The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On April 12, 2005, this Court Ordered, pursuant to
18 U.S.C. § 3142, that Amir Hosseini be detained at the Metropolitan
Correctional Center pending trial or other resolution of this
matter. The Court did so because it concluded, based upon the
evidence and arguments put forth at a detention hearing held
shortly after Mr. Hosseini's arrest, that Mr. Hosseini "has the
means and the motive to flee the jurisdiction, and so is a risk
of flight." See Order of Detention Pending Trial, p. 6 (April
12, 2005). Mr. Hosseini has now asked the Court to reconsider
that position and to release him on bail. For the reasons
explained below, the Court grants Mr. Hosseini's motion.
On March 21, 2005, Amir Hosseini was arrested in connection
with a criminal complaint alleging that he conducted and
participated in a racketeering conspiracy in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). Specifically, the complaint alleges that Mr.
Hosseini directed and committed various criminal predicate acts
including money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956; engaging in and attempting to engage in monetary transactions in
criminally derived property valued at more than $10,000, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957; mail fraud, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1341; bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344; and
structuring monetary transactions to evade reporting
requirements, in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5324 and 5322(b). The
government alleges in its complaint that, from 1995 to the time
of the complaint, Mr. Hosseini, who owned and operated a car
dealership located at 3356 West North Avenue, and had an
ownership interest in two other car dealerships, helped gang
members and drug dealers launder their money by selling them
high-end cars for cash at that dealership, and that he did so
without reporting the cash transactions to the IRS, and in a
manner that was calculated to disguise the true nature of the
transactions. The government alleges that, in total, Mr. Hosseini
and his co-defendants "laundered over $9 million for Chicago's
street gangs and international drug traffickers." Government's
Response to Hosseini's Motion to Reconsider Release on Bail, p.
2. According to the government, Mr. Hosseini faces a maximum
twenty-year sentence if convicted on the conduct charged in the
complaint.*fn1 On March 25, 2005, the Court held a detention hearing; Mr.
Hosseini was present and was represented by Elliot Samuels. The
government indicated that it was seeking detention for Mr.
Hosseini, and, as part of its proffer, it called to the stand
Lynsey Roever, who works as a uniformed officer for Customs and
Border Protection at O'Hare airport. Ms. Roever testified that,
based upon information she received from the FBI, on February 8,
2005, she met Mr. Hosseini at the airport when he got off a
flight from Germany, and she escorted him to the immigration
booth, where she questioned him and searched his luggage. She
testified that, during her encounter with Mr. Hosseini, she asked
him if he had any other passports, and he said that he did not.
Transcript of Proceedings of March 25, 2005, p. 50 (attached as
Exhibit A to the Government's Response to Hosseini's Motion to
Reconsider Release on Bail). She further testified that she later
repeated her question about whether he had any other passports
and, that time, Mr. Hosseini pulled out an Iranian passport and
gave it to her. Id., p. 52.
On cross-examination, Ms. Roever admitted that she did not know
whether a person including a United States citizen would need
an Iranian passport to go to Iran; she also testified that Mr.
Hosseini was cooperative throughout his encounter with her, that he freely provided his address, business information, his
reason for traveling to Iran, etc. Id., p. 57.
With respect to the passport issue, the government emphasized
that, in its view, Mr. Hosseini lied about having an Iranian
passport, and that he did so because he wanted to conceal the
fact that he had been traveling to Iran at least twice a year,
all of which suggests that he is a flight risk. Transcript of
Proceedings of March 25, 2005, pp. 60-61. The government also
noted that, at least according to the stamps in his passports,
Mr. Hosseini had traveled to Switzerland, Mexico, Saudi Arabia,
Italy, Germany, Amsterdam, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and
Canada, which, according to the government, "bare[s] out the fact
that he is an international money launderer, as well as
laundering all this drug money locally, as well as engaging in
international narcotics trafficking. . . ." Transcript of
Proceedings of March 25, 2005, pp. 66-67.
In response to the government's proffer, Mr. Hosseini called to
the stand FBI Agent Robert Walker, the agent who signed the
complaint and whose sworn affidavit is attached to the complaint.
On direct questioning from Mr. Hosseini's counsel, Agent Walker
admitted that most of the people he interviewed in connection
with his investigation of Mr. Hosseini and the dealerships with
which he is involved were "unsavory," that most hoped to gain
something from the government in return for their cooperation. Transcript of Proceedings of March 25, 2005, pp. 76-78. On
cross-examination by the government, Agent Walker then spelled
out in detail his understanding of Mr. Hosseini's role in the
enterprise alleged in the complaint; he testified that, in his
interviews with various people, he heard that Mr. Hosseini "is
involved in the importation and distribution of both heroin and
cocaine, and he also launders money by allowing the drug dealers
to purchase cars there with cash, which he hides through using
straw buyers as the recipient purchaser on the sales contract and
not reporting the IRS Form 8300s properly." Id., p. 79. He
further testified that, according to CW-1,*fn2
helped set up the supply line for the heroin with the
individuals in Iran. He stored the drugs, at least
portions of the drugs on his car lot. He distributed
the drugs through cars on his lot, which is
consistent with what I have heard from other drug
dealers who purchased from him.
