February 03, 2016
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Three-Week Trial In Manhattan Leads To Conviction Of Jose Luis Gracesqui On Murder-for-Hire Charges
NEW YORK - James Hunt, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement (DEA) Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William J. Bratton, the Police Commissioner of the City of New (NYPD), and Joseph D’Amico, Superintendent of the New York State (NYSP), announced that Jose Luis Gracesqui was found guilty Tuesday of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire, and murder in connection with a narcotics conspiracy for his role in the murder of a 28-year old Manhattan man in 1999. Gracesqui was convicted after a three-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel.
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said: “This conviction exemplifies the significant role violence plays in the infrastructure of drug trafficking. I commend the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force and the U.S. Attorney's Office Southern District of New York for their diligent work throughout this three week jury trial.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Thanks to the efforts of the dedicated agents, detectives, and prosecutors who relentlessly pursued justice, this cold-case murder of an innocent 28-year old man has now been solved and prosecuted. We hope seeing justice done brings some measure of peace to Richard Diaz’s family.”
NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “It is our hope that this conviction brings some level of comfort to the victim’s family. I commend the efforts of the NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners who worked to bring this individual to justice.”
According to the evidence introduced at trial, other proceedings in this case, and documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court:
Jose Luis Gracesqui, a/k/a “Luis Perez,” a/k/a “Ramon Ortiz,” a/k/a “Onel Colon,” a/k/a “Muffler,” was a member of a crew who committed violent robberies, kidnappings, and beatings of drug dealers. In the summer of 1999, Gracesqui was hired by a major drug dealer in upper Manhattan to kill one of the drug dealer’s (“Intended Victim-1”) after Intended Victim-1 and a number of his associates stole heroin from the drug dealer.
On the night of July 19, 1999, Gracesqui and a member of his crew saw Intended Victim-1 in a car with another person and began following Intended Victim-1 through Manhattan. When the car with Intended Vicitm-1 stopped at a red light, Gracesqui got out of the car in which he had been, approached the car with Intended Victim-1, and began shooting. The shots hit both Intended Victim-1 and the driver of the car, Richard Diaz. Richard Diaz was able to drive a short distance to the Henry Hudson Parkway, until Diaz lost consciousness and died. Intended Victim-1 sustained injuries but did not die.
Jose Luis Gracesqui, 45, of Queens, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. The potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. Sentencing is scheduled for June 10, 2016, before Judge Castel.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the DEA New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD, and the New York State Police.This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Laurie A. Korenbaum, Brendan F. Quigley, and Rebekah Donaleski are in charge of the prosecution.