Defendants' alien transportation conviction is affirmed where: 1) the strength of the evidence rendered harmless any error that might have occurred with respect to denying one defendant a severance; 2) there was no reason to anticipate that the prosecutor's question would prompt one defendant to volunteer that he was in jail; and 3) the prosecutor merely invited the jury to consider the implausibility of one defendant's claim that the government witnesses were all committing perjury and did not impermissibly vouch for the witnesses. However, defendants' Hostage Taking Act conviction is reversed where the Act did not apply to an extortion scheme that used brief confinement of a taxi passenger to obtain a somewhat above average taxi fare.
Heard: October 19, 2009
Decided: November 30, 2009
Opinion by Judge Newman
Beverly Van Ness, New York, NY
Edward V. Sapone and Nicole Boeckmann, Assistant United States Attorneys, Brooklyn, NY