Attorneys for Raphy Pina (born Rafael Antonio Pina Nieves) are moving to challenge his conviction, filing a notice that they will appeal the decision and seek to have the star producer and music executive released on bond while they fight the appellate case.
In a statement issued to the press Wednesday (May 25), the law offices of Francisco Rebollo-Casalduc explained that they filed a notice of appeal after Pina was sentenced by Judge Francisco A. Besosa to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay a $150,000 sanction for his illegal possession of firearms conviction.
“The next step will be to file a motion with the First Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that our client be allowed to remain free on bond during the appeal process,” Pina’s five attorneys said. “We trust that we will prevail in the appeals process and that eventually the Court of Appeals will revoke the conviction since our legal arguments are convincing and the errors of the District Court undermined the fairness of the judicial process against Mr. Pina-Nieves.”
While Tuesday’s notice of appeal didn’t contain any specific arguments for why the conviction should be overturned, attorneys for Pina have hinted in previous legal filings about how they might challenge the verdict in the months ahead.
In a March motion, Pina’s legal team said the trial had been “rendered fundamentally unfair” by several “grave errors” committed by Judge Besosa. They say he allowed prosecutors to argue facts that were not in evidence, for instance, and that he improperly instructed jurors on how to weigh the facts. They also argued that the judge excluded a key defense witness who could have helped prove that Pina mostly lived in Miami and wasn’t in possession of the Puerto Rican guns.
Most seriously, Pina’s legal team believes that Judge Besosa unfairly admitted into evidence a “hearsay” statement by one of Pina’s lawyers that, when taken out of context, misleadingly appeared to be a “de facto admission of his client’s guilt by defense counsel.”
“Admission of counsel’s statement had a devastating impact on the fairness of Mr. Pina-Nieves’ trial and seriously undermined his right to the presumption of innocence,” Pina’s lawyers wrote. “It destroyed any hope of Mr. Pina-Nieves’ receiving a fair trial and denied him his Sixth Amendment rights to the effective assistance of counsel and to confront the witnesses against him.”
Following his sentencing hearing in Puerto Rico, Pina surrendered voluntarily to U.S. Marshals and will be serving his time in Florida. At the end of his term, he will be placed under supervised release for three years. Pina did not send an official statement but just minutes after being sentenced, he posted on his Instagram account a photo of himself with the caption: “I love you all. I’ll see you soon. Thank you for your prayers!”
The sentence for the 43-year-old veteran music executive and producer — who founded Pina Records in 1996 and manages Daddy Yankee and Natti Natasha — came five months after he was convicted by a jury of one count of possession of an automatic weapon and another count of possession of firearms by a person convicted of a felony.
Pina was indicted in August 2020, accused of possessing two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition despite the fact that he was barred from doing so because of his 2016 conviction on federal fraud and money laundering charges, according to legal documents.