DOCUMENT: Crime

Spectator Snuck Camera Into Narcotics Trial

Brooklyn federal courtroom pic posted by The Source

MAY 17--In a troubling breach of security, a hip-hop publication this week posted a photograph taken inside the Brooklyn courtroom where a high-profile federal narcotics case is proceeding before jurors hearing evidence from a series of protected government witnesses.

The photo, published Tuesday on the web site of The Source magazine, accompanied a story recounting that day’s testimony at the trial of James Rosemond, the hip-hop manager on trial for allegedly heading a multimillion-dollar cocaine distribution ring.

The image, seen above, carried no photo credit or caption. But it was clearly taken inside the sixth-floor courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson, who is presiding over the Rosemond trial. In the photo, Gleeson does not appear to be on the bench.

In the photo’s foreground, a DEA agent who sits at the prosecution table can be seen--though The Source opted to blur the investigator’s face. A second individual is also seated at the table in the picture, which appears to have been taken from the courtroom’s spectator benches.

With the exception of court officials and attorneys, nobody is allowed to bring cameras, cell phones, recorders, or other electronic devices into the federal courthouse. Visitors to the Brooklyn facility walk through a metal detector and have their bags passed through an X-ray scanner. Prohibited items are collected by Unites States marshals and held in an office until they are returned upon an individual’s departure from the courthouse.

While The Source’s May 15 story carried the byline of Kim Osorio, the magazine’s editor-in-chief told TSG that she was not present in the courtroom Tuesday. Osorio, who said the publication has a “presence” in the courtroom, said she was “not at liberty to discuss” who took the photo. Nor would Osorio (pictured at left) comment on whether the photo was taken by a representative of The Source or provided to the publication by a spectator.

Osorio said that the image has been removed from The Source’s web site and “everything is fine now. The Source had no intention to do anything wrong.” Asked why the photo was removed, Osorio said, “I’m not one hundred percent sure why it was taken down.” She had no comment when asked if other photos were taken inside Courtroom 6C.

The fact that someone was inside the courtroom with a camera would likely be of great concern to Gleeson (seen below), prosecutors, and federal marshals considering the nature of the Rosemond case. Prosecutors will be relying on a parade of cooperating witnesses who are expected to testify about their first-hand involvement in the alleged narcotics ring. For example, on Tuesday, Khalil Abdullah, a former Rosemond crony, testified that he worked with Rosemond to traffic about 150 kilos of cocaine.

Federal officials have also tried to keep a lid on mug shots taken of Abdullah and three other cooperating witnesses. A Freedom of Information Act request filed last year with the United States Marshals Office seeking those pictures was rejected. An appeal of that ruling is pending.

At the end of a trial day, spectators are kept in the courtroom for about 10 minutes so that they do not cross paths with jurors and alternates departing the Brooklyn courthouse.