Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Evidence Sufficient To Support Drug Conspiracy Conviction

United States v. Gonzalez, No. 12-5075-cr (2d Cir. Dec. 20, 2013) (Pooler, Parker, and Wesley) (summary order), available here

Gonzalez was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. He argued on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt. But the Circuit affirmed, holding that the testimony of three witnesses reasonably established the defendant’s agreement with others to distribute cocaine base. An undercover officer testified that, on various occasions when he purchased crack from persons other than Gonzalez, the defendant played a significant role in approving the drug sales. Also, a cooperating witness testified that when she would order crack from Gonzalez someone else would deliver the drugs to her. Another witness testified that she saw Gonzalez assist in the preparation for cooking powder cocaine into crack, and in weighing the crack alongside a narcotics supplier on a scale Gonzalez had obtained. Viewed most favorably for the government, this evidence established the conspiracy. 
The evidence also established that the defendant knowingly engaged in the conspiracy with the specific intent to commit the offenses that were the object of the conspiracy. The evidence included the undercover officer’s testimony that Gonzalez approved of crack deals at certain prices and another witness’s testimony that the defendant at times sent a courier to deliver drugs.
Finally, there was sufficient evidence to establish an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. For example, there was testimony that Gonzalez sent someone to buy baking soda to cook the powder cocaine into crack, provided the scale to weigh the drugs, and participated in weighing them.
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