Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States of America v. Alfred L. Wolff Gmbh et al

September 26, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALFRED L. WOLFF GMBH ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Alfred L. Wolff GmbH ("ALW GmbH"), Alfred L. Wolff Honey GmbH ("ALW Germany"), Alfred L. Wolff Co., Ltd. (Hong Kong) ("ALW Hong Kong"), and Alfred L. Wolff (Beijing) Trade Co., Ltd. ("ALW Beijing") (collectively, "Foreign ALW Defendants") have filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b) to quash service of summons of the indictment. (R. 129.) In their motion, the Foreign ALW Defendants contend that the government's attempt to serve them with the summonses for the underlying criminal matter did not comply with Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 4. The Court agrees and grants the Foreign ALW Defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

On August 31, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a forty-four count indictment charging the Foreign ALW Defendants--along with Alfred L. Wolff, Inc. ("ALW USA"), various executives of the ALW Defendants*fn1 (hereinafter, the "Executive Defendants"), and others--with fraudulently avoiding nearly $80 million in customs duties on honey they imported into the United States between January 2002 and January 2009, and related offenses. Count I of the indictment charges the ALW Defendants, the Executive Defendants and others with conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 2, by (i) unlawfully importing Chinese-origin honey, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 542, (ii) selling and facilitating the transportation and sale of Chinese-origin honey knowing that it had been unlawfully imported, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 545, (iii) introducing and delivering adulterated honey into interstate commerce, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a), 333(a)(2), 342(a)(2)(C)(i), and 348(a), and (iv) obstructing an investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519. The remaining forty-three counts in the indictment charge the defendants directly with the individual offenses underlying the conspiracy charge.

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 9, the government requested -- and the Court issued -- a summons for each of the corporate ALW Defendants named in the indictment.

(R. 94, 9/13/10 Minute Entry.) The government was then obligated to serve the corporate defendants in accordance with Rule 4(c)(3)(C), which provides:

A summons is served on an organization by delivering a copy to an officer, to a managing or general agent, or to another agent appointed or legally authorized to receive service of process. A copy must also be mailed to the organization's last known address within the district or to its principal place of business elsewhere in the United States.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 4(c)(3)(C). As discussed in greater detail below, ALW USA's attorneys voluntarily accepted service of the summons on its behalf and ALW GmbH (ALW USA's parent company and sole shareholder) appointed, via shareholder resolution, a limited-authority corporate representative for the limited purpose of appearing in this Court to enter a not guilty plea on behalf of ALW USA. That limited-authority corporate representative appeared at ALW USA's January 21, 2011 arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty. Immediately following ALW USA's arraignment, the government served ALW USA's limited-authority corporate representative with summonses for each of the Foreign ALW Defendants. At issue in this motion is whether the government's service of the summonses on the limited-authority ALW USA corporate representative satisfies the requirements in Rule 4(c)(3)(C) and comprises a valid service of summons on the Foreign ALW Defendants.

Before reaching that analysis, the Court reviews the relationships between ALW USA and each of the Foreign ALW Defendants. Notably, the indictment does not specifically allege the relationship between any of the entities except ALW GmbH and ALW USA. The indictment states that ALW GmbH wholly owned ALW USA, its U.S. subsidiary. (R. 85, Indictment at 3 ¶ 5.) With regard to the other ALW Defendants, the indictment merely states that "ALW [GmbH] had subsidiaries, affiliates, and representative offices located throughout the world . . . and those four subsidiaries and affiliates acted in concert" to commit the alleged unlawful acts. (Id. at 2 ¶ 2.) Then, in describing each entity -- again, with the exception of ALW USA, which the indictment explicitly notes "became wholly owned by ALW [GmbH] in or about 2003" (id. at 3 ¶ 5) -- the indictment simply sets forth the entity's principal place of business and its general role in the conspiracy. See Indictment at 2 ¶ 4 (ALW Germany had its principal place of business in Hamburg, Germany), id. at 3 ¶ 6 (ALW Beijing had its principal place of business in Beijing, China), id. ¶ 7 (ALW Hong Kong had its principal place of business in Hong Kong). The indictment does not describe the relationship of the other entities to ALW GmbH -- or, for that matter, to ALW USA.

I. ALW GmbH

As alleged in the indictment, ALW GmbH was a German international trading company that purchased, imported, exported, distributed, sold, and processed food products, including honey. (Indictment at 1 ¶ 1.) ALW GmbH had "subsidiaries, affiliates, and representative offices located throughout the world," including ALW Germany, ALW USA, ALW Beijing, and ALW Hong Kong. (Id. at 2 ¶ 2.) ALW GmbH and its subsidiaries and affiliates acted in concert to acquire and purchase honey from China and other countries, to import the honey into the United States, and to sell it to U.S. consumers. (Id.) ALW GmbH "exercised control over [the subsidiaries and affiliates] through its managers, executives and employees." (Id. at 2 ¶ 3.)

II. ALW USA

ALW USA was incorporated in Delaware and had its principal place of business in Illinois. (Id. at 3 ΒΆ 5.) ALW USA became wholly owned by ALW GmbH in or about 2003, and was the ALW Defendants' U.S. operating unit. (Id.) ALW USA "imported and caused to be imported into the U.S. full container loads [] of honey and related commodities from China and other countries that it sold to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.