Id., p. 86.
Based upon this proffer, including the testimony of Agent
Walker, the AUSA argued
I can't think of any combination of conditions that
you could fashion that would ameliorate the danger he
presents to the community and the extreme risk of
flight he poses.
Quite frankly, I cannot think of a more compelling
case on flight risk than has been presented before
this Court today. Id., p. 92. In particular, the government noted that Mr.
Hosseini has "not only the motive, but the means to flee, and
extreme ties to foreign countries." Id. at 97. The government
urged the Court to "look at the amount of foreign travel alone."
In response, counsel for Mr. Hosseini argued that his client
had been under investigation since 1996, and that, given his
passports, if he had wanted to flee the jurisdiction, he could
have done so; instead, he stayed, and even returned from a trip
to Iran as recently as February 2005. Transcript of Proceedings
of March 25, 2005, p. 94.
At the close of counsel's arguments, the Court found as
I think the the strength of the evidence is very is
* * *
I believe that Mr. Hosseini, who has passports from
both Iran and the United States, and also his family
has passports, which we could have them to turn in,
but the frequent travel, the 20 to 45 trips abroad or
stops abroad by Mr. Hosseini and most of which were
in Iran, would indicate to the Court that the
defendant, if released on bail, will have the means
and the motive to flee the jurisdiction, so I'm going
to hold him as a risk of flight.
Transcript of Proceedings of March 25, 2005, p. 100. On April 12,
2005, the Court issued an Order of Detention, which had been
prepared by the government. As reflected in that Order,
significant to the Court's decision to detain Mr. Hosseini were:
the fact that Mr. Hosseini held a valid Iranian passport in addition to his valid U.S. passport; the fact that Mr. Hosseini's
passports revealed, in the Court's view, an extraordinarily high
number of trips to Iran and other foreign countries more
specifically, the passports indicated that, during the period
from about 1995 through 2005, Mr. Hosseini made 3 trips to
Turkey, 29 trips to Iran, and 25 trips to other foreign
countries. See Order of Detention Pending Trial, pp. 4-5 (April
On May 6, 2005, Mr. Hosseini, through his counsel, filed a
Motion to Reconsider Release on Bail. The government responded,
and the Court held a hearing on the motion on June 14, 2005. Mr.
Hosseini, who was present in Court and represented by counsel,
did not put on any witnesses; nor did the government. Mr.
Hosseini's attorney argued that, based upon what he had learned
from certain State Department documents, the Court's decision to
detain Mr. Hosseini was based upon faulty assumptions and should,
therefore, be revisited. The government argued that nothing had
changed since the Court's initial detention order, and that the
Court should, therefore, decline to release Mr. Hosseini. The
purpose of this Memorandum Opinion and Order is to set forth the
Court's views of the information submitted in the briefs and at
the hearing, as well as the Court's findings, conclusions and
Order concerning the continued appropriateness of detention. Discussion
"In our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to
trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception."
United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987). Thus, the
decision to detain an unconvicted person who is still presumed
to be innocent should not be lightly made. Under the Bail
Reform Act, a person facing charges in the federal court system
may be detained only when a judicial officer has determined that
"no other less drastic means can reasonably ensure his presence
at trial," and "reasonably assure . . . the safety of any other
person and the community. . . ." See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e); Bell
v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 524 (1979).
Before turning to the merits of Mr. Hosseini's motion, the
Court quickly considers and rejects the government's argument
that the motion is improper. The government argues that the
motion presents nothing new in the way of evidence or
information, and that what it does present was available to Mr.
Hosseini at the time of the first hearing. Section 3142(f) allows
the court to reopen a detention hearing "at any time before trial
if the judicial officer finds that information exists that was
not known to the movant at the time of the hearing and that has a
material bearing on the issue whether there are conditions of
release that will reasonably assure the appearance of such person
as required. . . ." Mr. Hosseini's briefs and arguments have provided the Court with additional
information that gives context to the evidence presented by the
government at the March 25th hearing; without casting aspersions,
that information sheds a decidedly different light on the
evidence presented by the government in support of its detention
request. And, although the information may have been available
at the time of the hearing, there is nothing in the record to
suggest that counsel or Mr. Hosseini knew about it at the time of
the first hearing, which is what the statute requires. Certainly,
the importance of the information could not have been clear at