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United States v. Waddell

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

March 5, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
STACY PAUL WADDELL, Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendant Stacy Paul Waddell's Motion for New Trial (Doc. 322), Motion for Judgment of Acquittal[1] (Doc. 328), and Amended Motion for New Trial (Doc. 358). For the following reasons, Defendant's motions are DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         On May 18, 2015, Defendant was named in an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. (Doc. 3 ¶¶ 5-6.) The Government amended the charges several times by superseding the previous indictment. (Doc. 44; Doc. 89; Doc. 210; Doc. 244.) Ultimately, Defendant was charged in a Fourth Superseding Indictment with four counts of wire fraud, one count of possession and sale of counterfeit coins, and one count of tampering with documents or proceedings. (Doc. 244.)

         During the five-day jury trial, the Government presented thirty-four witnesses and approximately one hundred exhibits. These witnesses included the live testimony of Dana Golden, Wesley Bassil, Edward Peng, Scott Horton, Norm Carnovale, Erik Perozo, and other victims of Defendant's fraud scheme. The Government presented the testimony of another victim, Robert Folkenberg, through an edited deposition taken after Mr. Folkenberg was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In addition, numerous records custodians testified concerning various phone calls between the victims and Defendant, as well as the movement of funds from the victims to accounts controlled by Defendant.

         The general narrative from these witnesses was that Defendant engaged in a scheme to entice victims to purchase precious metals in the form of gold and silver bullion coins issued by the United States Mint. As part of the scheme, Defendant attempted to reach potential victims by maintaining a website and advertising on craigslist, as well as relying on word of mouth. Defendant would advertise precious metals for sale at below market value and promise quick delivery following receipt of the purchase price, usually by wire transfer. However, Defendant often did not deliver the precious metals as promised. On other occasions, Defendant delivered counterfeit coins that were composed of only base metals.

         After Defendant was arrested, he directed Justin Drotleff to locate and destroy some counterfeit coins located in Defendant's car. At the time, authorities were executing a search warrant for Defendant's residence. The coins were under the trunk carpeting of Defendant's wrecked vehicle, which was parked in the garage. Exercising his better judgment, the individual informed authorities as to the location of the coins.

         The Court provided Defendant with appointed counsel in this case. However, Defendant elected to represent himself at trial. Unsurprisingly, Defendant was convicted on all six counts contained in the Fourth Superseding Indictment.

         Defendant now requests he be granted either a new trial or a judgment of acquittal, filing motions (Doc. 322; Doc. 328), an amended motion (Doc. 358), and numerous supplements to these motions (Doc. 338; Doc. 374; Doc. 377; Doc. 378.) While voluminous, Defendant's multiple filings can be reduced to a few general arguments. With respect to the wire fraud allegations in Counts One through Four, Defendant contends that the Government failed to prove each element of the offense because it did not establish that the named victims responded to any of Defendant's telemarketing activities. Defendant also advances the general argument that the Government failed to establish that venue was proper in the Southern District of Georgia because no wire transfers that were in furtherance of the fraud scheme were conducted within this district.

         Regarding the possession and sale of counterfeit coins alleged in Count 5, Defendant maintains that the Government failed to establish he had the intent to defraud. Also, Defendant contends that the fake coins did not meet the legal definition of counterfeit because they could be identified as fake by a sensible and unsuspecting person of ordinary observation and care. Finally, Defendant argues that the Government failed to prove that he knew the coins were fake.

         With respect to the allegations in Count Six of tampering with evidence or proceedings, Defendant contends that the Government failed to establish that he acted corruptly. Defendant offers the altruistic excuse that he was simply trying to keep these fake coins out of circulation. Lastly, Defendant maintains that the fake coins were immaterial to the only charge he was facing at the time of his arrest-conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud.

         Defendant also argues that he should be granted a new trial or a judgment of acquittal based on alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Defendant claims that the Government failed to properly edit Mr. Folkenberg's video deposition according to this Court's directions. According to Defendant, the Government failed to redact certain portions unfavorable to Defendant, while redacting certain portions favorable to Defendant that the Court did not order to be omitted. Also, Defendant contends that the Government purposefully failed to redact a reference by Mr. Folkenberg that Defendant had previously been convicted of a felony offense. Finally, Defendant alleges that the Government failed to timely provide him with a copy of the redacted transcript as ordered by the Court, only receiving it a few days prior to trial.

         Unrelated to the video deposition, Defendant maintains that the Government acted improperly by failing to disclose certain pieces of evidence. First, Defendant states that the Government failed to provide him access to his laptop and iPad, but only gave him copies of the electronic data on the two hard drives. Second, the Government never provided emails from Defendant to Mr. Folkenberg. Defendant contends both that he requested these emails, and that their reference by certain witnesses establish that they actually existed.

         In response, the Government argues that it presented ample evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that the fraud schemes charged in the indictment involved telemarketing (Doc. 332 at 5-6), and that venue was proper because Defendant caused wire transfers to be initiated or received in this district (id. at 4-5) . With respect to selling counterfeit coins, the Government maintains that it presented sufficient evidence to permit the jury to conclude that Defendant knew the coins were counterfeit. (Id. at 6-7.) In addition, the Government reasons that the coins met the statutory definition of counterfeit. (Id.) Regarding Count Six, the ...


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