by Ribaudo, Attorney Castelbuono called me and is prepared to do the complete job, that is both operations, that is goods and money." Investigators learned that Catselbuono had been responsible for laundering money obtained from the sale of heroin in the United States. They concluded, therefore, that Page 4 Castelbuono had determined to engage in such activity only after receiving a communication from Ribaudo.

  In May 1983 the Florence District Attorney's Office issued arrest warrants for Ribaudo and his wife, Constanza Glave ("Glave"), on charges of association (conspiracy) to commit narcotics trafficking and possession, exportation and sale of narcotics. The trial of Ribaudo and his wife, along with numerous others, commenced on May 2, 1985, in the Court of Florence. Ribaudo and Glave did not return to Italy for the trial and were tried in absentia. In a letter dated May 1, 1985, addressed to the Chief Judge of the n Criminal Division at the Court of Florence, Ribaudo and Glave presented a defense to the charges brought against them. In the letter, Ribaudo and Glave acknowledged that Giuffrida had been a close personal friend of the family, including their daughter, and that they had once borrowed a part of the purchase price of a house in Milan from Giuffrida, but they denied any knowledge of or participation in Giuffrida's criminal activities.

  On June 26, 1985, Ribaudo was found guilty of the crimes ascribed to him and was sentenced to sixteen (16) years imprisonment and a fine of 400 million lire. Glave was acquitted of all charges. On May 7, 1986, the Court of Appeal of Florence affirmed Ribaudo's conviction and reduced his sentence to eleven (11) years and a fine of 200 million lire. On April 5, 1987, Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation denied Ribaudo's appeal.

  A request for the provisional arrest and extradition of Ribaudo, among others, was received by the United States Office of International Affairs ("OIA") on December 27, 1985. Thereafter, during the period March 1986 through August 1998, the United States repeatedly sought documentation that would support the Italian government's request for Ribaudo's Page 5 extradition. Indeed, a review of the record in this case indicates that the United States submitted to law enforcement officers in Italy approximately twenty such requests during that twelve-year period. For example, on April 11, 1989, the director of the criminal division of the OIA advised Italian law enforcement officers that it planned to close the file on the Ribaudo extradition matter because three prior requests for pertinent information had not been answered and, in the approximately three years since Ribaudo's provisional arrest was first requested, the necessary extradition documents had not been provided. Three years later, in April 1992, Ribaudo's extradition file was reopened by the OIA based on repeated inquiries from law enforcement officers in Italy concerning its status and assurances by them that the requisite documents would be forthcoming. However, the final transmission of formal extradition documents was not received by the United States Department of State until September 21, 1998. Thereafter, on August 20, 1999, Kenneth Propp ("Propp"), an attorney in the Office of the Legal Adviser for the Department of State, issued a declaration attesting to Italy's request for Ribaudo's extradition.

  On December 29, 2000, a United States district judge in this judicial district issued a warrant for the arrest of Ribaudo, as contemplated by 18 U.S.C. § 3184 and Article XII of the Treaty, the provisional arrest provision of that document. The warrant was executed on January 11, 2001. Ribaudo was brought before the court and was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service. On March 28, 2001, Ribaudo was released on bail subject to certain specified conditions. Thereafter, the instant motion was filed.

  III. DISCUSSION

  "In the United States, extradition is governed by the federal extradition statute." Cheung v. United States, 213 F.3d 82, 87 (2d Cir. 2000); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3181-3196. With some Page 6 exceptions not applicable to this case, "[s]ection 3184 of the statute mandates that extradition must be based on a treaty or convention." Cheung, 213 F.3d at 87. In addition, section 3184 of the statute states that responsibility for extradition within the United States falls, in the first instance, to a judicial officer whose task it is to determine: (i) whether a valid extradition treaty exists between the United States and the relevant foreign government, (ii) whether the crime charged is covered by that treaty, and (iii) whether the evidence presented to the judicial officer is sufficient to sustain the charge under the provisions of the treaty. See id. at 87-88. If the judicial officer determines that the ...


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