United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
HORNSBY, Magistrate Judge.
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court are multiple post-trial motions filed by Defendant
Carlos A. Spann (“Defendant”): (1) a Motion for
Judgment of Acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 29(c)(1) (Record Document 104); (2) a pro
se Motion for New Trial pursuant to Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 33(a) (Record Document 160); and (3) a
pro se Motion to Dismiss Indictment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 (Record Document 172).
The Government opposes the motions. See Record
Documents 106, 162, and 179. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's motions are hereby DENIED.
Court first addresses Defendant's Motion for Judgment of
Acquittal (Record Document 104). A motion for judgment of
acquittal under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 is a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. See U.S. v.
Uvalle-Patricio, 478 F.3d 699, 701 (5th Cir. 2007). The
standard for evaluating a defendant's motion for
acquittal is whether, “after viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational
trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v.
Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789 (1979).
Thus, the Court's task at this stage is to view not only
the evidence, but also all reasonable inferences, in the
light most favorable to the Government. See United States
v. Mendoza, 522 F.3d 482, 488 (5th Cir. 2008). The Court
reviews the sufficiency of circumstantial evidence in the
same manner that it reviews the sufficiency of direct
evidence. See United States v. DeJean, 613 F.2d
1356, 1358 (5th Cir. 1980).
the Court finds that the evidence and testimony presented
during the four-day trial in this matter clearly supported
the jury's verdict, which found Defendant guilty of one
count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, as well as
two counts of wire fraud. For example, the jury heard
testimony from Trivia Tyler, who testified that she conspired
with Defendant, co-defendant Phelix Williams, and others in
passing counterfeit checks as part of the wire fraud scheme.
This testimony was further corroborated by numerous other
witnesses and physical evidence, including photographs and
text messages showing Defendant's involvement in the
conspiracy. Furthermore, a video recorded interview of
Defendant, which occurred subsequent to a 2015 search warrant
executed at his residence and the rendering of his
Miranda rights, was admitted into evidence and
played for the jury at trial. In the video, Defendant
explained to law enforcement officers various details
regarding the wire fraud scheme, including how he created the
counterfeit checks and recruited individuals in distributing
them. Thus, given the substantial direct and circumstantial
evidence presented at trial, it can hardly be said that the
jury's guilty verdict was not a “rational
decision.” Accordingly, Defendant's Motion for
Judgment of Acquittal (Record Document 104) is
Defendant's Motion for New Trial pursuant to Federal Rule
of Criminal Procedure 33(a) (Record Document 160), the Court
finds, as previously stated in its prior order in this
matter, that such motion is untimely under Rule 33(b)(2).
See Record Document 148 at 1. Further, Defendant has
not demonstrated the sort of “excusable neglect”
that would justify an extension of the deadline to file this
motion. See id.; see also Pioneer Inv.
Services Co. v. Brunswick Associates Ltd. Partnership,
507 U.S. 380, 395, 113 S.Ct. 1489, 1498 (1993). Therefore,
Defendant's Motion for New Trial (Record Document 160) is
the Court addresses Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Indictment pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6
(Record Document 172). Defendant alleges numerous convoluted
grounds in support of his motion, the majority of which
concern the grand jury proceedings in this matter.
See Record Document 172-1 at 1. In this context, a
district court may not dismiss an indictment for errors in
grand jury proceedings unless such errors prejudiced the
defendant. See, e.g., United States v.
Cessa, 861 F.3d 121, 141 (5th Cir. 2017). Additionally,
dismissal of an indictment is appropriate only if it is
established that the violation “substantially
influenced” the grand jury's decision to indict, or
if there is grave doubt that the decision to indict was free
from the substantial influence of such violations.
Id. Furthermore, courts have repeatedly held that a
petit jury's determination of guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt renders harmless any alleged errors that occurred
before the grand jury. See, e.g., U.S. v.
Mechanik, 475 U.S. 66, 73, 106 S.Ct. 938, 943 (1986).
the Court addresses Defendant's asserted grounds for
dismissal of the indictment due to alleged “false
testimony” and inflammatory remarks presented to the
grand jury. Record Document 172-1 at 3. Defendant objects to,
inter alia, testimony by United States Secret
Service Senior Special Agent Darron Craft (“SA
Craft”) during grand jury regarding a
post-Miranda interview with co-defendant Phelix
Williams (“Defendant Williams”). SA Craft
testified that during the interview, Defendant Williams
identified the instant Defendant from a photograph and that
Defendant was the individual known as “Unc” who
gave him the counterfeit checks at issue. Here, Defendant
wholly fails to make any showing that the testimony was false
or that any alleged omission or discrepancy regarding said
testimony had any effect on the grand jury's decision to
indict. Moreover, the portion of the referenced interview on
which SA Craft's testimony was based was presented at
trial for the jury's consideration, which went on to find
Defendant guilty of all counts alleged in the
addition, Defendant asserts in his motion an obscure argument
in which he claims that the indictment is unconstitutional as
“fruit of the poisonous tree.” Record Document
172-1 at 8. Defendant further requests that the Court find
that Defendant Williams' testimony at trial, which
contradicted his previous statements to SA Craft referenced
above, was truthful and that the indictment was instead based
on false testimony. See id. However, as with his
previous arguments, Defendant's claims are equally
without merit. As discussed above, Defendant fails to offer
any basis supporting his claim that the Government presented
or sponsored false testimony to the grand jury through SA
Craft, or that such testimony was the only evidence they
considered in returning a true bill against Defendant.
Furthermore, the Court declines to overrule the petit
jury's credibility determination as to Defendant
Williams' testimony at trial. Accordingly,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Indictment (Record Document
172) is DENIED.
based on the foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion for
Judgment of Acquittal (Record Document 104) and pro
se Motion for New Trial (Record Document 160) are
DENIED. Additionally, Defendant's
pro se Motion to Dismiss Indictment (Record Document
172) is DENIED.
order consistent with the terms of the instant Memorandum
Ruling shall issue herewith.
DONE AND SIGNED.