United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
ROSENTHAL CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
4-week trial, a jury convicted Stephen Stockman of 23 counts
of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to make conduit
contributions and false statements to the Federal Election
Commission, making false statements to the Federal Election
Commission, making excessive campaign contributions, money
laundering, and filing a false tax return. (Docket Entry No.
211). After the verdict, the court ordered Stockman detained
pending sentencing, based on the presumption of detention
following conviction, and the evidence at trial that showed
Stockman had extensive international contacts, had sent Jason
Posey to Egypt for two years to frustrate the criminal
investigation, had received money from an unknown source to
fund his defense, and had a significantly greater incentive
to flee after the guilty verdict than before trial.
moved for release pending sentencing and the government
responded. (Docket Entries No. 255, 259). Stockman asserts
several grounds. First, he argues that he will appear for his
sentencing, pointing out his consistent court appearances and
compliance with conditions of release before trial while he
was on an unsecured bond. Second, he includes several letters
from family and friends, emphasizing his strong ties to the
United States, the Houston area, and to his family and
community. Finally, he alleges that he is not receiving
adequate medical treatment for his medical conditions.
Instead of detention, Stockman proposes the following
conditions: “(1) no contact with co-Defendants; (2)
electronic GPS monitoring; (3) pretrial service supervision
with reporting; (4) having a third-party custodian on a bond;
and (5) any other conditions that the Court sees fit.”
(Docket Entry No. 255 at 9).
response, the government argues vigorously that Stockman is a
flight risk. First, the steep potential maximum sentence he
faces-approximately 283 years-creates a strong incentive to
flee, especially considering that Stockman is 61 years old.
Second, the complex nature of the crimes, involving multiple
bank accounts, sham nonprofit entities, disposable cell
phones, and cryptocurrency transactions, shows that Stockman
has the ability to use similar conduct to flee pending
sentencing. Third, Stockman's extensive international
contacts and travel history counsel against release. The
government points to: (1) trial testimony about
Stockman's contacts with government officials in Egypt,
the Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan; (2) the testimony
of one of Stockman's witnesses, who lives in the Republic
of the Congo, that she considered Stockman to be
“family” and that Stockman was a “very
important person” in the Republic of the Congo; and (3)
Stockman's extensive history of international travel,
including 19 international flights in 2015 and 18
international flights in 2016. Fourth, Stockman's
contention that he lacks financial resources is undermined by
his scheme to fraudulently obtain and launder $1.2 million,
as well as his demonstrated ability to raise significant
funds from other sources, including funding for attorneys
from an anonymous third-party benefactor. (Docket Entry No.
81). Finally, the government argues that Stockman has used
international means to avoid prosecution in the past, citing
the trial testimony showing that Stockman sent Posey to Egypt
and sent funds to him there-first through Ben Wetmore and
later through Bitcoin-to keep him far away from the ongoing
“shall order that a person who has been found guilty of
an offense and who is awaiting imposition or execution of
sentence . . . be detained, unless the judicial officer finds
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 . . . .” 18 U.S.C.
§ 3143(a). “The burden of establishing that the
defendant will not flee or pose a danger to any other person
or to the community rests with the defendant.” Fed. R.
Crim. P. 46(c). The decision to detain a defendant after
conviction is “common . . . because of the presumption
in favor of detention that attaches to a convicted
defendant.” United States v. Morrison, 833
F.3d 491, 506 (5th Cir. 2016).
has not met his burden to show by clear and convincing
evidence that he is not a flight risk. While Stockman
complied with the appearance conditions of his pretrial
conduct, the incentives and the legal burden of proof changed
when he was convicted. See United States v. Adenuga,
2014 WL 349568, at *5 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 31, 2014)
(“[S]omething has changed since trial; Defendant is no
longer presumed innocent but is guilty of the counts of
conviction. His [or her] legal status has changed, increasing
his [or her] incentive to flee.” (quoting United
States v. Jinwright, 2010 WL 2926084 (W.D. N.C. July 23,
2010))). Before trial, there was a possibility that Stockman
would be acquitted; now, he faces a potentially lengthy
prison sentence, providing a stronger incentive to flee.
Additionally, as the government accurately points out, the
nature of Stockman's offenses, his extensive
international contacts and history of international travel,
and the trial testimony establishing that Stockman sent Posey
to Egypt to avoid detection by law enforcement weigh strongly
against release pending sentencing. Although the letters in
support of Stockman's motion show ties to his family,
community, and the United States, he has not shown, by clear
and convincing evidence, that he is not a flight risk.
motion for release pending sentencing, (Docket Entry No.
255), is denied. The court will instruct the U.S. Marshals
Service to work with the personnel at the Joe Corley
Detention Facility to monitor Stockman's ...