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United States v. Wilson

October 03, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT L. WILSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 00 CR 638--James B. Moran, Judge.

Before Posner, Ripple, and Diane P. Wood, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diane P. Wood, Circuit Judge

ARGUED JANUARY 14, 2002

A jury found Robert Wilson guilty of participation in a wire fraud scheme, and he was sentenced to 23 months' imprisonment. He claimed at trial that he should have been allowed to introduce some exculpatory evidence without opening the door to the government's use of evidence of his post-arrest silence. He is now before this court on a direct appeal of his conviction. Finding no error in the district court's rulings, we affirm.

I.

Robert Wilson worked at the relevant time for Designer Financial, a mortgage company. Between 1997 and 1999, his annual income never exceeded $36,000, and he did not report substantial real estate commissions on his tax returns.

In August 2000, Wilson had a joint account and an individual account at Bank One. As of August 1, 2000, the joint account had a negative balance of $13,330, and the individual account had a negative balance of $21. Two days later, Homeside Lending (his mortgagee) began foreclosure proceedings on Wilson's home, because Homeside had not received any payments for about a year. Atlantic National Trust was in worse shape; it held a second mortgage and had not been paid by Wilson since November 1998.

On August 4, 2000, a mysterious $180,000 was deposited by wire transfer into Wilson's personal account, originating from Citibank in New York. The transfer came from a "Mr. Bean" account at Charles Schwab. The history of this transfer is at the basis of the charges against Wilson.

On July 26, a Schwab employee received a call from a man who identified himself as John Bean, who asked to change his daytime phone number. The number was changed to a cell phone. Records for that cell phone number show that a call was placed from the same telephone to Designer Financial--where Wilson worked--on the same day.

On August 3, Schwab received a wire transfer authorization form requesting a $180,000 transfer from the account of John and Olga Bean to Wilson's account. It purported to be signed by the Beans, but they testified at trial that they did not sign the form. It also contained a Schwab authorization stamp, bearing the signature of a Mr. Earl King. King, who at the time was a Vice President of Schwab, testified at trial that the authorizing signature was not his.

After the money reached Wilson's account, he transferred the $180,000 from the joint account into the indi vidual account. He then transferred $35,000 back into the joint account. The effect of these transfers was to make the funds available immediately. On August 5, Wilson made at least two withdrawals from the individual account: a check for $16,000 to Homeside Lending and one to R.J. and Tressy Stowers for $5,500. The Stowerses' check was a repayment of earnest money on a house purchase that was never completed. Bank One did not honor this check, and when the Stowerses called Wilson to complain, he said they should have cashed it at a currency exchange office.

On August 7, Wilson requested Bank One to transfer $90,000 from his individual account into that of Head Jerk House at TCF Bank. On the same day, Wilson obtained from his individual account three cashier's checks for a total of $23,542. One check was made payable to Scott Gillespie, and the other two were for an apparently fictitious William Emlund. A fingerprint on an Emlund check matched that of Robert Mitchell, a convicted felon, who testified that he received the check from Tim Mars, a friend, who offered him $500 to cash the check and provided him with a phony Emlund identification. When Mitchell presented the Emlund check and the ID to a teller, he was asked to put his fingerprint on the check. While the teller checked it out, Mitchell became nervous and left the bank, leaving behind both the check and the fake ID. (The second of the Emlund checks was cashed at a currency exchange office in September, endorsed in the name of Robert Wilson.)

On the same day, an employee of Bank One received a call from someone identifying himself as Robert Wilson, who asked for the return of the Emlund check and the ID. Telephone records showed a call placed to Bank One from a telephone registered in Wilson's wife's name; other records showed that the same telephone later called a num ber registered to Tim Mars.

The next day, August 8, a man identifying himself as Robert Wilson called Bank One, asking what the problem was with cashing the cashier's check and why the bank was holding up a $90,000 wire transfer. A bank representative asked ...


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