900 F.2d 1064 (7th Cir. 1990), 87-2394, United States v. Sophie

Docket Nº:87-2394, 87-2395, 87-2412 to 87-2414, 87-2425 and 87-2459.
Citation:900 F.2d 1064
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Scott SOPHIE, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:April 24, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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900 F.2d 1064 (7th Cir. 1990)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Scott SOPHIE, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 87-2394, 87-2395, 87-2412 to 87-2414, 87-2425 and 87-2459.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 24, 1990

Argued April 13, 1989.

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Anton R. Valukas, U.S. Atty., Caryn Jacobs, David J. Stetler, James R. Ferguson, and Victoria J. Peters, Asst. U.S. Attys., Office of the U.S. Atty., Crim. Receiving, Appellate Div., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff.

Allan A. Ackerman, Robert S. Bailey, Giles Franklin, Richard C. Gleason, Chicago, Ill., and Melvyn Kessler, Miami, Fla., for defendants.

Before WOOD, Jr., COFFEY and MANION, Circuit Judges.

MANION, Circuit Judge.

Scott Sophie, Miguel Muelle, Humberto Duque, Jorge Carricaburu, Alan Pollak, Henry Laskowski, Arthur Campos, and Ophelia Velasquez appeal their convictions on various drug-related charges. We affirm.


This case stems from an indictment charging the appellants and several other defendants with conspiring to distribute cocaine in the Chicago area from 1979 until April 1986. The indictment also charged several defendants, including Campos, Velasquez, and Pollak, with several counts alleging conduct that occurred after the conspiracy ended. To begin, we will briefly set out an overview of the conspiracy, the post-conspiracy acts, and the proceedings in the district court. We will discuss other facts in greater detail when required to analyze the issues raised in this appeal.

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The conspiracy revolved around Charles Petersen and Gary Raffanti, who in 1979 formed a partnership to distribute cocaine. Petersen and Raffanti were cocaine wholesalers: they would buy cocaine from suppliers, dilute it, break it down into smaller quantities, and sell it to retail dealers. One of Petersen's and Raffanti's early suppliers was Campos. During 1980 and 1981, Petersen and Raffanti bought kilograms of cocaine from Campos. Petersen and Raffanti stopped buying cocaine from Campos in 1982, having found less expensive sources. Campos, however, did not leave the picture; instead, Campos began buying cocaine from Petersen and Raffanti during 1983, 1984, and 1985. Campos did not personally handle these transactions because he had moved to California. Campos' contact with the partnership was Velasquez, his sister, who lived in Chicago.

Petersen's and Raffanti's first cocaine supplier was John Sidorowicz. Through Sidorowicz, Petersen and Raffanti met Sophie and Muelle, who had been Sidorowicz's suppliers. In May 1982, Petersen and Raffanti first purchased two kilograms of cocaine from Sophie. In 1983, 1984, and 1985, Petersen and Raffanti regularly bought large amounts (about seven to ten kilograms per month on average) of cocaine from Sophie and Muelle.

On several occasions, Petersen and Raffanti met with Sophie and Muelle in Florida and discussed cocaine deals. However, Sophie would typically deal with Petersen and Raffanti in Chicago, while Muelle remained in Florida. Sophie employed several people to drive cocaine to Chicago. Sophie, who would travel to Chicago separately, would pick up the cocaine from the driver. Raffanti would meet Sophie in Sophie's hotel room, test the cocaine, and inform Petersen that the cocaine was satisfactory by paging Petersen's electronic pager. Petersen would then withdraw money from a safe deposit box, take it to Sophie, pay for the cocaine, and deposit the cocaine in another safe deposit box.

In July or August 1985, Petersen and Raffanti had a dispute with Sophie and Muelle over payment for a cocaine shipment. Sophie and Muelle demanded $10,000 more than Petersen and Raffanti thought they should have had to pay for that purchase. Although Petersen and Raffanti tried to work out the dispute with Muelle, they eventually paid the additional $10,000. Because of the dispute, Petersen and Raffanti stopped buying cocaine from Sophie and Muelle.

Besides Campos and Velasquez, Petersen and Raffanti sold to several other dealers. Among those dealers were Laskowski and Pollak. Pollak began buying cocaine from Petersen and Raffanti in 1980, and continued buying cocaine from the partnership in 1986. Laskowski had been introduced to Petersen and Raffanti in late 1980 as a potential supplier, and first discussed buying cocaine from the partnership shortly after those discussions. He continued buying cocaine from the partnership at least until November 1985.

