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|
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.
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
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.
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.
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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