U.S. v. Rodriguez, 503

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Citation950 F.2d 85
Docket NumberD,No. 503,503
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellant, v. Juan Manuel RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a "Al," Defendant-Appellee. ocket 91-1520.
Decision Date18 November 1991

Page 85

950 F.2d 85
UNITED STATES of America, Appellant,
v.
Juan Manuel RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a "Al," Defendant-Appellee.
No. 503, Docket 91-1520.
United States Court of Appeals,
Second Circuit.
Argued Sept. 17, 1991.
Decided Nov. 18, 1991.

Page 87

Richard Appel, Asst. U.S. Atty., S.D.N.Y., New York City (Otto G. Obermaier, U.S. Atty., S.D.N.Y., New York City, of counsel), for appellant.

Richard J. Calle, New York City, for defendant-appellee.

Before MESKILL, PIERCE and MAHONEY, Circuit Judges.

MESKILL, Circuit Judge:

The government appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Haight, J., releasing defendant Juan Manuel Rodriguez (Rodriguez) on bail. We vacate the order because we believe that the government has met its burden of showing that Rodriguez represents a danger to the community.

Rodriguez and codefendant Orlando Pitre (Pitre) were indicted for conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. The indictment listed four overt acts underlying the conspiracy: (1) Pitre sold heroin to an undercover agent and a confidential informant, (2) Pitre offered to supply an undercover agent with guns and a hitman, (3) Pitre introduced Rodriguez to the undercover agent as his hitman, and (4) Pitre and Rodriguez agreed to perform a murder in exchange for one kilogram of cocaine.

The government moved to detain Rodriguez as a danger to the community pursuant to the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3141 et seq. The government did not argue that Rodriguez poses a flight risk. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e) provides, in pertinent part:

Subject to rebuttal by the person, it shall be presumed that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of the community if the judicial officer finds that there is probable cause to believe that the person committed an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.).

(emphasis added). The indictment established probable cause to trigger the statutory presumptions of section 3142(e). United States v. Contreras, 776 F.2d 51, 55 (2d Cir.1985).

Magistrate Judge Katz granted the government's motion concluding, based on the statutory presumption and the evidence presented by the government, that Rodriguez poses a danger to the community such that no set of bail conditions would assure the community's safety. The district court after reviewing Rodriguez's bail status admitted Rodriguez to bail stating that the government had presented "no hard evidence that [Rodriguez had] ever done anything contrary to the law." We disagree.

BACKGROUND

At Rodriguez's detention hearing the government proffered evidence of taped conversations among an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Pitre and Rodriguez. In one taped conversation Pitre promised to supply the undercover agent with guns and a proven hitman whom he described as his "strongarm" and his "tableman." In a subsequent taped meeting Pitre introduced Rodriguez to the undercover agent as his hitman and the defendants agreed to commit a murder in exchange for one kilogram of cocaine. In that conversation Rodriguez referred to another murder he had committed with another individual and Rodriguez ridiculed the remorse his partner had displayed at the time. The government also proffered evidence based on statements by a confidential informant, who had proven reliable in the past, that the informant observed Rodriguez shoot an individual in the kneecap because Rodriguez believed the individual owed Pitre sixty dollars. Defense counsel argued that Rodriguez was merely posing as a hitman, had no criminal record

Page 88

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