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United States v. Duruisseau

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

February 27, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DEION DURUISSEAU 01, LASHAWN A. DURUISSEAU 02, and HAROLD L. LEE 03

          MAG. JUDGE PEREZ-MONTES

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JUDGE DEE D. DRELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Now before the court for decision are three (3) motions, one on behalf of each defendant (Docs. 250, 251 and 254). These three (3) motions all seek to have judgments of acquittal entered or alternatively, seek a new trial on all counts.

         The relevant history of this case reflects that all three (3) defendants went to trial on four (4) felony counts of a Second Superseding Indictment: conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of making a false statement to a bank (limited as to the Defendants Duruisseau only). These charges arose out of a fraudulent real estate financing scheme in which the Duruisseaus participated as purchasers of residential properties, or had straw purchasers, arrange financing at victim institutions, and then, working with Harold Lee as closing attorney, padded the financing amounts without disclosure. The padded amounts went into the offenders' pockets. There were multiple transactions with multiple lenders.

         The case proceeded to verdict in June 2016. After the close of the Government's case, Count 4 of the Indictment was dismissed in its entirety by the court on motion based upon failure of proof by the Government. As to the other three (3) counts, the jury found all three (3) defendants guilty. Post-trial, the Court was treated to a plethora of motions by the defendants arguing numerous alleged bases for post-trial relief. These included alleged jury taint, inadequacy of proof generally, and in particular, the failure of proof on an essential element of proof as to Count 3. After substantial briefing, oral presentation, and consideration, we rule as follows.

         I. COMMON ISSUES

         The pending motions by all three (3) defendants are similarly structured. All three (3) seek the entry of a Judgment of Acquittal pursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, or, in the alternative, a new trial under Rule 33. Relevant parts of these rules provide:

         Fed. Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(c)

         (c) After Jury Verdict or Discharge.

(1) Time for a Motion. A defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal, or renew such a motion, within 14 days after a guilty verdict or after the court discharges the jury, whichever is later.
(2) Ruling on the Motion. If the jury has returned a guilty verdict, the court may set aside the verdict and enter an acquittal. If the jury has failed to return a verdict, the court may enter a judgment of acquittal.
(3) No Prior Motion Required. A defendant is not required to move for a judgment of acquittal before the court submits the case to the jury as a prerequisite for making such a motion after jury discharge.

         Fed. Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a)

         (a) Defendant's Motion. Upon the defendant's motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires. If the case was tried without a jury, the ...


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