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United States v. Ikoli

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 27, 2017

United States of America,
v.
Sadae Ikoli et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          ALISON J. NATHAN United States District Judge.

         The defendants in this case are charged with conspiring to, and committing, bank fraud. Before the Court are various pretrial motions filed by Defendants Elijah Ellis and Justice Green. These motions include a motion to suppress, a motion for a Wade hearing, motions for various pretrial disclosures, and motions for a bill of particulars.

         I. Background

         This was a nine-defendant conspiracy and bank fraud case.[1] Superseding Indictment (Dkt No. 70). As explained below in the section addressing the defendants' motions for a bill of particulars, the factual allegations in the indictment are sparse. The Government, however, provides some factual detail in its briefing in opposition to the defense motions. See Gov't Opp. at 2-3 (Dkt No. 134). Therefore, for purposes of this Memorandum & Order, the Court draws from the Government's opposition brief in addition to the indictment when describing the basic facts of this case.

         The Government alleges that the defendants in this case committed bank fraud by cashing fake checks, valued at just under $1, 000, in rapid succession at various banks across four states. Id. According to the Government, this fraud was perpetrated by a conspiracy comprised of three groups of people: the "Recruiters, " the "Account Holders, " and the "Check Makers." Id. at 3. The Government alleges that the Recruiters would seek out Account Holders, either through existing friendships, on social media, or through the recruitment of randomly selected people on the street. Id. The Recruiters would give the Account Holders approximately $ 1, 000 to deposit into either newly opened or previously existing bank accounts. Id. The Check Makers would give the Recruiters fake checks, usually in amounts just under $1, 000. Id. At the instruction of the Recruiters, the Account Holders would cash the same fake check at multiple different bank branches so quickly that the banks did not realize what was occurring, resulting in the same fake check being cashed multiple times. Id. at 2-3. The check cashing occurred in various banks across Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Id. The money made from the fraudulent transactions was split among the members of the conspiracy. Id. at 3.

         On February 22, 2016, a Grand Jury indicted eight individuals with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349) and one count of bank fraud (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344). Dkt No. 1. On May 16, 2016, the Grand Jury returned a superseding indictment adding another defendant (non-moving defendant Melissa Mercado) and charging the defendants with the same two offenses. Dkt No. 70; Gov't Opp. at 3.

         II. Discussion

         Before the Court are various pretrial motions filed by two of the defendants in this case.[2]Defendant Justice Green has filed a suppression motion, a motion for Rule 404(b) disclosures, and a motion for a bill of particulars. Defendant Elijah Ellis has filed a motion for a Wade hearing, a motion for various pretrial disclosures, including Brady/Giglio, Rule 404(b), and Bruton disclosures, and a motion for a bill of particulars.

         As explained below, the Court concludes that factual disputes necessitate an evidentiary hearing for the motion to suppress filed by Green. However, the Court denies Elijah Ellis's motion for a Wade hearing. The Court also denies the requests for various pretrial disclosures. Additionally, in light of the Government's representation that it will provide more detailed information regarding the discovery, the Court presently denies the requests for a bill of particulars.

         A. Joinder of Motions

         Both defendants requested that they be permitted to join their co-defendants' pretrial motions. Elijah Ellis Mot. at 2 (Dkt No. 117); Green Mot. at 1 (Dkt No. 108). The Court grants these requests, and to the extent applicable, all decisions made by the Court will apply to both defendants.

         B. Green's Motion to Suppress

         Green seeks to suppress various physical evidence seized by the police and statements made by him in the wake of a July 20, 2015 traffic stop. Green Memo, at 5-11 (Dkt No. 111). Additionally, he seeks to suppress a cell phone seized from his home after his February 22, 2016 arrest. Id. at 11-15. In the alternative, Green requests an evidentiary hearing to address these issues. Id. at 11.

         "[A]n evidentiary hearing on a motion to suppress ordinarily is required if the moving papers are sufficiently definite, specific, detailed, and non conjectural to enable the court to conclude that contested issues of fact going to the validity of the search are in question." United States v. Watson,404 F.3d 163, 167 (2d Cir. 2005) (citations and quotation marks omitted). In other words, "the defendant must show that contested issues of fact exist necessitating an evidentiary hearing." United States v. Shaw,260 F.Supp.2d 567, 570 (E.D.N.Y.2003) (citing United States v. Jailall, No. 00 CR 069, 2000 WL 1368055, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 20, 2000)). A defendant can satisfy this requirement by providing an affidavit of ...


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