United States District Court, E.D. New York
For The United States: Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney, Eastern District of New York, Burton T. Ryan, Jr. and Charles P. Kelly, Assistant United States Attorneys, Central Islip, NY.
For Defendant: Edward P. Jenks, Mineola, NY.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JOSEPH F. BIANCO, United States District Judge.
On May 1, 2014, a jury convicted defendant Adam Valasquez (" Valasquez" or " defendant" ) of five crimes related to defendant's participation in a conspiracy to rob drug traffickers and business owners in New York City and Long Island. Now pending before the Court is defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal as to Count Eight--conspiracy to commit promotion money laundering, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). In essence, defendant maintains that the government failed to introduce sufficient evidence of an intent to promote the carrying on of Hobbs Act robberies and drug distribution. The government contended at trial, and argues now, that such intent could be inferred from evidence that the conspiracy involved stealing drugs, selling those drugs for money, and distributing the cash to
coconspirators. For the reasons set forth below, after careful consideration of the parties' written submissions and the trial record, the Court denies the motion for a judgment of acquittal.
A. Evidence Introduced at Trial
At trial, the government introduced evidence of defendant's participation in a conspiracy to rob drug dealers and business owners in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey. Timothy Glass (" Glass" ) testified that he, defendant, and others committed the following crimes in 2008 and 2009: theft of clothing from a warehouse in New Jersey in late 2008 ( see Trial Transcript (" Tr." ) 423-42); armed robbery of marijuana dealer Christian Olic (" Olic" ) at 152nd Street in Queens, New York in January 2009 ( see id. at 442-62); armed robbery of a medical office on 188th Street in Queens, New York at the end of January 2009 ( see id. at 464-73); theft of power tools and a pickup truck in Queens in February 2009 ( see id. at 473-76); armed burglary of an apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey sometime in 2009 ( see id. at 476-80); and armed robbery of the Glen Oaks Bar in Queens, New York in March 2009 ( see id. at 480-88). Martin Lovly (" Lovly" ), also a participant in the 152nd Street robbery, corroborated Glass's testimony that defendant was involved in that robbery. ( See id. at 231-43.) Athanasios Michaelides (" Michaelides" ), another coconspirator, testified that he observed defendant with Glass shortly after the 152nd Street robbery ( see id. at 966-67), and that he saw defendant unloading the truck full of stolen clothing when Glass and his crew returned to Queens after breaking into the New Jersey warehouse ( see id. at 971-72). Coconspirator Kermit Odums (" Odums" ) also testified that he, defendant, and others committed an additional armed robbery of individuals at 99th Street in Queens in November 2009 ( see id. at 853-86), and that he, defendant, and others participated in the burglary of an apartment in Brooklyn later that day ( see id. at 886-92).
The jury also heard evidence concerning the division of the proceeds of these crimes. Glass testified that his crew, including defendant and Lovly, stole approximately two pounds of marijuana from Olic at the 152nd Street robbery. ( See id. at 461-62.) Glass sold the marijuana to Michaelides for approximately $4000, and then Glass paid each participant in the 152nd Street robbery, including defendant, a portion of that money. ( See id. at 462.) Glass did not pay the coconspirators evenly; Lovly testified that he received a greater share--about $1200--than defendant. ( See id. at 367-77.) Glass also testified that, following his theft of power tools and a pickup truck in Queens in February 2009, he sold the power tools for cash, and then divided the cash among his crew (including defendant). ( See id. at 473-76.)
B. Procedural Background
Following the presentation of the government's case-in-chief, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(a). ( See id. at 1059.) The Court denied the motion as to Counts One through Seven, stating that " there is no question that there is sufficient proof with respect to each and every element of these, counts one through seven." ( Id. at 1060.) Pursuant to Rule 29(b), the Court reserved judgment as to Count Eight, the money laundering conspiracy count. ( Id. at 1059.)
The Court submitted all eight counts of the superseding indictment to the jury. On May 1, 2014, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as to Count One (Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy from April 2008 through April 2010), Count Three (robbery
of Olic at 152nd Street in Queens), Count Four (brandishing a firearm during the 152nd Street robbery), Count Seven (conspiracy to distribute marijuana), and Count Eight (conspiracy to commit promotion money laundering). The jury acquitted defendant as to Count Two (the theft of clothing from the New Jersey warehouse), Count Five (the robbery of ...