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UNITED STATES AMERICA v. GAMBINO (04/18/86)

April 18, 1986

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
GAMBINO, ROSARIO, ERASMO GAMBINO, ANTONIO GAMBINO, AND ANTHONY SPATOLA, APPELLANTS



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Crim. No. 84-00098-01); (D.C. Crim. No. 84-00098-02); (D.C. Crim. No. 84-00098-05); (D.C. Crim. No. 84-00098-04).

Author: Higginbotham

Before: WEIS, HIGGINBOTHAM and BECKER, Circuit Judges.

Opinion OF THE COURT

A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM, JR., Circuit Judge.

Appellants*fn1 Rosario Gambino, Erasmo Gambino, Antonio Gambino and Anthony Spatola were indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple courts of narcotics related offenses. They were convicted inter alia of conspiring to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. Appellants now appeal from their judgments of conviction. Alernatively, appellants urge that their sentences be vacated and their cases remanded for resentencing. For the reasons set forth below, we will affirm the district court.

I.

Pursuant to a multi-count indictment, appellants Rosario Gambino, Erasmo Gambino, Antonio Gambino, and Anthony Spatola were convicted of conspiracy to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. Indicted along with appellants on the conspiracy charge and related offenses were Mario Gambino and Giovanni Bosco. At the conclusion of the trial, Mario Gambino was acquitted on all counts with which he was charged. Bosco remained a fugitive throughout the trial. Rosario Gambino, Erasmo Gambino, and Anthony Spatola were convicted on two counts of possession of heroin and two counts of distribution of heroin in contravention of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). Antonio Gambino was convicted on three counts of those offenses. The remaining counts contained charges of using the telephone to facilitate a conspiracy to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 843(b) and (c). Rosario Gambino was convicted on one count of this offense; Erasmo Gambino, on two counts; Antonio Gambino, on three counts; and Anthony Spatola, on six counts.

Subsequent to the jury verdict, the district court imposed the following sentences on the defendants:

Rosario Gambino - three consecutive fifteen-year prisons terms; one concurrent four-year term; terms of Special Parole, and total fines of $105,000.

Erasmo Gambino - two consecutive fifteen-year prison terms; one concurrent fifteen-year prison term; two concurrent four-year terms; terms of Special Parole, and total fines of $95,000.

Antonio Gambino - two consecutive fifteen-year prison terms; two concurrent fifteen-year prison terms; three four-year prison terms concurrent with each other and consecutive to the fifteen-year prison terms; terms of Special Parole, and total fines of $50,000.

Anthony Spatola - two consecutive fifteen-year prison terms; one concurrent fifteen-year prison term; six four-year prison terms concurrent with each other and consecutive with the fifteen-year prison terms; Special Parole, and total fines of $50,000.

Three primary questions are presented on this appeal from the district court's entry of judgments of conviction against the appellants for conspiracy to distribute heroin and against each of them individually for various related substantive offenses: (1) whether the evidence adduced at trial established the impermissible entrapment of appellant Antonio Gambino as a matter of law; (2) whether the district court abused its discretion pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 23(b) by allowing deliberations to proceed with an eleven person jury despite the availability of an alternate juror, or alternatively, whether the district court committed legal error in interpreting Rule 23(b) as precluding substitution of alternate jurors; and (3) whether appellant Rosario Gambino's sixth amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated because his trial lawyer's performance was adversely affected by a conflict of interest.*fn2

II.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Antonio Gambino

On October 23, 1983, during the course of an undercover operation investigating drug trafficking in the New Jersey area, Special Agent Michael Glass of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was introduced to Antonio Gambino by a government informant called "Hank." During the meeting, which was recorded by Agent Glass, Antonio Gambino agreed to sell Glass a small quantity of cocaine and also indicated that he had access to and could provide Glass with a sample of heroin. App. 1641a-1644a, 1654a-1656a. While Antonio never specifically disclosed the source of his drug supply, he intimated that his suppliers were members of his family. See App. 166a, 758a.

