148 F.3d 101 (2nd Cir. 1998), 97-1155, United States v. Felipe

Docket Nº:Docket Nos. 97-1155, 97-1186 and 97-1484.
Citation:148 F.3d 101
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Luis FELIPE, also known as King Blood, also known as Inka, and Zulma Andino, also known as Queen Zulma, Defendants-Appellants, Jose Melendez, also known as King Epic; Jose Gabriel, also known as King Teardrop; Jose Cruz, also known as King Blaze; Francisco Soto, also known as King Assassin; Samuel Santiago, al
Case Date:June 19, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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148 F.3d 101 (2nd Cir. 1998)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Luis FELIPE, also known as King Blood, also known as Inka,

and Zulma Andino, also known as Queen Zulma,


Jose Melendez, also known as King Epic; Jose Gabriel, also

known as King Teardrop; Jose Cruz, also known as King

Blaze; Francisco Soto, also known as King Assassin; Samuel

Santiago, also known as King Sammy; Michael Antonio

Sanchez, also known as King Bishop; Milton Soto, also known

as King Tee; Luis Toledo, also known as King Zer; Mario

Quinones, also known as King Bosco; Nelson Torres, also

known as King Nell; Michael Irizarry, also known as King

Riot; Raymond Maldonado, also known as King Chino; Carmelo

Garcia, also known as King Mello; Reynaldo Perez, also

known as King Lil Rey; Jose Torres, also known as King

Chino; Ali Fares, also known as King Tattoo; Elquiades

Morales, also known as King Apollo; Fidel Ayala-Mercado,

also known as King Ito; Ulysses Campos, also known as King

Puti; Felix Cordero, also known as King Bear; Daniel

Navarro, also known as King Scarface; Gilberto Rivera, also

known as King Cano; Richard Rivera, also known as King

Oreo; Wilson Cortez, also known as King Chino; Carlos

Donis, also known as King Mousey; Angel Feliciano, also

known as King Angel, also known as King A; Alberto

Figueroa, also known as King Drac; Francisco Torres, also

known as King Bollo; Roberto Puente, also known as King

Manole; Michael Gonzalez, also known as King Wolfie;

Antonio Delestre, also known as King Tome; Sammy Fonseca,

also known as King Green Eyes and Richard Acevedo, also

known as King Richie, Defendants.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Jose Manual MELENDEZ, aka "King Epic"; Jose Gabriel, aka

"King Teardrop"; Jose Gabriel Cruz, aka "King Blaze";

Francisco Sot,, aka "King Assassin"; Samuel Santiago, aka

"King Sammy"; Michael Antonio Sanchez, aka "King Bishop";

Milton Soto, aka "King Tee"; Luis Toledo, aka "King Zer";

Mario Quinones, aka "King Bosco"; Nelson Torres, aka "King

Nell"; Michael Irizarry, aka "King Riot"; Raymond

Maldonado, aka "King Chino"; Carmelo Garcia, aka "King

Mello"; Reynaldo Perez, aka "King Lil Rey"; Jose Torres,

aka "King Chino"; Ali Fares, aka "King Tattoo"; Elquiades

Morales, aka "King Apollo"; Fidel Ayala-Mercado, aka "King

Ito"; Zulma Andino, aka "Queen Zulma"; Ulysses Campos, aka

"King Puti"; Felix Cordero, aka "King Bear"; Daniel

Navarro, aka "King Scarface"; Gilberto Rivera, aka "King

Cano"; Richard Rivera, aka "King Oreo"; Wilson Cortez, aka

"King Chino"; Carlos Donis, aka "King Mousey"; Angel

Feliciano, aka "King Angel", aka "King A"; Alberto

Figueroa, aka "King Drac"; Francisco Torres, aka "King

Bollo"; Roberto Puente, aka "King Manole"; Michael

Gonzalez, aka "King Wolfie"; Antonio Delestre, aka "King

Tone"; Sammy Fonseca, aka "King Green Eyes"; Richard

Acevedo, aka "King Richie"; LNUl-94CR035-036, aka "King

Julio", Defendants,

Luis Felipe, aka "King Blood", aka "Inka", Defendant-Appellant.

Docket Nos. 97-1155, 97-1186 and 97-1484.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

June 19, 1998

        Argued Jan. 22, 1998.

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        Lawrence K. Feitell, New York City, for Defendant-Appellant Luis Felipe.

        Martin J. Siegel, New York City, for Defendant-Appellant Zulma Andino.

        Alexandra A.E. Shapiro, Assistant United States Attorney, New York City (Mary Jo White, United States Attorney, Robert E. Rice, Craig A. Stewart, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Southern District of New York, New York City, of counsel), for Appellee United States of America.

        Before CARDAMONE, McLAUGHLIN, Circuit Judges, and CONNER, [*] District Judge.

