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United States v. Shabazz

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 23, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
AKILAH SHABAZZ, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Defendant Akilah Shabazz's Motion for Release Pending Appeal. (Doc. 142.) In November 2012, Mr. Shabazz pleaded guilty to Conspiracy and was convicted by a jury for crimes of Aggravated Identity Theft, Fraud and Related Activity, and Fictitious Obligations. He was sentenced to fifty-four months in prison on May 21, 2013 and seeks release pending the Third Circuit's resolution of his appeal. Because Mr. Shabazz has not shown by clear and convincing evidence that, if released, he would not be likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of another person or the community, his motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

In June 2012, Mr. Shabazz was charged in an eighteen-count Superseding Indictment with one count of Conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, nine counts of Aggravated Identity Theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1), one count of Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Identification Documents in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(3), and seven counts of Fictitious Obligations in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 514(a)(2). (Doc. 56.) Prior to the start of trial on November 5, 2012, Mr. Shabazz pleaded guilty to the Conspiracy charge. On November 7, 2012, after three days of trial, the jury returned a verdict finding him guilty of all seventeen counts remaining against him. (Doc. 132.) Mr. Shabazz filed a pro se Notice of Appeal on November 16, 2012. (Doc. 134.) The Third Circuit has stayed the appeal pending the Court's entry of a Judgment and Commitment order. (Doc. 136.)

On January 28, 2013, Mr. Shabazz filed his Motion for Release Pending Appeal. (Doc. 142.) He contends that release pending the Third Circuit's resolution of his appeal is warranted because he does not present a risk of flight or danger to the community and a favorable ruling on appeal would result in a complete reversal of all his convictions. (Doc. 143 at 1-3.) The government disagrees and argues that the motion should be denied because Mr. Shabazz cannot establish by clear and convincing evidence that he is not a flight risk or that he is not a danger to society, inter alia. (Doc. 145 at 2.)

Pursuant to Mr. Shabazz's request, the Court heard argument regarding his motion at his sentencing hearing on May 21, 2013. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b), a defendant who has appealed his conviction is entitled to release pending appeal only if a court finds:

(A) by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released...; and
(B) that the appeal is not for purposes of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in-
(i) reversal,
(ii) an order for a new trial,
(iii) a sentence that does not include a term of ...

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