PEOPLE v. ANTEGUA

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Ramon ANTEGUA, Defendant-Appellant.

Decided: May 27, 2004

TOM, J.P., ELLERIN, WILLIAMS, MARLOW, JJ. Laura R. Johnson, The Legal Aid Society, New York (Desiree Sheridan of counsel), for appellant. Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney, New York (Karen Schlossberg of counsel), for respondent.

Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Rosalyn Richter, J.), rendered June 7, 2000, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third and fifth degrees, and sentencing him to concurrent terms of 1 to 3 years, unanimously affirmed.

The verdict was based on legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence.   Issues of credibility, including the weight to be given to inconsistencies in testimony, were properly considered by the jury and there is no basis for disturbing its determinations (see People v. Gaimari, 176 N.Y. 84, 94, 68 N.E. 112).

 The court properly denied defendant's suppression motion.   There is no basis for disturbing the court's credibility determinations, which are supported by the record (see People v. Prochilo, 41 N.Y.2d 759, 761, 395 N.Y.S.2d 635, 363 N.E.2d 1380).   After observing an individual hand defendant money in a furtive exchange for an unidentified object in an area with a high incidence of narcotics trafficking, the experienced officer had probable cause to arrest defendant (see People v. Jones, 90 N.Y.2d 835, 660 N.Y.S.2d 549, 683 N.E.2d 14;  People v. Schlaich, 218 A.D.2d 398, 640 N.Y.S.2d 885, lv. denied 88 N.Y.2d 994, 649 N.Y.S.2d 401, 672 N.E.2d 627).   In any event, the record also supports the hearing court's alternative finding that defendant voluntarily abandoned the drugs at issue.

 The court properly exercised its discretion in admitting testimony that suggested the existence of a contemporaneous uncharged drug sale.   In addition to being relevant to defendant's intent to sell, this evidence provided a complete and coherent narrative of the events leading to defendant's arrest, including an explanation of why the police targeted defendant for continuing observation, and its probative value outweighed any prejudicial effect (see People v. Alvino, 71 N.Y.2d 233, 245, 525 N.Y.S.2d 7, 519 N.E.2d 808;  People v. Pressley, 216 A.D.2d 202, 628 N.Y.S.2d 682, lv. denied 86 N.Y.2d 800, 632 N.Y.S.2d 514, 656 N.E.2d 613).

The record fails to support defendant's claim that he was absent from discussions with prospective jurors concerning their ability to serve (see People v. Velasquez, 1 N.Y.3d 44, 769 N.Y.S.2d 156, 801 N.E.2d 376).

We have considered and rejected defendant's remaining claims.