Following this meeting, Antonio met with Agent Glass on a number of occasions to sell cocaine and to continue discussions about the impending heroin deal. On December 27, 1983, shortly over two months after their initial meeting, Antonio Gambino supplied Agent Glass with a sample of heroin. Glass was in turn to deliver the sample to his contacts in Las Vegas who would then decide, based upon the quality of the sample, whether they wanted to purchase a kilogram. App. 781a-789a. Three days later, on December 30, 1983, Agent Glass telephoned Antonio and informed him that the sample was satisfactory and that he was interested in consummating their proposed heroin deal.

In another series of recorded conversations, Antonio Gambino, using code language, discussed the arrangements for the drug deal with various people. Thereafter, on January 18, 1984, Antonio Gambino, together with two of his co-conspirators, Anthony Spatola and Giovanni Bosco,*fn3 delivered approximately one half kilogram of heroin to Agent Glass and two other undercover agents. The transaction took place between Rooms 311 and 858 of Caesar's Boardwalk Regency Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was secretly videotaped by the FBI. On February 20, 1984, Antonio Gambino participated in the sale of a second half kilogram of heroin to Agent Glass and another undercover agent. Antonio Gambino's particular objection on appeal is that the evidence adduced at trial demonstrated entrapment as a matter of law.

Anthony Spatola

Immediately after Agent Glass authorized Antonio Gambino to negotiate the purchase of one kilogram of heroin, Anthony Spatola made a series of phone calls, which were intercepted by authorized wiretaps, attempting to contact Erasmo Gambino. Eventually a meeting between Erasmo Gambino and Anthony Spatola was arranged to discuss the proposed transaction. Spatola met with Erasmo at the Playboy Casino Hotel on January 3, 1984. On the following evening, Spatola was introduced to Agent Glass by Antonio Gambino in a meeting devoted to discussing the mechanics of the proposed heroin purchase. Agent Glass was required to wear a bathing suit and meet with Spatola in a jacuzzi at the Golden Eagle Motel in Cape May to assure that the meeting was not being recorded. App. 855a-857a. The heroin sale was scheduled for January 16 or 17.

On January 13, 1984, Agent Glass telephoned Antonio Gambino to advise him that all financial and personnel arrangements necessary for the completion of the heroin deal had been made. Glass suggested that the transaction occur on Tuesday, January 17, 1984. During this discussion, Antonio Gambino extensively used code language to refer to the heroin purchase, particularly employing references related to "marriage" and "cars," App. 241a-251a. Immediately thereafter, Antonio Gambino phoned Spatola and informed him that the sale would take place on Tuesday. App. 253a, 871a. Similar code language was used in this conversation and in a subsequent conversation between Spatola and Erasmo Gambino in which the two discussed the need to pick up the "finance", i.e., heroin, on Monday.

Prior to the sale, intercepted telephone conversations and observations of surveillance agents revealed that Spatola made numerous attempts to contact Rosario and Erasmo Gambino either to obtain approval of the pending negotiations or to obtain the heroin for the drug deal. Ultimately, Spatola was present for the actual heroin sales on both January 19, 1984 and February 20, 1984. Spatola's appeal focuses on the propriety of the eleven person jury verdict.

Erasmo Gambino

Following Erasmo Gambino's meeting with Spatola at the Playboy Casino Hotel, a series of intercepted phone calls involving Antonio Gambino and Spatola revealed their persistent efforts to again contact Erasmo apparently to enlist his assistance in obtaining the heroin for the impending deal. App. 264a-265a, 270a-274a. Three of those calls were placed to the Caffe Milano in Brooklyn, New York. App. 275a-276a, 284a, 286a. Finally, on January 17, 1984, Erasmo placed a collect call to Spatola and told him that there had been a delay and that the sale could not be completed until Thursday. App. 306a-307a. After further ...


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