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United States v. Atias

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 24, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SOPHIA ATIAS and JOSEPH ATIAS, Defendants.

          APPEARANCES: For the Government: Robert Capers United States Attorney By: Charles Kelly, A.U.S.A. Burton T. Ryan, Jr., A.U.S.A. For Sophia Atias: LaRusso Conway & Bartling, LLP By: Robert P. LaRusso, Esq. For Joseph Atias: Jeffrey T. Schwartz, Esq. Law Offices of Jeffrey T. Schwartz

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DENIS R. HURLEY, U.S.D.J.

         By letter dated February 20, 2017 (“Defs.' Feb. 20, 2017 Letter”), defendants seek, via a motion in limine, to preclude the government from introducing at trial “recently produced tax records due to its [sic] prejudicial impact on the defense of the charges in the indictment . . . under FRE 403." (Defs.' Feb. 20, 2017 Letter at 1.)

         POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

         The rationale underlying the motion is synopized by the defense thusly:

We submit that the questionable tax documents that the government seeks to introduce at trial are inadmissible for a number of reasons, including (1) its [sic] irrelevancy to any meaningful issue at trial; and (2) its [sic] impermissible introduction of other criminal conduct, tax fraud, establishing our client's [sic] propensity to commit the charged crime prohibited by FRE 404(b), and the overriding prejudicial effect of such damaging evidence preventing the jury from fairly evaluating our defense that the defendants did not “knowingly intent” [sic] to submit a false loan application (Count 3) or intent [sic] to defraud the Bank of America (Counts 1 and 2) or steal Medicaid money from the Federal government.

Id. at 5.

         The government, by letter dated and filed on February 23, 2017, addressed defendants' concerns seriatim.

         As to relevancy, the government argues:

[T]he records defendants seek to preclude from admission into evidence are divided chronologically into (i) the returns and related records for the years 2004-2008 (“The Early Tax Returns”)(Government Exhibits (“GEx.”) 46-50, 52), and (ii) such records for 2010-2013 (“The Later Tax Returns and Related Records”), GEx. 54-59. The Early Tax Returns are relevant on Count Three, the False Loan Applications charge under Title 18, U.S.C. Section 1014 which relates to a loan application filed on June 1, 2007 and states, in relevant part, that: “the defendants SOFIA ATIAS and JOSEPH ATIAS stated and represented that defendant SOFIA ATIAS had been employed by the New York Forex Fund for the past three years and had a monthly income of $23, 255 when, in fact, as the defendants then and there well knew and believed, she had not been so employed for the preceding three years and had no such income.”

(Gov't's Feb. 23, 2017 Letter at 1-2, quoting from Count Three of the Indictment.)

         The “[e]arly [t]ax [r]eturns, ” and/or related employment information furnished by defendants to their accountant, will demonstrate, the government proffers, that the representations as to her employment and income were wholly fabricated. Moreover, reference to the temporally pertinent corporate tax returns of New York Forex Fund, which supposedly paid her the claimed $23, 255 per month, fails to reflect any such payments, or so the government contends. Id. at 2.

         With respect to the “[t]he [l]ater [t]ax [r]eturns[1] and [r]elated [r]ecords, ” these documents represent part of the prosecution's proof as to ...


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