United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on defendant’s motion for
judgment of acquittal as to structuring transaction counts
33, 34, 35, 39, and 40 (“money laundering
counts”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
Rule 29. (DE 388). The issues raised have been briefed fully,
and in this posture are ripe for ruling. For reasons set
forth below, defendant’s motion is denied.
August 12, 2019, a jury found defendant guilty of five counts
of unlawful distribution of oxycodone in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (counts 3, 4, 5, 9, and 11), five
counts of money laundering by concealment in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) and (ii) (counts 33, 34, 35,
39, and 40), and three counts of tax evasion in violation of
26 U.S.C. § 7201 (counts 43, 44, and 45).
specifically and as relevant to resolution of the instant
motion, counts 3 and 5 charged the defendant with unlawfully
prescribing oxycodone to Chris Fulcher on March 14, 2013 and
April 12, 2013, respectively, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1). Counts 4, 9, and 11 charged the defendant
with unlawfully prescribing oxycodone to Ashley Fulcher on
April 9, 2013, January 10, 2014, and February 12, 2014,
respectively, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Counts 33, 34, 35, 39, and 40 charged the defendant with
money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1956(a)(1)(B)(i) and (ii), and alleged that October 25, 2013
and June 3, 2014, defendant conducted financial transactions,
cash deposits, involving the proceeds of specified unlawful
activity, funds derived from the unlawful distribution of
controlled substances, with the intention of concealing those
proceeds and/or avoiding transaction reporting requirements.
The specific deposits at issue regarding these money
laundering counts are as follows:
August 12, 2019, defendant filed the instant motion.
Defendant argues that because the jury found defendant guilty
of only five counts of unlawful distribution on five separate
days, proceeds of which would total $1, 000.00,
such is insufficient to sustain a verdict on the money
laundering counts, where the jury found deposits in the
amount of $21, 000.00 identifiable as “proceeds of
unlawful activity.” (DE 388 at 2-3). Defendant argues,
therefore, “the verdict is inconsistent, and the
structuring counts must be dismissed for insufficiency of the
evidence” and “inconsistency of the
verdict.” (Id.). Defendant puts forth no case
law or further argument in support of his
Standard of Review
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.” Fed.R.Crim.P. 29(c)(1). A Rule 29 motion for
judgment of acquittal must be denied if when
“‘viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the government, any rational trier of facts
could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt.’” United States v. Harvey, 532
F.3d 326, 333 (4th Cir.2008) (quoting United States v.
Tresvant, 677 F.2d 1018, 1021 (4th Cir.1982)).
evidence was presented at trial to find defendant guilty on
the money laundering counts. In order to sustain a conviction
under 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)1)(B)(i) and (ii), the
government must prove: 1) defendant conducted or attempted to
conduct a financial transaction having at least a de minimis
effect on interstate commerce; 2) defendant knew that the
money or property involved in the financial transaction was
the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity; 3) the money
or property was, in fact, the proceeds of specified unlawful
activity; and 4) defendant knew that the financial
transaction was designed, in whole or in part, to conceal or
disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control
of the proceeds, and/or to avoid a transaction reporting
requirement under state or federal law. United States v.
Wilkinson, 137 F.3d 214, 220 (4th Cir. 1998). The court
will address the sufficiency of the evidence as to each
element in turn below.
Minimis Effect on Interstate Commerce
To be a
“financial transaction” as required by the
statute, the transaction must satisfy one of the four
requirements set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(4). Under
that provision, a financial transaction includes a
transaction that affects interstate or foreign commerce and
involves the use of a “monetary instrument, ”
which is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(5) as currency,
money orders, checks, travelers checks, investment
securities, or negotiable instruments in bearer forms.
Interstate nexus may be proven by evidence that the funds