U.S. v. Gonzalez, 89-7449

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Citation921 F.2d 1530
Docket NumberNo. 89-7449,89-7449
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Jorge Enrique GONZALEZ, a/k/a George, Maurice Roundy, Michael Timothy Sweeton, Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date30 January 1991

Louis Casuso, Miami, Fla., for Jorge E. Gonzalez.

Thomas M. Goggans, Montgomery, Ala., for Maurice Roundy.

Anthony M. Traini, Leppo & Traini, Randolph, Mass., for Michael T. Sweeton.

D. Broward Segrest, Asst. U.S. Atty., Montgomery, Ala., for the U.S.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Before TJOFLAT, Chief Judge, FAY, Circuit Judge, and HOFFMAN *, Senior District Judge.

WALTER E. HOFFMAN, Senior District Judge:

This case is one of at least two appeals to reach this court relating to the prosecution of a drug-importation ring headed by Jerry Allen LeQuire. Appellants Jorge Enrique Gonzalez, Maurice Roundy and Michael Timothy Sweeton appeal from their convictions for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1962(d) (1976). Appellants were named in a 38-page, five-count superseding indictment returned on March 29, 1989. The original indictment in this case was returned

on July 29, 1988. 1 Count I of the superseding indictment contained a RICO conspiracy charge. Count II charged substantive RICO violations. Count I referred by incorporation to Count II for its predicate acts constituting a pattern of racketeering. A jury trial was conducted on March 20 through March 29, 1989 in the Middle District of Alabama, Truman M. Hobbs presiding. Appellants were each convicted on the RICO conspiracy charges of the superseding indictment 2, and each has appealed. The appellants raise a number of challenges including double jeopardy, sufficiency of the evidence, admissibility of evidence and the statute of limitations. We consider the appellants' grounds of appeal and affirm all convictions


Jerry LeQuire, operating out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, headed a large operation importing cocaine from Colombia. LeQuire, beginning in 1982, imported cocaine for the Arango organization and the Herrera organization, as well as for his own purposes.

LeQuire arranged for airplanes to fly from Henry Maierhoffer's fixed-base operation at the Fort Lauderdale airport to specific airstrips in Colombia. The planes had been modified to carry additional payloads and sufficient fuel to make nonstop flights between the United States and Colombia. Upon arrival in Colombian airspace, LeQuire's planes would be met by a small plane which would lead them to the airstrip.

LeQuire's planes would spend the night in Colombia before being loaded with duffel bags of cocaine and refueled for the return flight to the United States. The planes would fly at low altitude until they reached the designated airport in Georgia, Alabama, or Tennessee. LeQuire arranged for his ground crews to arrive at the landing site at approximately the same time as the airplanes.

The ground crew would scout the landing area to make sure that the area was safe for the plane to land and unload the cocaine. The ground and flight crews were in radio communication. If the landing site was not safe, the ground crew would divert the airplane to a different site. The ground crew would then drive to the alternate landing site and scout the site before permitting the plane to land.

The planes would usually land after sunset. Upon landing, the duffel bags of cocaine would be pushed onto the runway. The plane would take off and fly to a different airport for refueling before being flown back to the Fort Lauderdale base. The ground crew would put the cocaine into the trunks of their motor vehicles and drive to Fort Lauderdale. While enroute to Fort Lauderdale, the ground crew would contact LeQuire, who would tell them to deliver the cocaine to a specific safe house.

In mid-May 1983, LeQuire told his employees that he was not going to transport any more cocaine for thirty days due to military maneuvers in the Caribbean. William Zeigler, who had been the de facto foreman of the ground crew, made plans to go to Las Vegas to watch a fight. LeQuire then decided to go ahead with one of the ill-fated flights which lead to this case. Zeigler was not able to participate in this delivery.

On May 23, 1983, LeQuire's ground crew was robbed of the cocaine they had just received from Colombia. In April 1983, three men had been able to discover the operations at the Sylvania, Georgia (Plantation Park Airport) landing strip. The three men were planning to rob the operation. On May 23, 1983, a LeQuire plane piloted by Jose Pine brought a load of cocaine to the ground crew at the Sylvania airstrip. The ground crew consisted of Pi, Ward, Abner and the appellant Michael Timothy Sweeton. The ground crew put the cocaine in the trunks of their two cars.

