United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION & ORDER
VALERIE CAPRONI, United States District Judge
a five day trial, Defendant Rosanna Insaidoo a/k/a Roxanna
Pearson (“Ms. Insaidoo”) was convicted of:
conspiracy to commit embezzlement, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 371; embezzlement, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 666(a)(1)(a); conspiracy to launder money, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h); conspiracy to commit
mortgage fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; and
wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343. Ms.
Insaidoo moves for a judgment of acquittal as to her
convictions for embezzlement, embezzlement conspiracy, and
money laundering conspiracy. Alternatively, Ms. Insaidoo
moves for a new trial. For the following reasons, the motion
Insaidoo moves for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, asserting that there
was insufficient evidence to support the jury's
conclusion that she had the requisite knowledge necessary to
support her conviction for embezzlement, embezzlement
conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Ms. Insaidoo
argues that even when viewed in the light most favorable to
the Government, the evidence “gives nearly equal
circumstantial support to a theory of guilt and a theory of
innocence, and a rational juror would have . . . entertained
a reasonable doubt in this case.” Defendant Roxanna
Insaidoo's Memorandum of Law in Support of Her Motions
for a Judgment of Acquittal or a New Trial Pursuant to Rules
29 & 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
(“Mem.”) 3, Dkt. 47. Essentially, Ms. Insaidoo
urges that she was a “dupe” that “trust[ed]
that [Mr.] Insaidoo would properly attend to” the
affairs of United Block Association (“UBA”), a
non-profit that ran four senior centers and that received
federal funds. Mem. 12. The Government responds that the
evidence at trial was more than sufficient to sustain Ms.
Insaidoo's guilty convictions.
defendant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence
pursuant to Rule 29 “bears a heavy burden.”
United States v. Vilar, 729 F.3d 62, 91 (2d Cir.
2013) (quoting United States v. Coplan, 703 F.3d 46,
62 (2d Cir. 2012). A conviction must be upheld if
“any rational trier of fact could have found
the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt.” Id. (quoting Coplan, 703 F.3d
at 62). A judgment of acquittal is warranted “only if
the evidence that the defendant committed the crime alleged
is nonexistent or so meager that no reasonable jury could
find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” United
States v. Jiau, 734 F.3d 147, 152 (2d Cir. 2013)
(quoting United States v. Espaillet, 380 F.3d 713,
718 (2d Cir. 2004)).
considering the sufficiency of the evidence, the Court must
view the evidence “in its totality, not in isolation,
” United States v. Autuori, 212 F.3d 105, 114
(2d Cir. 2000), and “in the light most favorable to the
Government, ” United States v. George, 779
F.3d 113, 115 (2d Cir. 2015). All inferences and issues of
credibility must be resolved in favor of the Government, and
a guilty verdict may be based entirely on circumstantial
evidence. United States v. Zayac, 765 F.3d 112, 117
(2d Cir. 2014). In general, “the court must be careful
to avoid usurping the role of the jury.” United
States v. Guadagna, 183 F.3d 122, 129 (2d Cir. 1999).
case, the jury could reasonably find that Ms. Insaidoo had
the requisite knowledge to sustain her convictions for
embezzlement and embezzlement conspiracy. The evidence at
trial demonstrated that Ms. Insaidoo received more than $195,
000 from UBA, even though she worked very few hours at UBA as
a “health consultant.” Moreover, the evidence
demonstrated that she continued to be paid when she was out
of the country and obviously unable to provide health
services to UBA's clientele. The jury could reasonably
find, based on the totality of the evidence, that Ms.
Insaidoo knew that most of the money she received from UBA
was not legitimate compensation but instead had been
addition, the jury could reasonably find that Allied Home
Care (“Allied”) was a “charity”
jointly owned by Mr. and Ms. Insaidoo and that Ms. Insaidoo
knew that the money going into the Allied bank account had
been stolen from UBA. The evidence at trial demonstrated,
among other things, that: Ms. Insaidoo controlled and was a
signatory on the Allied bank account; she was a signatory on
and wrote checks from one of UBA's bank accounts (the
“0230 Board Account”) to Allied; Allied received
hundreds of thousands of dollars from the 0230 Board Account;
and Ms. Insaidoo signed checks from the Allied account for
her personal expenses. Ms. Insaidoo even concedes that the
evidence established that Ms. Insaidoo “was a signatory
on the 0230 [Board Account] and numerous checks paid to
Allied Home Care had her signature on them” and that
she “received checks payable to . . . herself [that]
were cashed.” Mem. 7-8. Although Ms. Insaidoo did not
sign all of the checks, and although the evidence against her
was circumstantial, there was sufficient evidence for a jury
to reasonably find that, far from being a “dupe,
” Ms. Insaidoo knew that the hundreds of thousands of
dollars being funneled into Allied had been stolen from UBA.
to her conviction for money laundering conspiracy, the
evidence at trial demonstrated that the embezzled UBA funds
were transferred in and out of the 0230 Board Account and
from that account to the Allied bank account before being
spent or sent to a foreign bank in Ghana. Because a
reasonable jury could find that Ms. Insaidoo knew that the
money had been stolen from UBA and that Ms. Insaidoo
nevertheless agreed to help move the stolen money through the
Allied account, the jury could reasonably find that Ms.
Insaidoo had the requisite mens rea for money
there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to
conclude that Ms. Insaidoo knowingly committed the crimes of
embezzlement, embezzlement conspiracy, and money laundering
conspiracy. Therefore, Ms. Insaidoo's Rule 29 motion for
a judgment of acquittal is DENIED.
Insaidoo also moves for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule
of Criminal Procedure 33, arguing that the jury's verdict
was against the weight of the evidence. The Government,
again, argues that the evidence was more than sufficient to
support her convictions. The Court agrees with the
to Rule 33, the Court may grant a new trial “if the
interest of justice so requires.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 33.
But motions for new trials are granted in only “the
most extraordinary circumstances, ” and only if the
court finds “a real concern that an innocent person may
have been convicted.” United States v.
Sanchez, 969 F.2d 1409, 1414 (2d Cir. 1992). If the
Court is satisfied that “competent, satisfactory and
sufficient evidence” in the record supports the guilty
verdict, then the motion for new trial must be denied.
Insaidoo argues that a new trial is required because the jury
considered against Ms. Insaidoo “spillover evidence
that should have been limited” to Mr. Insaidoo and that
evidence “so prejudiced Mrs. Insaidoo as to deprive her
of a fair trial.” Mem. 3. Ms. Insaidoo, however, does
not specify what evidence was prejudicial “spillover
evidence” that was not properly admissible against her.
In the context of an indictment that charged both ...