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United States of America v. Frank E. Peters

December 21, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
FRANK E. PETERS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court Buffalo, New York

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 22, 2003, a federal grand jury returned an 18-count Indictment against Defendant Frank E. Peters and his co-defendants, Mark Hoffman*fn1 and Gregory Samer,*fn2 relating to an alleged scheme to defraud Chase Manhattan Bank ("Chase"), a federally-insured financial institution. (Docket No. 1.) Peters controlled two corporate entities - World Auto Parts, Inc., and Big Horn Core, Ltd. - that had an asset-based revolving line of credit with Chase. In short, the government charged that the defendants conspired to defraud Chase by falsely overvaluing assets used to secure and maintain the revolving line of credit.

On July 30, 2007, after a ten week trial, the jury convicted Defendant Frank E. Peters of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 2; one count of making a false statement to a bank in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1014 and 2; one count of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344 and 2; two counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 2; and one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 2. (Docket No. 338.)

The jury acquitted Peters of three other counts of making a false statement to a bank in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1014 and 2, and at the conclusion of the government's proof, this Court dismissed a single count of money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1957 and 2, and three counts of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, pursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Docket Nos. 254, 255, 270, 338.)

Presently before this Court is Peters's Motion for a New Trial based on newly discovered evidence, pursuant to Rule 33 and Brady v. Maryland.*fn3 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). (Docket No. 479.) The government opposes the motion. For the reasons discussed below, Peters's motion is denied.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Rule 33

Rule 33 authorizes the court to "vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." Eberhart v. United States, 546 U.S. 12, 13, 126 S.Ct. 403, 403, 163 L.Ed.2d 14 (2005) (per curiam). A new trial based on newly discovered evidence is granted "only upon a showing that the evidence could not with due diligence have been discovered before or during trial, that the evidence is material, not cumulative, and that admission of the evidence would probably lead to an acquittal." United States v. Alessi, 638 F.2d 466, 479 (2d Cir. 1980).

"In evaluating a Rule 33 motion based on newly discovered evidence, a court must 'exercise great caution' and order a new trial 'only in the most extraordinary circumstances.'" United States v. Collins, No. 07 Cr. 1170, 2010 WL 743178, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 3, 2010) (quoting United States v. Zagari, 111 F.3d 307, 322 (2d Cir. 1997), in turn quoting, United States v. Spencer, 4 F.3d 115, 118 (2d Cir. 1993)). The new evidence proffered in support of a Rule 33 motion must be admissible at trial. See United States v. Parker, 903 F.2d 91, 103 (2d Cir. 1990). "The ultimate test on a Rule 33 motion is whether letting a guilty verdict stand would be manifest injustice." United States v. Ferguson, 246 F.3d 129, 134 (2d Cir. 2001).

B. Maryland v. Brady

In Brady, the United States Supreme Court held that "the suppression of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution." 373 U.S. at 87. Subsequent cases have eliminated the requirement that a defendant request exculpatory evidence. See United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 108, 96 S.Ct. 2392, 49 L.Ed.2d 342 (1976); United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682, 105 S.Ct. 3375, 87 L.Ed.2d 481 (1985).

Brady is violated when the government suppresses favorable material evidence "if there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Bagley, 473 U.S. at 432. A Brady violation has three components: "[t]he evidence at issue must be favorable to the accused, either because it is exculpatory, or because it is impeaching; that evidence must have been suppressed by the State, either willfully or inadvertently; and prejudice must have ensued." Strickler v. Greene, 527 U.S. 263, 281-82, 119 S.Ct. 1936, 144 L.Ed.2d 286 (1999).

C. Newly Discovered Evidence

Peters contends that newly discovered evidence concerning five specific areas warrants a new trial. The government responds that the evidence Peters cites is not newly discovered and does not warrant the granting of a ...


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