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United States v. Amato

May 26, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
BALDASSARE AMATO, STEPHEN LOCURTO, AND ANTHONY BASILE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garaufis, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

This Memorandum and Order ("M&O") shall address all unresolved and fully briefed motions pending before this court.

First, the Government moves in limine to preclude (1) the cross-examination of FBI special agent Carrillo; (2) reference to notes made by Joseph Massino during trial preparation; (3) references to Massino's cooperation agreement with the Government; (4) allegations about FBI special agent DeVecchio; (5) and references to defendant Locurto's state court acquittal. The Government's motion is granted in all respects.

Next, the Government moves in limine to admit five specific acts allegedly committed by defendant Anthony Basile that it contends are admissible as direct evidence of the Bonanno racketeering conspiracy, and, alternatively pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). Specifically, the Government seeks to admit evidence of Basile's involvement in (1) an attempted murder of Sal "Fat Sally" Mangiviallano; (2) felony-murder of an armoured truck driver; (3) murders committed with Thomas Pitera; (4) cocaine distribution; and (5) bookmaking. (Gov't Mem. Supp. Mot. Admit, at 3-5.). For the reasons stated herein, I grant the Government's motion to admit evidence regarding the attempted murder of Sal "Fat Sally" Mangiviallano, murders committed with Thomas Pitera, cocaine distribution, and bookmaking, but deny the Government's motion to admit evidence of Basile's involvement in the felony-murder of an armoured truck driver.

Defendant Baldasare Amato moves to preclude statements made to Salvatore Vitale by Joseph Massino regarding the DeFalco murder. I deny this motion, but grant leave to defendants to raise hearsay objections during the direct examination of Salvatore Vitale.

Knowledge of the factual background of these motions is presumed.

I. GOVERNMENT'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO PRECLUDE

A. Cross-Examination of FBI Special Agent Carillo

The Government moves to preclude cross-examination of FBI special agent Carrillo "regarding the specifics of murders as to which Carillo is not knowledgeable, on the grounds of lack of foundation." (Gov't Mem. Supp. Mot. Preclude ("Gov't Mot. Preclude"), at 2.) Defendant Locurto objects to this motion (see Locurto Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 1); Amato does not oppose this motion (see Amato Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 1); defendant Basile has not responded to it. In the related case of United States v. Basciano, 03-Cr.-929 (E.D.N.Y.) (NGG), I found impermissible a line of cross-examination that sought to refresh FBI special agent Carillo regarding murders without providing the foundation that Carillo had knowledge of the murders. (Basciano Tr. at 2359; Gov't Mot. Preclude, at 2-3.) The Federal Rules of Evidence require a foundation that the witness at one time "had knowledge of the fact as to which his recollection is to be refreshed" before the witness can have that recollection refreshed. United States v. Maldonado-Rivera, 922 F.2d 934, 976 (2d Cir. 1990) (internal citations omitted); see also Fed. R. Evid. 612, 803(5). I adhere to this ruling, and will preclude the refreshing of Carillo on defense's cross-examination without having laid a proper foundation.

B. Notes Made by Joseph Massino During Trial Preparation

The Government has moved in limine to preclude reference to copies of F.B.I. 302 reports that have handwritten notes by Joseph Massino on them. (Gov't Mot. Preclude, at 4-5). The Government argues that the notes are hearsay under Federal Rule of Evidence 802. (Id. at 4.) Both Amato and Locurto have expressed their intention to refrain from referring to such notes. (Amato Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 1; Locurto Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 2.)

The Federal Rules of Evidence preclude the admission of out of court statements offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Fed. R. Evid. 801, 802. I find that Joseph Massino's handwritten notes on F.B.I. 302 reports constitute such out of court statements are therefore precluded by Rules 801 and 802. The Government's motion is granted.

C. Joseph Massino's Cooperation Agreement with the Government

The Government seeks to preclude reference to Joseph Massino's cooperation with the Government. (Gov't Mot. Preclude, at 5-6.) Amato and Locurto respond with their intention not to offer Joseph Massino's cooperation agreement but reserving on the question of the fact of Massino's cooperation (Amato Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 1-2; LoCurto Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 2). Massino's cooperation agreement is inadmissible hearsay if it is offered to prove the truth of the fact that Massino is a cooperating witness. (Federal Rule of Evidence 801 (d)(1); see also United States v. Cardascia, 915 F.2d 474, 487 (2d Cir. 1991) (holding a resignation letter to be inadmissible hearsay because, "[u]nlike a legally operative statement . . . [its] significance does not lie solely in the fact that it was made[, but rather] the letter was sought to be introduced to prove the matter asserted, that is, Martolrelli resigned as assistant vice-president of the bank. . . ."). I note that I do not find any hearsay exceptions to be applicable.

As to the fact of Massino's cooperation, the parties have not offered any argument as to the cooperation's relevance in this trial. I therefore grant the Government's motion to preclude mention of the fact of Massino's cooperation at trial under Federal Rule of Evidence 401.

D. Allegations Regarding FBI Special Agent DeVecchio

The Government moves to preclude the defense from referencing the recent indictment of Lindley DeVecchio, former supervisor of the FBI's Bonanno organized crime squad. (Gov't Mot. Preclude, at 8.) DeVecchio was indicted by a Brooklyn state grand jury on charges relating to his alleged provision of confidential information to a member of the Colombia organized crime family. (Id.) Amato responds that it is not his intention to refer to any allegations against Special Agent DeVecchio. (Amato Ltr. Br., dated May 25, 2006, at 3.) Locurto responds that he "[w]ill [n]ot [i]ntend to [r]efer to [a]llegations [a]against [f]ormer F.B.I. Agent DelVechio (sic) [e]xcept to [n]ote [t]hat the [p]rosecution is being [b]rought by State [a]uthorities [n]ot the [o]ffice [w]ho [e]mbraced [h]is '[s]tyle' of [i]nvestigation." (Locurto Ltr. Br., at 2.)

The court interprets Locurto's notation to be for the purposes of this briefing, and not an explanation of his intention to refer to such facts in open court. The court finds that since DeVecchio is not a witness in this case and the allegations are not connected to his work with the F.B.I.'s Bonanno squad, any such reference would be irrelevant ...


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