Appeals from judgments of conviction and sentence entered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Leval, Judge) for conspiracy, other narcotics law violations, currency reporting crimes, and other offenses.
Newman, Pierce and Mahoney, Circuit Judges.
These appeals stem from the convictions of various persons alleged to have been members of an international narcotics ring. This prosecution came to be known popularly as "The Pizza Connection Case." Appellants present numerous issues for review.
For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the judgments of conviction and sentence of appellant Frank Castronovo on count ten and appellant Giuseppe Trupiano on counts one and sixteen, and we vacate the restitution penalties ordered as to eight of the appellants; otherwise, we affirm the judgments of conviction and sentence.
Appellants Filippo Casamento, Emanuele Palazzolo, Giovanni Cangialosi, Salvatore Salamone, Giovanni Ligammari, Frank Castronovo, Gaetano Badalamenti, Salvatore Catalano, Giuseppe Lamberti, Salvatore Mazzurco, Salvatore Lamberti, Giuseppe Trupiano, Giuseppe Vitale, Salvatore Greco and Francesco Polizzi appeal their judgments of conviction and sentence after a jury trial entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Leval, Judge) on Indictment SS 84 Cr. 236, which charged thirty-five defendants with engaging in a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy. Badalamenti also appeals his judgment of conviction (Metzner, Judge) on Indictment 86 Cr. 1128, which charged him with one count of criminal contempt, to which Badalamenti conditionally pled guilty. Appellant Lorenzo Devardo, named as a defendant in Indictment SS 84 Cr. 236, pled guilty to lesser charges in a superseding information. He challenges the sentence he received on his judgment of conviction on Information SSSSS 84 Cr. 236, which charged him with two counts of firearms violations under 26 U.S.C. §§ 5842, 5845, 5861(d), 5861(h) and 5871.
Indictment SS 84 Cr. 236 was filed on February 19, 1985. Following pleas of not guilty, trial began on September 30, 1985 and continued for more than seventeen months, until March 2, 1987, when the jury returned guilty verdicts against eighteen of the named defendants. Fifteen of these defendants now appeal their judgments of conviction and sentence.
Indictment SS 84 Cr. 236 contained sixteen counts. Count one charged all thirty-five defendants with conspiring to import and distribute narcotics in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. All of the appellants except Salvatore Salamone, who was acquitted on this count, and Lorenzo Devardo, who pled guilty to lesser charges, were found guilty on this count. Counts two through eleven each charged a single defendant with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848. Gaetano Badalamenti was found guilty of count two, Salvatore Catalano was found guilty of count three, Giuseppe Lamberti was found guilty of count five and Frank Castronovo was found guilty of count ten. The jury acquitted Salvatore Mazzurco of count six and Salvatore Lamberti of count seven. The defendants charged in counts four (Giuseppe Ganci), eight (Pietro Alfano), nine (Giuseppe Soresi) and eleven (Gaetano Mazzara) are not appellants here. Appellants Frank Castronovo, Salvatore Catalano, Salvatore Greco and Salvatore Salamone were found guilty of count twelve, which charged fifteen defendants with conspiring to transport money out of the United States without filing required currency reports in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Appellant Salvatore Salamone was found guilty of count thirteen, which charged six defendants with violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 2 by causing false statements concerning various cash deposits to be made to the Internal Revenue Service or aiding and abetting the making of such statements. Count fourteen charged fifteen defendants with violating 31 U.S.C. §§ 1059 (recodified at 31 U.S.C. § 5322), 1081 (recodified at 31 U.S.C. § 5313), 5313(a) and 5322(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 by failing to file required currency reports or aiding and abetting such failure. Appellants Frank Castronovo, Salvatore Catalano, Salvatore Greco and Salvatore Salamone were found guilty on this count. Count fifteen charged ten defendants with failing to file required currency reports in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 1059 (recodified at 31 U.S.C. § 5322) and 1101 (recodified at 31 U.S.C. § 5316) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Appellants Frank Castronovo and Salvatore Catalano were found guilty on this count. Finally, count sixteen charged thirty-one defendants, including all of the appellants except Gaetano Badalamenti, with violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962(d) and 2 by conspiring to conduct and participating, through a pattern of racketeering, in an enterprise which engaged in international drug trafficking and money laundering related thereto, or aiding and abetting therein. Found guilty on this count were appellants Giovanni Cangialosi, Filippo Casamento, Frank Castronovo, Salvatore Catalano, Salvatore Greco, Giuseppe Lamberti, Salvatore Lamberti, Giovanni Ligammari, Salvatore Mazzurco, Emanuele Palazzolo, Francesco Polizzi, Giuseppe Trupiano and Giuseppe Vitale. Salvatore Salamone was acquitted of count sixteen and Lorenzo Devardo pled guilty to lesser charges. The charges for which each appellant was indicted, the disposition of those charges, and the sentences imposed are set forth in an appendix to this opinion.
Indictment SS 84 Cr. 236 charged and the government sought to prove at trial the existence of a large-scale conspiracy to import and distribute narcotics and to launder the proceeds of the drug sales -- count one charged a narcotics conspiracy and count sixteen a RICO conspiracy. We will not recount all the evidence adduced at trial. However, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of the alleged conspiracy.
The government contends that the alleged criminal events herein began in Sicily in the 1970's when members of the Sicilian Mafia decided to begin shipping narcotics to the United States. These shipments came from two places, Sicily and South America. In Sicily, Mafia members imported morphine base from Turkey, refined it, and smuggled the heroin they produced into the New York metropolitan area. Among the Sicilian Mafia members who the government contends were responsible for shipping the heroin and developing a distribution network in the United States were defendant Giuseppe Soresi and appellants Lorenzo Devardo and Giovanni Cangialosi. According to the government, the source of narcotics from South America was appellant Gaetano Badalamenti, a fugitive living in Brazil who was allegedly the deposed head of the Sicilian Mafia and who, in connection with this prosecution, later was extradited from Spain.
It is contended that Badalamenti sent narcotics to the Midwest, where the drugs allegedly were distributed by defendants Pietro Alfano and Salvatore Evola and appellants Emanuele Palazzolo, Giuseppe Vitale and Giuseppe Trupiano. The midwestern distributors delivered narcotics to a distribution group in the New York area. This New York group, comprised of members of the American Mafia, or La Cosa Nostra, also received heroin shipments from Sicily.
Further, according to the government, appellant Salvatore Catalano led the New York group, closely assisted by defendant Giuseppe Ganci and appellants Giuseppe Lamberti, Salvatore Lamberti, Salvatore Greco and Salvatore Mazzurco. Allegedly, Catalano also worked closely with defendant Gaetano Mazzara and appellant Frank Castronovo, who the government claims were two Sicilian Mafia members stationed in New Jersey.
The government asserts that the New York group sold narcotics to secondary wholesalers, such as appellant Filippo Casamento and defendant Benito Zito, and that to finance its importation of narcotics the New York group relied on payments from investors, such as appellants Francesco Polizzi and Giovanni Ligammari.
In addition, according to the government, as part of the conspiracy's money laundering operation, appellants Catalano, Castronovo, Ganci, Salvatore Salamone and his brother, defendant Filippo Salamone, accumulated the conspiracy's cash proceeds in pizza parlors, and then either smuggled the cash out of the country in suitcases or laundered it through a maze of bank accounts. The government asserts that the money was deposited in Swiss bank accounts, and from there went to conspirators in Italy or to a man known as Musullulu, who the government claims supplied the conspirators with morphine base from Turkey.
Having briefly described the alleged criminal activities, we now turn to a discussion of the various issues raised on appeal.
I. Severance and Related Issues
A principal issue raised on appeal is whether the joint trial of the numerous defendants deprived the individual defendants of their right to due process. To support their claims of lack of due process, appellants mainly point to (1) the length and complexity of the trial, (2) the spillover prejudice which allegedly resulted from the joinder of the defendants, and (3) the publicity and the alleged atmosphere of violence which surrounded the trial.
A. Length and Complexity of Trial
By any standard, the magnitude of this trial was extraordinary. Based on a multi-count indictment which charged thirty-five defendants, the joint trial of twenty-one defendants spanned more than seventeen months, produced more than forty-thousand pages of trial transcript, and, according to defense counsel, involved the introduction of thousands of exhibits and the testimony of more than 275 witnesses.
During the course of the trial, Judge Leval allowed the government to display charts to the jury which, through graphs, maps or brief written descriptions, summarized the evidence the government had presented. Much of this evidence was uncontested, consisting of the testimony of government agents regarding observations made during surveillance, transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations, and seized items such as guns or money. Before a chart was shown to the jury, the judge gave the defendants a chance to object to its contents. In some instances, he directed that changes be made in the contents of a chart in response to a defendant's objection. Several times during the trial, the district judge instructed the jury that the charts were not evidence. He also told the jurors that they were free to disregard the contents of the charts if they chose to do so. The judge repeated these instructions during his charge.
Near the end of the trial, the government compiled a binder which contained reproductions of the summary charts which had been displayed to the jury during the trial. During its deliberations, the jury requested and received copies of this binder, as well as the entire trial transcript, specifically identified items of evidence, and also a blackboard, chalk and an eraser.
Appellants argue that the length and complexity of the trial prevented the jury from adequately remembering and evaluating the evidence. They argue that because the jury could not remember the evidence sufficiently, it had to rely uncritically on the government's summary charts. Appellants contend that, because the jury was unable to evaluate the evidence independently, severance was required, and that the district court's refusal to sever the trial, as requested, deprived them of due process.
