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United States of America v. Evens Claude

January 29, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EVENS CLAUDE



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DuBOIS, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

On June 6, 2012, a grand jury returned a Superseding Indictment charging defendant Evens Claude with two counts of conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, seven counts of possessing and/or passing counterfeit currency in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472, six counts of access device fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2), eight counts of aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A, two counts of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and twenty-three counts charging aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2. Presently before the Court is the Government's Motion in Limine to Admit Evidence of Defendant Evens Claude's Prior Conviction for Conspiracy, Passing, Uttering and Possessing Counterfeit Currency. The Court held oral argument on the motion on January 25, 2013. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the Government's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

The Superseding Indictment charges defendant Evens Claude with, inter alia, from in or about April 2010 through on or about June 18, 2010, conspiracy to traffic, possess, pass, and utter counterfeit currency. It also charges him with, inter alia, seven counts of possessing and/or passing counterfeit currency on various dates from on or about April 24, 2010 through on or about June 18, 2010.

The Government now seeks to introduce defendant's prior conviction for conspiracy and passing, uttering, and possessing counterfeit currency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 472, on January 31, 2012. (Mot. at 1.) That conviction was based on possessing and/or passing approximately $10,700 in counterfeit currency in Texas on June 18, 2010. The Government argues that it is "connected with and related to the counterfeiting conspiracy charged" in the instant case. (Mot. at 2.) It seeks the admission of this prior conviction under Federal Rules of Evidence 401 and 404(b).

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Evidence 401 provides that, "Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action."

Rule 404(b) generally prohibits the admission of evidence of past convictions as propensity evidence:

(1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person's character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.

However, "[t]his evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident." Fed. R. Evid. 404(b)(2).

In the Third Circuit, courts employ the following four-part test to evaluate the admissibility of evidence under Rule 404(b):

Evidence of uncharged crimes or wrongs must (1) have a proper evidentiary purpose; (2) be relevant; (3) satisfy Rule 403; and (4) be accompanied by a limiting instruction (where requested) about the purpose for which the jury may consider it.

United States v. Green, 617 F.3d 233, 249 (3d Cir. 2010). A proper purpose exists where the evidence is "probative of a material issue other than character." Id. at 250 (quoting Huddleston v. United States, 485 U.S. 681, 686 (1988)). This means the evidence "must fit 'into a chain of logical inferences, no link of which may be the inference that the defendant has the propensity to ...


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