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United States v. Price

April 10, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
GERARD PRICE, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

This Memorandum and Order addresses several pre-trial matters pertaining to the prosecution of Gerard Price ("Defendant" or "Price"). Before the court are the Government's motions in limine to introduce evidence of uncharged acts, Defendant's motion to exclude his prior convictions, and Batson challenges raised by both parties at the close of jury selection.

For the reasons set forth below, the Government's motions in limine are GRANTED, Defendant's motion to exclude prior convictions is DENIED in part and RESERVED in part, and the Batson motions are each DENIED.

I. Uncharged Acts

Price faces charges of substantive racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, murder, drug trafficking, illegal use of a firearm, and witness tampering in connection with his alleged participation in a Brooklyn-based criminal organization, referred to as the "Pressley/Price Enterprise" (the "PPE"). (See Docket Entry # 94 (the "Indictment").) The Government has moved to admit evidence of additional, uncharged acts at his upcoming trial. The Government argues that these acts are each admissible as direct evidence of the crimes charged in the Indictment, and in the alternative, as Rule 404(b) evidence. Specifically, the Government has sought to admit evidence that:

1) Defendant was a member of the Bloods street gang;

2) Defendant was previously incarcerated on several occasions;

3) Defendant smoked marijuana;

4) Defendant was arrested on September 29, 2001 for driving while impaired as a result of his marijuana use, which led to a search of his vehicle that uncovered a concealed gun (the "Gun"); and

5) On one occasion, Defendant assaulted and shot at two unidentified individuals (the "Uncharged Assault").

(See Docket Entry #105 (Gov't First Motion in Limine, "Gov't First Mot."); Docket Entry #107 ("Gov't Second Mot.").)

At oral argument before the court, the defense represented that it did not object to the introduction of evidence regarding Defendant's prior periods of incarceration and Defendant's alleged marijuana use. (See Transcript of April 8, 2009 Hearing ("Tr."), 515-16.) The court finds that these categories of evidence are admissible because the evidence is "inextricably intertwined with the evidence regarding the charged offense" and is "necessary to complete the story of the crime [on] trial." United States v. Towne, 870 F.2d 880, 886 (2d Cir. 1989) (internal citation omitted); accord United States v. Carboni, 204 F.3d 39, 44 (2d Cir. 2000). Rule 404(b) is not implicated by the introduction of this evidence. The court has examined the evidence and independently concludes that the evidence is not unduly prejudicial to the Defendant.

Similarly, the parties have resolved the issue of the Uncharged Assault. The Government originally asserted that evidence of the Uncharged Assault was necessary to provide context for certain inculpatory statements allegedly made by the Defendant to a cooperating witness. (See Gov't Second Mot. 2-3.) The parties have agreed that the Government may elicit testimony regarding the inculpatory statements, but will avoid any inquiry as to the Uncharged Assault allegedly leading up to those statements. In exchange, the defense has agreed to forgo cross- examination challenging the fact that the alleged inculpatory statements were made. Evidence of the Uncharged Assault is therefore excluded, according the terms agreed to by the parties and set forth above.

The defense maintains its objections to evidence regarding Defendant's alleged membership in the Bloods, and the introduction of the Gun. The defense opposes both on relevance and Rule 403 grounds. While the defense has identified legitimate concerns, the court concludes that both forms of ...


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