November 29, 2012 4th Circuit published opinions

United States v Vaughan

Vaughan was pulled over for speeding. The officer became suspicious based on passengers nervousness, the presence of four cell phone sin the car including two prepaid phones and differing accounts of the cars recent travels. The officer asked for a drug dog to sweep the car. It alerted and the officers found crack cocaine. The stop up to the alert lasted 13 minutes. Vaughan moved to suppress the cocaine which the district court refused to do. On appeal, the panel affirmed. It held under the totality of the circumstances, including the nervousness, the four phones, and the contradictory travel stories, the officer had reasonable suspicion when he called for the drug dog.

United States v Day

Day participated in a scheme whereby he and others bid on low value Department of Defense contracts and supplying nonconforming goods. He moved to Mexico and had couriers bring his share of the proceeds in the form of gold. He was eventually arrested and extradited to the united Sates. He was convicted on several counts of fraud and money laundering and sentenced to over 100 years imprisonment. On appeal, the panel affirmed. It first held that charging the jury on aiding and abetting theory of liability did not amend the indictment or violate the extradition treaty with Mexico which only prohibits trial on a different offense. It next upheld a conviction for conspiring to commit transportation laundering. It first held the evidence was sufficient to demonstrate intent including evidence that Day was concerned the gold would be discovered and the multistop international journey of the gold. It further held that gold is a “fund” for purposes of the laundering statute given the ability to quickly exchange gold for cash and that Day treated the gold here as a cash equivalent. The panel held communications with coconspirators in Virginia provided sufficient basis for venue. It rejected two evidentiary challenges holding a government report was properly excluded as improperly prejudicial and the other acts introduced were intrinsic to Day’s criminal conduct. Finally, the panel affirmed the sentence holding bribe and escape attempts support an obstruction enhancement and the totality of the circumstances, including the risks to soldiers in the field, justified the guidelines sentence of over 100 years. It rejected a claim that the fine and forfeiture awards should be reversed holding that day’s own admissions supported the amount of the fine and day had no right to a jury determination of the amount of restitution.

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