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United States v. Curry

August 15, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DANIEL W. CURRY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. No. 06 CR 11-Larry J. McKinney, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge

ARGUED APRIL 1, 2008

Before CUDAHY, RIPPLE and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

On May 9, 2006, Daniel Curry was indicted on four counts of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2133(a) and (d), and four counts of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). A jury convicted Mr. Curry on all counts, and the district court sentenced him to 1,071 months' imprisonment, five years of supervised release and restitution in the amount of $1,052,337.65. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm his conviction and sentence.

I. BACKGROUND

A.

This case involves a series of armed bank robberies that occurred in central and western Indiana between 2003 and 2006.

The first robbery took place on April 9, 2003, when two armed men entered a branch of the Terre Haute First National Bank. One of the men, brandishing a handgun, controlled the lobby, while the other man gained access to the bank's vault. The subjects stole approximately $311,793 from the bank. They then fled the scene in a maroon BMW coupe that had been reported stolen from the Terre Haute area the previous day.

Witnesses described the perpetrators as two older white males; however, they were unable to give a more detailed description because the perpetrators' features had been obscured by the heavy winter clothing, wigs, sunglasses and fake facial hair that the men had been wearing. The stolen coupe that had been used as the getaway car later was recovered in a nearby parking lot. Its owner reported that his silver handgun, which he had kept in the glove box of the car, was no longer inside the vehicle.

Similarly, on February 9, 2005, a branch of Old National Bank in Terre Haute, Indiana was robbed of approximately $394,108 by two men brandishing handguns. The perpetrators again were described as two white males wearing hooded sweatshirts, baseball caps, gloves, sunglasses, fake moustaches and artificial beards. After conducting the robbery, the individuals fled in a stolen Mercury Grand Marquis. Officers later recovered the Grand Marquis and another stolen vehicle, a Pontiac Grand Prix, in close proximity to the bank. A brown cloth glove was found on the driver's seat of the Grand Prix.

The third robbery occurred on December 9, 2005, at a branch of Regions Bank in Kokomo, Indiana. In a manner similar to that of the Terre Haute robbery, two armed men displaying silver handguns entered the bank and stole approximately $118,961. The subjects fled the scene in a maroon 1996 Dodge Stratus. A car with that same description had been reported stolen from Greenwood, Indiana, three days prior to the robbery. Witnesses described the robbers as two white males wearing heavy winter clothing, wigs, sunglasses and fake facial hair.

The final robbery occurred on January 19, 2006, when a branch of Fifth Third Bank in Terre Haute, Indiana was robbed of approximately $237,563. Like the other robberies, this one was conducted by individuals described as older white males wearing bulky winter clothing, baseball caps, wigs, sunglasses and artificial facial hair, and armed with silver handguns. Unlike in the other robberies, however, the teller at this bank managed to include red dye packs inside the bundles of money that she passed to the robbers. These dye packs were designed to explode within ten seconds of passing a sensor located at the front door of the bank. Witnesses reported seeing the red dye packs explode as the robbers left the building.

The robbers drove away from the Fifth Third Bank in a stolen blue Geo Tracker. This vehicle later was recovered a few blocks from the bank, with large red dye stains on the floor. A Pontiac Montana, which had been reported stolen from Crawfordsville, Indiana earlier that day, also was recovered near the bank. Investigators found a fake beard and a fake moustache in the seating area of the stolen Montana.

On four occasions in early 2006, soon after the Fifth Third Bank robbery, Mr. Curry appeared at various banks in Bloomington, Indiana, where he conducted transactions using large quantities of cash heavily stained with red dye. During two of these transactions, Mr. Curry told the bank teller that he had won the red-stained money in a poker game. During another of these transactions, Mr. Curry told the bank teller that the money became stained when he accidentally had washed it in the washing machine with some red clothing.

The FBI was notified of these transactions, and it began monitoring Mr. Curry. On February 8, 2006, an FBI agent observed Mr. Curry purchasing chips at the Caesar's Riverboat Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana, using large quanti-ties of red-stained bills. The agents also observed him, on several occasions, entering and leaving a storage facility in Martinsville, Indiana, where a storage unit was registered in his name. On February 10, 2006, FBI agents obtained warrants to search Mr. Curry's residence and storage locker.

