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United States v. Rumore

July 14, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANTHONY RUMORE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Laura Taylor Swain, Usdj

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant Anthony Rumore ("Defendant" or "Rumore") is charged in a two-count indictment (the "Indictment") with (1) using his position as President of Local 812 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("Local 812" and the "IBT," respectively) and President of Joint Council 16 of the IBT ("Joint Council 16") to extort personal services from various employees of Local 812, in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951; and (2) embezzling the assets of a labor organization of which he was then an officer, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 501(c). Defendant has moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12 to dismiss the Indictment on the grounds that (1) prosecution based on any act of extortion or embezzlement alleged to have occurred before December 17, 2002, is barred by the statute of limitations; (2) the Indictment is impermissibly duplicitous; and (3) the union employees' time that Defendant allegedly embezzled does not constitute union "property" in the sense contemplated by 29 U.S.C. § 501(c) and thus its alleged misuse cannot form the basis of a valid prosecution under that statute. The Court has thoroughly reviewed and carefully considered all of the parties' submissions and, for the following reasons, grants the motion in part.

BACKGROUND

The Indictment, which charges Rumore with extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 ("Count One") and embezzlement of labor union assets in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 501(c) ("Count Two"), was returned on December 17, 2007. (See Docket Entry No. 1, Indictment ("Ind.")). The Indictment alleges that, from in or about 1988 until on or about September 10, 2004, Defendant used his positions as the president of Local 812 and Joint Counsel 16 to extort personal services from the officers and employees of Local 812. (See Ind. ¶¶ 4; 5; 9; 11.) Paragraph 11 of the Indictment identifies 20 different alleged instances of extortion of personal services from Local 812 officers and employees. This alleged conduct is the basis of a single count of extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and of a single count of embezzling labor union assets in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 501(c). (Ind. ¶¶ 12; 15.)

The Indictment does not specify the Local 812 officers and employees from whom Defendant allegedly extorted personal services. Instead, Paragraph 11 of the Indictment refers to Local 812 officers and employees generally as "Local 812 Employee" or "Local 812 Employees." According to the Indictment, the personal services alleged to have been extorted were frequently performed during business hours. (Ind. ¶ 9.) The earliest conduct described in Paragraph 11 allegedly occurred in or about 1988 and the most recent such conduct allegedly occurred in or about 2003. (Ind. ¶¶ 11a; 11r; see also ¶ 11t (specifying conduct occurring "in or about November 2003").) Of the twenty alleged instances of conduct, as described in the Indictment, thirteen occurred prior to December 17, 2002. Only three of the subdivisions of Paragraph 11 allege conduct that clearly occurred entirely after December 17, 2002. (Ind. ¶ 11.) Some of the personal services alleged to have been extorted include: chauffeuring Defendant and his daughters; transporting Defendant's personal belongings; moving Defendant's daughter's personal belongings; running errands in connection with Defendant's daughter's wedding; doing work on Defendant's house and property; and erecting a tent in preparation for a personal social event. (Ind. ¶ 11.) The Indictment alleges that the Local 812 officers and employees performed these services out of a reasonable fear that refusal would result in economic harm, including the loss of their union employment. (Ind. ¶ 10.)

DISCUSSION

Defendant's motion is three-pronged. First, Defendant moves to dismiss Counts One and Two on statute of limitations grounds, to the extent that they are based on conduct that occurred more than five years before the Indictment was returned. Second, Defendant moves to dismiss both counts on the grounds that they are impermissibly duplicitous and, third, Defendant moves to dismiss Count Two on the ground that the personal services he allegedly extorted from employees were not union assets within the meaning of 29 U.S.C. § 501(c)'s prohibition on embezzlement or conversion of a labor organization's "property . . . or other assets."

A. Statute of Limitations Argument

The parties agree that, because neither of the charged statutory offenses specifies a limitations period, the 18 U.S.C. § 3282 five-year limitations period applies to both counts. See 18 U.S.C. § 3282. Defendant argues that application of this limitations period mandates dismissal of Counts One and Two to the extent that they are based on conduct that occurred prior to December 17, 2002 -- five years before the Indictment was returned.

1. Count One

The Government argues that none of the conduct enumerated in paragraph 11 of the Indictment is time-barred as a basis for prosecution and conviction because Count One alleges a continuing offense. A continuing offense "involves a prolonged course of conduct; its commission is not complete until the conduct has run its course." U.S. v. Rivera-Ventura,72 F.3d 277, 281 (2d Cir. 1995). "[T]he limitations period for a continuing offense does not begin until the offense is complete," id., thereby allowing prosecution of conduct that might otherwise be time-barred.

The Supreme Court has recognized that there is tension between the purpose of a statute of limitation -- a statute of repose that is intended, in the criminal context, to prevent individuals from having to defend against charges based on events that occurred long ago -- and the continuing offense doctrine, which "for all practical purposes, extends the statute beyond its stated term." Toussie v. United States, 397 U.S. 112, 115 (1970); see also Rivera-Ventura, 72 F.3d at 281. It has instructed the lower courts to interpret statutes of limitation liberally in favor of repose and refrain from construing crimes as continuing offenses "unless the explicit language of the substantive criminal statute compels such a conclusion, or the nature of the crime involved is such that Congress must assuredly have intended that it be treated as a continuing one." Toussie, 397 U.S. at 115.

The Court finds it inappropriate to treat the alleged extortionate conduct, as charged in Count One of the Indictment, as a continuing offense. Neither the explicit language of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 nor the nature of the crime supports the notion that Congress intended the collection of actions charged here to be treated as a continuing crime.*fn1 The statute contemplates an offense that can be completed in a single act. The Indictment at issue here alleges a large number of discrete acts of extortion, committed over an extended period of time and involving an unspecified number of unidentified individuals. The only relationship among the acts, as described in the Indictment, derives from the individuals' common employment relationship with Local 812 and the Defendant's position with Local 812 and Joint Council 16. (See Ind. ¶ 11.)

The Government relies on United States v. Smith, 198 F.3d 377 (2d Cir. 1999), for the proposition that the Second Circuit has explicitly held that extortion under the Hobbs Act is a continuing offense. In Smith, the Second Circuit held that a Hobbs Act violation was a continuing offense for the purpose of venue and observed that "[s]everal courts have held that Hobbs Act and extortion crimes involving multiple payments are continuing offenses for purposes of statutes of limitations." Smith, 198 F.3d at 384 (citing United States Textiles, Inc. v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc., 911 F.2d 1261 (7th Cir. 1990); United States v. Bucci, 839 F.2d 825 (1st Cir. 1988); and United States v. Aliperti, 867 F. Supp. 142 (E.D.N.Y. 1994).) Smith and the cases cited therein, however, are distinguishable from this case. In Smith, the extortionate conduct in question, which was committed by two participants in the scheme in two districts, involved weekly collections by extortionate means from two specific victims over a one- to two-year period. Smith, 198 F.3d at 384-85. The conduct analyzed for venue purposes in Smith thus clearly constituted a "single, continuous plan of ...


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