Outside of court, any prospective juror could log onto Twitter, Youtube or Facebook and find Michael “Mickey” Munday boasting of his wild days smuggling cocaine for the Colombian cartels in 1980s Miami.
If they’re picked for the jury in a new federal case against Munday, they can see some of that in trial, too — but prosecutors won’t get to shine a spotlight on the Cocaine Cowboys documentary that turned the ex-pilot from Miami into a media celebrity.
That would be too prejudicial, U.S. Judge Robert Scola ruled on Friday, noting that Munday isn’t facing drug charges this time around. Prosecutors have charged him in connection with fraud ring involving stolen cars.
“I’m trying to minimize the term Cocaine Cowboy being used,” Scola said, acknowledging later: “He’s in a more unique situation than most defendants with a criminal past.”
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But the judge did approve a request from prosecutors to show Munday’s Twitter page, in which he dubs himself the “original Cocaine Cowboy,” and one short clip from the film. The reason: the fraud ring’s leader will testify that he recruited Munday specifically because of his notoriety from the 2006 documentary.
“If you speak to anyone who has talked to Mickey Munday, all he does is talk about being a Cocaine Cowboy and his prolific past as a smuggler,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rothstein told the judge.
Munday, 72, goes to trial Tuesday on allegations that he helped transport stolen or about-to-be-repossessed cars from Missouri to Miami, vehicles that were then re-sold with forged titles, leaving the lien holders with nothing. He also used his tow-truck business as a front, according to prosecutors.
He was indicted last May along with seven other men. He is charged with conspiracy and mail fraud.
In the documentary by Miami filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, Munday detailed his role moving over 100 tons of cocaine for the Medellín and Cali cartels. He spent most of the 1990s in prison.
In recent years, Munday has built an active social-media presence, appeared on his own podcast called “Tall Tales” and been interviewed for various other radio and TV broadcasts. But some of those statements will now come back to haunt him. Among them that the judge will allow into evidence:
▪ Munday, in the Cocaine Cowboys clip, talking about using tow trucks for contraband because the drivers could deny knowing anything about the goods. Prosecutors allege he used a tow truck to move stolen cars to Miami.
▪ In a radio interview, the ponytailed defendant saying, “If it flies, rolls or floats, I was the guy that moved it … you become the UPS of the smuggling industry.” Prosecutors say Munday made a similar statement to a co-defendant who will testify against him.
▪ A tweet about how cops never pull over tow-truck drivers. His defense attorney, Rick Yabor, insisted that someone else, not Munday, was in charge of the Twitter account. “It was another individual that posted those statements,” Yabor said.