In assessing appellants' argument, we begin by noting the standard of review we must apply to a district court's decision to deny a motion for severance. Motions to sever are committed to the sound discretion of the trial judge. United States v. Chang An-Lo, 851 F.2d 547, 556 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 966, 109 S. Ct. 493, 102 L. Ed. 2d 530 (1988). We will reverse a ruling denying a motion to sever upon a showing that the trial judge clearly abused his discretion. Id. In order to meet this "extremely difficult burden" of showing an abuse of discretion, an appellant must demonstrate that the denial of the motion caused substantial prejudice. United States v. Carpentier, 689 F.2d 21, 27 (2d Cir. 1982) (citing United States v. Werner, 620 F.2d 922, 928 (2d Cir. 1980)), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1108, 74 L. Ed. 2d 957, 103 S. Ct. 735 (1983). If the denial of the motion causes some prejudice, but less than substantial prejudice, we are not apt to reverse, since, by and large, joinder promotes judicial efficiency. Id.
We do not agree that the length and complexity of this trial caused the appellants substantial prejudice. First of all, we have no reason to believe that the jury lacked the intellectual capacity to meet the task before it. Although the jury had to evaluate a tremendous amount of evidence, the nature of the evidence and the legal concepts involved in the case were not extraordinarily difficult to comprehend, as they might be, for example, in a complex anti-trust case involving abstruse economic theories or an employment discrimination case involving technical statistical evidence and formulae. Here, the jury was required to grasp the legal significance of shipments of narcotics, sales of narcotics, and transfers of money. See United States v. Moten, 564 F.2d 620, 627 (2d Cir.) (lengthy, multi-defendant narcotics conspiracy trial not "beyond the ken of the ordinary juror," since "purchase and sale of hard drugs is basically a simple operation"), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 942, 54 L. Ed. 2d 304, 98 S. Ct. 438 (1977).
The clearest indication that the jury was able to evaluate the evidence, despite its being voluminous, is provided by the jury's verdicts themselves. We have held that in a multi-defendant case, a mix of guilty and not guilty verdicts is some indication that the jury was able to sift through voluminous evidence and differentiate among various defendants. Here, the jury's not guilty verdicts on certain counts (see supra Background; infra Appendix) inform us that the jury differentiated among the defendants. Moten, 564 F.2d at 627; see also United States v. Carson, 702 F.2d 351, 367 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 462 U.S. 1108, 103 S. Ct. 2456, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1335 (1983). The clear distinctions the jury drew among the defendants strongly suggest that it was indeed able to evaluate the evidence critically and follow the instructions of the trial judge.
Another indication that the jury was able to evaluate the evidence fairly was the apparent effort it made during its deliberations to parse and weigh the evidence. The jury's requests for the entire trial transcript, for various items in evidence, and for a blackboard, chalk, and eraser, as well as copies of the summary chart book, suggest that the jurors, rather than despairing in the face of the daunting amount of evidence, accepted their arduous role and diligently and conscientiously proceeded over the six-day period of deliberations to meet their responsibilities as fact-finders. See United States v. Aiello, 771 F.2d 621, 631 (2d Cir. 1985) (jury's request during deliberations for multiple readbacks of testimony, and its determination of not guilty on certain charges, indicative of "jury's careful discrimination in weighing the evidence"). We believe that a jury overwhelmed by the evidence would not have manifested the interest shown here in making such an effort.
One incident in particular buoys our belief that the jury fairly and carefully evaluated the evidence. During its deliberations, the jury, in a note to the judge, requested "testimony and surveillance reports, if any, of July 24, 1983 surveillance." According to one of the racketeering acts with which Castronovo was charged, number 56 on the jury's verdict sheet, he travelled from New Jersey to New York on July 24, 1983. After receiving the jury's note, the prosecutor and defense counsel agreed that no surveillance evidence relating to Castronovo's activities on July 24, 1983 existed. The judge then instructed the jury to strike number 56 from the verdict sheet. The jury's ability to discover that no evidence supported this particular racketeering act, when 128 such acts were charged in the indictment, is telling support for the conclusion that the jury scrutinized the evidence with great care.
We do not believe that the jury's use of the government's summary charts rendered the trial unfair. This court has long approved the use of charts in complex trials, and has allowed the jury to have the charts in the jury room during its deliberations, United States v. Pinto, 850 F.2d 927, 935 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 867, 109 S. Ct. 174, 102 L. Ed. 2d 143 (1988), so long as the judge properly instructs the jury that it is not to consider the charts as evidence. United States v. Baccollo, 725 F.2d 170, 173 (2d Cir. 1983); United States v. Goldberg, 401 F.2d 644, 647-48 (2d Cir. 1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1099, 21 L. Ed. 2d 790, 89 S. Ct. 895 (1969). Here, the judge gave the jury the required instruction. We conclude that the court's rulings permitting the jury's use of the government's summary charts was not improper.
Appellants argue that despite the judge's instructions, the vast amount of evidence presented to the jury made it inevitable that the jury would rely uncritically on the government's summary charts. We do not accept this argument. Barring contrary evidence, we must presume that juries follow the instructions given them by the trial judge. Richardson v. Marsh, 481 U.S. 200, 211, 95 L. Ed. 2d 176, 107 S. Ct. 1702 (1987); United States v. Pforzheimer, 826 F.2d 200, 205 (2d Cir. 1987). This presumption is "rooted less in the absolute certitude that [it] is true than in the belief that it represents a reasonable practical accommodation of the interests of the state and the defendant in the criminal justice process." Richardson, 481 U.S. at 211. Here, no evidence shows otherwise, and we thus presume that the jury followed the judge's instruction not to consider the summary charts as evidence or as fact, but rather to evaluate the evidence independently.
In addition to their argument that the jury could not fairly evaluate the great volume of evidence, appellants argue that the length and complexity of the trial placed a great burden on the jurors, and they suggest that this burden may have caused the jurors to harbor resentment toward the defendants. Although the trial was undoubtedly burdensome for the jury, and one juror, later excused, did express resentment towards the defendants, we do not believe that the burden caused appellants to suffer substantial prejudice. We base this conclusion in large part (1) on the verdicts the jury rendered, and (2) on the apparently careful way in which the jury evaluated the evidence (see discussion above), both of which support Judge Leval's characterization of the jury's performance during the trial as "fair, open-minded, [and] conscientious."
Although we hold here that the length and complexity of this trial did not deprive appellants of their right to due process, we do have misgivings about trials of this magnitude. We are aware that lengthy multi-defendant trials may provide certain benefits in terms of the judicial system, see Richardson, 481 U.S. at 209-10 (such trials can promote efficiency and minimize the chance of inconsistent verdicts); United States v. Cohen, 145 F.2d 82, 91 (2d Cir. 1944) (such trials can allow witnesses to avoid the burden of successive trials), cert. denied, 323 U.S. 799, 89 L. Ed. 637, 65 S. Ct. 553 (1945), however, they also can have disadvantages, see United States v. Gallo, 668 F. Supp. 736, 754-56 (E.D.N.Y. 1987) (such trials can place great burdens on jurors, defendants, counsel, and trial judges); see generally Federal Bar Council Committee on Second Circuit Courts, A Proposal Concerning Problems Created By Extremely Long Criminal Trials (1989). We recognize the evident disadvantages which can occur in these mega-trials; we also recognize that district judges must retain a considerable degree of discretion in determining whether, on balance, the fair administration of justice will be better served by one aggregate trial of all indicted defendants or by two or more trials of groups of defendants. However, we believe that some benchmarks ought to be set out to guide the exercise of that discretion. First, the district judge should elicit from the prosecutor a good-faith estimate of the time reasonably anticipated to present the government's case. Though the prosecutor's estimate should not become the subject of a contested hearing, the judge need not accept the estimate without question but should be free to make an independent assessment based on various factors including the number of defendants, the time and territorial scope of the crimes charged, the number of witnesses likely to be called, and the number and size of exhibits likely to be introduced, including wiretaps.
In those cases where the judge determines that the time for presentation of the prosecution's case will exceed four months, the judge should oblige the prosecutor to present a reasoned basis to support a conclusion that a joint trial of all the defendants is more consistent with the fair administration of justice than some manageable division of the case into separate trials for groups of defendants. In determining whether the prosecutor has made an adequate showing, the judge should weigh the interests of the prosecution, the defendants, the jurors, the court, and the public. Again, we do not contemplate a contested hearing nor precise findings on this subject. A submission by the prosecutor, a response by the defendants seeking a severance, and a conclusion by the judge will suffice. The judge should give particular attention to the feasibility of conducting separate trials for any one or more defendants as to whom a separate trial would be relatively brief, especially if such defendants are willing to stipulate, for purposes of a separate trial, to facts concerning the activities of other defendants who remain to be tried in the main trial. Such separate trials, if ordered, may, in the judge's discretion, be assigned for simultaneous trial before other judges.
In considering the advisability of separate brief trials for one or more defendants, the judge should explore with the prosecutor whether the interests of justice would be adequately served by limiting the prosecution of such defendants to charges that can be proven expeditiously and that, in the event of conviction, carry exposure to adequate maximum penalties. It makes little sense to extend the time of a multi-month trial by including a peripheral defendant against whom a few days of evidence in a separate trial would be sufficient to obtain conviction on scaled down charges exposing him to approximately as much punishment as he would likely have received on the original charges.
