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UNITED STATES v. STRONG

March 6, 1985

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RUSSELL STRONG


Huyett, J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HUYETT

HUYETT, J

FINDINGS OF FACT, DISCUSSION, AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 Presently pending before me are the government's applications to request the assistance of the judiciaries of Hong Kong and Singapore and for the exclusion of time under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161 et seq. These motions present several novel issues of law. In order to set them in the proper framework, I will very briefly describe the nature of the charges against the defendant.

 Defendant Strong is charged with five counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 287 (filing false claims). It is alleged that Strong filed false amended tax returns in the names of several Americans who resided in Indonesia. Each of these amended returns would have resulted in large refunds to the taxpayers. It is alleged that Strong directed that the refund checks be sent to two addresses in Hong Kong. One of these was a post office box registered to the name of Puta Caliente Ltd., a Hong Kong Corporation. The other address was the location of Golden Trinity Ltd., another Hong Kong corporation. It is further alleged that Strong was personally involved in both of these businesses.

 On February 22, 1985, I held oral argument on the government's motions. I have decided to grant the government's applications and to exclude the time necessary under the Speedy Trial Act. In support of that decision, I make the following findings of fact. *fn1"

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. On January 3, 1985 a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania returned a five-count indictment charging the defendant Russell Strong with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 287 (filing false claims against the United States).

 2. On January 17, 1985, the defendant was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty on all counts before United States Magistrate Peter B. Scuderi.

 3. On January 28, 1985, the government filed separate applications to this court to request the assistance of the judiciary of Hong Kong and the judiciary of Singapore in the preparation of this case for trial.

 4. Simultaneous with the filing of the requests for judicial assistance, the government filed a motion, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161(h)(3)(A), 3161(h)(8), and 3161(h)(1)(F), requesting that excludable time in this matter be computed and entered on the record from the date of the filing of the requests for judicial assistance until such time as the requests are either granted or denied by the respective foreign judiciaries or other prompt disposition is made.

 5. During the investigation of this case, in January and February, 1983, the government learned through an interview with Max Brown, an American citizen residing in Hong Kong, that Shirley Chan, a citizen of Hong Kong, had important information. Specifically, Brown advised the IRS investigator of the following:

 a. Shirley Chan, a director of Golden Trinity Limited, had received a series of written instructions from Russell Strong using the alias of Pedro. In one letter, Chan was directed to open Post Office Box 20343 for Strong's company, Puta Caliente. This post office box, according to the government, is the same address which was used on the amended tax returns for Harvey and Siti Z. Goldstein as charged in Counts 3 and 4 of the indictment.

 b. In another letter, Chan was instructed by Strong, under the alias of Pedro, to mail two letters to the IRS with Hong Kong stamps and not a franking machine.

 c. Another letter from Strong, using the alias of Pedro, questioned whether any checks had come in for clients of Pedro.

 d. Chan also received instructions from Strong concerning the handling of a United States treasury check made payable to Leon Moore. The submission of fraudulent amended tax returns in the name of Leon and Dorothy D. Moore are charged in Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment.

 6. Max Brown stated to the IRS investigator that he had received this information from Chan and also from examining documents in the files of Golden Trinity Limited and Puta Caliente in Hong Kong.

 7. Brown declined to allow the IRS investigator to examine the corporate files and Chan declined to be interviewed or deposed with regard to these matters. Both Chan and Brown took the position that without an order from a Hong Kong court they would expose themselves to civil liability.

 8. At the hearing on these motions, the government introduced into evidence, as government exhibits G-1 and G-2 respectively, the transcripts for the separate interviews of Shirley Chan and Max Brown conducted by the IRS investigator in Hong Kong in January and February, 1983.

 10. On August 15, 1983, in a written letter attached as Exhibit A to the government's reply memorandum of law filed on February 19, 1985, the Office of International Affairs advised that the Hong Kong court would most likely not cooperate with the request based on the needs of the grand jury, but would cooperate with the request after indictment.

 11. For this reason, the government waited until after indictment to file the requests for assistance of the judiciary of Hong Kong.

 12. In November of 1983, a grand jury subpoena was issued to Citibank in New York requesting the production of bank records for Russell and Catherine Strong at Citibank in Singapore.

 13. In January of 1984, Citibank declined to produce the subpoenaed documents, citing the financial privacy laws of Singapore which prescribe criminal sanctions for disclosure of ...


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