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United States of America v. Robert C. Cordaro

July 31, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROBERT C. CORDARO
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant Robert C. Cordaro's Motion for Bail Pending Appeal. (Doc. 290.) In Mr. Cordaro's pro se motion for bail pending appeal, he argues that release from prison is necessary in this case in order to allow him to properly assist his counsel in preparing his appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Thereafter, Mr. Cordaro's counsel filed a brief in support of the pro se motion arguing that bail pending appeal is justified because of prosecutorial misconduct that occurred at trial. The Government opposes Mr. Cordaro's request for release from prison during the pendency of his appeal to the Third Circuit. Because Mr. Cordaro has failed to make the necessary showing to warrant bail pending appeal, his motion will be denied.

I. Background

In June 2011, a jury convicted Mr. Cordaro of conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery (two counts), conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, extortion (two counts), conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering (three counts), racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, subscribing and filing materially false tax returns (three counts), and tax evasion (two counts). On January 30, 2012, Mr. Cordaro was sentenced to an eleven (11) year term of imprisonment. At the time of sentencing, Mr. Cordaro requested voluntary surrender, but the Court denied his request and ordered Mr. Cordaro's immediate surrender.

On July 5, 2012, Mr. Cordaro filed a pro se motion requesting his release pending appeal due to communication problems with his counsel that prevent him from contributing to the preparation of his appeal to the Third Circuit. The next day, Mr. Cordaro's counsel filed a brief in support of the pro se motion. The brief, however, does not identify any communication problems between Mr. Cordaro and his counsel based on Defendant's incarceration. Instead, his counsel asserts that bail pending appeal is mandated in this case because the prosecution improperly asked Mr. Cordaro on cross-examination if the Government's witnesses were lying.

The events complained of by Mr. Cordaro occurred once he took the stand at trial in his own defense. After Mr. Cordaro's counsel asked him a few introductory questions, the following exchange occurred:

Question: Mr. Cordaro, are you willing and prepared to answer any and all questions the government may have regarding any witness, any document, or any allegation made in this courtroom?

Answer: I am not sure how prepared I am. I am certainly willing. I am here.

Counsel: You may cross-examine. (Trial Tr., June 16, 2011, 34:9-13.) Thereafter, the prosecution questioned Mr. Cordaro about testimony that had previously been given at trial. For example, Mr. Cordaro was asked if heard the testimony from Michael Pasonik that he gave Mr. Cordaro one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) in cash on two separate occasions. (Id. at 45:14-15.) After Mr. Cordaro responded that "Mr. Pasonik never gave me anything," (Id. at 46:17), the prosecutor asked if "Mr. Pasonik lied about that." (Id. at 46:23.)

Next, Defendant was asked if he heard the testimony from Al Hughes that Mr. Cordaro "demanded $15,000.00 a month from Acker and P.J. McLaine for them to keep their contracts." (Id. at 49:16-17.) Mr. Cordaro denied making such a demand. (Id. at 49:22-50:6.) The prosecutor then asked if "your testimony is Mr. Hughes lied?" (Id. at 50:13.)

The next witness Mr. Cordaro was questioned about was Donald Kalina and his claim that he gave Mr. Cordaro thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.00) at Highland Associates. (Id. 50:21.) After Mr. Cordaro denied receiving such a payment, the prosecutor asked if "(Mr. Kalina) lied?" (Id. at 51:1.) Mr. Cordaro also denied that he called Joseph Ferrario and asked for a cash payment "like the last time." (Id. at 54:6-7.) The prosecutor's next question to Mr. Cordaro was whether Mr. Ferrario was lying. (Id. at 54:9.)

Mr. Cordaro was then questioned about a confrontation between him and Special FBI Agent April Phillips. (Id. at 54:21-55:1.) Mr. Cordaro was asked if Agent Phillips' testimony was "incorrect" and if "she lied." (Id. at 55:1-5.) Moreover, when Mr. Cordaro was asked about an entry fee to a golf tournament paid by Marc Boriosi, Mr. Cordaro testified that he was "not going to believe Mr. Boriosi." (Id. at 68:18-25.) Thereafter, the prosecutor asked if Mr. Boriosi was lying. (Id. at 69:1.)

Mr. Cordaro was also asked if he delivered a box with fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) to Shawn Tuffy. (Id. at 80:25-81:1.) Mr. Cordaro testified that the box was delivered per Mr. Tuffy's demand. (Id. at 81:2.) Mr. Cordaro was then asked if he heard testimony from Mr. Tuffy stating that it was not his demand, and the prosecutor asked if Mr. Tuffy's testimony was a lie. (Id. at 81:3-17.)

Mr. Cordaro was also questioned regarding the veracity of James Finan. Specifically, Mr. Cordaro was asked "if Mr. Finan testified here in this trial that you were the one who told him to get rid of Kimball and hire Highland, he would be lying too?" (Id. at 123:3-5.) The prosecutor proceeded to ask Mr. Cordaro about whether his brother solicited John Heim for a contribution to "bet on the winning horse after the race is over." (Id. at 137:18-19.) Mr. Cordaro testified that such a statement was "so far off anything [his brother] would possibly say." (Id. at 137:22-23.) The prosecutor's follow-up question to Mr. Cordaro was if Mr. Heim was also lying. (Id. at 138:13.)

The prosecutor also questioned Mr. Cordaro about a telephone conversation he had with Thomas Dubas. (Id. at 170:10-20.) Specifically, Mr. Cordaro was asked if Mr. Dubas told him "he was wasn't going down for you." (Id. at 171:11-12.) After Mr. Cordaro recounted a different version of events from which Mr. Dubas provided, ...


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