Finally, in assessing the appropriate number of defendants for any trial in which the prosecution's case is likely to require more than four months to present, the judge should oblige the prosecutor to make an especially compelling justification for a joint trial of more than ten defendants. Even in the event that the aggregate time for separate trials would not be less than the time for a joint trial of all defendants, there are significant advantages to be achieved. The lives of each group of jurors would be imposed upon for a shorter time, there would be a smaller group of defense counsel in each trial with a consequent reduction in trial disputes, the trial judge would have a more manageable task, and the jurors' ability to focus on individual defendants would be enhanced. While the prosecution's estimate that separate trials will each require all of the evidence presented at a joint trial is often not borne out when severances occur, we note that in this case there is a striking example of an instance when a contrary estimate was made. One of the original co-defendants herein was Giuseppi Baldinucci. Instead of enduring a seventeen-month trial, he was severed at the instance of the government and brought to trial on narrower charges. He was convicted after a trial lasting just seven days.
We recognize the extreme diligence with which Judge Leval exercised his discretion in deciding whether to proceed with a joint trial of the twenty-one defendants in this case. We are entirely satisfied that his trial management decisions fully respected the rights of the defendants. Indeed, the judge is to be commended for the fairness, patience, and sound judgment he displayed throughout the conduct of this most extraordinary proceeding. Nevertheless, we offer the guidance outlined in the preceding paragraphs in the hope that we will not soon again be presented with the transcript of a seventeen-month trial in which more than thirty persons were named as defendants.
B. Alleged Spillover Prejudice
Several appellants, especially those whose alleged roles in the conspiracy were comparatively minor, argue that evidence of the conduct of other defendants and a lack of coordination in defense strategies caused them substantial spillover prejudice which could have been avoided had their motions for severance been granted. We do not believe that any prejudicial spillover suffered by any appellant was sufficiently substantial to warrant reversal based on the denial of the severance motions. First, even if each defendant had been tried separately, much of the evidence the government presented at the joint trial regarding the activities of alleged co-conspirators would have been admissible in the single-defendant trials. See United States v. Bari, 750 F.2d 1169, 1178 (2d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 472 U.S. 1019, 105 S. Ct. 3482, 87 L. Ed. 2d 617 (1985); United States v. Cunningham, 723 F.2d 217, 230 (2d Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 951, 80 L. Ed. 2d 540, 104 S. Ct. 2154 (1984); see also Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2)(E). Further, the district judge instructed the jury to consider the evidence against each defendant separately from the evidence presented against the other defendants. See Carson, 702 F.2d at 367 (judge's instructions to jury to afford each defendant separate consideration, inter alia, leads to finding of no unfair spillover prejudice). More importantly, as has been discussed, the jury carefully evaluated the evidence and rendered discriminating verdicts. See United States v. Garcia, 848 F.2d 1324, 1334 (2nd Cir. 1988) (partial acquittal of a defendant in multi-defendant trial "is a strong indication . . . that there was no prejudicial 'spillover' of evidence"), rev'd on other grounds, 490 U.S. 858, 109 S. Ct. 2237, 104 L. Ed. 2d 923 (1989); Carson, 702 F.2d at 367 (verdicts of acquittal on certain counts show no significant spillover effect occurred). Because of the district court's thorough instructions to the jury, and because we believe the jury's verdicts were reached after careful consideration of the evidence, we conclude that any prejudice appellants suffered in this regard was less than substantial.
Our conclusion is not altered by consideration of the additional prejudicial spillover allegedly suffered by appellants as a result of a lack of coordination in the testimony and trial strategies of the individual defendants. Appellants point to the fact that Badalamenti testified that certain telephone conversations he had with Mazzurco did not concern narcotics, while Mazzurco testified that the conversations concerned the sale of precious stones. Appellants also point to certain disagreements which arose among the defendants over the cross-examination of certain witnesses and over the jury instructions which should be requested. Moreover, Cangialosi argues that he was prejudiced when Badalamenti's counsel, in his summation, accused Cangialosi of having carried a message, written in code, which allegedly directed the Mafia to kill Badalamenti.
Considering these contentions seriatim, we first note that, while differences among the defenses asserted by co-defendants might constitute justification for severance when the jury, in order to believe one defendant, "'must necessarily disbelieve the testimony offered on behalf of his co-defendant,'" Carpentier, 689 F.2d at 28 (quoting United States v. Berkowitz, 662 F.2d 1127, 1134 (5th Cir. Unit B Dec. 1981)), here, Badalamenti's and Mazzurco's defenses were not in conflict. The jury could have believed both that the Badalamenti-Mazzurco telephone conversations did not concern narcotics trafficking and that they did concern the sale of precious stones.
Additionally, we do not believe that differences in defendants' trial tactics and strategies required severance. Differences such as those noted by appellants will almost inevitably arise in multi-defendant trials, and to hold that they require severance would effectively ban this type of trial; we decline to impose such a ban.
Finally, we do not believe that Badalamenti's accusation against Cangialosi required severance. Severance is not necessarily warranted "even if the defendants are hostile or attempt to cast the blame on each other." United States v. Becker, 585 F.2d 703, 707 (4th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1080, 59 L. Ed. 2d 50, 99 S. Ct. 862 (1979). Mere "fingerpointing" does not require severance. United States v. Arruda, 715 F.2d 671, 679 (1st Cir. 1983). Here, Badalamenti's counsel suggested that Cangialosi may not even have known the content of the message he was accused of having carried. Under these circumstances, we cannot conclude that Cangialosi suffered prejudice sufficient to compel severance. In sum, we do not believe that the defendants' lack of coordination in their defense strategies -- even considered in conjunction with the spillover prejudice allegedly suffered as a consequence of the introduction of evidence concerning the conduct of other defendants -- resulted in a denial of appellants' due process rights.
C. Publicity and Alleged Atmosphere of Violence
Further, appellants argue that the publicity and the alleged atmosphere of violence which surrounded the joint trial rendered it unfair. To support this argument appellants point to the following: (1) the government's allegation, in its opening statement to the jury, that Catalano was involved in the 1979 murder of the alleged Mafia figure Carmine Galante; (2) the great deal of publicity which surrounded the trial in general; (3) the publicity surrounding the murder, approximately two and one-half months into the trial, of the alleged Mafia figure Paul Castellano; (4) the violent death, about fourteen months into the trial, of defendant Gaetano Mazzara and the publicity which surrounded this event; (5) the non-fatal shooting of defendant Pietro Alfano, which occurred during the summation stage of the trial, and the publicity which surrounded this event; and (6) the government's display to the jury of various guns seized from Greco's pizzeria. As we discuss below, after reviewing the record, we conclude that the publicity and the alleged atmosphere of violence which surrounded this case did not deprive appellants of due process.
The district court stated that it was prejudicial for the government to mention in its opening argument Catalano's alleged connection to the Galante murder. Rather than grant a mistrial however, Judge Leval instructed the jury that the Galante murder was not a part of the trial and that the jury should not consider it. Although the defendants, as the district court acknowledged, were prejudiced by the government's mention of the Galante murder, we do not believe that this prejudice was substantial enough to have deprived appellants of their right to due process. First, given the care with which the jury apparently considered the evidence (see discussion above), we think the government's prejudicial statement did not have a significant impact. Cf. Aiello, 771 F.2d at 630-31 (jury's careful discrimination in weighing evidence indicates jury was not influenced by third party contact with one of the jurors). Second, the district judge gave the jury a proper instruction. Third, without more, we presume, as we must, Richardson, 481 U.S. at 211; Pforzheimer, 826 F.2d at 205, that the jury followed the judge's instruction not to consider the government's mention of the Galante murder. In short, in light of the jury's apparent care in weighing the evidence, coupled with the judge's instruction to the jury, we hold that the government's statement in its opening argument did not deprive defendants of a fair trial.
Without a doubt, this trial attracted a great deal of media attention. We do not believe, however, that this publicity rendered the trial unfair. On several occasions, Judge Leval instructed the jury not to pay attention to anything which appeared in the media concerning the trial. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we will presume the jury followed these admonitions and avoided exposure to news reports about the trial. See United States v. Greschner, 802 F.2d 373, 381 (10th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 908, 94 L. Ed. 2d 523, 107 S. Ct. 1353 (1987); United States v. Metzger, 778 F.2d 1195, 1209 (6th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 477 U.S. 906, 91 L. Ed. 2d 568, 106 S. Ct. 3279 (1986). Some warrant for this presumption is provided by the fact that several times during the trial the judge conducted voir dire of the jury to satisfy himself that the jurors had followed his instructions and had indeed avoided news reports about the case, e.g., on January 13, 1986, following the reported appearance in The New York Times of an "article" by former President Ronald Reagan which concerned organized crime and which favorably mentioned then United States Attorney Rudolph Giuliani; on January 16, 1986, following the reported appearance of a cover story in New York magazine about Nicholas Pileggi's book Wise Guy: Life in the Mob ; on February 5, 1986, following the reported appearance in the New York Post of an article recounting testimony from the trial; and on December 3, 1986, following the Mazzara murder (see discussion below). A district judge has substantial discretion in determining whether potentially prejudicial publicity has affected a jury's impartiality, and a conclusion that the jury remained impartial will not be overturned on appeal absent an abuse of discretion. United States v. Scopo, 861 F.2d 339, 349 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1022, 109 S. Ct. 1750, 104 L. Ed. 2d 186 (1989). Here, in light of the district judge's instructions and inquiries of the jury via voir dire, and his considered conclusions as to the jurors' impartiality, we believe that he acted well within his discretion in deciding that the publicity which the trial generated did not affect the jurors' ability to serve fairly.
