Articles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendant plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. On appeal, defendant contended that his plea should be vacated because the district court violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 when it failed to inquire during the plea allocution about the possible impact of his heart condition and medications had on his ability to enter a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary plea. Defendant made no effort to have his asserted misunderstanding of the proceedings or the consequences of his plea corrected in the two years prior to sentencing or in an otherwise timely manner. Only when he did not receive the below-Guidelines sentence he had hoped for did defendant raise for the first time on appeal his claim. The court concluded that the district court did not plainly err in regards to the guilty plea where plaintiff failed to demonstrate any reasonable probability that he would not have pleaded guilty, or that the judge would not have accepted his plea, if the district court had inquired about his medical condition or medications. Even assuming that the appeal waiver is unenforceable, the court concluded that defendant's challenge to his sentence was without merit where defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable. The court rejected defendant's remaining claims and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Adams" on Justia Law

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Defendant was indicted for possession charges after officers conducted a warrantless entry into her home and seized cocaine. On appeal, the Government challenged the district court's grant of defendant's motion to suppress the cocaine. The officers reasonably believed that defendant was destroying evidence by washing cocaine down the kitchen sink. The objective of the warrantless entry was to stop the destruction of evidence, and the officers' entry into the kitchen was limited to achieving that objective. Simply securing defendant did not accomplish this purpose. The court agreed with the district court that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless entry into defendant's home. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in determining that exigent circumstances did not also justify the officers' warrantless entry into the kitchen where the cocaine was found. Accordingly, the court reversed that portion of the order and remanded. View "United States v. Andino" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former CEO and board chairman of Duane Reade, appealed the district court's award of restitution after he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to make false statements and four counts of securities fraud. The court affirmed the district court's determination that Oak Hill should be awarded restitution as a "non-victim," and Duane Reade's employees' attorneys fees were properly subject to restitution; the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings as to whether Duane Reade's payment of fees and costs to Paul, Weise and Cooley constitute "necessary" expenses under the Victims and Witnesses Protection Act (VWPA), 18 U.S.C. 3663; and, on remand, the district court is free to exercise its discretion as to whether "determining complex issues of fact related to the cause or amount of the victim's losses would complicate or prolong the sentencing process to a degree that the need to provide restitution to any victim is outweighed by the burden on the sentencing process." View "United States v. Cuti" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed her conviction for conspiring to commit health care fraud, and conspiring to commit money laundering. Defendant principally argued that the main government witness gave testimony that included inadmissible hearsay and inadmissible opinions, and was allowed, without personal knowledge, to provide the foundation for the admission of seven government exhibits that were not admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence and that were inaccurate and misleading. The court found that the admission of the challenged exhibits and much of the main government's witness's testimony was serious prejudicial error and concluded that defendant's conviction should be vacated. The court remanded for a new trial and did not reach defendant's other arguments. View "United States v. Groysman" on Justia Law

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Defendants Rios and Bautista appealed their sentences after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. Defendants had moved twice under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) for a reduced sentence in light of amendments made in 2007 and 2011 to the Sentencing Guidelines that lowered the base offense levels applicable to crimes involving certain quantities of cocaine base. The court held that the district court appropriately held an evidentiary hearing, did not clearly err in making a drug quantity finding that supported not reducing the sentences, properly denied Bautista's motion for a reduced sentence, and did not violate Bautista's constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Rios" on Justia Law

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Defendant challenged his sentence after pleading guilty to bank fraud, arguing that his use of another person's name and address to create a counterfeit driver's license that he used in committing the crime of conviction does not warrant a two-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(b)(11)(C)(i) for the unauthorized transfer or use of any means of identification unlawfully to produce or obtain any other means of identification. The court concluded that defendant's argument was foreclosed by United States v. Sash and, therefore, the enhancement was properly applied to defendant's sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Kleiner" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence for conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles, transportation of stolen vehicles, and possession of stolen vehicles. The court concluded that it need not decide whether the district court erred in issuing the conscious avoidance instruction in this case because, if the instruction was in error, any such error was harmless. Further, the district court properly imposed an enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(10)(c) for the use of sophisticated means and under U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(b)(4) for being in the business of receiving and selling stolen property. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Fofanah" on Justia Law

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Defendants appealed from their convictions on multiple counts of mail, wire, and bank fraud, as well as conspiracy. Defendants' convictions stemmed from a mortgage fraud scheme in which defendants purchased and refinanced various residential properties. At issue in this appeal was their challenge to the district court's decision to admit the loan files at issue as self-authenticating under Federal Rule of Evidence 902(11). The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in excusing the government's lack of written notice because defendants had actual notice of the government's intention to admit the records as self-authenticating. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Komasa" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for several counts arising from his involvement in the kidnapping, robbery, and murder of a drug dealer. The court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of the charges; the court rejected defendant's claims of evidentiary errors; and defendant was not entitled to a jury instruction on the affirmative defense of duress with respect to the kidnapping and robbery charges. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Zayac" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for a Travel Act offense as well as various criminal acts. The court rejected defendant's sufficiency challenge to the Travel Act conviction under 18 U.S.C. 1952(a)(3)(A). However, the court vacated the conviction because the district court erred when it excluded, on hearsay and authentication grounds, a recording in which an FBI agent assured defendant that he had done nothing wrong in connection with the underlying arson. The court reversed as to defendant's remaining convictions because the wording of defendant's cooperation agreement did not toll the expired statute of limitations for those offenses. View "United States v. Mergen" on Justia Law