Appealed from the Sixteenth Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of St. Mary, Louisiana Docket Number
2015-195751, Honorable Keith R. J. Comeaux, Judge
BofilI Duhe Walter J. Senette, Jr. Franklin, LA Counsel for
Appellee, State of Louisiana.
Clauson Vines W. Claire Howington New Iberia, LA Sherry
Watters New Orleans, LA, Counsel for Defendant/Appellant,
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
defendant, Armond Duhon, was charged by bill of information
with one count of racketeering, a violation of LSA-R.S.
15:1353, two counts of money laundering valued at $20,000.00
or more, but less than $100,000.00, violations of LSA-R.S.
l4;23O(E)(3), and 221 counts of theft valued at
$1,500.00 or more,violations of LSA-R.S.
14:67(B)(1). He pled not guilty on all counts. The
defendant filed a motion to waive trial by jury, the trial
court granted the motion, and the defendant proceeded to a
bench trial. The defendant was found guilty of the responsive
offense of theft valued at $500.00 or more, but less than a
value of $1,500.00, on counts 31, 516, 570, 600, 638, 656,
657, 660, 665, 669, 675, 676, 687, 690, and 761, violations
of LSA-R.S. 14:67(B)(2). He was found guilty as charged on all
of the remaining 209 counts. The trial court denied the
defendant's motion for a new trial.
count 1 (racketeering), the defendant was sentenced to twenty
years imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of
parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. On count 565
(money laundering), the defendant was sentenced to fifteen
years imprisonment at hard labor. On count 754 (money
laundering), the defendant was sentenced to twelve years
imprisonment at hard labor. On the fifteen aforementioned
responsive verdicts to counts of theft valued at $500.00 or
more, but less than $1,500.00, the defendant was sentenced to
six months in parish jail on each count, to be served
concurrently. On the 206 remaining counts of theft, the
defendant was sentenced to eight years imprisonment at hard
labor, to be served concurrently with the sentences imposed
on counts 1, 565 and 754. The defendant was also ordered to
pay $2,328,000.00 restitution to the Guarisco family and
$200,000.00 to the D.A.'s office for prosecution fees.
The trial court denied the defendant's oral motion to
defendant now appeals, briefing the following assignments of
1. The trial court erred in conducting a judge trial without
having a valid waiver of the right to a jury that met the
requirements of [LSA-C.Cr.P. art.] 780.
2. The trial court erred in allowing the State to sever the
co-defendant on the day of trial to thwart the presentation
of the defense, and compounded the error by denying the
request for a continuance and allowing the State to elect to
try [the defendant] first and immediately.
3. The convictions are invalid for all counts of misdemeanor
theft plus the counts of felony theft that occurred before
November 9, 2012, and one count of money laundering that
occurred before November 9, 2010, which prescribed before the
bill of information was filed.
4. The trial court erred in allowing the testimony of a
purported handwriting expert who had no factual basis for
rendering an opinion.
5. The trial court erred in allowing bank records into
evidence without the proper foundation and in violation of
the right to confrontation.
6. The State failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that
[the defendant] engaged in racketeering, money laundering or
7. The trial court erred in imposing unconstitutionally
excessive sentences on the [sixty-three-year-old] first
offender and denying his motion to reconsider.
following reasons, we reverse and render modified convictions
on counts 34, 39, 49, 57, 69, 73, 84, and 89, reverse the
convictions on counts 87 and 751, and affirm the remaining
convictions. As to the sentences, we reverse the sentences on
counts 87 and 751, vacate the sentence on count 1 and remand
for resentencing on count 1, and affirm the remaining
Travis Trigg of the Morgan City Police Department
("MCPD") began investigating theft complaints after
a representative of Capital Management Consultants, Inc.
