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United States v. Nikparvar-Fard

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 29, 2017

UNITED STATES
v.
MEHDI NIKPARVAR-FARD, also known as MEHDI ARMANI CRIMINAL

          MEMORANDUM

          DuBois, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendant is charged in an Indictment with one count of threatening a federal law enforcement officer with the intent to impede, intimidate, and interfere with the officer while he was engaged in the performance of his official duties, and with the intent to retaliate against the officer on account of the performance of his official duties, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B) (Count One), and one count of making a false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (Count Two).

         Presently before the Court is defendant‘s Motion to Dismiss Count One of the Indictment on the ground that the Deputy United States Marshals involved in the case are not federal law enforcement officers under 18 U.S.C. § 115. On December 27, 2017, the Court conducted a Final Pretrial Conference, at which it heard oral argument on the Motion. For the reasons stated on the record at that conference, and amplified in this Memorandum, the Court denies defendant‘s Motion to Dismiss Count One of the Indictment.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The facts of this case are set forth in the Court‘s December 6, 2017, Memorandum denying Defendant‘s Motion to Suppress Statements and the Court‘s December 15, 2017, Memorandum denying in part and granting in part Defendant‘s Motion for Pretrial Release/Bail. In the interest of brevity, the Court includes in this Memorandum only a brief recitation of the facts.

         United States District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe issued a civil arrest warrant for defendant on August 28, 2017. Comp. ¶ 5. Carrying out the warrant, three Deputy United States Marshals went to the Advanced Urgent Care ("AUC") facility at 5058 City Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 29, 2017, to arrest defendant. Comp. ¶ 5. The threat and the false statement at issue in the case allegedly were made in the course of the arrest.

         On November 29, 2017, defendant filed the Motion to Dismiss Count One of the Indictment, arguing that the Marshals are not federal law enforcement officers covered by the criminal statute on which that count is based. The Government filed a Response to Defendant‘s Motion to Dismiss Count One on December 6, 2017. Pursuant to the Order, dated December 7, 2017, directing the parties to file supplemental briefing on the Motion, defendant filed Defendant‘s Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss Count I and the Government filed a Supplemental Response to Defendant‘s Motion to Dismiss Count One. The Court held oral argument on the Motion in conjunction with a Final Pretrial Conference on December 27, 2017. The Motion is thus ripe for review.

         III.APPLICABLE LAW

         "In considering a defense motion to dismiss an indictment, the district court accepts as true the factual allegations set forth in the indictment." United States v. Besmajian, 910 F.2d 1153, 1154 (3d Cir. 1990). "A ruling on a motion to dismiss is not, however, ‗a permissible vehicle for addressing the sufficiency of the government's evidence.‘" United States v. Bergrin, 650 F.3d 257, 265 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. DeLaurentis, 230 F.3d 659, 660-61 (3d Cir. 2000)). "‗Evidentiary questions‘-such as credibility determinations and the weighing of proof-‗should not be determined at th[is] stage.‘" Id. (quoting United States v. Gallagher, 602 F.2d 1139, 1142 (3d Cir. 1979).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. 18 U.S.C. § 115 criminalizes threats against federal law enforcement officers authorized to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of Federal criminal law provided they are engaged in official duties - acting within the scope of employment - at the time of the charged offense.

         This case raises the issue of interpreting two provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 115. The Court begins with the text of the statute. § 115(a)(1)(B), the subsection under which defendant is charged, states:

[Whoever] threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder, a United States official, a United States judge, a Federal law enforcement officer, or an official whose killing would be a crime under such section, with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge, or law enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, judge, or law enforcement ...

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