3. The Castellano, Mazzara, and Alfano Incidents and the Publicity Surrounding Them
On December 16, 1985, Paul Castellano, a person who had been listed as an unindicted co-conspirator herein and whose name appeared on one of the charts shown to the jury, was murdered outside a restaurant in midtown Manhattan. The murder attracted a great deal of attention in the media. The day after the killing, the trial judge instructed the jury to ignore all news reports about the event. His inquiry of the jurors as to whether any of them would be unable to comply with his instruction evoked no negative response.
One year later, defendant Mazzara was murdered and his body was discovered in Brooklyn. After the murder, the judge told the jury that Mazzara had died, that the cause of his death was unrelated to the trial, and that the members of the jury should stay home and avoid all news reports entirely for two days. Judge Leval interviewed each juror to ensure that each could comply with his instructions. Later, after conducting voir dire of the jury, he was assured that the jury had complied with his instructions.
In February 1987, during the summation stage of the trial, defendant Alfano was shot while walking in the streets of New York City. Upon learning of the shooting, the district judge instructed the jury to avoid all news reports. He then conducted a voir dire of the jury to ensure that the impartiality of the jury was not affected by the shooting; he was so assured. Finally, he ordered the jury sequestered for the remaining days of the trial.
We are satisfied that the judge's actions following the Castellano, Mazzara, and Alfano events sufficiently protected appellants from undue prejudice from the publicity these incidents generated, and that the judge did not abuse his discretion in deciding to proceed with the trial. See Scopo, 861 F.2d at 349; Greschner, 802 F.2d at 381; Metzger, 778 F.2d at 1209.
Apart from the publicity surrounding these incidents, whether the sudden absences of Mazzara and Alfano from the courtroom may possibly have made the jury more inclined to believe that those two defendants, and by association, the rest of the defendants, led lives of violence is a matter of conjecture, and, as such, is not a sufficient basis from which we can conclude that the trial was unfair, especially given the appropriate actions timely undertaken by the trial judge.
Finally, we do not believe the government's display to the jury of guns, including an Uzi rifle, a semi-automatic pistol and a Luger pistol, seized from Greco's pizzeria, rendered the trial unfair. Although the government did not allege that the defendants used these guns, the guns themselves, in context, were probative of the existence of the narcotics conspiracy charged. See United States v. Fernandez, 829 F.2d 363, 367 (2d Cir. 1987); United States v. Wiener, 534 F.2d 15, 18 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 820, 50 L. Ed. 2d 80, 97 S. Ct. 66 (1976). While Judge Leval, in his discretion, could have restricted the government only to showing photographs of these guns to the jury, we do not believe that the judge unfairly prejudiced appellants by allowing the government to display the guns themselves.
In sum, we conclude that appellants did not suffer a deprivation of their rights to due process as a result of the length and complexity of the trial, or due to any spillover prejudice which they may have suffered, or due to the publicity and the alleged atmosphere of violence which surrounded the trial.
II. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Eleven of the appellants -- Badalamenti, Cangialosi, Casamento, Castronovo, Greco, Ligammari, Palazzolo, Polizzi, Salamone, Trupiano and Vitale -- claim that the evidence presented against them was legally insufficient to support their convictions on certain counts. We conclude that the claims of Castronovo and Trupiano have merit. We find the claims of the other appellants lack merit. Below we set forth the reasons for our conclusions.
The standards by which we review claims challenging the sufficiency of the evidence are well established. An appellant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence bears a very heavy burden. United States v. Nusraty, 867 F.2d 759, 762 (2d Cir. 1989). A conviction must be allowed to stand if, "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution," the reviewing court finds that " any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 61 L. Ed. 2d 560, 99 S. Ct. 2781 (1979). A jury's verdict will be sustained if there is substantial evidence to support it. United States v. Nersesian, 824 F.2d 1294, 1324 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 957, 108 S. Ct. 355, 98 L. Ed. 2d 380 (1987).
Further, a reviewing court must view pieces of evidence not in isolation but in conjunction. United States v. Young, 745 F.2d 733, 762 (2d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1084, 85 L. Ed. 2d 142, 105 S. Ct. 1842 (1985). Viewing the evidence in conjunction is especially important in a conspiracy case such as this, where so much of the evidence is not incriminating on its face and the jury, to infer the existence of a conspiracy, must piece together circumstantial evidence. See Young, 745 F.2d at 762.
Circumstantial evidence, it should be noted, if relied upon by the jury, is of no lesser probative value than direct evidence. United States v. Glasser, 443 F.2d 994, 1007 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 854, 30 L. Ed. 2d 95, 92 S. Ct. 96 (1971). It is the role of a jury to draw reasonable inferences or conclusions from facts which the jury determines the evidence establishes. Whether the jury, in determining guilt, relies upon direct evidence, or upon reasonable inferences drawn from circumstantial evidence, the inquiry remains the same: there must be in either case sufficient evidence from which any rational juror could find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319.
Finally, we note that once a conspiracy is shown to exist, the evidence sufficient to link another defendant to it need not be overwhelming. United States v. Ciambrone, 787 F.2d 799, 806 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1017, 93 L. Ed. 2d 720, 107 S. Ct. 668 (1986). However, the evidence must show that the defendant, even if unaware of the contours of the broader conspiracy, at least had knowledge that a common unlawful endeavor existed, Nusraty, 867 F.2d at 763, and that the defendant agreed to join that endeavor, United States v. Delvecchio, 816 F.2d 859, 864 (2d Cir. 1987).
The jury found Badalamenti guilty on counts one and two. With regard to count one, the narcotics conspiracy count, Badalamenti claims (1) that the evidence is insufficient to show that he agreed to ship narcotics into the United States and (2) that even if he had so agreed, the evidence is insufficient to support a conclusion that his activities and those of the other defendants formed a single conspiracy. With regard to count two, the continuing criminal enterprise count, Badalamenti claims that the government failed to prove any of the elements of the crime. We conclude that Badalamenti's claims lack merit.
The record contains sufficient evidence to support a rational conclusion that Badalamenti imported narcotics into the United States. Intercepted telephone calls show that Badalamenti spoke to Mazzurco, an alleged buyer, on more than one occasion about the shipment of various commodities which he referred to as "shirts," "parcels" and "containers." Both the evidence showing that Mazzurco was a narcotics dealer (see infra Point VIII) and Badalamenti's refusal during cross-examination to explain the nature of these calls strongly support the inference that the calls concerned the importation of narcotics.
Evidence of two deliveries demonstrate that these telephone calls were not just fruitless conversations, as Badalamenti argues, but were discussions which led to consummated deals. With regard to the first delivery, toll records suggest that on April 30, 1983, defendant Pietro Alfano, who Badalamenti concedes was his subordinate, called Vitale and Palazzolo, two of Alfano's assistants, (see infra Points II(H), II(L)). The same day, Mazzurco called defendant Giuseppe Ganci and told him that "tomorrow I'm supposed to meet those people . . . [and] bring them 95 cents."*fn1 Ganci said: "I've got about 40." Mazzurco testified at trial that "them" was a reference to Alfano and others, and that "95 cents" was a reference to $95,000. The day after Mazzurco called Ganci, a government agent observed him leaving Ganci's house carrying a brown bag. Mazzurco testified that he gave Alfano $40,000.
Evidence suggests that a second delivery occurred on February 4, 1984. That morning, Alfano phoned Mazzurco from a public telephone in Queens, New York. During the call, which the government intercepted, Alfano arranged to meet Mazzurco in a restaurant two hours later. That afternoon, presumably after Alfano and Mazzurco met, Giuseppe Lamberti called Mazzurco and asked him, "Did he bring you everything?" Mazzurco answered in the affirmative. That evening, Alfano spoke to defendant Salvatore Evola, another one of Badalamenti's subordinates (see discussion below), and told him: "I left him everything."
Badalamenti's telephone calls, along with evidence of the two deliveries, in late April 1983 and early February 1984, are sufficient in the total context to justify a rational inference that he conspired to import narcotics. Badalamenti claims that even if he did conspire to import narcotics, he was not part of a single conspiracy which involved all the defendants named in the indictment. To support his claim that he was not part of the overall conspiracy charged in count one, Badalamenti argues that the government failed to produce evidence linking him to the Sicilian suppliers. Badalamenti's claim is unpersuasive. First, the evidence does suggest that Badalamenti was aware of the Sicilian suppliers. On March 30, 1984, a government agent observed Badalamenti's acknowledged subordinate, Alfano, meeting with Cangialosi, a representative of the Sicilian suppliers. (See infra Point II(C).) But even assuming arguendo that Badalamenti had no connection to the Sicilian suppliers, his claim would still fail. A lack of evidence connecting one defendant with others does not preclude a determination that all the defendants were co-conspirators; a single conspiracy may be found to link them all so long as each defendant knew from the scope of the operation that others were involved in the performance of functions vital to the success of the endeavor. United States v. Bynum, 485 F.2d 490, 496 (2d Cir. 1973), vacated and remanded on other grounds, 417 U.S. 903, 94 S. Ct. 2598, 41 L. Ed. 2d 209 (1974). In particular, suppliers unknown to each other may be co-conspirators when "the scale of the operation permit[s] the inference that the persons at a particular level must have known that others were performing similar roles." United States v. Miley, 513 F.2d 1191, 1207 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 842, 96 S. Ct. 74, 46 L. Ed. 2d 62 (1975). Here, a rational trier of fact could have found, based on the evidence of the deliveries in late April 1983 and early February 1984, discussed above, that Badalamenti imported tens of thousands of dollars worth of narcotics into the United States. Remarks he made in telephone calls -- e.g., a remark regarding "the shirts of four years ago" -- suggest that he may have been in the drug importing business for at least four or five years. Viewing the evidence and construing all permissible inferences in the light most favorable to the government, as we must, Nersesian, 824 F.2d at 1302-03, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support a rational trier of fact's conclusion that Badalamenti must have known from the scale of the operation in which he was involved that others were performing roles similar to his own as part of the same overall operation. Therefore, we hold that the evidence was sufficient for the jury to rationally conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Badalamenti was part of a single conspiracy which involved other defendants.
