United States District Court, D. Minnesota
M. Provinzino and Melinda A. Williams, Assistant United
States Attorneys, United States Attorney's Office,
counsel for Plaintiff.
C. Guerrero, Esq., Meshbesher & Spence, Ltd., counsel for
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM
DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Thoucharin
Ruttanamongkongul's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal on
Count 1 of the Third Superseding Indictment (Doc. No. 1008).
For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies
Third Superseding Indictment in the above-entitled matter
charged Defendant Thoucharin Ruttanamongkongul's
(“Ruttanamongkongul”) with Conspiracy to Commit
Sex Trafficking (Count 1), Conspiracy to Commit
Transportation to Engage in Prostitution (Count 3),
Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering (Count 4), and
Conspiracy to Use a Communication Facility to Promote
Prostitution (Count 5). (See Doc. No. 830.) All four
counts proceeded to trial by jury. On December 12, 2018, the
jury returned its verdict, finding Ruttanamongkongul guilty
of all counts. (Doc. No. 1000.)
now moves, pursuant to Rule 29(c) of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure, for judgment of acquittal on Count 1 of
the Third Superseding Indictment. (Doc. No. 1009
(“Memo.”) at 1.) Count 1 charged that:
From in or about January 2009 through in or about May 2017,
in the State and District of Minnesota and elsewhere,
[Ruttanamongkongul] did, in and affecting interstate and
foreign commerce, knowingly conspire with one another and
others, known and unknown to the grand jury, to recruit,
entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, and maintain, by
any means, a person, and benefited, financially and by
receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture
which engaged in the previously described acts, and knowing
that means of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion, and
any combination of such means would be used to cause the
person to engage in a commercial sex act, and attempted to do
so, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections
1591(a), 1591(b)(1), and 194(a).
No. 830 ¶ 7). Ruttanamongkongul argues that the Court
must vacate the jury's verdict on Count 1 and enter a
judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence
to convict her of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
(Id.) The Government opposes Ruttanamongkongul's
motion. (Doc. No. 1018.)
reasons discussed below, the Court finds that sufficient
evidence exists to support the verdict reached by the jury as
to Count 1 of the Third Superseding Indictment. Therefore,
the Court denies Ruttanamongkongul's Rule 29(c) motion
for judgment of acquittal.
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, a district court must
enter a judgment of acquittal if the evidence presented at
trial is insufficient to sustain a conviction. Fed. R. Crim.
P. 29(a), (c). “The standard for determining whether
evidence is insufficient is very strict, requiring acquittal
only where there is ‘no interpretation of the evidence
that would allow a reasonable jury to find the defendant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.'” U.S. v.
Munoz, No. 11B167, 2012 WL 2021143 (D. Minn. July 25,
2012) (citing U.S. v. Gomez, 165 F.3d 650, 654 (8th
Cir. 1999)). The Court makes this determination with very
limited latitude. U.S. v. Thompson, 285 F.3d 731,
733 (8th Cir. 2002). Even if the evidence rationally
supported two conflicting hypotheses, the court will not
disturb the conviction. Ortega v. U.S., 270 F.3d
540, 544 (8th Cir. 2001). The Court does not “weigh the
evidence or assess the credibility of the witnesses.”
Id. The Court views the “evidence in the light
most favorable to the government, resolving conflicts in the
government's favor, and accepting all reasonable
inferences that support the verdict.” U.S. v.
Lewis, 895 F.3d 1004, 1008 (8th ...