When the agents executed the search warrant for Mr. Curry's residence, they found more than five thousand dollars in cash, including bills bearing bank straps from Regions Bank and bills stained with red dye, hidden inside a work bench in Mr. Curry's garage. Their search of the storage locker recovered a red gym bag, embroidered with Mr. Curry's name, which contained a wig, sunglasses, artificial facial hair, liquid latex, baseball hats and two ski masks. They also found a bag of .38 caliber bullets, multiple hooded jackets and more than $140,000 in cash, much of which was stained with red dye and/or wrapped in bank straps bearing the names of the banks that had been robbed. Additionally, the locker contained the Lorcin .38 caliber handgun that had been stolen from the BMW coupe used in the April 9, 2003 robbery; it, too, was covered in red dye. After the searches, the agents arrested Mr. Curry.

The subsequent investigation uncovered even more evidence. Motel records showed that Mr. Curry had been staying in Crawfordsville, Indiana on the day that the Pontiac Montana, the car that had been used as the "switch car" in the January 19 Terre Haute robbery, had been stolen. Mr. Curry had checked out of his motel in Crawfordsville at 5 a.m. on January 19, just hours before the Terre Haute robbery occurred. Cellular telephone records also placed Mr. Curry's cell phone in Crawfordsville that morning and in Terre Haute a few hours later, near the time of the robbery.

Furthermore, agents conducted forensics testing on the fake beard and fake moustache that were found on the seat of the stolen Montana and the glove that was found inside the stolen Grand Prix. DNA recovered from the beard and from the glove was traced to Mr. Curry. DNA recovered from the moustache, however, was linked to Mr. Curry's brother, Arthur Curry.

Arthur Curry was arrested soon thereafter in North Carolina. A search of Arthur Curry's residence recovered approximately $85,000 in red-stained currency, marked bills from the January 19, 2006 robbery, bank straps bearing the names of the victim banks in the last two robberies and various disguises.

B.

On May 9, 2006, Daniel Curry and his brother, Arthur Curry, each were indicted with four counts of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2133(a) and (d), and four counts of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Arthur Curry entered a guilty plea. Daniel Curry, however, proceeded to trial.

At Mr. Curry's trial, the Government presented the testimony of eleven employees who had been working at the various victim banks at the time that they had been robbed. These witnesses described the perpetrators and their unique attire, as well as the similar method of the robberies. The Government then presented the testimony of the officers and agents who had investigated Mr. Curry. These witnesses testified regarding Mr. Curry's attempts to pass the red-stained money at banks and casinos; they also testified regarding the red-stained money, bank straps, stolen gun and gym bag full of disguises that they had found in the search of Mr. Curry's residence and storage locker.

Furthermore, the Government introduced into evidence the surveillance footage from the bank robberies. It produced the false facial hair and the glove that were found inside the stolen getaway vehicles; a forensics analyst testified that Mr. Curry's DNA was found on both the glove and the false beard. The relevant items found inside Mr. Curry's garage and storage locker also were admitted into evidence. Finally, the Government introduced copies of motel and phone records that placed Mr. Curry in Crawfordsville, Indiana, a few hours before a car stolen from Crawfordsville was used in a bank robbery in Terre Haute.

Mr. Curry chose to testify in his own defense at trial and deny any involvement in the robberies. He suggested instead that his brother, Arthur, had perpetrated these crimes with another, unidentified individual. He testified that Arthur Curry had a key to his storage locker, and he asserted that the incriminating items recovered there had belonged to Arthur, not him. Mr. Curryexplained that he had loaned his cell phone to his brother on January 19, 2006, and the calls made from Crawfordsville and Terre Haute likely had been made by Arthur. In an effort to explain why the analysts had found Mr. Curry's DNA on the false beard, he testified that he had visited his brother in North Carolina, and while he was there, the brothers had put on the costume facial hair as a joke. He further explained that his brother had owed him a significant amount of money from a joint business venture, and that the red-stained money in his possession had ...


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