In Pursuit of Willy and Sal, Part Two

Having lost their case against the drug kingpins, federal prosecutors vowed to convict jury foreman Miguel Moya of bribery. Didn't quite work out that way.

Defense attorneys would now argue that the delayed spending was the result of Ray Perez's warning to wait until he completed his parole.

To demonstrate his scorn for Perez, prosecutor Edward Nucci refused to look at him, facing the jury instead. Each question Nucci asked rang with derision, as he repeatedly, and with great success, tried to provoke Perez. The prosecutor asked Perez if he had violated his oath to uphold the law when he was a police officer.

"After I left the force, yes."
"Are you going to tell this jury there was a bright-line distinction that you left the police force one day and a date subsequent to that you began drug dealing? Isn't it true that you began the drug dealing or at least the preparations for entering into the drug-trafficking world while you were a Miami police officer?"

"Towards the very end. I already made a decision to leave the force."
"But as a police officer you started getting into the drug business, didn't you?"

"I believe the last month of it."
"So you violated your oath as an officer?"
"Yes, sir."

The exchanges between Nucci and Perez grew increasingly heated. Time and again Nucci emphasized the point that Perez was an experienced liar whose word meant nothing. He lied to federal agents in 1988 when he failed to disclose that Miguel and Jose Moya were part of his drug organization. He lied to the court in 1989 when he told officials he didn't have any hidden assets. Nucci belabored these questions until Perez finally erupted.

"Sir, I believe I already told you here today that I did lie," Perez shouted. "How many times am I supposed to tell you that I lied? I lied, yes I did. I lied!"

Nucci found it curious that the Moya family had been advised to avoid spending the drug money until after Perez finished his probation. The prosecutor pointed out that Perez's probation didn't officially end until June 12, 1997, and yet the Moyas spent nearly $200,000 on a home in the Florida Keys in December 1996. How could Perez account for that?

Well, he said, by December 1996 his probation was virtually over. During that final year, he only had to check in with his probation officer by mail. More important, he said, Jose and Rafaela Moya were ill, each having undergone surgery that year. Perez said it was time for them to begin enjoying life and spending the money they'd been saving.

Nucci tried to keep Perez off balance. He claimed Perez knew that his cousin had taken a bribe. "In fact your cousin told you that he accepted a bribe from the Falcon-Magluta organization," the prosecutor stated matter-of-factly.

"That's not true," Perez said angrily. "My cousin never told me anything like that. That's, like, your words."

"You don't recall telling special agent Anderson that the Falcon-Magluta organization were the guys that had paid your cousin --"

"That's a friggin' lie!" Perez exploded. "That's a lie by you! And if he says that --"

Judge King interrupted. "Sir, you will control yourself," he ordered. "You used to be a police officer. You've had difficulties since then, but you know better than to speak like that."

And so it went, hour upon hour over the course of two days, until finally there were no more questions for Perez. Still defiant, he strode off the witness stand, paused in the hallway outside the courtroom, and fiercely defended his story. "I have nothing to fear. They may not like it, but I told the truth in there," he spit. "I know what we did. If they don't believe me, there's nothing I can do about that. My life is an open book."

Throughout the trial Judge King warned that he did not want the proceedings bogged down by retrying the original Falcon and Magluta case. In some ways, though, it was unavoidable.

Like the ghosts in a Dickens novel, characters from the first trial kept appearing in King's courtroom. Judge Federico Moreno was called as a government witness, and the two prosecutors from the 1996 case, Pat Sullivan and Chris Clarke, dropped in occasionally to watch from the gallery's back row.

At no time, though, was the past more on trial than when prosecutors and defense attorneys called six of the former jurors from the Falcon and Magluta case. Prosecutors began this flashback by summoning Cynthia Watts, who recalled that her fellow jurors were evenly divided at the start of deliberations, half believing Falcon and Magluta were guilty and half believing they were innocent.

She testified that Moya voted "not guilty" on all two-dozen counts, and refused to change his mind. She claimed that on the third and final day of deliberations, on one of the counts, "we may have had ten or eleven for guilty," but Moya wouldn't budge.

"At times he would be sitting while others were searching for evidence," she continued. "He would sit in the back of the jury room. That's where he sat, [he'd] rock back, his hands folded. He said, 'No, not guilty. You'll have to show me more. You've got to show me more.' And each thing that I presented wasn't enough for him."

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