922 F.2d 934 (2nd Cir. 1990), 687, United States v. Maldonado-Rivera

Docket Nº:687 to 690, Dockets 89-1305, 89-1321-89-1323.
Citation:922 F.2d 934
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Roberto Jose MALDONADO-RIVERA, Antonio Camacho-Negron, a/k/a
Case Date:December 12, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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922 F.2d 934 (2nd Cir. 1990)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Roberto Jose MALDONADO-RIVERA, Antonio Camacho-Negron, a/k/a

"Roco", Juan Segarra-Palmer, a/k/a "Papo", a/k/a

"Junior", Norman Ramirez-Talavera, a/k/a

"Pedro", Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 687 to 690, Dockets 89-1305, 89-1321-89-1323.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

December 12, 1990

Argued March 15, 1990.

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Albert S. Dabrowski, Executive Asst. U.S. Atty., John A. Danaher, III, Asst. U.S. Atty., Hartford, Conn. (Stanley A. Twardy, Jr., U.S. Atty., D. Conn., New Haven, Conn., Carmen Espinosa Van Kirk, Leonard C. Boyle, Asst. U.S. Attys., Hartford, Conn., on the brief), for appellee.

Michael E. Deutsch, Chicago, Ill., for defendant-appellant Roberto Jose Maldonado-Rivera.

Linda A. Backiel (Daniel R. Williams, New York City, on the brief), for defendant-appellant Antonio Camacho-Negron.

Leonard I. Weinglass, Daniel R. Williams, New York City, for defendant-appellant Juan Segarra-Palmer.

Juan R. Acevedo, Hato Rey, P.R. (Daniel R. Williams, New York City, on the brief), for defendant-appellant Norman Ramirez-Talavera.

Before KEARSE, CARDAMONE, and MAHONEY, Circuit Judges.

KEARSE, Circuit Judge:

Defendants Roberto Jose Maldonado-Rivera ("Maldonado"), Antonio Camacho-Negron ("Camacho"), Juan Segarra-Palmer ("Segarra"), and Norman Ramirez-Talavera ("Ramirez") appeal from judgments entered in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut after a jury trial before T. Emmet Clarie, Judge, convicting them principally on one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and transport the proceeds in interstate and foreign commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 371, 659, 2113, and 2314 (1988) (count 16). In addition to the conspiracy count, Camacho was convicted on one count of transporting stolen money in foreign commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2314 and 2 (1988). Segarra was convicted on four counts of aiding and abetting the robbery of a federally insured bank, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2113(a) and 2; one count of aiding and abetting a theft from an interstate shipment, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 659 and 2; three counts of transporting stolen money in interstate and foreign commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2314 and 2; one count of obstructing interstate commerce through robbery, in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1951 (1988), and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2; and one count of conspiring to obstruct interstate commerce through robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1951.

Ramirez and Maldonado, convicted only of the conspiracy charged in count 16, were sentenced principally to five years' imprisonment. Camacho was sentenced principally to consecutive prison terms of five years and 10 years, respectively, on his conspiracy and foreign transportation convictions. Segarra was sentenced principally to a total of 65 years' imprisonment: four concurrent 20-year terms on the Sec. 2113(a) robbery counts; to be followed by 10 years on

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the Sec. 659 interstate theft count; to be followed by three concurrent 10-year terms on the Sec. 2314 money transportation counts; to be followed by two concurrent 20-year terms on the Hobbs Act counts; to be followed by five years on the Sec. 371 conspiracy count (count 16). Segarra was also ordered to pay fines totaling $500,000.

Defendants jointly or individually make numerous arguments on appeal, including (1) challenges to the district court's refusals to suppress surveillance tapes, post-arrest statements, and eyewitness identification, (2) claims of erroneous evidentiary rulings, (3) challenges to the trial court's instructions to the jury with respect to the count 16 conspiracy, (4) challenges to venue, and (5) claims of improper sentencing. The government concedes that it was error to sentence Segarra on both the Sec. 659 count and the Hobbs Act substantive count, and we accordingly vacate Segarra's Sec. 659 conviction. In all other respects we affirm the defendants' convictions.


The present prosecution arises out of the September 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Connecticut. A total of $7,017,151.98 was stolen. Most of this sum belonged to four banks located in Connecticut or Massachusetts, all of which were federally insured. In October 1984, a Puerto Rican independence group calling itself "Los Macheteros" ("the machete wielders") claimed responsibility for the robbery.

