Archive | severance

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Re: Joinder

United States v. Page, No. 10-3150-cr (2d Cir. September 16, 2011) (Walker, Hall, Chin, CJJ)

Defendant was tried on five drug counts and a felon-in-possession count. In the district court, he moved to sever the gun count so that the jury considering the drug charges would not learn that he had a felony conviction. The court denied the motion and the circuit, finding no prejudice, affirmed.


In 2007 and 2008, Page was selling drugs – first crack, then heroin – in Norwich, Connecticut. During this time, he became involved in an altercation outside a bar, and brandished a gun; to avoid trouble, he stashed the gun at his girlfriend’s apartment. Agents raided the apartment the next day and found the gun and some drugs.

Page ultimately faced a six-count indictment; the first five counts alleged drug offenses – although the government ultimately dropped one of these – and count …

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Categories: bifurcation, joinder, severance, Uncategorized

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Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Mommy Dearest

United States v. O’Connor, No. 08-5968-cr (2d Cir. June 16, 2011) (Kearse, Pooler, Hall, CJJ)

Linda O’Connor began sexually abusing her daughter, S.O., when S.O. was ten years old. O’Connor also allowed her friend – he was also her occasional financial benefactor and sex partner – George Lang, to do so; O’Connor even sometimes joined in. Lang died of cancer before he could be prosecuted, and O’Connor then passed S.O. on to her landlord, co-defendant Dean Sacco, in lieu of paying rent. Sacco raped S.O. many times, and also took pictures of the abuse. Finally, on two occasions, O’Connor brought S.O. to a motel in Binghamton, where strangers raped her for money, while O’Connor looked on and ordered her to follow the men’s instructions.

O’Connor and Sacco were convicted of various sex trafficking and child pornography offenses; she was sentenced to 30 years and he to life. This opinion affirms …

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Categories: attorney withdrawal, hearsay, severance, Uncategorized

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Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Government’s “Question[able],” “Troub[ling]” and “Disingenous” Conduct Results in an Affirmance. Huh?

United States v. Blech, No 05-3600-cr (2d Cir. April 23, 2008) (Sotomayor, Parker, Hall, CJJ).

Two defendants who were convicted of securities and related frauds appealed on the ground that their cases were misjoined, and one advanced a Brady claim. The court affirmed, but only out of apparent deference to the district court’s findings under the “abuse of discretion” standard.

The Severance Issue

This case went to trial on a thirteen-count indictment that alleged two separate fraud schemes. The first involved appellant Brandon, who, along with others, defrauded customers of Credit Bancorp of more than $200,000,000. The second scheme involved appellant Wexler, who also defrauded Credit Bancorp customers, but in a different way. The district court denied their severance motions, and both were convicted.

The defendants’ severance claim was unusually strong. Although the two schemes shared some participants, and both targeted Credit Bancorp customers, they were otherwise completely distinct. Nevertheless, …

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Categories: Brady, joinder, severance, Uncategorized

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Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Joint Pain

United States v. Shellef, No. 06-1495-cr (2d Cir. November 8, 2007) (Pooler, Sack, Wesley, CJJ)

In this decision applying Fed.R.Cr.P 8, the court held that counts were improperly joined against two separate defendants, and that the misjoinders were not harmless. The decision also has an interesting discussion of some unusual wire fraud theories.

Defendants Shellef and Rubenstein were tried together on tax and wire fraud charges. At the same trial, Shellef alone was tried on tax evasion charges relating to some of his personal and business dealings. Both were convicted of all counts.

The tax and mail fraud charges arose from the defendants’ efforts to purchase and resell CFC-113, a highly regulated, ozone-depleting industrial solvent upon which, Congress, in an effort to phase out its use, imposed an excise tax. However, the tax does not apply to CFC-113 reclaimed as part of a recycling process, or CFC-113 that is sold …

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Categories: fraud, joinder, Rule 8, severance, Uncategorized

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Tuesday, September 25th, 2007


United States v. Owen, Docket No. 06-1078-cr (2d Cir. September 4, 2006 [sic]) (Parker, Raggi, Wesley, CJJ)

In case you were wondering, Rule 33 applies only to “newly discovered” evidence, and not “newly available” evidence.

Facts: Lance Owen and two co-defendants loaded five years worth of marijuana into a truck from a warehouse in the Bronx. Owen was pulled over while driving the truck, and explained, not very convincingly, that he was a mover, in the process of moving personal items to Florida for a client. When DEA agents found the marijuana in the truck, they arrested him.

Owen and the two others, Samuels and Baroody, went to trial. No defendant testified, but each, through counsel, pointed his finger at the others. All were convicted, and Judge Patterson sentenced Owen to five years’ imprisonment.

At Samuels’ sentencing, before sentence was imposed, Samuels exculpated Owen. He said that he had “hired …

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Categories: newly available, newly discovered, Rule 33, severance, Uncategorized

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