People v. Ariosa
Justice John C. Egan, Jr.
Ariosa appealed from a judgment upon a verdict convicting him of promoting prison contraband and conspiracy. He was indicted and charged with crimes relating to smuggling 29 grams of marijuana into the correctional facility he was incarcerated in. Ariosa argued the verdict was not supported by legally sufficient evidence as prosecutors failed to prove that 29 grams of marijuana constituted "dangerous contraband" under Penal Law §205.25(1). The court found such contention meritless, noting there was ample evidence supporting a finding that the 29 grams of marijuana, sent to another inmate by Ariosa's wife, constituted dangerous contraband. Trial testimony established drug trafficking in prisons was often controlled by groups willing to resort to violence in order to get paid, leading to dangerous confrontations between inmates, as well as with facility staff. The court stated such proof showed the existence of a "well-organized scheme" to introduce marijuana into a maximum security prison with the intent to distribute to other inmates, revealing a substantial probability it would be used in a manner likely to cause serious injury or bring about threats to institutional safety. Thus, it found the verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence, affirming the judgment.