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United States v. Cean

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 24, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CASSANDRA CEAN, Defendant.

Maria Cruz Melendez, Margaret E. Gandy, LORETTA E. LYNCH, United States Attorney, EDNY, Brooklyn, New York. Attorneys for the United States

Louis M. Freeman, FREEMAN, NOOTER & GINSBERG New York, NY. Attorney for Cassandra Cean.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

STERLING JOHNSON, Jr., Senior District Judge.

On June 16, 2010, Cassandra Cean ("Defendant" or "Cean") was charged with conspiring to engage in wire fraud in connection to an alleged mortgage fraud scheme. The matter proceeded to trial at which, on October 9, 2013, Cean was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. She was acquitted of one count of wire fraud. Cean now moves the Court for a new trial pursuant to Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or, in the alternative, an evidentiary hearing. Based on the submissions of the parties, and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Rule 33 motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Defendant moves the Court for a new trial, claiming that two jurors purposefully concealed their biases by providing false and misleading answers during voir dire thereby depriving her of her Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury. Given the discrete nature of the Defendant's Motion, only the relevant portions of the record will be repeated here.

Chief Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold conducted the jury voir dire on September 30, 2013. At that proceeding, the Magistrate informed the prospective jurors that the case involved a mortgage fraud scheme. (Tr. of Voir Dire, Sept. 30, 2013 ("Voir Dire"), at 15.) The Magistrate explained that the prospective jurors were under oath and should answer questions honestly and conscientiously. He stressed the importance of their obligation to "render a verdict fairly and impartially." (Voir Dire at 10, 12.)

Chief Magistrate Judge Gold informed the prospective jurors that he would ask them questions and that they should raise their hands if their answer was yes. (Voir Dire at 19.) Among other mortgage-related questions, the Magistrate Judge asked whether any of the prospective jurors had ever obtained a mortgage; whether any were involved in a mortgage transaction that they believed involved fraud; and whether any had a negative experience with a mortgage broker or mortgage service (Voir Dire at 61-62.) The Magistrate provided the prospective jurors with questionnaires, and questioned each prospective juror individually.

Juror Number 6

Magistrate Judge Gold questioned Mr. Kiel A. James ("Juror Number 6") about his background. Juror Number 6 replied:

THE PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I live in Jamaica Queens. I've been living there for 28 years. I rent. I have my bachelor's in accounting. I currently work for JetBlue.
THE COURT: What do you do for JetBlue?
THE PROSPECTIVE JUROR: I'm in their admin department helping them with payroll. I've been there for four years. I don't supervise anyone. I'm married. My wife's an RN. We have one child. Yeah, and I can be fair and impartial.

(Voir Dire at 74.) Juror Number 6 raised his hand when Magistrate Judge Gold asked if any of the prospective jurors: (1) had ever had a mortgage, and (2) had ever ...


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