Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States of America v. Christian Gerold Tarantino

March 27, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CHRISTIAN GEROLD TARANTINO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Pending before the Court is the Defendant's February 7, 2011 sealed letter in which he provides notice that he intends to introduce statements made by Peter Pistone ("Pistone") and former Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Conway during the former's February 4, 2000 plea proceeding before this Court.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, the Defendant's request is GRANTED insofar as he may introduce these statements for the limited purposes of showing that the Government believed Pistone was truthful at the time of his plea and that it had evidence supporting Pistone's allocution.

BACKGROUND

The facts and posture of this prosecution are discussed more thoroughly in the Court's prior orders, most recently in its March 4, 2011 Mastrangelo Decision (the "Mastrangelo Order") and its March 23, 2011 Order granting in part the Government's "other crimes" motion (the "Rule 404(b) Order"). Briefly, as is relevant here, Tarantino is charged in connection with three related murders, including the obstruction-of-justice murder of Louis Dorval. 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a).

Pistone was also prosecuted in connection with the Dorval murder, and he pleaded guilty before this Court on February 4, 2000. During that proceeding, he stated that he, his brother Joseph Pistone, and Robert Misseri were present when Joseph Pistone shot Dorval in the back seat of a truck. These men placed Dorval's body in a black tool box and dumped the box in the water. (Plea minutes at 14-15.) Pistone further stated that, later on, he learned from Joseph Pistone that "[t]he reason that [Dorval] was killed for is a part of an organized crime thing where he was selling drugs and not kicking back to certain people." (Id. at 15-16.)

When Pistone's allocution was finished, then-AUSA Conway told the Court: "Just so the record is clear, the Government's evidence would show as Mr. Pistone stated, he was in the car at the time that the murder occurred, although he had no knowledge that it was going to happen. Once it did happened [sic], he helped dispose of the body and then subsequently learned as to the reasons why Mr. Dorval was actually killed." (Id. at 17.)

DISCUSSION

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2) excludes from the definition of hearsay the following types of out-of-court statements:

Admission by party-opponent. The statement is offered against a party and is (A) the party's own statement in either an individual or a representative capacity or (B) a statement of which the party has manifested an adoption or belief in its truth, or (C) a statement by a person authorized by the party to make a statement concerning the subject, or (D) a statement by the party's agent or servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment, made during the existence of the relationship, or (E) a statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy. The contents of the statement shall be considered but are not alone sufficient to establish the declarant's authority under subdivision (C), the agency or employment relationship and scope thereof under subdivision (D), or the existence of the conspiracy and the participation therein of the declarant and the party against whom the statement is offered under subdivision (E).

FED. R. EVID. 801(d)(2). As the Government acknowledges, a Government lawyer's statement may in certain circumstances be used against the Government as a party. See United States v. Ford, 435 F.3d 204 (2d Cir. 2006).

I. Mr. Conway's and Pistone's Statements Are Admissible

Mr. Conway's statement is admissible as an admission under Rule 801(d)(2)(D) relevant to show that the Government believed Pistone was truthful at the time of his plea proceeding and that the Government's evidence was in accord with Pistone's version of the Dorval murder. The Defendant may also introduce Pistone's plea allocution as an adoptive admission and to help explain the import of Mr. Conway's statement. In the context of a plea proceeding, Mr. Conway's representation that, "[j]ust so the record is clear, the Government's evidence would show as Mr. Pistone stated . . ." appears to the Court as an endorsement of Pistone's version of events, which made no mention of Tarantino and cited Dorval's failure to kick back a portion of his drug proceeds as the motive for the killing.

The probative value of Mr. Conway's statement outweighs its potential to delay the trial, confuse the jury, or prejudice the Government because Pistone's credibility is clearly a major issue in this case. See FED. R. EVID. 403. The Government's theory now is that, contrary to Pistone's plea allocution, Tarantino and others killed Dorval to prevent him from becoming a cooperating witness. The Government will likely attempt to discredit Pistone, as it did at the Mastrangelo hearing, with evidence that prosecutors eventually came to believe Pistone was untrustworthy. (See Mastrangelo Hrg. Tr. 464-465.) The Defendant, then, ought ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.