2. Continuing Criminal Enterprise
The record also contains sufficient evidence to support Badalamenti's conviction on the continuing criminal enterprise count. To prove Badalamenti guilty of having engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, the government had the burden of establishing (1) that he committed a narcotics-related felony, (2) that the felony was part of a series of narcotics law violations, (3) that these violations were undertaken by Badalamenti in concert with at least five people he supervised or managed, and (4) that he obtained substantial income from the narcotics law violations. 21 U.S.C. § 848; see United States v. Young, 745 F.2d 733, 746-48 (2d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1084, 85 L. Ed. 2d 142, 105 S. Ct. 1842 (1985).
Badalamenti's participation in the narcotics conspiracy satisfies the first element of § 848, which requires a narcotics-related felony violation. See Young, 745 F.2d at 751-52. The jury, in its special verdict, found that Badalamenti made twenty-two telephone calls in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) over a nearly four-month-long period in furtherance of the conspiracy. These calls were made to Pietro Alfano, Mrs. Alfano, Giuseppe Lamberti, Salvatore Lamberti, Salvatore Mazzurco and Salvatore Evola. They serve to satisfy the second element, which requires a series of violations. See Young, 745 F.2d at 755.
Relying on Judge Newman's concurrence in Young, 745 F.2d at 767 n. 1, Badalamenti argues that these calls, which he claims all concerned a single shipment of narcotics, were insufficiently distinct to constitute a series of violations. This argument is meritless. In his concurrence, Judge Newman merely suggested that a phone call to arrange a drug sale and the consummation of the sale "moments later" did not constitute a series of violations. Id. Here, Badalamenti made twenty-two telephone calls and they spanned a nearly four-month-long period. We conclude that the calls were sufficiently distinct to constitute a series of violations.
It is also clear from the evidence that, as part of his criminal activity, Badalamenti supervised or managed at least five people, thus satisfying the third element of § 848. Badalamenti concedes that he directed the activities of Alfano. Through Alfano, Badalamenti managed the narcotics-related activities of Palazzolo and Vitale. (See infra Points II(H), II(L).)
The fourth person Badalamenti supervised was Evola. Evola admitted to an FBI agent that on one occasion he had sold a kilogram of cocaine. A search of Evola's residence revealed a piece of paper containing Badalamenti's telephone number written in code. His passport shows that he travelled to Brazil on the same date that Alfano did. The jury could have reasonably concluded that the purpose of this trip was to confer with Badalamenti. Figures found on a slip of paper Evola had in his possession matched figures found in a notebook which belonged to Alfano, strongly suggesting that Evola and Alfano worked as a team. In light of the evidence that Evola was in communication with Badalamenti, and appeared to work with Alfano, who was Badalamenti's subordinate, we hold that the record sufficiently supports a reasonable finding that Badalamenti managed the activities of Evola.
The fifth person Badalamenti supervised was defendant Vincenzo Randazzo. On one occasion, Randazzo called Mazzurco from Brazil and had a discussion with him about various items and their prices. During the conversation, Randazzo offered to send Mazzurco samples. Randazzo referred to a third person as the actual seller of the items, implying that he worked for this third party. Several days before this telephone call occurred, Mazzurco, standing on a street corner in Queens, New York, handed a brown paper bag containing $20,000 in cash to defendant Faro Lupo. Randazzo was with Lupo at the time. A toll record indicates that the morning after this transaction occurred, a brief telephone call was made from Alfano's home in Illinois to the New York City hotel in which Lupo was registered. Randazzo was with Lupo when Lupo registered at the hotel. On another occasion (see infra Point II(H)), Randazzo, along with Alfano, Lupo, and Palazzolo, met Mazzurco in a Queens restaurant. Randazzo's dealings with Mazzurco, the buyer of the narcotics Badalamenti imported; his connection to Alfano, Badalamenti's subordinate; his connection to Brazil, the nation from which Badalamenti operated; and his references to a third party for whom he appeared to work, considered together, provide sufficient evidence to support a rational finding that Badalamenti managed the activities of Randazzo.
The last element of § 848 which the government had to prove was that Badalamenti derived substantial income from his narcotics activities. The statute does not prescribe the minimum amount of income that may be considered substantial, but we have held that as little as $2,000 may be sufficient. United States v. Losada, 674 F.2d 167, 173 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 457 U.S. 1125, 102 S. Ct. 2945, 73 L. Ed. 2d 1341 (1982). Here, evidence of the late April 1983 and early February 1984 deliveries, discussed above, allows the conclusion to be drawn that Baladamenti dealt in tens of thousands of dollars worth of narcotics. Badalamenti concedes that on one occasion, approximately two months after the February 4, 1984 delivery, Alfano brought him $10,000. Clearly, one may reasonably conclude from this evidence that Badalamenti derived substantial income from his narcotics activities.
In sum, we believe that the jury had before it sufficient evidence to rationally conclude that Badalamenti engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, and that he was a member of the single narcotics conspiracy alleged in the indictment.
Cangialosi contends that the record contains insufficient evidence to support the conclusion that he knowingly participated in the charged conspiracy. We do not agree.
The record supports the government's theory that Cangialosi's role in the conspiracy was to help plan for the importation of narcotics by facilitating communication between his boss, the Sicilian narcotics supplier Giuseppe Soresi, and the New York buyers, Mazzurco and Giuseppe and Salvatore Lamberti. According to the testimony of agents who observed the meetings, on March 15, 1984, Cangialosi arrived in the United States, and was met at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City by Mazzurco and Salvatore Lamberti. Over the next few days, Cangialosi met with Mazzurco, the Lambertis, and others. Two of these meetings occurred in parking lots at night.
The evidence discloses that, in addition to meeting with and presumably delivering messages to the New York buyers, Cangialosi attempted to arrange for the buyers to receive telephone calls from his boss in Sicily. On one occasion shortly after he arrived in the United States, Cangialosi was observed waiting by a public telephone on the side of a highway in Long Island, New York, with Mazzurco and Salvatore Lamberti. On another occasion, on the side of the same highway, Cangialosi spent approximately one-half hour near a public telephone with Giuseppe Lamberti. In intercepted telephone calls, Mazzurco discussed with the Lambertis the fact that "the engineer" had not called. On March 20, 1984, Soresi, apparently from Sicily, did place a call which came through a public telephone on the side of the highway in Long Island and he spoke to Mazzurco and Salvatore Lamberti. On the morning of the day Cangialosi went to Kennedy Airport to return to Sicily, a government agent saw Mazzurco in a car with Cangialosi. Mazzurco appeared to be writing down the numbers of public telephones on the side of the highway in Long Island. That afternoon, the agent who arrested Cangialosi at the airport seized from him a piece of paper with the numbers of various public telephones on it. Some of these telephones were located in the same area on the side of the highway where Mazzurco had appeared to copy numbers.
Two intercepted calls in particular support the conclusion that Cangialosi knowingly participated in the conspiracy. In the March 20 call, Salvatore Lamberti, speaking to Soresi on a public telephone in Long Island, said that "the one who came here will return. . . . He will come over there. And he will come to tell you the things with more preciseness." Cangialosi does not dispute that Soresi was in Sicily during this telephone call. The jury could reasonably have concluded, as the government argues, that Lamberti meant that Cangialosi would inform Soresi of the New York buyers' plans upon his return to Sicily. Two days before his arrest, Cangialosi, who was planning to return to Sicily, was asked by a person he identified as "Uncle Pino" whether he had "prepared the dirt for the tomatoes?" Cangialosi replied, "Almost." When asked "Will this thing be organized?", he answered, "Yes, yes." The jury could reasonably have concluded that Cangialosi was informing his relative that he was making arrangements for the New York buyers to receive shipments of narcotics from Sicily.
Cangialosi's meetings with Mazzurco, Salvatore Lamberti and others, especially in parking lots at night; his clear participation in their efforts to receive telephone calls from Soresi in Sicily; and both Salvatore Lamberti's reference to and his own oblique acknowledgment of his role as a go-between rationally support the conclusion that Cangialosi knowingly participated in the charged conspiracy.
Casamento contends that the record contains insufficient evidence to support the conclusion that he participated in the charged conspiracy. In our view, ample evidence supports the conclusion that, as a member of the conspiracy, Casamento purchased narcotics from defendant Giuseppe Ganci.