Following a lengthy investigation that included extensive physical and wire surveillance and the execution of numerous search warrants, more than 15 persons, including Segarra, Ramirez, Maldonado, and Camacho, were arrested and charged in connection with the robbery. The government proceeded to trial first against these four and one other. The evidence at trial was presented principally through (1) surveillance tapes made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"); (2) the testimonies of (a) Kenneth Cox, an old friend of Segarra, and (b) unindicted coconspirator Anne Gassin, a girlfriend of Segarra; and (3) various documents, including telephone toll records, a Los Macheteros' communique claiming credit for the robbery, and documents written by and seized from one or another of the alleged coconspirators. The evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the government, showed the following.

  1. The Planning and Execution of the Robbery

    Gassin testified that she first met Segarra in the late summer or early fall of 1983. When she next met him in May 1984, he apologized for not remembering her, telling her that the late summer of 1983 had been a very busy and engrossing time for him. Gassin soon entered into an intimate relationship with Segarra, and in the summer of 1984, they took a vacation during which he gave her a manuscript he had written, telling her it was an accurate account of the events surrounding the September 1983 Wells Fargo robbery.

    According to this evidence, prior to August 1983 Segarra met Victor Gerena, a Wells Fargo guard who described in detail the routes he followed and the amounts of money he transported; Gerena told Segarra he was willing to do something for their cause or their organization. Segarra and Gerena traveled to Puerto Rico where Gerena "learn[ed] about the island, the history and the independence movement and who the members of the organization were and what their objectives were." The members of the organization agreed to a plan whereby Gerena would subdue the other guards, at which point other members of the organization would seize the money. Gerena would escape by motorcycle and later be transported out of the country to remain in hiding. Documents revealed that codefendant Filiberto Ojeda-Rios, whose title was "First Person In Charge" of Los Macheteros operations outside of Puerto Rico, purchased a motorcycle in Massachusetts near the time of the robbery.

    Telephone toll records revealed numerous calls between March and September 1983 from Segarra's home in Puerto Rico

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    to Gerena's home in Hartford, and from a pay phone near Segarra's home to Gerena's home and to a pay phone near Gerena's home. A compendium of documents seized at the home of Maldonado included July 1984 notes authored by "Jr.," a code name for Segarra; the notes discussed "AB," short for "Aguila Blanca," a code name for the Wells Fargo robbery and its aftermath. Segarra's notes stated, "I was assigned the planning and organization of AB and I leave on August 3, 1983. After doing the task, I return on September 30."

    Cox testified that he was recruited by Segarra in August 1983 to assist in what Segarra predicted would be "one of the biggest robberies in the United States." Cox asked to be paid part of the proceeds but was persuaded to "[d]o it for the revolution." On the night of August 29, 1983, Cox was to wait at a McDonald's restaurant in Hartford from 7 to 10 p.m. for one of the robbery participants, whom Cox was then to take to Boston. On that evening, Cox arrived at the McDonald's at about 6:40 p.m. and waited as instructed. Just before 7 p.m., Segarra stopped by briefly with another man, whom he admonished to remember the color of Cox's car, and told Cox this was the man who would arrive later to be taken to Boston. Cox waited as instructed, but no one returned because the robbery did not take place that night.

    The robbery took place on the night of September 12, 1983, after Gerena and another guard, Timothy Girard, returned to the Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford to unload money picked up on their regularly scheduled run. Gerena held a gun on Girard and the depot supervisor, and he bound, gagged, and blindfolded them. He then loaded the money from the vault into a rented car and departed.

    Gerena was met after the robbery by Segarra, who helped him to escape to Springfield, Massachusetts, by motorcycle. From Springfield, Gerena was taken to Boston, and later that month he was transported, along with a portion of the proceeds of the robbery, to Mexico in a motor home. At the time of trial, Gerena remained at large.

  2. The Movement of the Proceeds of the Robbery

    The stolen money was taken to Springfield by car. Segarra later told Cox that a Winnebago-type vehicle was then used to transport the money to Mexico. Documentary evidence showed that Ojeda-Rios and Segarra had purchased such a vehicle four days after the robbery. Segarra told Cox that the purpose of the Wells Fargo robbery had been to fund the activities of Los Macheteros.

    1. The March 1984 Money Move

    In March 1984, approximately $2...

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