U.S. v. Pareja, No. 88-5324

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore TJOFLAT and JOHNSON; JOHN R. BROWN
Citation876 F.2d 1567
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Mariela PAREJA, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 88-5324
Decision Date13 July 1989

Page 1567

876 F.2d 1567
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Mariela PAREJA, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 88-5324.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
July 13, 1989.

Frank H. Tamen, Linda Collins Hertz, Mayra Reyler Lichter, Asst. U.S. Attys., Miami, Fla., for plaintiff-appellant.

Theodore J. Sakowitz, Federal Public Defender, Hector L. Flores, Asst. Federal Public Defender, Miami, Fla., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before TJOFLAT and JOHNSON, Circuit Judges, and BROWN *, Senior Circuit Judge.

JOHN R. BROWN, Senior Circuit Judge:

Mariela Pareja (Pareja) was tried and convicted for possession of at least 500 grams of cocaine with intent to distribute (Count I) 1 and conspiracy to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine (Count II). 2 She was charged on the theory of aiding and abetting her sister, Beatrice Escobar (Escobar) who pleaded guilty. 3 Pareja was found guilty after a jury trial. The trial court then sentenced Pareja to the minimum term of 5 years on Count I, to be followed by a 4-year term of supervised release and a 5-year term on Count II to run concurrently with Count I. Immediately following the sentencing, Pareja moved for a judgment of acquittal 4 on the grounds that the jury convicted her on legally insufficient evidence. The trial

Page 1568

court granted the motion and dismissed the indictment. The United States appeals.

Standard of Review

The granting of a judgment of acquittal is a question of law and we owe no special deference to the trial court. When a trial court has granted a judgment of acquittal on the basis of insufficient evidence, the test is whether the jury could reasonably have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, 5 that is, is the evidence sufficient to sustain the conviction. 6 After reviewing the case in the light most favorable to the government, 7 we hold the evidence was sufficient for the jury to have found Pareja guilty.

The Crime

Pareja was charged under a theory of aiding and abetting. 8 To be guilty of aiding and abetting, the prosecution must show, first, that a substantive offense was committed 9 and next, an act by the defendant which contributed to and furthered the offense with the intent of the defendant to aid in the commission of the substantive offense. 10

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Government's Case

The underlying substantive offense in this case was a cocaine deal between DEA undercover agent Al Rollins and Escobar which was set up by a confidential informant, Diego Patino.

On August 6, 1987, Patino arranged for Escobar to sell to Rollins 9 kilograms of cocaine at $18,000 a kilogram. The deal was to take place in Escobar's condominium with Escobar, Rollins and Patino present. In order to set up the meeting, Patino made several preliminary phone calls to Escobar through a beeper number.

At the time of the transaction, the condominium where Escobar lived was under surveillance by DEA agents. Just after Rollins and Patino entered the building and went up to Escobar's condominium, the agents conducting surveillance observed Pareja and another woman, Ana Lopez, emerge. Pareja remained outside the building for the remainder of the transaction.

After Rollins agreed to buy 2 kilograms of cocaine from Escobar, 11 he informed Escobar

Page 1569

that Patino would have to leave the condominium and get the money from a man waiting outside. Patino went downstairs and conferred with two other DEA agents. The three men then reentered the building and went to Escobar's condominium.

The government introduced testimony that, at this point, Pareja called Escobar and warned her that three men were coming back up. DEA agent Johnson observed Pareja pick up the telephone and because Rollins was wearing a hidden microphone that was transmitting Escobar's comments to the DEA agents, Johnson simultaneously heard the phone in Escobar's condominium ring and Escobar's portion of the phone conversation. Escobar was overheard by the agents to ask, as part of her conversation on the phone, why two men (in addition to Patino) were coming up. After hanging up, Escobar then asked Rollins why all those men were coming up. The jury could thus infer that from the conversation with Pareja, Escobar had learned of the three men coming up.

Upon reentering the condominium, the DEA agents attempted to learn from Escobar where the rest of the cocaine was but at this point Escobar, nervous about having more men in her condominium than she had planned on, refused to negotiate further. The DEA agents then identified themselves and arrested Escobar for possession of cocaine with intent to sell.

After hanging up the telephone Pareja was observed getting into a car parked on a side street which she drove away. Pareja returned after about 10 minutes and parked in front of the building whereupon Lopez got in the car with her.

Having observed Pareja's presence and activities during the drug transaction, the DEA agents were suspicious of Pareja and thought that she might have been acting as a lookout for Escobar. They approached the car and asked Pareja where she had been. Pareja replied that she had been at the grocery store with her friend, Lopez, that she had been there for more than an hour and that they had just returned. The DEA agent challenged the story and said that she had been observed in front of the condominium not 20 minutes earlier whereupon Pareja claimed that she had just made a second trip...

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17 practice notes
  • In re Managed Care Litigation, No. MDL 1334-MD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2003
    ...and abetting under 18 U.S.C. § 2, the prosecution must first show that a substantive offense was committed. United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989); see also United States v. Lozano-Hernandez, 89 F.3d 785, 790 (11th Cir.1996). Civil common law principles of aiding and a......
  • U.S. v. Mieres-Borges, MIERES-BORGES and O
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • December 18, 1990
    ...to findings of the district court. United States v. Kelly, 888 F.2d 732, 739-40 (11th Cir.1989) (citing United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989)). In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury verdict, we must view the evidence in the light most favorabl......
  • U.S. v. Kelly, No. 88-8727
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 29, 1989
    ...to de novo review by this Court. We owe no special deference Page 740 to the district court on this issue. See United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989). We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government, with all reasonable inferences and credibility cho......
  • U.S. v. Harris, Nos. 92-8489
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1994
    ...to the government, with all reasonable inferences and credibility choices made in the government's favor. United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989). See Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 469, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942); United States v. Johnson, 713 F.2d 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • In re Managed Care Litigation, No. MDL 1334-MD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • December 8, 2003
    ...and abetting under 18 U.S.C. § 2, the prosecution must first show that a substantive offense was committed. United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989); see also United States v. Lozano-Hernandez, 89 F.3d 785, 790 (11th Cir.1996). Civil common law principles of aiding and a......
  • U.S. v. Mieres-Borges, MIERES-BORGES and O
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • December 18, 1990
    ...to findings of the district court. United States v. Kelly, 888 F.2d 732, 739-40 (11th Cir.1989) (citing United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989)). In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury verdict, we must view the evidence in the light most favorabl......
  • U.S. v. Kelly, No. 88-8727
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 29, 1989
    ...to de novo review by this Court. We owe no special deference Page 740 to the district court on this issue. See United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989). We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government, with all reasonable inferences and credibility cho......
  • U.S. v. Harris, Nos. 92-8489
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1994
    ...to the government, with all reasonable inferences and credibility choices made in the government's favor. United States v. Pareja, 876 F.2d 1567, 1568 (11th Cir.1989). See Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 469, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942); United States v. Johnson, 713 F.2d 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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