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United States v. Alford

decided: August 23, 1993.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHRISTOPHER P. ALFORD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. D.C. DOCKET NUMBER CR-S91-00066-01(G). JUDGE Walter J. Gex, III

Before Politz, Chief Judge, Reynaldo G. Garza and Jolly, Circuit Judges.

Author: Garza

REYNALDO G. GARZA, Circuit Judge:

Christopher P. Alford appeals his conviction of conspiracy to commit fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and securities violations. Finding no error, we AFFIRM.

I. FACTS

Christopher P. Alford formed Alford Oil Company in 1982; he met Jerry Lampley in 1984 or 1985 and they formed a close business and personal relationship. Lampley marketed oil and gas interests through various companies including Petro-Serve, Ltd. Alford and Lampley would meet with Lampley's associates to discuss marketable drilling sites.

Petro-Serve entered into contracts with Alford Oil calling for Alford Oil to operate wells; Alford was paid a flat rate plus twenty to thirty percent to cover his risk of loss. Lampley and Alford also split an additional "secret" percentage profit margin about which investors were never informed. To provide this profit margin, Alford Oil's invoices to Lampley's companies were inflated. Furthermore, the invoices were doubled to provide a marketing and promotion fee to Lampley's marketing companies.

Lampley's sales people made misrepresentations to investors, both orally and in written prospectus. Investors were told that most of their investment funds would be used to pay actual drilling costs and that they would receive a full return on their investment in one to three years. Alford's resume was also falsified regarding his academic credentials and experience in the industry. With Alford's approval, unfavorable geological information was omitted from reports to investors.

The checks from the investors were normally sent through the mail, deposited into Lampley's company's operating account, switched to Petro-Serve's account, and then a portion forwarded to Alford Oil in payments of its invoices. Alford and Lampley's scheme brought in approximately $44 million from investors from 1985 through 1987; Alford Oil Company received roughly one-half of this amount. Approximately $2,887,002 went into Alford's personal account. Alford Oil also disbursed a $100,000 check to Lampley and a $40,000 check to Alford, both checks were cashed in Las Vegas.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Alford was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and securities violations (18 U.S.C. § 371); thirteen counts of mail fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341); one count of wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343); eleven counts of using interstate commerce fraudulently to sell securities (15 U.S.C. § 77q(a) and § 77x); and eleven counts of money laundering (18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)).

Alford was arraigned on August 7, 1991 and was represented by retained counsel. The trial was originally scheduled for October 21, 1991, but was re-scheduled for February 10, 1992, due to the volume of discovery in the case. The government tendered discovery documents to Alford on September 3, 1991, and Alford (along with his attorney and investigator) began reviewing them shortly thereafter. Substitute counsel was appointed for Alford on December 10, 1991, after Alford's original attorney motioned for withdrawal for nonpayment of fees. In February of 1992, the discovery materials were again made available to Alford and his attorney. The trial was once again continued until March 2, 1992, based in part upon family difficulties experienced by Alford's counsel.

The jury convicted Alford on counts 1 through 7, 9, 11, 12, 15 through 19, and 24 through 32; he was acquitted on counts 8, 10, and 20 through 23.*fn1 The district court sentenced Alford to twenty years on count 24; imposition of sentence was suspended on the remaining counts and Alford was placed on probation for a term of five years commencing upon his release from incarceration. Alford was also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000,000 and a special assessment of $1,200.

III. DISCUSSION

Alford was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and securities violations. Alford claims the district court erred in: (1) denying him surrebuttal to meet new issues presented by the government's rebuttal; (2) failing to grant him a continuance to prepare adequately for trial; (3) asserting jurisdiction over counts 24 through 32 because the indictment lacked a constituent element of money laundering; (4) finding sufficient evidence in counts 24 through 32 to establish the laundering of money instruments; and (5) failing to require unanimity of the verdict by all jurors as to the same manner or means alleged in counts 24 through 32.

The district court did not err in: (1) denying Alford surrebuttal; (2) denying Alford a continuance; (3) asserting jurisdiction over the money laundering counts; (4) finding sufficient evidence to establish money laundering; and (5) failing to ...


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