Arias seeks dismissal of drug conspiracy case

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(PNC photo)

Francisco Arias says that there shouldn’t be a second drug conspiracy trial in his case because the indictment does not allege a conspiracy existed between him and any other individual. 

The US Attorney says Arias is incorrectly combining the case laws regarding sufficient evidence and legal standards governing sufficient charging language in an indictment.  

Arias argued that to allege a conspiracy,  the indictment must allege facts of an agreement to commit a crime other than the crime that consists of the sale itself.

The argument is hinged on the fact that the indictment describes actions by Arias and co-conspirators in sending methamphetamine and money but no proof that an agreement was made.

But this is incorrect, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Sambataro, who said the case relied upon by Arias in support of this argument did not address the legal requirements to adequately charge a drug conspiracy in an indictment.

In this case, a time frame for the conspiracy is alleged, said Sambataro.

She says all that is required is the statutory language of the indictment which overtly accuses Arias of conspiring with others.

“Whether Arias believes that the Government can prove that such an agreement did exist is a matter appropriately to be determined during a trial when the trier of fact has received actual evidence,” argued Sambataro.

Arguments in court, however, will have to wait as Arias must find or be appointed a new attorney. 

Attorney Jefferey Moots, who represented Arias, filed a motion to withdraw from the case, citing a conflict of interest.

While reviewing the evidence in the case, it was discovered that a witness who testified in the first trial in 2014 was represented by Moots.

The client identified as Joe Benevente Jr. was connected to Arias’ case and has a relative level of culpability.

Benevente was charged in a separate criminal matter but the connection appears to establish that the two matters are related, said Moots.

Moots filed the conflict of interest a day before the US Government responded to the motion to dismiss.

Background

In March 2014, Arias was indicted by a grand jury charging him and several others with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Arias was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and unlawful use of the mail to facilitate the conspiracy.

A jury trial ended with Arias convicted on all counts in November 2014.

An appeal of the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine conviction was granted and a new trial ordered.

Arias was acquitted of the money laundering conviction.

Arias stands convicted of conspiring to smuggle meth through the mail.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.