Tags: Criminal law, Conspiracy
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This is a case in the United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit involving eleven appellants who were accused of being part of a conspiracy to distribute heroin from 1950 to 1959. The government argued that all appellants were part of a single conspiracy, but the court found that the case requires a more carefully defined submission to the jury. The convictions were reversed, and a new trial was ordered. The evidence must support each defendant's involvement in the conspiracy individually, and liability in conspiracy is limited to common purposes while the defendant remains in it. The case involves trial error, not misjoinder or failure of proof. The evidence was sufficient to show a single continuing conspiracy by several defendants. The Hyde v. United States case established strict requirements for proving withdrawal from a conspiracy, including affirmative action and communication of abandonment to co-conspirators. Each defendant can only be held for the part of the conspiracy they understood and assented to. The evidence did not support withdrawal for three of the defendants, but Tantillo's case was different due to his later statement and limited contact with the core. The evidence of Locascio's split with the Mogaveros in 1956 is enough to raise a jury issue on withdrawal, but it does not require acquittal as a matter of law.
The court dismissed claims for acquittal based on imprisonment and statute of limitations, but ordered a new trial due to threatening letters received by jurors and evidence rulings. The Government erred in not turning over certain material in its files relating to a witness, and the court addressed issues relating to Rinaldo's testimony and the government's handling of it. The lower court's decision is overturned, and a new trial is ordered for all defendants.
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