("CMCI"), a real estate investment and holding
company for art galleries and apartment buildings, advised
the MCPD of suspicious transactions. At the time of the
complaint, Karen Duhon ("Mrs. Duhon") was the
bookkeeper and DonnaSue Peveto ("Peveto") was the
overseer of art inventory at CMCI. After questioning
witnesses regarding the complaint, Detective Trigg executed a
search warrant at CMCI, including Mrs. Duhon's office,
and at the Duhon residence. In executing the warrants,
Detective Trigg seized various financial documents, ledgers,
and a large amount of lottery tickets and other gambling
related items. Detective Trigg further issued search warrants
for casino records, and the bank records of the defendant,
Mrs. Duhon, Peveto, and A-B-C Siding Company of Morgan City,
Inc. ("A-B-C Siding"), a general contracting
corporation owned by the defendant. The search warrants for
bank records were specifically issued at MidSouth Bank,
Whitney Bank, and Morgan City Bank, requesting records from
1999 through 2010, initially, and thereafter, warrants issued
requesting records from 2011 through 2014. Detective Trigg
further received records from Leah Guarisco McGriff (one of
the members of the Guarisco family that owned CMCI) that were
recovered from computers at CMCI.
on his review of the documents and questioning of witnesses,
Detective Trigg noted the following patterns of activity. In
multiple instances, the amounts identified by Mrs. Duhon in
the bank ledger differed from the amount written on the
corresponding checks. Specifically, Detective Trigg noted
that Mrs. Duhon would receive checks for around $14,000.00
and $9,500.00 that, under CMCI records, were documented as
$1,000.00 or less. Detective Trigg testified that although
the defendant was not an employee of CMCI, he and Mrs. Duhon
opened a joint checking account at MidSouth Bank and ordered
checks that indicated that the account belonged to CMCI.
Detective Trigg testified that it was his understanding that
Scott Tucker, ("Tucker") the owner of
Nelson-Tucker, L.L.C. ("Nelson-Tucker"), secretary
and shareholder of CMCI, and president of Hellenic, L.L.C. (a
separate Guarisco holding), was authorized to write checks on
CMCI's actual bank account. Detective Trigg reviewed W-2
statements filed by Mrs. Duhon and CMCI, signed by Mrs.
Duhon, and Mrs. Duhon's bank records from 1999 through
2013. Detective Trigg noted that the income reported on the
W-2 forms was far less than the amount of money that was
diverted from CMCI to the Duhons.
7, 2010, a check for $50,000.00 was written to Mrs. Duhon out
of CMCI's bank account. Further, there was a
corresponding deposit of that amount into Mrs. Duhon's
personal Whitney Bank account. The following day, July 8,
2010, the defendant purchased a 2010 Toyota Sequoia in his
name, and in accordance with the title and registration, with
Mrs. Duhon's personal check in the amount of $40,499.50.
The Toyota Sequoia was later sold back to Courtesy Toyota for
$26,000.00, in the form of a cashier's check made out to
the defendant. Three years later, on October 17, 2013, the
defendant similarly purchased a 2014 Ford-250 in his name, as
indicated by the title and registration, with a check from
his A-B-C Siding MidSouth Bank checking account. On the day
the check was written, the A-B-C Siding account did not have
sufficient funds to cover the check. The following day,
October 18, 2013, a MidSouth Bank check for $30,000.00 made
payable to "A-B-C Siding Co" was signed by Mrs.
Duhon and deposited into the defendant's A-B-C Siding
MidSouth Bank checking account. The check bore the following
names as the payor: Capital Management Consultants, Inc.,
Armond Duhon, and Karen Duhon.
February of 2014, the Guarisco family hired Mark Munson, a
certified public accountant (CPA), to conduct a forensic
analysis for CMCI. Munson testified at trial as an expert,
and as a certified public accountant with an emphasis in
audit and reviews and compilations. Munson was initially
retained by the Guariscos after Tucker died to prepare the
2013 corporation tax returns. When he attempted to acquire
the year-end working trial balance and general ledger, he
learned that they were prepared by Tucker and Mrs. Duhon.
Along with Laura Guarisco, Munson made several requests to
Mrs. Duhon to obtain the information and received excuses in
response for up to six weeks. Munson ultimately received a
package from Mrs. Duhon, however, it did not contain the
necessary financial documents, such as the working trial
balance and the general ledger.