Two cars with blue lights and men in police uniforms stopped the ground crew as they were leaving the airport. One of the men in uniform shot one member of the ground crew as he got out of the first car. The tires of the second car were shot out as it tried to escape. Three members of the ground crew were wounded and Pi escaped into the woods.

Pi died of natural causes before trial. Pi had given the account of the May 23, 1983 events to his brother, Jose Pine. The brother, who was the pilot on that day's flight, testified about the contents of that conversation at trial. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agent testified that, the day after the shooting, he saw Pi come out of the woods not far from the site of the shooting.

Defendant Sweeton was seriously injured during the incident. Sweeton apparently walked from the scene to the edge of a plowed field, then crawled to a tobacco barn. Agent Gillis of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tracked blood stains and tracks to a place where "there was an imprint in the ground that appeared as someone had lain in that location for a period of time." Agent Gillis found a wallet containing Sweeton's drivers license at that spot.

Abner, another member of the ground crew, had also been shot. Abner walked to a nearby house and asked Hill, the resident, to call the Statesboro, Georgia, Quality Inn for help. A person named Sue responded and came to the house. Abner, Sue and Hill, the resident, went to the shooting site and thought that Ward was dead. Ward and Sweeton were hospitalized and recovered.

When questioned at the hospital by GBI Agent Stone, Ward and defendant Sweeton said that they had met at a bar and that Ward had taken Sweeton to the airport to see Ward's trailer and that they were shot and robbed while leaving. Sweeton also said that he had traveled from Florida to Georgia that day as part of a hitch-hiking trip. Sweeton was visited at the hospital by his uncle and co-defendant, Maurice Roundy.

After the theft of the cocaine a private investigator, Terry Cornell, Sr., was brought from Chicago to give stress tests to members of LeQuire's organization to see if they were responsible for the robbery. Defendant Jorge Enrique Gonzalez picked up Cornell's assistant, DeFranco, at the airport and delivered him to a meeting with LeQuire. Defendant Gonzalez was employed by Herrera in some unknown capacity. Gonzalez was seen at LeQuire's residence with Herrera on three or four occasions. Gonzalez also hired Terry Cornell, Jr. to sweep apartments used by the organization for electronic bugs. Gonzalez was also seen by Terry Cornell, Jr. at a Fort Lauderdale hotel where Cornell dropped off the cocaine from a mid-July 1983 load of which he had been on the ground crew.

On August 1, 1983, Defendant Roundy flew two people from Portland, Maine, to Fort Lauderdale and introduced them to LeQuire. These individuals were Newcomb and Johnson, who would participate as copilot and ground crew member for an importation LeQuire was planning for August 3rd. Testimony also showed that Roundy was seen at Maierhoffer's fixed base or LeQuire's house often, and that he flew numerous flights bringing cocaine into the country.

By August 3, 1983, LeQuire's import business began to unravel. That day's flight had been diverted twice and was forced to land at Dannely Field in Montgomery, Alabama, due to low fuel. Law enforcement personnel were contacted due

to the suspicious way in which the plane taxied to the airport's refueling area and the duffel bags stacked in the plane. The plane was carrying approximately 700 pounds of cocaine. The police arrested the pilot, Omar Mahdi, and shortly thereafter the entire ground crew was arrested. LeQuire was arrested fifteen days later

Karla Espinal, LeQuire's former wife, told the government that she paid defendant Gonzalez $300,000 to try and break LeQuire out of jail. She testified that she spoke to Gonzalez on numerous occasions about escape attempts and gave him information about jails in which LeQuire was being held in. Espinal stated that Gonzalez returned $210,000 to Espinal and deducted $90,000 for expenses.

The superseding indictment charged defendants Sweeton and Gonzalez with one count of RICO conspiracy and both were convicted. The superseding indictment charged defendant Roundy with one count of RICO Conspiracy and one count of substantive RICO. Roundy was convicted of both counts. The District Court granted Roundy's post trial motion for judgment of acquittal as to the substantive RICO count.


Appellant Roundy, at oral argument and by supplemental briefing, argues that his indictment and conviction in this case for the RICO conspiracy offense must be set aside under the recent double jeopardy analysis of the Supreme Court in Grady v. Corbin, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 2084, 109 L.Ed.2d 548 (1990). In Grady the Supreme Court stated that "the Double Jeopardy Clause bars any subsequent prosecution in which the government, to establish an...

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