The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, United States District Judge
Defendant is charged with use of a passport secured by a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542, and aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. On July 27, 2009, defendant moved in limine to exclude evidence of defendant's prior acquisition of a fraudulent passport under the name Ralph Nathan Stokes, and, at oral argument on August 4, 2009, moved to strike references to that alias as surplusage, should his motion in limine be granted.
Also on August 4, 2009, the government orally moved in limine to exclude evidence that defendant sought the fraudulent passport at issue in order to visit his family.
For the reasons set forth below, both defendant's and the government's motions are granted.
This opinion assumes familiarity with the procedural history of this case. The facts below reflect a summary of the findings made by the court in its order denying defendant's motion to suppress incriminatory statements made to agents of the United States Customs and Border Patrol ("CBP") and the Department of State ("DOS") on November 2 and 3, 2008. See generally United States v. Miller, 08-cr-860 (DLI), 2009 WL 2182382 (E.D.N.Y. July 21, 2009).
Defendant arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport ("JFK") airport on November 2, 2003 and was escorted by a flight attendant to the CBP primary passport control area, where he presented a passport in the name "Martin David Morris." He was immediately referred to secondary review because a National Crime Information Check revealed an outstanding warrant for his purported identity.
CBP Officers Victor Marrero and Frank Umowski conducted a secondary inspection of defendant and identified a number of discrepancies between the data available for Martin David Morris and the information offered by defendant. After interrogation, defendant effectively admitted to Officer Umowski that he was not Mr. Morris by providing his real social security number. That allowed the officer to discover an outstanding 1996 warrant issued by the Southern District of New York, based on defendant's efforts to obtain a passport in the name "Ralph Nathan Stokes." Officer Umowski contacted the DOS as the originating agency on the warrant, and transported defendant to meet with DOS Special Agent Eric Doelan, who arrested defendant.
After waiving his Miranda rights, defendant told Agent Doelan that he knew Mr. Stokes, who was in prison at the time, "very well" through an ex-girlfriend, Rosetta Stokes. (Hearing Tr. at 71:1-5.)*fn1 He stated that he did not purchase the name and identifiers or use them for financial gain, but wanted the passport to visit his children in Jamaica. Defendant "fled and went underground" when DOS agents tried to locate him based on the fraudulent passport in the name of Mr. Stokes. (Id. at 71:8-11.)
Defendant also admitted to Agent Doelan that he obtained the David Martin Morris passport and other documents from a person named Paul Perkins and that he used that identity for travel, not for financial gain. Defendant indicated that, although "of course" he believed that Mr. Morris was a real person and wanted to meet him, he was prevented from doing so by Mr. Perkins, who assured defendant that Mr. Morris "was in no trouble because he lived with his mother." (Id. at 71:13-22.) Defendant lived in the United Kingdom after acquiring the Martin David Morris identity, but was deported to the United States for overstaying the term of his visa.
I. Defendant's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of Prior Bad Act
Although defendant is charged with the use of a passport secured by a false statement and aggravated identity theft, defendant indicated in his motion in limine that he will only contest the aggravated identity theft charge at trial. (See Def.'s Mot. in Limine at 1.) To prevail on that charge, the government must show that defendant used Mr. Morris's identity to obtain a fraudulent passport with the knowledge that Mr. Morris was a real person. See Flores-Figueroa v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 1886, 1888 (2009) (holding that a person is guilty of identity theft only if he is aware that the identity he used belonged to a real person). The government hopes to introduce evidence of defendant's 1996 acquisition of a fraudulent passport under the name Ralph Nathan Stokes, to show that the defendant had ...