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United States of America v. Gaya Gayatrinath

March 11, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
GAYA GAYATRINATH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



DECISION & ORDER

I. Introduction

Before the Court is a motion, filed March 12, 2010 by Defendant Gaya Gayatrinath ("Defendant"), a United States citizen, to dismiss Superseding Indictment S4 ("Indictment") on speedy trial grounds. See U.S. Const. amend. VI. The Indictment, filed April 28, 2003, charged Defendant and 14 others with bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344; conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; and conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), all in connection with "a fraudulent scheme to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from numerous major banks." (Indictment ¶ 36.)

In 2003 and 2004, 7 of Defendant's alleged co-conspirators pleaded guilty before this Court, and, on May 12, 2004, 5 others were convicted following a three week jury trial.*fn1 On April 22, 2008, 3 other alleged co-conspirators were convicted by a jury in London, England of conspiracy to defraud. See Press Release, United Kingdom's Serious Fraud Office, dated June 5, 2008 ("U.K. Press Release"), available at http://www.sfo.gov.uk/press-room/latest-press- releases/press-releases-2008/rbg-resources-plc-former-directors-jailed-for-$700m-worldwide-fraud.aspx.

In his motion, Defendant argues that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial because, among other reasons, while U.S. prosecutors initiated extradition proceedings in India and requested Defendant's arrest there even before Defendant's Indictment in April 2003, they "did not diligently follow-up" on those actions. (Def.'s Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot., dated Mar. 11, 2010 ("Def. Mem."), at 4, 13.)

On June 14, 2010, the Government filed an opposition to the instant motion, arguing, among other things, that (1) the Court should decline to hear Defendant's motion under the "fugitive disentitlement doctrine"; and (2) "much of the delay is attributable to [Defendant's] decision to contest extradition." (Govt.'s Opp'n to Mot., dated June 14, 2010 ("Opp'n"), at 2, 13, 14--15.)

On June 25, 2010, Defendant filed a reply. (Def. Reply Mem. of Law, dated June 25, 2010 ("Def. Reply").)

For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is denied.

II. Background

On May 6, 2002, Defendant traveled from the United States to India "upon hearing that [his] father had died" in India on May 4, 2002. (Affidavit of Def., dated Feb. 15, 2010 ("Def. Aff."), ¶ 4 & Ex. 1.) Pursuant to a sealed criminal complaint filed in this Court on May 13, 2002, the United States, on or about January 13, 2003, "sent a request to the Government of India for the provisional arrest of [Defendant] for purposes of his extradition." (Decl. of David P. Warner in Supp. of Govt., dated June 11, 2010 ("Govt. Decl."), ¶ 4; see Docket Entry #1 in 02 Cr. 673.) Although Defendant allegedly learned about the April 2003 Indictment "from newspapers in India" (Def. Aff. ¶ 5), he did not return to the United States to defend the charges against him because, he asserts, Defendant "decided to take ayurveda treatment" for asthma and diabetes, and because "he found solace in . . . observing, along with [his] brother, the year-long Hindu religious [rites] for [his] deceased father" (Def. Aff. ¶¶ 4--6.)

As noted, while the Government's request for Defendant's provisional arrest was still outstanding, the Court presided over a jury trial from April 19, 2004 to May 12, 2004 of six persons indicted along with Defendant. The jury found five of these defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. (It acquitted one defendant.) (See Jury Verdict, dated May 12, 2004.) The London jury referred to above convicted three others of "conspiracy to defraud." See U.K. Press Release.

On September 9, 2004, Indian officials arrested Defendant pursuant to the U.S. provisional arrest request. (See Govt. Decl. ¶ 4.) Defendant initially stated in an application to the Indian courts, dated September 14, 2004, that he was "ready and willing to appear before the Federal Court, South[ern] District of New York." (Def. Aff. Ex. 9, at 2.) "On December 1, 2004, the United States submitted a formal extradition request to the Government of India [for Defendant's] extradition for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, along with conspiracy to commit money laundering." (Govt. Decl. ¶ 6.) In support of this request, the United States also submitted a diplomatic note to the Indian Government. This note did not mention the money laundering charges brought in the Indictment. (Govt. Decl. ¶ 6.) On March 16, 2005, "India agreed to extradite [Defendant], but only for charges relating to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud." (Govt. Decl. ¶ 7.) In response, the United States, on March 22, 2005, "requested that the Government of India amend its decision and agree to extradite [Defendant] for money-laundering charges as well. On March 24, 2005, the Government of India complied with the U.S. request and included the money laundering charges as extraditable offenses." (Govt. Decl. ¶ 8.)

Upon learning of the Indian Government's March 24, 2005 decision to extradite Defendant for all charges brought in the Indictment, Defendant filed papers in the Indian courts arguing that the Government is not "justified in including the . . . charge in relation to conspiracy to commit money laundering." (Def. Aff. Ex. 24; see also Govt. Decl. ¶ 9.) Since then, Defendant has fought the Government's efforts to extradite him. (See, e.g., Def. Aff. ¶¶ 25, 38 & Exs. 24, 30.) On January 12, 2009, Defendant prevailed in a court in New Delhi which determined "nothing on record which can be legally read against [Defendant] to state that a prima facie case is made out in support" of the United States's extradition request. (Def. Aff. EX

30.) It appears that a petition by the United States challenging this ruling is pending. (See Def. Aff. ¶ 39; Decl. of Def., dated June 24, 2010, ¶ 6; Opp'n at 7 n.3.)

III. Analysis Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine Pursuant to the "fugitive disentitlement doctrine," which "provides that the fugitive from justice may not seek relief from the judicial system whose authority he or she evades," In re Grand Jury Subpoenas, 179 F. Supp. 2d 270, 285--86 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted), the Court declines to consider Defendant's motion, see United States v. Mann, No. S4 00 Cr. 632, 2003 WL 1213288, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 17, 2003). "A person can be said to be a fugitive when, while abroad, they learn that they are under indictment and make no effort to return to the United States to face charges." United States v. Blanco, 861 F.2d 773, 779 (2d Cir. 1988); see Grand Jury Subpoenas, 179 F. Supp. 2d at 287; Mann, 2003 WL 1213288, at *1. The Court "see[s] no reason ...


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