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United States v. Hallinan

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 29, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHARLES M. HALLINAN, et al.

          ORDER

          EDUARDO C. ROBRJJNO, J.

         AND NOW, this 29th day of December, 2016, upon review of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and the Government's response thereto, [1] it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 65) is DENIED.[2]

         AND IT IS SO ORDERED.

---------

Notes:

[1] Because counsel simply "incorporate[d] by reference" what other lawyers filed in another case, oral argument would not be helpful in this case.

[2] Before the Court is Defendants Hallinan and Neff's motion to dismiss Counts One and Two, the RICO conspiracy counts.

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3)(B)(v) allows a criminal defendant to file a pretrial motion to dismiss an indictment on the basis that the indictment fails to state an offense. An indictment may fail to state an offense "if the specific facts alleged in the charging document fall beyond the scope of the relevant criminal statute, as a matter of statutory interpretation." United States v. Panarella, 277 F.3d 678, 685 (3d Cir. 2002). "The question is merely whether the indictment put the defendants on notice as to the nature of the charges against them, and whether the facts, if proven, are sufficient as a matter of law for a jury to convict." United States v. Ligambi, No. 09-496, 2012 WL 2362636, at *1 (E.D. Pa. June 21, 2012) (Robreno, J.).

When considering a motion to dismiss an indictment, the court accepts as true the factual allegations contained in the indictment and determines only whether the indictment is valid on its face. See Boyce Motor Lines v. United States, 342 U.S. 337, 343 n.16 (1952).

Hallinan and Neff argue the following:

1. The defendants are charged in Counts One and Two of the indictment with knowingly conspiring to collect unlawful debts in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"). Stated succinctly, the government alleges that between the time period of 1997 until 2013, the defendants conspired to collect loans that had usurious interest rates under the laws of some of the states in which the loans were made through the use of allegedly "sham" relationships with at first a federally-insured bank and later with sovereign Indian tribes.
2. RICO defines an "unlawful debt" as one "which is unenforceable under State or Federal law in whole or in part as to principal or interest because of the laws relating to usury . . . where the usurious rate is at least twice the enforceable rate." 18 U.S.C. § 1961(6). Thus, in order to charge a RICO offense in Counts One and Two the government must plead facts which would establish that the loans made initially through the bank and later through the Indian tribes were "unenforceable" as to either principal or interest under the applicable State or Federal laws relating to usury.

Mot. Dismiss ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 65. Defendants apparently contend that the indictment does not contain such facts, because "the doctrine of Tribal Sovereign Immunity precludes application of state usury laws to loans that are made by tribal entities." Id. ¶ 3. In other words, for example, an Indian tribe can make a loan to a Pennsylvania resident, even if the loan would be illegal in Pennsylvania.

Defendants do not actually set out their own argument, but instead attach a motion to dismiss filed by other counsel in another case - United States v. Tucker, case number 16-CR-91, now pending in the Southern District of New York - and "incorporate [the Tucker memorandum] by ...


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