February to early March of 2014, Munson met with some of the
Guarisco siblings in Morgan City, and they searched Mrs.
Duhon's office. They found the bank statements, check
register, and documentation showing that she took steps to
begin the bookkeeping for 2013, but did not actually make any
significant progress. Munson took the information back to his
office and prepared the books for 2013. He noted that the
amount of income that Mrs. Duhon told Laura she was making
did not coincide with the records. He stated that in
comparing bank statements and check stubs, it became apparent
that checks were being written for one amount and clearing
the bank for substantially more. He noted that the amount
reflected in the check register was often significantly less
than the amount that cleared the bank for the corresponding
Guariscos asked Munson to examine the books for previous
years to detect other discrepancies, and Munson prepared a
written analysis of the checks and the discrepancies, showing
how unauthorized funds were concealed. He noted patterns such
as Mrs. Duhon writing herself a check and recording it as
$1,000.00, but the check clearing for $14,000.00. Such
discrepancies appeared for every month for the four years
that Munson analyzed, from 2010 to 2013. Munson further noted
that there was also a pattern of checks written to Peveto,
which normally were written for a smaller amount between
$100.00 and $400.00, but would clear for $9,000.00 plus the
smaller amount. After completing his analysis, as stated in
his report, Munson concluded that checks written to Mrs.
Duhon and Peveto during the four-year period that cleared in
excess of the amounts recorded on the book of the company
were in the amount of $273,100.00 for 2010, $289,500.00 for
2011, $254,000.00 for 2012, and $249,000.00 for 2013. Munson
further provided a detailed schedule of each of the
understated and overstated checks comprising the stated
totals for each year. Munson determined where the excess
amount of the checks were recorded on the books by detecting
the checks on the books that were recorded for significantly
more than they actually cleared the bank. The total excess
amount of the checks, which had a higher recording than their
clearance amount, equaled the clearance total for the checks
written to Mrs. Duhon and Peveto.
further determined that during the same time period, working
trial balance documents prepared by Tucker and Mrs. Duhon
included journal entries that further concealed the
transactions. He testified that in 2010, journal entries were
made to write off accounts receivable charged to Tucker in
the amount of $123,085.00 and a loan to Mrs. Duhon in the
amount of $50,000.00 that was written off as an expense in
the books. Additional loans to Mrs. Duhon were written off in
2011 in the amount of $22,000.00. Another tactic of
concealing the overstated amounts included recording checks
that never cleared the bank. For example, in 2010, the total
for recorded checks that did not clear the bank was
$273,100.00. Checks written to Mrs. Duhon were traced to a
joint bank account with the defendant. The checks were
deposited either the same day or the day following the
written date reflected on the check. For nearly every month,
there was, in addition, a transfer of funds from the joint
account (one that includes CMCFs company name) into the A-B-C
examined CMCI banking transactions signed by Mrs. Duhon and
checks purportedly signed by Tucker. As to the
CMCI-identified checks written on the Duhon account, Munson
testified that based on his understanding, CMCI was not on
the bank statement itself, although its name was on checks
and deposit slips. As he was familiar with Tucker's
program and style of preparation, Munson noted that, in his
opinion, the working trial balance documents (retrieved from
Tucker's computer and a file cabinet at Hellenic) were
prepared by Tucker. He concluded that the monthly cash
receipts, disbursement journal, and the general ledger trial
balance, which were all maintained on Mrs. Duhon's
computer, were prepared by Mrs. Duhon. In addition to the
electronic items, Mrs. Duhon further kept a manual check
register in her office. Munson referred the Guariscos to an
accounting firm to conduct a forensic fraud analysis.
