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United States v. Hunte

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

January 30, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LESHANDA HUNTE, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Government's Notice of Intent to Use Evidence Under Fed.R.Evid. 404(b) [62] and Defendant Leshanda Hunte's Response and Objection to the Government's Notice of Intent to Use 404(b) Evidence [65].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 8, 2017, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment [1] charging Defendants Menard and Hunte with conspiracy and theft of government money. Defendant Menard pled guilty to Count 1 on January 11, 2018.

         On January 16, 2018, a federal grand jury returned a First Superseding Indictment [58-1] against Defendant Hunte. The First Superseding Indictment charges that, from September 5, 2012, until November 2, 2012, Defendant Hunte, her then fiancée Menard, and others conspired and stole government money in the form of federal tax refunds issued because of fraudulent federal tax returns. (Id.) As alleged, the conspirators caused the tax refunds to be deposited into two Chase Bank bank accounts (ending in 8063 and 2018) opened jointly by Hunte and Menard. (Id, ¶ 5, 6(a)-(b).).

         Defendant Hunte's trial is scheduled to begin on February 12, 2018. The Government anticipates that Defendant Hunte will argue that she did not know that the two joint accounts were used to commit a fraudulent tax refund scheme.

         On January 22, 2018, the Government filed a Notice of Intent to Use Evidence Under Fed.R.Evid. 404(b) [62]. The Government states its intention to introduce evidence of six federal tax refunds that were wired to various accounts owned by Hunte in November 2011 (the “2011 Tax Returns”), as reflected in the table below.

Intended Payee's Initials

Amount of Refund

Date of Wire Transfer

Bank Account (last 4 digits)

H.B.

$8, 421.00

11/14/11

2018

L.D

$8, 226.00

11/18/11

4852

L.L.

$8, 325.00

11/18/2011

4852

L.M.

$S, 1S0.96

11/18/11

7230

J.T.

$8, 219.02

11/18/2011

7230

M.W.

$8, 205.80

111/18/2011

2018

         The account ending in 2018 is the same joint account referenced in the First Superseding Indictment. The First Superseding Indictment does not reference the account ending in 4852, jointly owned by Hunte and Menard, or the account ending in 7230, opened solely by Hunte.

         The Government states that “[t]hese refunds were issued based on fraudulent tax filings because all six of the payees were deceased when the IRS received their tax returns.” ([62] at 3). The government plans to prove the theft of these refunds through certified copies of the tax filings and death certificates, testimony that the IRS received the filings and wired the refunds to Hunte's accounts and Chase Bank statements confirming the deposits. (Id.)

         The government also plans to introduce evidence of a tax return filed on behalf of P.M. (the “P.M. Tax Return”). As stated by the Government:

[O]n or about February 17, 2012, the United States Treasury issued a $2, 905 federal tax refund to a person with the initials of P.M. The Treasury sent two wires in connection with this refund - $905 to P.M.'s account and $2, 000 to Hunte's account ending in 7230. P.M. will testify that a person she knew as “Shonda Johnson” filed the tax return without P.M.'s permission and that the return included falsified information. P.M. will also testify that “Shonda Johnson” never told her about the $2, 000 and that P.M. only discovered the additional wire transfer after she contacted the IRS. The government also intends to introduce the relevant monthly bank statements to show that the refund money was spent for the conspirators' own purposes.

([62] at 3).

         The Government contends that “[e]vidence regarding the fraudulent tax filings and the deposit of the resulting tax refunds into bank accounts controlled by Hunte- including bank records, tax returns, death certificates, and victim testimony-is admissible at trial under Rule 404(b).” (Id.). Defendant ...


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