Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Balagia

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

October 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMES MORRIS BALAGIA (3)

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMOS L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are two motions filed by Defendant James Morris Balagia: (1) Defendant Balagia's Motion to Sever Alleged Offenses (Dkt. #376); and (2) Defendant Balagia's Motion for Production of Witness or, in the Alternative, Motion for Continuance (Dkt. #380). Having considered the motions and the relevant pleadings, the Court finds that the motions should be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         The original Indictment in this case was returned on December 15, 2015. On February 9, 2017, a Superseding Indictment was returned-the Superseding Indictment included charges against Defendant Balagia. Defendant Balagia is an attorney licensed in Texas (Dkt. #232). Under the operative, Fourth Superseding Indictment returned on January 9, 2019, the Government charges Defendant Balagia with five counts: (1) Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering; (2) Obstruction of Justice and Aiding and Abetting; (3) Violation, Endeavor, and Attempt to Violate the Kingpin Act; (4) Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and (5) Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice (Dkt. #232).

         These charges stem from Defendant Balagia's representation of Columbian citizens in drug-related, criminal matters (Dkt. #232). The following excerpt from the Fourth Superseding Indictment provides some context for the charges:

Balagia and others would solicit federal criminal defendants (including Hermes Casanova Ordonez, Segundo Villota Segura, and Aldemar Villota Segura) as clients under false pretenses. Balagia and others claimed to the defendants that they had contacts who had the power to affect their criminal charges if the defendants would pay a large sum of money.

(Dkt. #232 at p. 10).

         Particularly relevant here is a December 21, 2015, meeting between Defendant Balagia, Charles Norman Morgan, Adriana Morgan, Bibiana Correa Perea, and Segundo Villota-Segura (“Segundo Segura”) at La Picota Prison in Bogota, Colombia (Dkt. #232 at p. 13). At the meeting, it was represented to Segundo Segura, a criminal defendant in a drug-trafficking case pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, that four people in Washington, D.C. had been bribed to assist Segundo Segura with the federal charges against him (Dkt. #232 at p. 16).[1] Segundo Segura remains in Colombian custody and is awaiting extradition to the United States (Dkt. #382 at p. 5).

         Final pre-trial conference in this case was originally set for May 15, 2017, before United States District Judge Marcia Crone (Dkt. #28). On February 25, 2019, Judge Crone transferred the case to this Court (Dkt. #259). On April 24, 2019, the Court entered a Pretrial Order specially setting the case for trial on October 15, 2019 (Dkt. #287).

         As the Court detailed in its prior order, multiple continuances have been granted in this case (Dkt. #359). The case has been specially set three times and continued six times (Dkt. #381). The October 15, 2019, trial date is over two-and-a-half years from the date of Defendant Balagia's arrest (Dkt. #381). Defendant has hired multiple attorneys, received multiple continuances, and has been granted additional CJA Co-Counsel in Matthew Hamilton to assist now-lead counsel, Gaylon Riddels (Dkt. #381).

         On September 30, 2019, Defendant Balagia filed his Motion to Sever Alleged Offenses (Dkt. #376). The Government responded on October 3, 2019 (Dkt. #383). On October 2, 2019, Defendant Balagia filed his Motion for Production of Witness or, in the Alternative, Motion for Continuance (Dkt. #380). The Government responded on October 3, 2019 (Dkt. #382).

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         I. Joinder of Offenses

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) and Rule 14(a) both address joinder of offenses in an indictment. Rule 8(a) establishes that:

The indictment or information may charge a defendant in separate counts with 2 or more offenses if the offenses charged-whether felonies or misdemeanors or both-are of the same or similar character, or are based on the same act or transaction, or are connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 8(a). “Joinder of charges is the rule rather than the exception, ” and “Rule 8 is construed liberally in favor of initial joinder.” United States v. Bullock, 71 F.3d 171, 174 (5th Cir.1995) (citing United States v. Park, 531 F.2d 754, 761 (5th Cir. 1976)). Whether joinder is proper under Rule 8(a) is “determined by the initial allegations of the indictment, which are accepted as true absent arguments of prosecutorial misconduct.” United States v. Harrelson, 754 F.2d 1153, 1176 (5th Cir. 1985) (citations omitted). Once the Court determines that joinder is proper under Rule 8, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.