Subsequently, a forensic analysis conducted by Joan Martin,
the CPA retained by the Guariscos, further supported the
charges of racketeering, money laundering, and theft in the
OF THE EVIDENCE
of Error No. 6)
assignment of error number six, the defendant argues that the
State's evidence that he was a principal to the instant
offenses was wholly insufficient. He argues that he was
blinded by his love for his wife and completely relied upon
and trusted her regarding business and family operations. The
defendant claims that there is a "glaring lack of
evidence" of his participation and awareness of what
occurred, contending that the crimes are "all about
Karen Duhon and her involvement with CMCI, Scott Tucker, and
DonnaSue Provato [sic]." The defendant notes that his
wife, who he claims had a gambling addiction, controlled what
he knew about CMCI, family finances, and A-B-C- Siding,
further stating that she performed all of the bookkeeping and
addition to the claims regarding the lack of evidence that he
was a principal to the instant offenses, the defendant raises
the following arguments as to the crimes herein. As to the
racketeering offense, the defendant contends that the State
failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a
criminal enterprise existing separately from its alleged
racketeering activity, that the defendant was a member of the
group of individuals comprising the enterprise, or that he
knowingly received proceeds. The defendant claims that he did
not write, sign, deposit, or endorse any of the checks. He
claims that he was not in the CMCI business and had no
contact with Peveto or Tucker. The defendant further claims
that the alliance between Tucker, Peveto, and Mrs. Duhon
existed only for the purpose of fulfilling Tucker's plan
for theft and money laundering. As to the counts of money
laundering, the defendant contends that the State failed to
prove beyond a reasonable doubt and to the exclusion of a
reasonable hypothesis of innocence that he conducted the
transaction regarding count 565, or that he knew the proceeds
were from a criminal activity as to counts 565 and 754.
the 221 counts of theft, the defendant argues that the State
failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and to the
exclusion of a reasonable hypothesis of innocence that there
was a taking, that all of the checks belonged to another,
that the checks were taken without authority or consent, and
that the defendant specifically intended to commit theft. The
defendant notes that Guarisco signed one of the first checks
for $9,980.00 to Mrs. Duhon and Tucker signed the subsequent
checks, contending that only Tucker and Mrs. Duhon could give
consent or authority for CMCI. As to the group of checks
written from the MidSouth Bank joint account to the
defendant's A-B-C Siding account, he argues that the
State failed to prove that the property involved in those
counts belonged to another. The defendant contends that the
checks involved in counts 2, 510, 531, and 532 were under the
sole control of Mrs. Duhon. He further contends that the
State failed to prove a taking as to the checks in counts 6,
11, 13, 17, 20-22, 28, 34-37, 39, 41, 49-62, 64, 65, 67-81,
83, 84, 87, 347, 349, 372, 447, 451, 454, 457, 461, 466, 471,
475, 483, 487, 488, 493, 495, 496, 528, 622, 630, 635, 641,
646, 651, 655, 658, 682, and 711. Finally, as to the checks
deposited into his joint account by Mrs. Duhon, regarding
counts 65, 352, 354, 364, 366, 369, 378, 381, 386, 389, 393,
397, 401, 408, 411, 414, 417, 420, 427, 430, 435, 440, 498,
502, 503, 505, 508, 509, 511, 517, 526, 528, 534, 539, 607,
619, 648, 663, 668, 673, 680, 686, 693, 694, 700, 705, 708,
714, 718, 720, 722, 725, 727, 731, 733, 736, 739, 742, 747,
750, 760, 766, 770, and 774, the defendant argues that there
was no evidence to show that he was aware of the deposits.
issues are raised on appeal contesting the sufficiency of the
evidence and alleging one or more trial errors, the reviewing
court should first determine the sufficiency of the evidence.
State v. Hearold, 603 So. 2d 731');">603 So. 2d 731, 734 (La. 1992).
The reason for reviewing sufficiency first is that the
accused may be entitled to an acquittal under Hudson v.
Louisiana, 450 U.S. 40, 43, 101 S. Ct. 970, 972, 67 L.
Ed. 2d 30 (1981), if a rational trier of fact, viewing the
evidence in accordance with Jackson v. Virginia, 443
U.S. 307, 99 S. Ct. 2781, 61 L. Ed. 2d 560 (1979), in the
light most favorable to the prosecution, could not reasonably
conclude that all of the essential elements of the offense
have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. State v.
