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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, a reversal

In U.S. v. Haitham Mohamed (SD Ind., Barker), a 25-page opinion, Judge St. Eve (Amy J. St. Eve, District Judge for the United States Dis-trict Court, Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation) writes:

On March 26, 2013, a jury convict-ed Haitham Mohamed of one count of knowingly transport-ing and possessing contraband cigarettes in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2342(a). Mr. Mohamed appeals his conviction, claiming that the district court erred in denying his motions for judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we agree and reverse the district court’s decision. * * *

We do not believe that Mr. Mohamed’s possession of cigarettes in Indiana under these circumstances is sufficient to support a finding, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Mo-hamed intended to sell, distribute, or otherwise dispose of the cigarettes in Indiana. * * * Without evidence that Mr. Mohamed intended to sell or otherwise dispose of the cigarettes in Indiana, the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Indiana law required the cigarettes to bear Indiana tax stamps. Mr. Mohamed’s conviction, therefore, cannot stand.[7]

For the foregoing reasons, we REVERSE the decision of the district court and REMAND with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal.

[7]This does not mean that Mr. Mohamed’s conduct necessarily must go unpunished. As Mr. Mohamed has acknowledged, the State could have charged him with a misdemeanor for violating Indiana’s requirements for transporting unstamped cigarettes. See Ind. Code § 6-7-1-19.5. The CCTA, moreover, contains recordkeeping and reporting requirements that apply to the shipment, sale, or distribution of more than 10,000 ciga-rettes in a single transaction, see 18 U.S.C. § 2343, and violations of those requirements also may result in criminal liability. See 18 U.S.C. § 2344(b). We make no comment on whether the government’s evidence at trial would have been sufficient to convict Mr. Mohamed under Indiana state law or under other provisions of the CCTA. We hold only that the evi-dence at trial was not sufficient to support a conviction for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2342(a).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 22, 2014 01:39 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions