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United States v. Pierce

May 21, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Norman A. Mordue, Chief U.S. District Judge



The one-count Third Superseding Indictment charged defendant Ismail Pierce, and others, with conspiring to conduct and participate, directly and indirectly, in the conduct of the affairs of the Elk Block enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, ("RICO") 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). On December 19, 2006, after more than four weeks of trial, and having deliberated over parts of two days, the jury found defendant guilty. The jury further found that defendant agreed to a pattern of racketeering activity that included conspiracy to distribute and/or possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (crack).

Following the jury's verdict, defendant filed a motion for acquittal and, alternatively, for a new trial pursuant to Rules 29 and 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. In a Memorandum-Decision and Order dated May 11, 2007, the Court denied defendant's motions. Dkt. No. 489. Presently before the Court is defendant's second motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 33*fn1 on the basis that the government failed to disclose material information about testifying co-conspirator Billy Pringle's involvement in a drug distribution conspiracy with Eric Thompson and Raymond Jones, both of whom Pringle referred to during trial, though neither was indicted in this case. Dkt. No. 526.


The facts of this case arose from defendant's involvement in the Elk Block gang, which operated in a territory in Syracuse, New York bordered by South Salina Street on the west, Interstate 81 on the east, Colvin Street on the north, and McAllister Avenue on the south.

Indicted co-conspirators and former Elk Block gang members, including Billy Pringle, testified at trial regarding Elk Block's geographic territory, gang signs, graffiti, clothing, tattoos, drug dealing, use of firearms, and utilization of violence for the protection and maintenance of control over the cocaine base (crack) sales in Elk Block territory. At trial, there was evidence of a multitude of shootings and several murders.

According to the government, prior to trial, it provided the defense with numerous documents relating to Pringle, including a debriefing report which discussed the relationship between Thompson and Pringle:

From 2003 through 2004, PRINGLE sold cocaine with ERIC THOMPSON. THOMPSON is an older black male and a former AVE BOY. They pooled their money together and THOMPSON went to NYC to get it. On one occasion, PRINGLE went to NYC with ERIC THOMPSON and JAMES "BOOM" KELLY. PRINGLE met the drug supplier in Manhattan called, "CARU". "CARU" was a tall Dominican male with a slim build. ERIC had met "CARU" through "HANK" HUGGINS and "RICE". PRINGLE, KELLY, and ERIC picked up a kilo on that trip.

PRINGLE and KELLY each received their cut of about 10 (ten) ounces from the kilo. PRINGLE paid about $9,000 for his cut. When they returned to Syracuse, KELLY "cooked" his and THOMPSON's coke to crack. PRINGLE left his in the powder form. PRINGLE sold his weight in small grams up to 1/2 ounce at various bars in Syracuse. KELLY sold his on the block. THOMPSON sold his crack on the block and had other licks as well.

Later on, ISRAEL APPLINS and JAMES "BOOM" KELLY met supplier "CARU" through ELK member JAMAR LOVE. JAMAR LOVE was the one who had introduced ELK BLOCK members to supplier "CARU".

In March 2004, THOMPSON was arrested and PRINGLE lost a lot of money. This debriefing report also indicated that "RAYMOND 'RAW' JONES was the 'hitter' or enforcer for the gang. RAYMOND would collect on drug debts owed."

James Kelly's debriefing report also contains references to Jones, indicates that Jones actively looked for Connors "to retaliate", and describes Jones's attempt to bribe a witness under the heading "Elk Intimidation of Witnesses".

Pringle testified over parts of two days about the gang and its activities. The following is a summary of the testimony relevant to the instant motion. Pringle stated that he, James Kelly, and Israel Applins pooled their money from Elk Block drug sales and traveled to New York City to purchase cocaine. Pringle testified that he would cook the cocaine into crack, and that Kelly and Applins would supply it to gang members to sell. Pringle described gang members' street level drug sale procedure in Elk Block territory, including gang members' rotation of sales to customers. Pringle also testified that gang members used violence to control drug sales in the Elk Block ...

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