United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO United States District Judge
criminal action, a twenty-one count Superseding Indictment
was returned on June 1, 2016, charging Defendant with several
violations of federal law, including wire fraud, conspiracy
to commit wire fraud, and administering misbranded drugs to
racehorses and conspiracy to do the same, arising out of
Defendant's alleged direction to others to administer
prohibited substances to racehorses before sixteen separate
horse races at Penn National Race Course in Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania. (See Doc. 45.)
before the court is the Government's motion for
reconsideration of the court's order (Doc. 69) to exclude
certain statements made by Defendant during an interview with
the F.B.I. from being introduced at trial. (Doc. 72.) The
Government submitted a brief in support of its motion on
December 8, 2016 (Doc. 73), Defendant filed an opposition on
December 23, 2016 (Doc. 75), and the court heard argument
from the parties during a telephone conference held on
January 10, 2017. For the reasons that follow, the
Government's motion will be denied.
Relevant Facts & Procedural History
discussed in the court's November 22, 2016 order,
Defendant has been a horse trainer or otherwise involved in
the horse racing industry for more than twenty-five years. As
alleged in the Superseding Indictment, the Government became
aware that Defendant had been directing others in the care of
her race horses to administer prohibited substances to the
horses on race days, specifically in relation to sixteen
separate races at Penn National Race Course between December
of 2009 and November of 2013.
April 7, 2015, Defendant appeared at the Harrisburg office of
the F.B.I. to be interviewed by F.B.I. Special Agent Bruce
Doupe, Jr. (“Agent Doupe”). During the interview,
Agent Doupe referred to the administration of substances or
medications to horses on race days, and asked Defendant
whether “she had done any of that, ” but did not
include a timeframe or any specific races in the question.
Defendant replied, “you know I did, you have my
records.” On October 31, 2016, Defendant filed a motion
in limine to exclude her statement (Doc. 58),
which the Government opposed (Doc. 62). By order dated
November 22, 2016 (Doc. 69), the court granted
Defendant's motion in limine, pursuant to
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 403 and 404(b), to
exclude Defendant's response of “you know I did,
you have my records, ” from being introduced at trial.
may reconsider an interlocutory order “whenever
‘consonant with justice to do so.'”
Qazizadeh v. Pinnacle Health Sys., Civ. No.
14-cv-2037, 2016 WL 5787352, *2 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 4, 2016)
(quoting St. Mary's Area Water Auth. v. St. Paul Fire
& Marine Ins. Co., 472 F.Supp.2d 630, 632 (M.D. Pa.
2007)) (then quoting United States v. Jerry, 487
F.2d 600, 605 (3d Cir. 1973)). Motions for reconsideration
may also be appropriate in instances “where, for
example, the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has
made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to
the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of
reasoning but of apprehension.” Reaves v. Pa. State
Police, Civ. No. 09-cv-2549, 2014 WL 486741, *3 (M.D.
Pa. Feb. 6, 2014) (quoting Rohrbach v. AT&T Nassau
Metals Corp., 902 F.Supp. 523, 527 (M.D. Pa. 1995)).
“‘A motion for reconsideration is not to be used
as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of
or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement
between the Court and the litigant.'” Ogden v.
Keystone Residence, 226 F.Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa.
2002) (quoting Abu-Jamal v. Horn, Civ. No.
99-cv-5089, 2001 WL 1609761, *9 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 18, 2001)).
Likewise, motions for reconsideration may not be used to
raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been
presented prior to the order in question. See
Qazizadeh, 2016 WL 5787352 at *2 (citing McDowell
Oil Serv., Inc. v. Interstate Fire & Cas. Co., 817
F.Supp. 538, 541 (M.D. Pa. 1993)).
motion for reconsideration, the Government merely reargues
that Defendant's statement is an admission to conduct
relevant to the charges in the Superseding Indictment, and
contends that the court erred in not considering the
conspiracy charges contained therein because the court's
order made reference only to the sixteen specific races from
which charges also arose. (See Doc. 73.) The
Government's argument, however, ignores the language of
the court's previous order. In ordering that
Defendant's response be excluded from trial, the court
Agent Doupe's question to Defendant of whether she had
ever “done any of that, ” is sufficiently vague
that the probative value of Defendant's response is not
only outweighed by any unfair prejudice against her, but
substantially so. Agent Doupe did not ask about specific
dates or races in his initial question, nor did he
follow up with any subsequent questioning that could shed
further light on what Defendant thought she was being asked
or what she meant by her answer. Defendant's response
indicating that Agent Doupe already knew she had “done
any of that” could have been in reference to any race
during her more than twenty-five years in the horseracing
industry, and not specifically with regard to any of the
races contained in the Superseding Indictment. Accordingly,
the court finds that the [danger of unfair prejudice] weighs
heavily against the admission of Defendant's statement.
(Id., pp. 4-5 (emphasis supplied).) The conspiracy
charges in the Superseding Indictment only cover the time
period from December 2009 to November 2013. Thus, Agent
Doupe's question, which lacks any temporal element, has
the same infirmity with regard to the conspiracy charges as
it does with the charges that pertain to the sixteen
individual horseraces. If the court were to allow its
admission at trial, Defendant effectively would be forced to
give up her right against self-incrimination only to admit to
previously engaging in the exact same illegal conduct that
she is charged with in the Superseding Indictment. As the
court did in its previous order, it once again finds that,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 403, the probative value
of Defendant's statement is substantially outweighed by
the unfair prejudice caused by the ambiguity of Agent
Doupe's question. See Fed. R. Evid. 403.
reasons stated herein, the court finds that it made no errors
of law or apprehension when ordering that Defendant's