FBI Agent Testifies At Marijuana Sting Trial 

FBI Agent Testifies At Marijuana Sting Trial 
Posted by FoM on December 14, 1999 at 22:30:48 PT
By Christopher Mumma, Staff Writer
Source: Bergen Record
It was an unusual sight for a relatively minor drug trial: an FBI agent, accompanied by an attorney.But Special Agent Gabe Scala had important business in the Hackensack courtroom Monday, enough to command the presence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's top lawyer in Newark.
Taking the stand, Scala contradicted statements a New Jersey State Police trooper made about him in court last week -- specifically, that Scala had asked the police not to mention the FBI in reports about the arrest of Angel Guerrero.Who's lying?Guerrero's fate could hinge on the answer.The dispute dates to April 2, 1997, when state troopers arrested Guerrero, 46, on the New Jersey Turnpike in Ridgefield shortly after the New York man left the Vince Lombardi rest stop.In the trunk of Guerrero's car, authorities say, was a 45-pound cache of marijuana. Guerrero was charged with second-degree possession with intent to distribute the drug and third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance. The second-degree charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.Circumstances of the arrest are murky, however.Reports filed by the troopers who arrested Guerrero indicate that he was pulled over because he was following another car too closely.The reports also mention a confidential informant, but little more.Guerrero was scheduled to come to trial this week in Hackensack. Those plans were shelved Monday, however, after a week of hearings about the arrest in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Donald R. Venezia.Under questioning by defense attorney Miles Feinstein, the State Police officers involved in the arrest said the FBI forwarded information about Guerrero to them.Such a development is not unusual. Federal authorities frequently pass along information, especially when the arrest is of too small a scale to warrant their involvement. In this case, the FBI was investigating a larger drug ring when it received information about Guerrero, said Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Dispoto.What is unusual, however, is what happened next. The State Police officer in charge of the inquiry, Sgt. Roseann Manghisi, testified last week that Scala asked her to keep any mention of the FBI out of the investigation.The FBI was never mentioned in the reports, Dispoto said.But in court Monday, Feinstein said the FBI provided him with a surveillance report that says agents actually sold the marijuana to Guerrero in an apparent sting attempt.Scala appeared in court Monday to answer the allegations made by Manghisi. Accompanying the agent was Steven Carlotto, the FBI's chief general counsel in Newark.Under questioning from Feinstein, Scala said he had no recollection of the Guerrero arrest or of a larger-scale FBI probe. Scala said he knows Manghisi and has spoken to her by phone but could not recall whether he discussed the Guerrero arrest with her.Scala then said he has never made, nor would he ever make, such a request to any law enforcement officer.The statement prompted Feinstein to say that "clearly, clearly contradictory testimony" had been offered."The State Police perjured themselves," Feinstein said, asking that the matter be referred to the state Attorney General's Office.Venezia, in turn, signed an order seeking more information from the FBI about the investigation, including testimony from about six agents.Venezia, a state judge, has no authority to compel the federal bureau to testify or provide further material. He does have the authority to declare that the lack of cooperation is a detriment to the case against Guerrero. In light of this possibility, Feinstein is expected to file a motion to dismiss the indictment.Carlotto, the FBI lawyer, would not say anything in court about the probe or about the agency's desire to help further. He said the FBI "has bent over backwards" to provide material, including the surveillance report Feinstein cited."I strongly object to any accusations of stonewalling or conspiracy," Carlotto said, responding to Feinstein's animated objections.Tuesday, December 14, 1999Copyright  1999 Bergen Record Corp. 
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on December 15, 1999 at 19:26:20 PT
Send in the Marshalls, Ms. Reno!
Oh, God, this is rich.The FBI has been caught lying a lot these days, so if anyone believes them now they are either hopelessly naive or just plain stupid.For example, the Attorney General was forced to send the US Marshalls to to grab evidence the FBI had been sitting on for years regarding the Waco debacle. After they stopped lying about its' existence, that is.Earlier than that, there were the incorrect - or falsified - forensic lab test upon which hundreds of convictions were made. Now those convictions are in jeopardy.So much for the 'Untouchables'. 
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