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United States v. Ramos-Cruz

United States District Court, W.D. New York

July 16, 2014



H. KENNETH SCHROEDER, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

This case was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. Richard J. Arcara, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), for all pretrial matters and to hear and report on dispositive motions.


The defendant, Esteban Ramos-Cruz ("the defendant"), is charged in a Superseding Indictment, along with a number of co-defendants, with having violated Title 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) (Count 1) (RICO conspiracy); Title 18, U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A)(iii) (Count 5) (possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence); Title 18, U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1) (Count 4) (murder in aid of racketeering); Title 21, U.S.C. § 846 (Count 24) (narcotics conspiracy); Title 18, U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) (Count 25) (possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime); Title 21, U.S.C. § 856(a)(1) (Counts 30 and 33) (using and maintaining premises for drug dealing). Dkt. #87. Presently pending is the defendant's omnibus discovery motion. Dkt. #215. The government filed opposition to the instant motion. Dkt. #246. This Court previously issued its Report, Recommendation and Order with respect to the defendant's motions to suppress identifications and statements. Dkt. #407.


Rule 16 Discovery

Pursuant to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant seeks the disclosure of the defendant's statements; statements of codefendants; statements of "unindicted co-conspirators;" the defendant's prior criminal record; all documents, photographs, video tapes and tangible objects not already disclosed pursuant to Rule 16(a)(1)(C); the results of any physical and/or scientific examinations, tests and/or experiments; copies of surveillance reports; video tapes and photographs; and any arrest and search warrants for the defendant and/or his place of residence or the place he was arrested. Dkt. #215, pp.6-7.

In its response, the government states

Since the date of the predecessor indictment, the United States has complied, and intends to continue to comply, with the requirements of Rule 16. To that end, the United States has provided comprehensive voluntary discovery, including surveillance reports, search warrant photos, search warrants, laboratory reports, FBI 302s relating to surveillance and arrest of the defendant and his co-defendants, redacted statements of some government witnesses, redacted photo array identifications, numerous crime scene photos, crime scene reports, firearm reports, and other documents. Additionally, all physical evidence recovered in connection with this investigation is, and has been, available for inspection by the defendant's attorney.

Dkt. #246, pp.2-3. The government has already provided voluminous (10, 383 pages) discovery in this case and indicates in its response that it will continue to comply with its continuing duties to disclose as set forth in Rule 16(c). Based on the representations made by counsel for the government, the defendant's request is denied as moot.

Bill of Particulars

In response to the defendant's request for a detailed bill of particulars, the government states that defendant's request for particularization should be denied because it is nothing more than an attempt by the defendant to preview the government's evidence. Indeed, the government further states, "[t]he specific allegations contained in the indictment, coupled with the voluminous discovery previously provided, more than adequately apprises the defendant of the nature of the charges pending against them [sic], thereby enabling him to prepare for trial." Dkt. #246, p.10. Finally, the government argues that the broad categories of information for which the defendant is seeking particularization has already been provided through discovery, can be ascertained from reading the Superseding Indictment or which will be provided pursuant to the District Court's standard pretrial order requiring the government to submit a trial memorandum, witness list, expert summaries, exhibit lists and Jencks Act material. Id. at p.17.

The defendant's request is denied. It has become axiomatic that the function of a bill of particulars is to apprise a defendant of the essential facts of the crime for which he has been charged. United States v. Salazar, 485 F.2d 1272, 1277-78 (2d Cir. 1973); cert. denied, 415 U.S. 985 (1974); Wong Tai v. United States, 273 U.S. 77 (1927). The charges in Counts 1, 4, 5, 25, 30 and 33 of the Superseding Indictment, along with the discovery materials provided or to be provided by the government as aforesaid, clearly inform the defendant of the essential facts of the crime charged. As a result, the defendant is not entitled to, nor is he in need of, the "particulars" being sought for that purpose.

"A bill of particulars should be required only where the charges of the indictment are so general that they do not advise the defendant of the specific acts of which he is accused." United States v. Feola, 651 F.Supp. 1068, 1132 (S.D.N.Y. 1987), aff'd, 875 F.2d 857 (2d Cir.) (mem.), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___ , 110 S.Ct. 110, 107 L.Ed.2d 72 (1989); see also United States v. Leonelli, 428 F.Supp. 880, 882 (S.D.N.Y. 1977). "Whether to grant a bill of particulars rests within the sound discretion of the district court." United States v. Panza, 750 F.2d 1141, 1148 (2d Cir. 1984) (citing United States v. Burgin, 621 F.2d 1352, 1358-59 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1015 , 101 S.Ct. 574, 66 L.Ed.2d 474 (1980)); see also Bortnovsky, 820 F.2d at 574. ...

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