Drug Enforcement Administration

New York

James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge

January 27, 2017

Contact: Erin Mulvey

Phone Number: (212) 337-3900

Queens Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder-for-hire

(MANHATTAN, NY -   - Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSE LUIS GRACESQUI was sentenced today to life in prison after having been convicted at trial 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.  U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who presided over the three-week jury trial, imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Thanks to the efforts of the dedicated agents, detectives, and prosecutors who never gave up, this cold-case murder of an innocent 28-year-old man has been solved and the perpetrator brought to justice.  The person responsible for that murder has been sentenced to life in prison, bringing to a close this tragic and senseless crime.  We hope this brings some measure of peace to Richard Diaz’s family.” 

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 that 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 that he had been in, 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.  
   
GRACESQUI, 46, is from Queens, New York.  Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force comprising agents and officers of the DEA, New York City Police Department 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.

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