Hearold, 603 So. 2d at 734. When the entirety of the
evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, the
accused must be discharged as to that crime, and any
discussion of trial error issues as to that crime would be
pure dicta since those issues are moot. However, when the
entirety of the evidence is sufficient to support the
conviction, the accused is not entitled to an acquittal, and
the reviewing court must then consider the other assignments
of error to determine whether the accused is entitled to a
new trial. If the reviewing court determines that there has
been trial error (which was not harmless) in cases in which
the entirety of the evidence was sufficient to support the
conviction, then the accused will be granted a new trial, but
is not entitled to an acquittal. See State v.
Hearold, 603 So. 2d at 734.
conviction based on insufficient evidence cannot stand as it
violates Due Process. See U.S. Const, amend. XIV; La. Const,
art. I, § 2. The constitutional standard for testing the
sufficiency of the evidence, as enunciated in Jackson v.
Virginia, requires that a conviction be based on proof
sufficient for any rational trier of fact, viewing the
evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, to
find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt. See LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 821(B); State v. Ordodi,
2006-0207 (La. 11/29/06), 946 So. 2d 654');">946 So. 2d 654, 660. In conducting
this review, we also must be expressly mindful of
Louisiana's circumstantial evidence test, which states in
part, "assuming every fact to be proved that the
evidence tends to prove," every reasonable hypothesis of
innocence is excluded. LSA-R.S. 15:438. State v.
Wright, 98-0601 (La. App. 1st Cir. 2/19/99), 730 So. 2d
485, 486, wits denied, 99-0802 (La. 10/29/99), 748
So. 2d 1157 & 2000-0895 (La. 11/17/00), 773 So. 2d 732.
persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether
present or absent, and whether they directly commit the act
constituting the offense, aid and abet in its commission, or
directly or indirectly counsel or procure another to commit
the crime, are principals. LSA-R.S. 14:24. However, a
defendant's mere presence at the scene is not enough to
"concern" him in the crime. Only those persons who
knowingly participate in the planning or execution of a crime
may be said to be "concerned" in its commission,
thus making them liable as principals. A principal may be
connected only to those crimes for which he has the requisite
mental state. State v. Neal. 2000-0674 (La.
6/29/01), 796 So. 2d 649, 659, cert. denied, 535
U.S. 940, 122 S. Ct. 1323, 152 L. Ed. 2d 231 (2002).
trier of fact is free to accept or reject, in whole or in
part, the testimony of any witness. State v.
Richardson, 459 So. 2d 31, 38 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1984).
Unless there is internal contradiction or irreconcilable
conflict with the physical evidence, the testimony of a
single witness, if believed by the trier of fact, is
sufficient to support a factual conclusion. State v.
Marshall, 2004-3139 (La. 11/29/06), 943 So. 2d 362');">943 So. 2d 362, 369,
cert denied, 552 U.S. 905, 128 S. Ct. 239, 169 L.
Ed. 2d 179 (2007). It is the trier of fact who weighs the
respective credibilities of the witnesses, and this court
generally will not second-guess those determinations. See
State v. Hughes, 2005-0992 (La. 11/29/06), 943 So. 2d
Louisiana Racketeering Act is contained in LSA-R.S.
15:1351-56. The activities prohibited by the act are set
forth in LSA-R.S. 15:1353, and provide in pertinent part, as
B. It is unlawful for any person, through a pattern of
racketeering activity, knowingly to acquire or maintain,
directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any
enterprise or immovable property.
C. It is unlawful for any person employed by, or associated
with, any enterprise knowingly to conduct or participate in,
directly or indirectly, such enterprise through a pattern of
pertinent part, "racketeering activity" means
committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or
soliciting, coercing, or intimidating another person to
commit money laundering (later defined herein), a crime that
is punishable under LSA-R.S. 14:230. See LSA-R.S.
15:1352(A)(17). An "[e]nterprise" is defined as
"any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership,
corporation or other legal entity, or any unchartered
association, or group of individuals associated in fact and
includes unlawful as well as lawful enterprises and
governmental as well as other entities." LSA-R.S.
15:1352(B). The term "[p]attern of racketeering
activity" means "engaging in at least two incidents
of racketeering activity that have the same or similar
intents, results, principals, victims, or methods of
commission or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing
characteristics and are not isolated incidents, provided at
least one of such incidents occurs after August 21, 1992 and
that the last of such incidents occurs within five years
after a prior incident of racketeering activity."
that there is limited jurisprudence regarding the Louisiana
Racketeering Act. In State v. Touchet 99-1416 (La.
App. 3rd Cir. 4/5/00), 759 So. 2d 194');">759 So. 2d 194, the Louisiana Third
Circuit Court of Appeal noted that the Louisiana Drug
Racketeering Statutes are modeled after the federal
"RICO" legislation. In that regard, the court
turned to federal interpretations for guidance in explaining
the components of the state statutes. The court, in
Touchet, 759 So. 2d at 197, stated as follows:
The enterprise is an entity ... a group of persons associated
together for a common purpose of engaging in a course of
conduct. The pattern of racketeering activity is, on the
other hand, a series of criminal acts as defined by the
statute. The former is proved by evidence of an ongoing
organization, formal or informal, and by evidence that the
various associates function as a continuing unit. The latter
is proved by evidence of the requisite number of acts of
racketeering committed by participants in the enterprise....
The 'enterprise' is not the 'pattern of
racketeering activity'; it is an entity separate and
apart from the pattern of activity in which it engages. The
existence of an enterprise at all times remains a separate
element which must be proved by the Government.... [quoting
United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576, 583, 101
S.Ct. 2524, 1528-29, 69 L.Ed.2d 246, (1981) ].
[A]n enterprise must be either a legal entity or an
association-in-fact. Further, an association-in-fact
enterprise must: (1) have an existence separate and apart
from the pattern of racketeering, (2) be an ongoing
organization, and (3) have members functioning as a
continuing unit as shown by a decision-making structure.
Touchet the State presented the
"enterprise" as the group of co-defendants
organized to transport marijuana. The separate
"racketeering activity" consisted of the
defendant's acts of selling the marijuana. As the court
noted, they were essentially the same activity. Thus, the
court found that the drug conspiracy was not an enterprise
because the organization's existence was for the sole
purpose of engaging in racketeering activity (i.e.,
distribution of controlled substances). On that basis, the
court reversed the racketeering conviction therein.
Touchet, 759 So. 2d at 199-201.
State v. Sarrio, 2001-0543 (La. App. 5th Cir.
11/27/01), 803 So. 2d 212');">803 So. 2d 212, 226-29, writ denied,
2002-0358 (La. 2/7/03), 836 So. 2d 86, the Louisiana Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a racketeering conviction,
finding that the case was factually distinguishable from
Touchet. The court noted in Sarrio that, in
addition to the testimony of the undercover officer and his
surveillance team, which illustrated the various drug
transactions, the testimony of the principals to the
operation at issue therein gave insight into the workings of
the organization itself. Specifically, William Chauncey was a
cab driver who became a courier for the head of the
operation, Roy Sarrio. Chauncey, who initially transported
people for Sarrio, later transported packages of marijuana
for him in return for money. The court found that based on
the evidence therein, it was clear that there was an
enterprise that was separate and apart from the pattern of
racketeering activity. Sarrio, 803 So. 2d at 226-27.
discussion comparing Touchet and Sarrio, in
Johnson v. Cain, 2008-30582, 347 Fed. Appx. 89, 91
(5th Cir. 2009), cert denied, 559 U.S. 995, 130 S.
Ct. 1744, 176 L. Ed. 2d 218 (2010), the United States Court
of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit noted that the
Sarrio court seemingly applied a more lenient
interpretation of the law. Specifically, the federal court
stated, "Although purporting to apply a 'separate
and apart' requirement, the Sarrio court as a
practical matter found that the State had proven a violation
of the statute even though the enterprise existed for no
other purpose than drug dealing." Johnson, 347
Fed. Appx. at 92. The court noted that the Louisiana state
courts could have interpreted Louisiana's racketeering
statute as not requiring that the enterprise have a purpose
separate and apart from the racketeering activity.
