BOSTON – The wife of a Cranston parts dealer, convicted of laundering millions of dollars for a Mexican drug cartel, and her brother have once again written off to challenge confiscation orders of $ 136 million dollars against them.
Last week, a three-judge panel from the 1st United States Court of Appeals hinted at a lower court finding that Donna Saccoccia, wife of coins dealer Stephen Saccoccia, and her brother, Vincent “Micky” Hurley, have played a vital role in the money laundering conspiracy. money for the drug lords.
Donna Saccoccia and Hurley had challenged the forfeiture rulings based on a 2017 US Supreme Court ruling involving an employee who worked at his brother’s hardware store when it was investigated federal government for excessive sales of a chemical used to make methamphetamines.
The High Court ruled in favor of the clerk, ruling that a conspirator cannot be held “jointly and severally liable” for proceeds acquired by another conspirator. As such, a conspirator does not have to give up profits he did not earn, the court said.
Saccoccia and Hurley had argued that the forfeiture judgments should be set aside as neither was responsible for the money laundering business that operated out of a coin store on Park Avenue in Cranston.
The appeal board rejected Donna Saccoccia’s arguments, upholding a finding by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith.
The appeals court found that Donna Saccoccia’s co-ownership in the account through which the damaged money was sufficient to demonstrate that she had obtained the funds for the purpose of forfeiture, even after this 2017 ruling. Co-conspirator liability only applies to defendants who did not actually own or control the money in question, the court said.
The appeals court, however, found that Smith erred in ruling that the forfeiture judgment against Hurley could be justified based on the verdict of a jury finding that all of the $ 136 million in conspiracy proceeds was attributable. to Hurley.
“Unlike Donna, Hurley did not have a stake in an account through which all of the conspiracy proceeds went, although he was deeply involved in the conspiracy as a lieutenant,” the court said.
But the panel, in the decision drafted by Judge Kermit V. Lipez, determined that Hurley had waived whether he should be entitled to a reduced forfeiture judgment by “failing to provide [the court] with no factual basis to support his argument that he did not obtain the corrupt funds, directly or indirectly.
The appeals court dismissed a similar challenge from Stephen Saccoccia last year.
In 1993, a jury convicted Saccoccia, once a math genius at Cranston High School West, for leading what prosecutors described as one of the nation’s largest money laundering operations on behalf of the Cali cartel. . He received the maximum sentence under the mandatory sentencing guidelines – 660 years. His wife, Donna Saccoccia, was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison. She was released in 2004.
The court imposed a confiscation judgment of $ 136.3 million that forced the Saccoccias to repay the full amount they had transferred to the drug lords. The judge gave the government the green light to seize “surrogate” assets up to that amount. Officers in 1997 located gold bars in the yard and basement of Saccoccia’s mother’s house.
Hurley was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his part. A jury also imposed a $ 136 million forfeiture judgment against him.
In October, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Mary M. Lisi denied Stephen Saccoccia’s compassionate release request from federal prison during the coronavirus pandemic. Saccoccia, 63, suffers from hypertension, hyperlipidemia and other conditions.
Lisi compared Saccoccia’s case to others in which redress was granted, stressing that he was motivated entirely by greed, showed no remorse and tried to obstruct criminal proceedings.
Saccoccia appealed Lisi’s refusal to the 1st circuit, arguing that the judge should have taken into account his potential for prostate cancer. He is represented by Shon Hopwood, appellate lawyer and professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.