To begin with, the record clearly demonstrates that Ganci was a narcotics dealer. (See infra Points VIII, XVI.) Indeed, Casamento concedes that Ganci supplied heroin to defendant Benito Zito. Intercepted telephone messages reveal that, during the course of a six-month period in 1983, Casamento communicated with Ganci through brief, apparently coded messages using the same phrases Ganci used in other drug-related conversations, and, according to the testimony of agents, he was observed meeting with Ganci several times -- in Ganci's car, in a park, in a store -- for meetings which lasted up to twenty minutes. Given Ganci's role as a narcotics supplier, and the suspicious nature of Casamento's dealings with him, there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could reasonably conclude that Casamento engaged in narcotics transactions with Ganci.
A review of the evidence regarding one particular series of calls and meetings illustrates the range of evidence presented against Casamento. On August 6, 1983, Casamento called Ganci at home in Queens, New York, and asked him if they could meet the next day for five minutes. Ganci replied that "if you need, even now." Casamento said he did not want to meet just then and they arranged to meet the next day. The next morning, Ganci was observed meeting Casamento at a store in Brooklyn, New York. After about twenty minutes in the store, Ganci and Casamento left, carrying boxes. They put the boxes in Ganci's car. Ganci then drove away alone.
Shortly after noon, Ganci called Mazzurco, his associate in narcotics dealing (see infra Point VIII), and told him that he needed "three of those checks." Later that afternoon, Mazzurco met Ganci and handed him a bag. After receiving the bag from Mazzurco, Ganci was observed driving home with it and carrying it into his house.
That night, shortly after ten o'clock, Casamento called Ganci's home and told Ganci's wife that he was coming over. A few minutes after eleven o'clock, Casamento arrived near Ganci's house. Casamento was observed looking around in every direction as he walked from his car to Ganci's house. Less than four minutes after entering Ganci's house, Casamento left. After leaving Ganci's house, according to the testimony of an agent who followed him, Casamento appeared to detect that he was being followed and began to drive in an evasive manner.
This series of events allows the reasonable inference to be drawn that Casamento purchased narcotics from Ganci, a dealer in narcotics. Clearly, the conclusion reasonably could be drawn that Casamento called Ganci to obtain a certain item and his short stay in Ganci's house suggests that he visited Ganci just to obtain it. The hour of his visit, the manner in which Casamento entered Ganci's house, and his evasive driving thereafter, in context, allow for inferences that illegal behavior occurred. The jury reasonably could infer, as the government argues, that the boxes Ganci received when he met Casamento at the store contained cash as payment for the item Ganci would later give Casamento. Similarly, it reasonably could be inferred by the jury that the bag Mazzurco delivered to Ganci contained narcotics. We conclude that the jury acted reasonably in finding Casamento to have been a member of the narcotics conspiracy.
Castronovo was convicted on count one (conspiracy), count ten (continuing criminal enterprise), counts twelve, fourteen and fifteen (money laundering), and count sixteen (racketeering). On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence against him only with regard to count ten. Castronovo claims that the government presented insufficient evidence to prove that, in the course of committing a series of narcotics violations, he organized, supervised or managed at least five individuals, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848. We agree with Castronovo and therefore reverse his conviction on count ten.
The jury in its special verdicts found that Castronovo supervised six individuals: Salvatore Amendolito, Philip Matassa, and Antonino Rotolo, and defendants Olivero Tognoli, Salvatore Miniati and Adriano Corti. We conclude that insufficient evidence exists to demonstrate that Castronovo supervised Tognoli and Miniati, thus leaving only four who could have been supervised or managed.
Castronovo, who owned a restaurant in New Jersey, does not dispute that he participated in the conspiracy's money laundering scheme. Moreover, he concedes that Tognoli, a wealthy Italian industrialist, and Miniati, Tognoli's agent, were also participants in the scheme. In June 1980, Miniati, acting on behalf of Tognoli, hired Amendolito, an Italian who was resident in the United States, to transfer money from New York to Switzerland. Miniati instructed Amendolito to meet with Castronovo. Amendolito met with Castronovo, and thereafter Amendolito began a series of visits to Castronovo in New Jersey, during which Amendolito received large amounts of cash from Castronovo. Castronovo does not dispute that this money eventually was sent to Tognoli in Switzerland.
While the evidence demonstrates that Castronovo and Tognoli were part of the same conspiracy, the government points to no evidence which indicates that Castronovo was Tognoli's superior in the conspiracy's hierarchy. Nowhere, for example, does the record show that Castronovo ever gave Tognoli orders or even that Castronovo gave orders to someone who in turn managed Tognoli's activities. Cf. United States v. Cruz, 785 F.2d 399, 407 (2d Cir. 1986); United States v. Mannino, 635 F.2d 110, 116-17 (2d Cir. 1980).
To support its claim that Castronovo managed Tognoli, the government argues that "it was Castronovo who communicated the need for a pick-up" of accumulated cash to European members of the money laundering scheme. Castronovo's communicating the need for a pick-up of cash does not indicate that he was directing the activities of others; it merely shows that he was carrying out the role of a communicator in the conspiracy.
Several pieces of evidence suggest that Tognoli was at least Castronovo's equal in the conspiracy's hierarchy. First, on one occasion, when Tognoli and Matassa visited Castronovo's restaurant, Matassa testified that he heard Tognoli "raise his voice in agitation" while speaking to Castronovo. This incident suggests that Tognoli was not Castronovo's subordinate, since subordinates usually do not raise their voices in agitation while conversing with a superior.
On another occasion, Amendolito travelled to Montreal to meet with Tognoli, upon Tognoli's request. Amendolito testified that Tognoli "recommended" that Amendolito not inform Castronovo about the meeting. At LaGuardia Airport in New York City, Amendolito ran into Castronovo, who was also travelling to meet Tognoli. Amendolito testified that both he and Castronovo were embarrassed upon seeing each other, since they were each unaware that the other was flying to Montreal to meet Tognoli. Like the meeting at Castronovo's restaurant, this incident suggests that Tognoli was not Castronovo's subordinate. It seems to us that, assessing this evidence, the reasonable inference to be drawn was that if Castronovo were in charge he would have been informed by Tognoli that Amendolito was attending the Montreal meeting. Further, Amendolito testified that Castronovo "was just a delivery man." This remark further undermines the government's claim that Castronovo had a management role in the conspiracy.
In sum, we conclude that the record evidence is insufficient to establish that Castronovo supervised, organized, or managed the activities of Tognoli.
The government presents no evidence to show that Castronovo ever had any direct interactions with Miniati. Its argument that Castronovo supervised Miniati hinges on Miniati's role as Tognoli's agent. Since we have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to establish that Castronovo supervised Tognoli, we conclude that Miniati's role as Tognoli's agent does not suffice to establish that Miniati was supervised by Castronovo.
We conclude that the record contains insufficient evidence to show that Castronovo supervised two of the six individuals the jury found Castronovo to have supervised. Therefore, since the record lacks sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that Castronovo supervised the requisite five persons, we reverse Castronovo's conviction on the continuing criminal enterprise count.
The jury convicted Salvatore Greco on counts one (conspiracy), twelve and fourteen (money laundering), and sixteen (racketeering). On appeal, Greco challenges the sufficiency of the evidence only with regard to the money laundering and racketeering convictions. We find Greco's challenge to be without merit.
1. Money Laundering Counts
There is substantial record evidence from which the jury could rationally conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Greco participated in the money laundering operation. Greco concedes "that there is good evidence" that defendants Filippo Salamone, Gaetano Mazzara and appellant Frank Castronovo were involved in money laundering, and that he associated with these three men. In March 1983, Filippo Salamone was responsible for shipping hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to Switzerland. (See infra Point II(J).) The evidence suggests that by mid-June 1983, Filippo Salamone had sold his house and departed from the United States. An intercepted call to Salamone's former house after he departed reveals that Greco was occupying the house. Moreover, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, we believe it would have been reasonable for the jury to conclude that Greco was aware of Salamone's apparent departure. The government argues that Greco assumed Salamone's money laundering duties after Salamone's departure. Greco's presence in Salamone's former house, his knowledge of Salamone's departure, and Greco's subsequent activities, discussed below, support the government's contention.
A government agent testified that, on July 5, 1983, he saw Greco place two boxes in his car and drive to Castronovo's residence in New Jersey. On the morning of July 7, 1983, Ganci, the narcotics distributor (see infra Points II(D), VIII, XVI), was observed delivering two packages to Mazzara. Late that night, Mazzara met Greco in New Jersey. Greco was then observed driving to Brooklyn, where, upon meeting an unidentified individual, he took a box out of his car. Given Greco's concession that there exists "good evidence" of Mazzara's and Castronovo's participation in money laundering, and considering this in conjunction with the evidence recited below, we believe the jury could reasonably have concluded that on July 5 and 7 Greco, as part of the money laundering operation, delivered cash to Castronovo and an unidentified participant on those respective dates.
Another meeting which the jury could reasonably have concluded involved a delivery of cash by Greco occurred on August 24, 1983. Testimony based on surveillance revealed that on that day Greco travelled from New Jersey to New York and delivered a package to the pizzeria of defendant Rosario Dispenza in lower Manhattan. Before entering the pizzeria with the package, Greco looked up and down the street, and waited for a short time. A subsequent search of Dispenza's residence in Queens, New York, produced approximately $398,000 in cash. Dispenza also had a menu from Greco's pizzeria in his house, with the pizzeria's address and telephone number on it. On April 9, 1984, when he was questioned by a government agent, Greco denied ever having taken a package to Dispenza's pizzeria.