        CARDAMONE, Circuit Judge.

        Luis Felipe appeals from a judgment of conviction entered against him on March 25, 1997 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Martin, J.), as well as from two orders entered in the same court. One, an April 30, 1997 order, denied his motion to modify his sentence; the other, entered August 14, 1997, denied defendant's request to expand his rights to communicate with others outside prison. Zulma Andino appeals from the judgment of conviction and accompanying sentencing order entered March 14, 1997 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, also before Judge John S. Martin.

        Felipe and Andino were members of two affiliated Hispanic organizations, the Latin Kings and Latin Queens. During the period of time in which they were the organizations' leaders, they directed the commission of numerous violent and illegal acts. After they and 16 co-defendants were indicted on 68 counts for crimes committed by members of the Latin Kings and Queens, Felipe stood trial and was convicted on all 18 counts alleged against him. He received life imprisonment, plus a consecutive sentence of 45 years, together with restricted rights of association and communication. Andino pled guilty to three counts and was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment. We will discuss each defendant's appeal in turn.

Luis Felipe

        Although Felipe filed two separate appeals from the three orders, one challenging his conviction and the conditions on his confinement (97-1155(L)), and the other challenging the district court's refusal to modify those conditions (97-1484), we respond to both appeals in one opinion because a number of issues raised in each are similar. The principal issue is the severe restrictions on Felipe's First Amendment rights to communicate. The restrictions imposed are extreme, but so are the circumstances that brought them about. The prisoner whose conviction we review is a cold-blooded murderer whose depraved and vicious predilections were not

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restrained by the fact of his imprisonment. In the present absence of a reason to impose restrictions less severe, there are only few choices available to the sentencing court, and they are poor ones at best. Yet, because we think that the district court took the best of these choices, we affirm.


  1. Leader of the Latin Kings

            In 1986 Luis Felipe, a/k/a "King Blood," founded and became the self-appointed leader of the New York State Chapter of the Latin Kings, an organization which, according to defendant, was designed to "promote a sense of Hispanic identity among prison inmates" and to organize Caribbean Hispanics serving jail sentences. The aim of the organization was ostensibly to protect Hispanics from ethnic discrimination at the hands of other inmate organizations and hostile prison authorities. Subsequently, a civilian component was formed under Felipe's leadership, often consisting of former inmates. The government describes the Latin Kings in less benign terms as a racketeering enterprise whose members and associates engage in acts of violence, armed robbery, narcotics trafficking, and murder. The Latin Kings have a sister organization for women called the Latin Queens, and the two groups together are known as the "Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation."

            At all times, Felipe participated in the Latin Kings' activities from his jail cell, first at the Collins Correctional Facility in Helmuth, New York--where he was serving a nine-year sentence for second degree manslaughter arising from the death of a woman in 1981--and later, after May 1993, at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York, to which he had been transferred. His leadership of the organization was maintained by corresponding with, receiving visits from, and sending "written directives" to various members.

            In early April 1993 while Felipe was incarcerated at Collins, New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOC) officials learned that he had violated prison regulations by attempting to "kite," i.e., send through a third party, letters to an inmate at another facility with whom he was not authorized to correspond. From the letters, officials learned that Felipe was the leader of the Latin Kings--an organization they deemed an unauthorized prison gang--and, as such, was actively recruiting more members into the organization. From the correspondence, authorities also became aware of the fact that the Latin Kings were planning illegal acts. For example, one letter promised to send an inmate a Latin Kings manifesto through his mother, and further stated that an unidentified person whom Felipe believed had betrayed the Latin Kings "deserve[d] to die." Later that month, Felipe did try to send a copy of the manifesto to an inmate, which DOC officials intercepted.

            As a result of these violations of prison regulations, Felipe was transferred from Collins to Attica, a maximum security prison. In addition, as a result of his activities and the DOC's knowledge that he was the leader of the Latin Kings, he was adjudged a prison security threat. The Department thereafter requested a "mail watch" on him pursuant to New York State's regulations governing correspondence by inmates incarcerated in state correctional facilities. Those regulations allow a prison superintendent to authorize the inspection of outgoing and incoming mail if there is reason to believe that the correspondence threatens the safety of any person or the good order of the facility. See Inmate Correspondence Program, DOC Directive No. 4422 (1993). Authorization for the mail watch was renewed every 60 days while Felipe was incarcerated at Attica.

  2. Indictment on 18 Counts

            The letters and correspondence intercepted by DOC officials established defendant's plans to murder and contained directives to carry out the homicides of six individuals: William Cartegena, Ismael Rios, Rafael Gonzalez, Margie Carderon, Ronnie Gonzalez, and Pedro Rosario. On June 21, 1994 Felipe was arrested on charges of racketeering...

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