Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 87 CR 411 Milton I. Shadur, Judge.
Bauer, Chief Judge, Kanne, Circuit Judge, and Henley, Senior Circuit Judge.*fn*
On December 14, 1987, the grand jury charged defendants Frank Williams and Tedric Beverly, along with Larry Taylor, in a six-count superseding indictment. Count One charged all three defendants with conspiracy to rob the Gainer Bank in Hammond, Indiana in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Count Two charged Williams with solicitation to commit robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 373. Count Three charged Williams and Beverly with carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(h). Count Four charged Williams with possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Counts Five and Six charged Williams and Beverly with possession of a firearm in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d) and (i), and § 5871.
The jury found Williams and Beverly guilty of all counts with which they were charged, but acquitted Taylor. The court sentenced Williams to eight years imprisonment and five years probation, and Beverly to three years imprisonment and five years probation. This is Williams's and Beverly's appeal, in which they allege that the trial court committed numerous errors warranting reversal of their convictions. For the following reasons, we affirm both convictions.
On May 11, 1987, Desiree Jones, a police informant, contacted Sergeant George Murray of the Illinois State Police and told him that Frank Williams was planning to rob a bank. Murray directed Jones to tell Williams that "Tony" (Murray's undercover identity) was interested in robbing a bank. The next day, Williams called Murray and arranged a meeting for May 14, at which time Williams explained his plan and told Murray that Murray's job would be to provide a getaway car. Five days later, Williams and Murray met again. At this meeting, Williams introduced Taylor to Murray as another participant in the plan. The three men then drove to the Gainer Bank and "cased" it from the outside. Williams said that they would need money for weapons, but Murray refused to provide funds. Williams also stated that he knew someone named Beverly, who could make pipe bombs which they could use to create a diversion.
On May 26, Williams and Murray met for the third time. Williams told Murray that they were going to go find Beverly, the "diversion man". When Williams spotted Beverly, he got out of the car, talked to him briefly, and returned to tell Murray that Beverly had agreed to be the "diversion man". Williams also told Murray that he was going to pay Beverly $2000. When Beverly approached the car, Murray added that he would throw in an additional $200 up front to show that he "meant business". (According to Murray, he made this offer to ensure that the two of them would not commit the robbery without his knowledge.) Murray and Williams then left Beverly and drove to the Gainer Bank so Williams could "case" it.
Williams, Murray, and Beverly met again the next evening. Beverly brought a "demonstration" bomb with him. (An explosives expert testified that this bomb consisted of potassium nitrate, sulfur, sugar, charcoal and coal, and that it would cause serious personal injury and probably start a fire). They drove around for a while and then stopped at a liquor store. Murray paid for beer and wine and then drove to a hotel where Williams and Beverly were arrested. When arrested, Williams had a .38 caliber revolver and a sawed off shotgun in his possession. Beverly was carrying the homemade bomb.
Williams challenges his conviction on two grounds, the first of which is that the district court improperly excluded certain testimony as hearsay. There are a number of problems with this assertion, the first being that Williams has failed to identify for this court the testimony he sought to have admitted at trial. In his brief, Williams alleges nothing more specific than that the court should have admitted "certain conversations" between Greg Jones, the brother of Desiree Jones, and himself. Not surprisingly, because Williams has failed to identify these "certain conversations", he also has failed to present an argument in support of his claim that the excluded statements were not hearsay. His analysis is nothing more than a claim that these "conversations" were not hearsay because he offered them not to prove the truth of the matter asserted, but to show his lack of intent or, in the alternative, that he was entrapped.
This conclusory allegation does not satisfy the requirements of Rule 28(a)(4) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. As we have stated time and again:
Rule 28(a)(4) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure mandates that an appellant must present in its brief the issues to the appellate court that the appellant desires to litigate. In addition, the issues must be supported by appropriate judicial authority. Id.; see Coffey v. Van Dorn Iron Works, 796 F.2d 217, 220 (7th Cir. 1986); Sanchez v. Miller, 792 F.2d 694, 703 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1056, 93 L. Ed. 2d 984, 107 S. Ct. 933 (1987). "It is not the obligation of this court to research and construct the legal arguments open to parties, especially when they are represented by counsel." Sanchez, 792 F.2d at 703.
Beard v. Whitley County REMC, 840 F.2d 405, 408-9 (7th Cir. 1988); Sere v. Board of Trustees, 852 F.2d 285, 287 (7th Cir. 1988); Oviawe v. I.N.S., 853 F.2d 1428, 1431 n. 5 (7th Cir. 1988); FTC v. World Travel Vacation Brokers, Inc., 861 F.2d 1020, 1025-26 (7th Cir. 1988). In this case, Williams has failed even to identify the facts necessary to support the issue he raises. Although the United States Attorney has made a fine attempt to identify the "certain conversations" that Williams claims should have been admitted, this is not the government's responsibility. Neither this ...