Further evidence to support Greco's money laundering activity was discovered on April 9, 1984, when government agents searched his home and car. The search revealed that in his kitchen Greco had empty money wrappers, which in total were designed to contain approximately $169,800. Greco also had $13,000 in cash in his car. A search of Greco's pizzeria that same day revealed a loaded Uzi rifle, a silencer compatible with the rifle, a loaded semi-automatic pistol, a Luger pistol and several magazines of ammunition.
We conclude that, when viewed in the light most favorable to the government, Greco's close association with Mazzara, Castronovo, and especially Filippo Salamone; evidence that he placed two packages in his car and drove to Castronovo's residence; his delivery of a package to Dispenza's pizzeria; his apparent delivery of a package to an unidentified individual; and the evidence of money, money wrappers, and guns in his home, considered together, provide sufficient evidence to rationally support his convictions on the money laundering counts.
In attacking his RICO conviction, Greco claims that the government presented insufficient evidence to prove that he committed two racketeering acts. See H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 109 S. Ct. 2893, 2899, 106 L. Ed. 2d 195 (1989) (in a RICO prosecution, government must prove defendant committed at least two predicate acts); United States v. Benevento, 836 F.2d 60, 72 (2d Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1043, 108 S. Ct. 2035, 100 L. Ed. 2d 620 (1988). Greco does not dispute that his participation in the narcotics conspiracy properly served as one racketeering act. See id. Rather, he argues that the government presented insufficient evidence to establish that, as a second racketeering act, he violated 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a). In the indictment, it is alleged that Greco's delivery on August 24, 1983, of a package to Dispenza's pizzeria constituted a violation of § 1952. Greco argues that the government failed to prove that this delivery constituted such a violation.
Section 1952(a)(3) prohibits an individual from travelling in interstate commerce with the intent to "promote" an "unlawful activity" and thereafter performing an act which promotes such an activity. Here, we conclude that the jury could reasonably have inferred that Greco's trip from New Jersey to New York on August 24, 1983 to make a delivery to Dispenza's pizzeria was part of the enterprise's money laundering operation. We base this conclusion on the evidence demonstrating Greco's role in the money laundering enterprise, discussed above; the cautious way in which Greco behaved before entering the pizzeria; the huge amount of cash found in Dispenza's home; and Greco's denial that he delivered the above-described package, which an agent testified he saw him deliver. Since sufficient evidence was presented from which a jury could reasonably conclude that the interstate delivery occurred and that it was part of the money laundering operation, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that Greco travelled to Dispenza's pizzeria with the intent to promote the narcotics enterprise and that he thereafter did promote it by delivering the package. Having determined that the evidence provides a sufficient basis for the jury to rationally conclude that Greco committed two racketeering acts, we find his challenge to the RICO conviction to be without merit.
The record contains sufficient evidence to support Ligammari's convictions on counts one (conspiracy) and sixteen (racketeering). The government alleges that, as a member of the conspiracy, Ligammari agreed to help fund the narcotics purchases of the New York group, a group which included Mazzurco, Ganci, and Giuseppe Lamberti. (See supra Points II(B), II(C), II(D), infra Points VIII, XVI). Two series of events in particular support a finding that Ligammari did join the conspiracy.
Intercepted telephone conversations disclose that, on February 13, 1984, Alfano, who sold imported narcotics to the New York group for Badalamenti (see supra Point II(B), infra Points II(H), II(L)), made airline reservations to fly from Chicago to New York the next morning. That night, Alfano told Mazzurco he would be arriving the next day and that Mazzurco should "[put] together some of those. . . ." In the circumstances herein, the jury could reasonably have inferred that Alfano was requesting that Mazzurco gather money to pay for a narcotics shipment. Early on the morning of February 14, Giuseppe Lamberti called Ligammari, spoke of "that guy who is going to bring the plant," and asked Ligammari to meet that morning with certain unnamed persons. Less than two hours later, Ligammari, according to the testimony of an agent, met with Mazzurco, Ganci, Catalano and Giuseppe Lamberti in New York City. The jury could reasonably have inferred that the participants at this meeting met to discuss paying Alfano.
The second series of events began on February 23, 1984. On that day, in a coded telephone conversation between Mazzurco and Alfano about how much money would be paid to Alfano for delivered items, Mazzurco said "let me talk to those guys." That night, Mazzurco met with Ganci, Catalano and Ligammari at Ganci's house. Just past midnight, Mazzurco called Alfano and told him that he would receive some payment now but that Mazzurco did not know when more payments would be made. Mazzurco said: "If they're taking their time, what can I tell you?" The jury could reasonably have inferred that Mazzurco was referring to Ligammari and the others. Alfano urged Mazzurco to "[give] them a little push," and added that "[these] people shouldn't be doing this," to which Mazzurco replied, "Pietro, I'm just telling you, I'm reporting to you what they told me." Intercepted calls reveal that, the very next day, on February 24, Mazzurco spoke to Ligammari's son and told him to tell his father that "those people want 10." The son responded: "I don't think he'll be too happy about it." Mazzurco replied: "I know he wasn't too happy last night." The jury could reasonably have inferred that Mazzurco was referring to the meeting at Ganci's house.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the government, the meetings and telephone calls of February 13-14 and February 23-24 provide sufficient evidence to rationally support the jury's conclusion that Ligammari was guilty of counts one and sixteen.
The record contains sufficient evidence to support Palazzolo's convictions on counts one (conspiracy) and sixteen (racketeering). The jury could reasonably have relied upon evidence of two incidents to conclude that he knowingly participated in the narcotics conspiracy by acting as an assistant to Alfano, who was one of Badalamenti's representatives in the United States. (See supra Point II(B).)
First, on September 26, 1983, Palazzolo, along with Alfano and two other alleged subordinates of Badalamenti -- defendants Vincenzo Randazzo and Faro Lupo -- was observed meeting with Mazzurco in a restaurant in Queens, New York. Given Mazzurco's role as a buyer of narcotics (see supra Point II(B), infra Point VIII), the jury could reasonably have inferred that the meeting concerned narcotics trafficking. Further, the jury could reasonably have concluded from evidence concerning the rental car used that, after the meeting, Palazzolo drove with Alfano back to the Midwest.
The second incident was Alfano's delivery to Mazzurco on February 4, 1984. (See supra Point II(B).) The evidence suggests that Palazzolo drove with Alfano from Ohio to Queens, New York, to make the delivery. After the delivery, in a February 7 telephone call to Palazzolo's pizzeria in Wisconsin, Badalamenti spoke to Alfano in code about the delivery. Just over an hour later, Alfano's wife called the pizzeria, and the jury could reasonably have found from Palazzolo's coded discussion with her that he was well aware of the content and significance of the Badalamenti-Alfano conversation.
One further bit of evidence against Palazzolo was the unloaded gun which he concedes he kept in his house. Though there is no claim that possession of this gun was illegal, it may nonetheless be considered probative of Palazzolo's involvement in the narcotics conspiracy, if the jury chose to so view it. See United States v. Mourad, 729 F.2d 195, 201 (2d Cir.) (gun found in defendant's home is probative of narcotics conspiracy), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 855, 83 L. Ed. 2d 114, 105 S. Ct. 180 (1984).
Polizzi argues that the record contains insufficient evidence to support his convictions on counts one (conspiracy) and sixteen (racketeering). We do not agree. As to count one, surveillance evidence and taped telephone conversations provide a rational basis from which a fact-finder could conclude that Polizzi was a member of the narcotics conspiracy, who helped Ganci arrange to receive narcotics-related telephone calls from Sicily, and who provided funds to help Ganci and Mazzurco purchase narcotics. (See infra Point XVI.)
In attacking his RICO conviction, Polizzi argues that the government failed to establish that he committed two racketeering acts. This argument lacks merit. Once the jury found Polizzi had participated in the narcotics conspiracy charged, it could properly find that such participation served as one of the two predicate acts required for Polizzi's conviction on count sixteen. See United States v. Benevento, 836 F.2d 60, 72 (2d Cir. 1987) ("Conspiracies to violate the narcotics laws . . . are properly chargeable as predicate acts."), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1043, 108 S. Ct. 2035, 100 L. Ed. 2d 620 (1988). The second predicate act commenced with a telephone call between Ganci and Polizzi on March 13, 1983, in which Ganci reported to Polizzi that he (Ganci) was going to receive a call from a public telephone near Polizzi's home. Since Polizzi was involved in arranging these overseas narcotics-related calls, his speaking on the telephone with Ganci about the arrangements for such a call constitutes use of a facility in interstate commerce with the intent to facilitate the carrying on of an unlawful activity. Polizzi met Ganci at a public telephone in New Jersey at least once after March 13, 1983, to wit, on April 28, 1983. (See infra Point XVI.) This meeting with Ganci allowed the jury to reasonably conclude that Polizzi, after March 13, committed a further act to facilitate the conspiracy. Polizzi's March 13 use of the telephone and his meeting with Ganci thereafter could be found to constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a)(3). Thus, a trier of fact could reasonably have found that Polizzi committed two predicate acts, as 18 U.S.C. § 1962 requires, hence, we conclude that Polizzi's conviction on count sixteen is sufficiently supported by record evidence and must be sustained.
Appellant Salamone, who was acquitted on counts one and sixteen, claims that the record contains insufficient evidence to support his convictions on count twelve (conspiring to transport money out of the United States without filing required currency reports), count thirteen (the making of false statements to the Internal Revenue Service with regard to various cash deposits or aiding and abetting same), and count fourteen (the failure to file required currency reports or aiding and abetting same). The evidence, discussed below, indicates that Salamone assisted in the operation of the money laundering scheme, the existence of which he does not dispute. We conclude that the evidence was sufficient to permit a jury to rationally conclude that Salamone conspired to violate, and aided and abetted the violation of, the various currency reporting statutes on which counts twelve, thirteen and fourteen are based.
Salamone's main involvement in the money laundering operation was to change small denominations of cash to larger denominations, a task carried out at his request by two waitresses in his pizzeria and by a sales representative of a pizza supply company with whom Salamone had contact; each of these persons so testified. Salamone's orders to the waitresses not to change over $10,000 in any one bank so as to avoid having to sign any documents and to leave the bank if questioned about the purpose of their visit provided a sufficient basis for the jury to reasonably conclude that Salamone knew he was involved in an illegal activity.
The evidence reveals that Salamone's money changing activities occurred in the summer and fall of 1982 and were part of a broader money laundering operation; this is made evident by Salamone's contact with his brother, defendant Filippo Salamone ("Filippo"). The jury could reasonably have found that Filippo was a major participant in the money laundering operation; the record indicates that in March 1983 Filippo sent $400,000 in cash to Switzerland, to defendant Franco Della Torre, whom Salamone describes as "the kingpin in all the financial transactions involved in the heroin scheme." The sales representative who changed money for him testified that, at one point, Salamone told him that he (the representative) could give the large bills he received from the bank to Filippo if Salamone was not at the pizzeria. Indeed, at one point Filippo himself asked the sales representative when he (the representative) would be changing money. The jury could reasonably infer from Salamone's willingness to have the cash go to Filippo and Filippo's own questioning of the sales representative that Filippo was an interested party to the cash exchanging activity.
On another occasion, according to one of the waitress witnesses, during the summer of 1982, Filippo joined Salamone and four visitors from Switzerland for dinner at the pizzeria. The record evidence also shows that Salamone travelled to Switzerland, and that he met with Filippo while there.
Salamone's money exchanging activities, and his connections with Filippo and with people from Switzerland provide sufficient evidence from which a fact-finder could reasonably conclude that Salamone assisted in the money laundering operation charged, i.e., knew of the scheme and participated therein. We find there is sufficient evidence to support his convictions.
Trupiano contends that the record contains insufficient evidence to support the conclusion that he was a member of the narcotics ring. We agree and therefore reverse his convictions on counts one (conspiracy) and sixteen (racketeering).
In support of Trupiano's convictions, the government argues that he was aware of and participated in the conspiracy. Pointedly, the government identifies an intercepted telephone conversation in which Alfano asked Trupiano whether he would "like to take a walk?" Viewed in the light most favorable to the government, Alfano appears to have been asking Trupiano whether he would act as a drug courier. In response to Alfano's request, Trupiano implied that he might go on the requested trip for Alfano if, in Trupiano's words, Alfano could send his "daughter or someone to stay here with my wife." At the end of the conversation, however, Trupiano told Alfano that he would not go on the trip. Finally, the government points to the fact that when he was arrested Trupiano had an unloaded gun in his possession.
Even viewed in the light most favorable to the government, we conclude that the evidence was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Trupiano was a member of the conspiracy. An individual is not a conspirator merely because he is aware of a conspiracy and associates with its members. See United States v. Nusraty, 867 F.2d 759, 763 (2d Cir. 1989); United States v. Young, 745 F.2d 733, 764 (2d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1084, 85 L. Ed. 2d 142, 105 S. Ct. 1842 (1985); United States v. Garcia-Duarte, 718 F.2d 42, 46 (2d Cir. 1983). To be a conspirator, an individual must agree to participate in the conspiracy. United States v. Delvecchio, 816 F.2d 859, 864 (2d Cir. 1987); United States v. Cepeda, 768 F.2d 1515, 1516 (2d Cir. 1985). Here, the record contains insufficient evidence that Trupiano agreed to participate in the charged conspiracy. While, during his intercepted conversation with Alfano, Trupiano implied that he might agree to act as a courier if Alfano met his conditions, he ultimately told Alfano that he would not agree to go on the "walk." Moreover, the fact that Trupiano possessed an unloaded gun when arrested, without more, does not prove that he was a conspirator. See Young, 745 F.2d at 764 (evidence against defendant insufficient on narcotics conspiracy charge despite fact that an M-16 rifle was found concealed in her apartment).
Since the record contains insufficient evidence that Trupiano agreed to join the conspiracy, his conviction on count one must be reversed. Trupiano's conviction on count sixteen must also fall, since, as the discussion above indicates, there is insufficient evidence to support the conclusion that Trupiano participated in the drug trafficking enterprise charged.
Vitale claims that the record contains insufficient evidence to support his convictions on counts one (conspiracy) and sixteen (racketeering). Specifically, he argues that the record contains insufficient evidence to show (1) that telephone conversations he had with defendant Pietro Alfano concerned narcotics; (2) that he knowingly agreed to participate in the narcotics conspiracy; (3) that he participated in the conspiracy charged; and (4) if he did agree to facilitate a narcotics transaction, that he had sufficient knowledge of the overall conspiracy to be considered a member of it.
The record concerning Vitale includes the following evidence. During the morning of March 8, 1984, Alfano called Vitale and asked him, "Are you going to take a walk?" When Vitale asked where, Alfano said, "Where we had gone that time. . . . From there to the big city." Vitale asked, "Where we went on the last trip?" and Alfano answered "Yes." In discussing the trip Alfano seemed to be proposing, the two discussed the possibility of Vitale flying. Alfano stated that if Vitale drove, the trip would take two days. The conversation ended with Alfano telling Vitale to think about taking the trip.
About forty minutes later, Vitale called Alfano and said, "Tell me what I should do. I'm ready to do whatever you say." Later in the conversation he said, "When should I leave?" Alfano told him, "As soon as I call, you leave." " Okay," Vitale responded. The next day in another telephone conversation, Alfano said to Vitale, "This thing has just come up . . . they were supposed to go. Remember those guys from last time?" Vitale responded, " Yeah."
The government argues that in calling Vitale on March 8, Alfano was seeking to enlist his services as a courier to carry cocaine from Florida to New York. The evidence strongly supports the government's contention that the telephone conversations concerned narcotics and a fact-finder could rationally so find. Vitale concedes that Alfano participated in the narcotics conspiracy charged, and the record contains sufficient evidence to establish that Badalamenti imported narcotics into the United States. (See supra Point II(B).) On February 8, 1984, according to intercepted telephone calls, Badalamenti told Mazzurco to expect a shipment of "parcels" to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Then, on February 28, Badalamenti told Alfano that more than one driver would be needed. From this evidence, it was reasonable for the jury to infer that the trip Alfano proposed to Vitale was one to pick up a narcotics shipment; also, the coded nature of the telephone conversations in the overall context of this case supports the inference that the conversations concerned illegal activity involving narcotics.
From the conversations themselves, it is clearly inferable that Vitale knew the purpose of the trip Alfano was proposing and that he agreed to go on the trip. Vitale's reference to a prior trip, his memory of "those guys from last time," and his failure to ask about the purpose of the proposed trip while discussing the prospect of taking it, all strongly suggest that Vitale knew what Alfano wanted him to do and a jury could rationally so find. Moreover, Vitale's saying "I'm ready to do whatever you say," and his asking when he should leave could sufficiently establish that he agreed to perform the service Alfano requested. Once Vitale agreed to take the trip he became a member of the conspiracy. That Vitale may never have taken the trip has no bearing on whether he joined the conspiracy charged. See United States v. Delvecchio, 816 F.2d 859, 864 (2d Cir. 1987) ("no overt act need be alleged or proven as a necessary element of conspiracy under 21 U.S.C. § 846.").
Finally, we reject Vitale's argument that he had insufficient knowledge of the conspiracy to be considered a part of it. To become part of a conspiracy, a defendant need not know every aspect of it, but need only know that a common unlawful endeavor exists. United States v. Nusraty, 867 F.2d 759, 763 (2d Cir. 1989). Here, viewed in the light most favorable to the government, the evidence may reasonably be construed as establishing that Vitale knew he was being asked to act as a courier. As a go-between, a courier must know that he is acting in the service of a common endeavor between at least two parties. Vitale's reference to an earlier trip and his memory of "those guys from last time" suggest that he knew he was not involved in an isolated transaction. The evidence was sufficient for a rational fact-finder to conclude that Vitale had knowledge of a common unlawful endeavor, and that he became a co-conspirator when he called Alfano and agreed to take the trip Alfano proposed.
III. Statements by Carlo Castronovo
Castronovo argues that the district court erred in admitting certain statements. We conclude that the court did not err.
At trial, Salvatore Contorno, a witness for the government, testified about certain statements that he claimed had been made to him by one Carlo Castronovo ("Carlo"). Contorno testified that Carlo told him that (1) he (Carlo) was dealing in drugs with a cousin in the United States named Ciccio Castronovo and (2) that Ciccio Castronovo used pizza restaurants as a front for his drug trafficking. According to Contorno, Carlo invited Contorno to participate in the drug business. According to an interpreter who translated at the trial, "Ciccio" is a diminutive of "Francesco." Appellant Frank (Francesco) Castronovo makes no argument that the reference to Ciccio Castronovo was not a reference to himself.
The trial judge ruled that Carlo's first statement, regarding his claimed drug dealing with Castronovo, was admissible as a statement against penal interest under Fed.R.Evid. 804(b)(3) and that Carlo's second statement, regarding Castronovo's alleged use of pizzerias as fronts, was ...