“Snitches Are a Dying Breed” And Other Aspects of “Outlaw” Criminal Forfeiture

US v. Joshua N. Bowser.  Appeal of:  Bradley W. Carlson.  No. 15-2258.       This appeal involves the government’s efforts to seize personal property bearing the insignia of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (the “Outlaws”), and the effort of a representative of the Outlaws to intervene to prevent those forfeitures. The forfeiture actions stemmed from criminal cases brought against a number of Outlaws members, including all members of the Indianapolis chapter of the Outlaws. The indictment included a notice of the government’s intent to …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Asset Forfeiture, Federal Criminal Procedure, Press Releases, Restitution

Grand Jury Subpoena to Client’s Accountant: Attorney-Client Privilege May Block Production

In the Matter of GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS, Involving William Thullen and Kenneth Dvorak, Witnesses Before the Special January, 1999-2 Grand Jury  Nos. 99-3131, 99-3317.  A grand jury investigating alleged tax fraud by Dr. Basaam Osman subpoenaed numerous documents from two accounting firms hired by his attorneys.  Dr. Osman sought to block production of the documents. He claimed that the accountants were agents of law firms representing him in the grand jury investigation and, thus, that the documents were subject to the …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Attorney-Client Privilege, Grand Jury Subpoena, Press Releases, Tax Fraud

Writ of Coram Nobis – Boilerplate Rules You Need to Know

US v. Brian Wilkozek, No. 15-1537.    In 2003 Brian Wilkozek pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud for his participation in a mortgage-fraud scheme. By the time the third-party lenders uncovered the scheme, all they could do was foreclose and sell the properties. They suffered losses of more than $700,000.     After Wilkozek was caught and pleaded guilty, he was ordered to pay restitution to the victims—namely, the thirdparty mortgage lenders. That restitution went unpaid, so the government asked the district …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Asset Forfeiture, Federal Crimnal Procedure, Fraud, News, Press Releases, Restitution

DEA’s Use of “Stingray” Device Without a Warrant is Illegal

US v. Raymond Lambis, 15cr734 (SDNY, Judge Pauley, July 12, 2016). In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (the “DEA”) conducted an investigation into an international drug-trafficking organization. As a part of that investigation, the DEA sought a warrant for pen register information and cell site location information (“CSLI”) for a target cell phone. CSLI allows the target phone’s location to be approximated by providing a record of where the phone has been used. To isolate the location more precisely, the …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Press Releases, Search and Seizure

28 U.S.C. § 455 – Judge’s Failure to Recuse Himself Leads to REVERSAL

US v. Jose Herrera-Valdez, No. 14-3534 Jose Gustavo Herrera-Valdez was prosecuted for illegal reentry after being deported. Before trial, he filed a motion to disqualify the District Court Judge from presiding over his prosecution because the judge served as the District Counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the time Herrera-Valdez was deported.  Because we find that the district court should have granted Herrera-Valdez’s motion to disqualify, we reverse his conviction. B.  28 U.S.C. § 455(a) Recusal Required 28 U.S.C. …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Federal Criminal Procedure

U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1 Loss Amount: Money Paid Back to Victim Before Fraud Detected NOT Counted

US v. Christian Peterson.  No. 14-3716. Before running into legal trouble, Christian Peterson, an entrepreneur doing business in Madison, Wisconsin, owned several manufacturing and realestate development firms. He misused corporate finances, frequently making unauthorized intercompany loans and occasionally using corporate funds to pay off his personal gambling debts. Eventually all of his business ventures failed, his companies defaulted, and federal agents launched an investigation. Peterson was indicted on thirteen criminal counts—bank fraud, making false statements to banks, money laundering, and …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Fraud, United States' Sentencing Guidelines

Government’s Pretrial Seizure of Defendant’s Untainted Assets NOT Allowed

Sila Luis v. US,  No. 14-419.  (United States Supreme Court March 30, 2016) A federal statute provides that a court may freeze before trial certain assets belonging to a criminal defendant accused of violations of federal health care or banking laws. See 18 U. S. C. §1345. Those assets include: (1) property “obtained as a result of” the crime, (2) property “traceable” to the crime, and (3) other “property of equivalent value.” §1345(a)(2). In this case, the Government has obtained a …
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Posted in 6th Amendment Right to Counsel, 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Asset Forfeiture, Federal Rules of Evidence

Polling Jury After Verdict: Dissenting Juror Impermissibly Coerced Leads to Reversal.

  USA v. LEMUREL E. WILLIAMS, No. 15-1194 Lemurel Williams was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun.  We agree with Williams’s that a new trial is needed because the totality of the circumstances regarding the jury’s verdict was impermissibly coercive. After three hours of deliberating, the jury returned a guilty verdict, which was read aloud in court. At defense counsel’s request, the jury was polled—that is, jurors were individually asked, “Was this and is this your …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert

Residential Drug Abuse Program – BOP Changes Make Allow Greater Inmate Participation

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) revised the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP) regulations to allow greater inmate participation in the program and positively impact recidivism rates. DATES: This rule is effective on May 26, 2016. 550.55(b) Inmates not Eligible for Early Release. As an exercise of the Director’s discretion, the following categories of inmates are not eligible for early release: (1) Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees; (2) Pretrial inmates; (3) Contractual boarders (for example, State or military inmates); …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Press Releases, United States' Sentencing Guidelines

Expunging Your Federal Conviction – Rules You Need to Know

U.S. v PFEIFFER, Case No. 04 CR 793, U.S. District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division. (Editor’s note:  This is a District Court decision NOT 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.) April 7, 2016 In 2007, Brian Pfeiffer pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, Ecstasy. Pfeiffer now moves to expunge the records of his conviction. The Court denies Pfeiffer’s motion. Pfeiffer had been successful in putting his past behind him and maintaining uninterrupted employment. In 2015, Pfeiffer …
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Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, News