Around April 1985, Michael Gorny, who had been a supplier and driver for Petersen and Raffanti, became a full partner in their cocaine distribution operation. Petersen, Raffanti, and Gorny rented an apartment in Chicago where they broke down and repackaged cocaine. Petersen and Raffanti also added Gorny's name to the bank safe deposit boxes the partnership used to store cocaine. Gorny's primary responsibility in the partnership was to relieve Petersen from actually conducting cocaine transactions with the partnership's suppliers and dealers. Gorny dealt with many of the same distributors Petersen and Raffanti had dealt with, including Campos, Velasquez, Laskowski, and Pollak, as well as with suppliers and customers he brought into the partnership.

Among the suppliers Gorny dealt with were Duque and Carricaburu. From October 1985 until April 1986, Gorny bought cocaine for the partnership from Duque and Carricaburu. George Bell, whom Gorny had met in Florida in September 1985, delivered the cocaine from Florida to Chicago.

Gorny last attempted to purchase cocaine from Duque and Carricaburu on April 8, 1986. This attempted purchase closed the

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curtain on the conspiracy. Federal agents had arrested Petersen and Raffanti in February. Unbeknownst to the other conspiracy members, Petersen began to cooperate with the government. As part of that cooperation, Petersen set up a meeting between Gorny and DEA undercover agent Robert Fanter in Chicago on April 5. At the meeting, Fanter agreed to buy five kilograms of cocaine. Gorny and Fanter arranged for the transaction to take place at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois. On April 8, Bell went to a hotel room and obtained the cocaine from Duque and Carricaburu. Bell then went to Woodfield Mall to deliver the cocaine to Fanter. Bell placed the cocaine in a locker and gave Gorny the key. Gorny in turn gave Fanter that key and Fanter gave Gorny a key to a locker in which Fanter had placed $15,000. Fanter removed the cocaine from the locker in which Bell had placed it, tested it, and gave other agents a signal to arrest Bell and Gorny. A short while later, agents arrested Duque, Carricaburu, and another man (apparently, the man who had driven the cocaine to Chicago) in the hotel room from which Bell had picked up the cocaine.

With Gorny's arrest the conspiracy ended, as Gorny was the last of the three partnership members arrested. However, the April 8 arrests were not the only arrests resulting from Petersen's cooperation. In taped telephone conversations, Petersen arranged a cocaine deal with Pollak in which George Katsenes, Pollak's courier, was to buy one kilogram of cocaine from Fanter, who was to act as Petersen's courier. On April 15, 1986, the deal went on as planned; on Fanter's signal, other agents observing the transaction arrested Katsenes.

Petersen also conducted a series of taped phone conversations with Campos and Velasquez in April, May and June 1985 in which Petersen discussed prior cocaine deals with Campos, and discussed possible future deals with Campos and Velasquez. On July 3, 1986, Velasquez gave Petersen a two-gram sample of cocaine. Petersen and Velasquez then made arrangements, in a recorded phone call, for Petersen to buy a kilogram of cocaine for $29,000. On July 8, Petersen met Velasquez and bought the kilogram. Government agents then arrested Velasquez. Later that day, in a recorded phone conversation, Petersen told Campos that the deal had taken place; Campos replied, "Beautiful."

A grand jury eventually returned a twenty-eight count indictment against Gorny, Bell, Duque, Carricaburu, Sophie, Muelle, Pollak, Katsenes, Laskowski, Campos, and Velasquez, along with William "Billy" Bucholtz, Anthony Bonafede, and Frances Schimmerling (three others who bought cocaine from Petersen). Gorny, Bell, Katsenes, Bucholtz, and Schimmerling pleaded guilty and did not stand trial; Bonafede died before trial, and the district court dismissed the charges against him. As to the remaining defendants, the indictment charged as follows: Count One charged a conspiracy to violate various narcotics laws involving all the remaining defendants. Count Two charged Muelle with conducting a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) from around July 1983 to around August 1984. Count Three charged Sophie with conducting a CCE during the same time span. Count Five charged Duque and Carricaburu (along with Bell and Gorny) with traveling from Florida to Chicago to distribute cocaine in April 1986. Counts Six, Seven and Eight charged Laskowski with possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute it in September, October, and November 1985. Count Nine charged Duque and Carricaburu (along with Bell and Gorny) of distributing cocaine on April 8, 1986. Count Fifteen charged Duque and Carricaburu (along with Gorny) of using the telephone to facilitate a narcotics offense. The remaining counts were all based on conduct by Campos, Velasquez, and Pollak occurring after the conspiracy ended. Count Ten charged Pollak with attempting to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it on April 15, 1986. Counts Thirteen and Fourteen charged Campos and Velasquez with distributing cocaine on July 3 and July 8, 1986. Counts Sixteen, Eighteen...

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