Johnson, 347 Fed. Appx. at 93. In conducting a
de novo review of the defendant's sufficiency of
the evidence claim, the district court in Johnson
found that the evidence presented by the State supported the
jury's finding of guilt under either interpretation (the
more lenient Sarrio interpretation or the more
stringent Touchet interpretation). Johnson,
347 Fed. Appx. at 92. In affirming the judgment of the
district court on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the
federal appellate court found that the evidence introduced at
Johnson's trial indisputably met the more lenient
interpretation of an "enterprise."
Johnson, 347 Fed. Appx. at 92-93. In the instant
case, as further detailed herein, we find that the evidence
presented by the State supports the trial court's finding
of guilt under either interpretation of Louisiana's
money laundering statute provides that it is unlawful for any
person knowingly to conduct, supervise, or facilitate a
financial transaction involving proceeds known to be derived
from criminal activity, when the transaction is designed in
whole or in part to conceal or disguise the nature, location,
source, ownership, or the control of proceeds known to be
derived from such violation. LSA-R.S. 14:230(B)(1). Under
LSA-R.S. 14:230(A)(4), "[p]roceeds" means
"funds acquired or derived directly or indirectly from
or produced or realized through an act."
Louisiana's money laundering statute closely resembles 18
U.S.C. § l956(a)(1)(B)(i), the federal jurisprudence
interpreting the latter statute is highly instructive.
State v. Dudley, 2006-1087 (La. App. 1st Cir.
9/19/07), 984 So. 2d 11, 24, writ not considered,
2008-1285 (La. 11/20/09), 25 So. 3d 783. Under federal law,
18 U.S.C. § l956(a)(1)(B)(i) criminalizes conduct
designed to conceal or disguise the source of proceeds of
specified unlawful activity even if the defendant does not
conceal his own identity in the process. See United
States v. Hall, 434 F. 3d 42, 50-51 (1st Cir. 2006).
Factors helpful in determining whether a transaction was
designed to conceal include: statements by a defendant
probative of intent to conceal; unusual secrecy surrounding
the transaction; structuring the transaction in a way to
avoid attention; depositing illegal profits in the bank
account of a legitimate business; highly irregular features
of the transaction; using third parties to conceal the real
owner; a series of unusual financial moves cumulating in the
transaction; or expert testimony on the practices of
criminals. United States v. Magluta, 418 F. 3d 1166,
1176 (11th Cir. 2005), cert denied, 548 U.S. 903, 126 S. Ct.
2966, 165 L. Ed. 2d 949 (2006).
Louisiana's money laundering statute closely resembles
the federal statute, we note that the Louisiana legislature
has designated money laundering as a crime of general intent.
In contrast, the federal money laundering statute exacts a
higher burden of proof by requiring proof that a transaction
was conducted with specific intent to promote the carrying on
of unlawful activity. State v. Lemoine, 2015-1120
(La. 5/3/17), 222 So. 3d 688');">222 So. 3d 688, 692 (per curiam).
Louisiana Supreme Court in Lemoine rejected the
notion that the Louisiana money laundering statute is
susceptible to the "merger problem[,]" concluding
that the statute is not drafted in such a way that the
evidence necessary to prove the underlying or primary crime
is sufficient to also prove a more serious secondary offense.
Lemoine, 222 So. 3d at 693. As the court in
Lemoine further noted, money launderers often mix
the fruit of their crimes with legitimately-acquired assets,
assuming detection of the dirty funds will be more difficult
as a result. The Louisiana money laundering statute places no
burden on the State to trace dirty money after it has been
commingled with clean money. The statute only requires the
State to prove that dirty money constituted a portion of the
commingled funds that were maintained or deployed for a
criminal purpose. Lemoine, 222 So. 3d at 694-95