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United States v. Pierre

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 31, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
Frantz Pierre, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted March 13, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - St. Paul.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Joseph H. Thompson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

For Frantz Pierre, Defendant - Appellant: Robert W. Owens Jr., Owens Law, LLC, Bloomington, MN.

Frantz Pierre, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Parkland, FL.

Before WOLLMAN and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges, and WHITE,[1] District Judge.

OPINION

COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

This is an interlocutory appeal from an order of the district court[2] denying Frantz Pierre's motion to dismiss an indictment on double jeopardy grounds. A grand jury in Minnesota charged Pierre with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of money laundering. He argues that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment bars the prosecution because he was previously convicted in Florida for the same conspiracy offense charged in the Minnesota indictment. We conclude that the prior conviction did not encompass either the same conspiracy as the present charged conspiracy or the money laundering offense charged in the Minnesota indictment. We therefore affirm the district court's order.

I.

In May 2013, a grand jury in the District of Minnesota charged Pierre and three co-defendants with conspiracy to defraud the government, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286. The indictment alleges that the defendants agreed to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by submitting false tax returns and claiming undeserved tax refunds. According to the charge, Pierre and his co-conspirators filed approximately 1066 false tax returns, claiming approximately $6.9 million in fraudulent refunds, from July 2010 through May 2011. They used social security numbers belonging to Florida prisoners on returns for tax years 2009 and 2010. The defendants also allegedly incorporated fictitious businesses in Minnesota, opened bank accounts on behalf of those businesses, and collected tax refunds in the bank accounts. In a second count, the indictment charged Pierre with money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.

In September 2012, before the Minnesota indictment was returned, Pierre and two co-defendants were indicted in the Southern District of Florida. Pierre's co-defendants in the Florida indictment were not mentioned in the Minnesota indictment. The Florida indictment charged all defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States under 18 U.S.C. § 286, conspiracy to use unauthorized access devices under § 1029(b)(2), use of unauthorized access devices under § 1029(a)(2), and aggravated identity theft under § 1028A(a)(1). The indictment also charged Pierre with possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices ( i.e., debit cards and social security numbers), in violation of § 1029(a)(3).

The Florida indictment alleged that Pierre and his co-conspirators agreed to file fraudulent tax returns, use debit cards to receive tax refunds, and withdraw fraudulently-obtained proceeds from those debit cards. At trial, the government presented evidence that defendants used social security numbers of Florida prisoners on false tax returns for tax year 2009. The defendants filed approximately 338 tax returns and claimed approximately $2.2 million in refunds. To collect the refunds, defendants applied for pre-paid debit cards on behalf of a fictitious business and directed the Internal Revenue Service to deposit tax refunds onto the debit cards. Defendants withdrew approximately $560,000 from the debit cards. On June 1, 2010, law enforcement discovered some of the cards in a traffic stop and then froze all debit cards registered to the business. Agents searched Pierre's Florida home in July 2012 and recovered seventy debit cards and a USB drive containing a list of social security numbers. A jury convicted Pierre on all counts charged against him in the Florida indictment.

In the present case, Pierre moved three times to dismiss his indictment on double jeopardy grounds, and the district court denied the motions. Pierre filed this interlocutory appeal, arguing that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars the indictment against him because the indictment charges him with the same conspiracy for which he was convicted in Florida. ...


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