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Criminal Matters Involving Large-Scale Methamphetamine Distribution Ring & Conviction for Violating FICA

By FindLaw Staff on August 31, 2010 7:38 PM

US v.Wettstain, 08-5707, concerned a challenge to defendants' convictions for their involvement in a large-scale methamphetamine drug distribution ring and sentences of life imprisonment.  The court affirmed for the most part, but vacated and remanded for resentencing a defendant's life sentence on Counts II and IV and co-defendant's life sentences on Counts III and IV.


In affirming the remainder of the district court's judgment, the court held that there was sufficient evidence from which a rational trier of fact could determine that defendants were involved in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine between February 2004 and February 2007.  There was sufficient evidence from which a rational trier of fact could determine that defendants aided and abetted each other to knowingly and intentionally possess with the intent to distribute an unspecified amount of methamphetamine, and that there was sufficient evidence from which a rational trier of fact could determine that defendants knowingly and intentionally possessed with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.  The court also held that district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendants' motions for a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct.  Also, because a juror's letter does not reference any exception recognized in Rule 60(b), the district court properly disregarded his statements, and district court correctly sentenced defendants to mandatory minimum life sentences on Count I. 

US v. Blanchard, 09-1284, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for failure to account for and pay over-withholding and FICA taxes and making and causing the making of a false claim for a tax refund.  The court vacated and remanded the district court's restitution order, but affirmed in all remaining respects where: 1) offenses under section 7202 are covered by section 6531(4)'s six-year limitations period; 2) district court did not err in admitting evidence regarding discretionary expenditures; 3) while a defendant's inability to pay taxes when due bears on the willfulness of his act, it is not an element of the offense under 26 U.S.C. section 7202; 4) district court did not err in refusing to give defendant's proposed jury instructions; and 5) sufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions under section 287.

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