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United States v. Anzaldi

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 7, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARON ANZALDI, PHILLIP DeSALVO, and STEVEN LATIN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Before the Court are the Defendants' Post-Trial Motions. For the reasons stated herein, the Motions are denied.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court presumes familiarity with its April 26, 2013 Opinion and thus provides only a brief summary of the relevant factual background in this matter. Defendants Sharon Anzaldi ("Anzaldi"), Phillip DeSalvo ("DeSalvo"), and Steven Latin ("Latin") were indicted for conspiring to defraud the United States Department of Treasury by filing false tax returns in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286. The indictment also charged each Defendant with executing a fraudulent tax return in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 287.

Trial evidence established that Defendants prepared fraudulent tax returns. They gathered taxpayers' mortgage and debt information and then claimed the taxpayers' debt amount as both 1099 OID interest income and tax withholdings, thereby seeking falsely inflated refunds. Emails recovered pursuant to a search warrant showed that Defendants collaborated by assisting one another in filing the charged returns and sharing information and strategies. For example, DeSalvo sent Anzaldi and Latin information about how to file a return so as not to be flagged by the IRS. In another email, Latin asked DeSalvo what he should do about a frivolous filing letter he received from the IRS; DeSalvo forwarded that email to Anzaldi.

The evidence showed Defendants filed fourteen fraudulent returns that sought more than $8 million in refunds. The Internal Revenue Service (the "IRS") issued five refunds, totaling more than $1.2 million. The Government introduced evidence that DeSalvo and Latin used their proceeds to purchase an Acura SUV as well as furniture and electronics.

A jury convicted Defendants of all counts. Pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 29 and 33, Defendants have now moved for a judgment of acquittal or a new trial.

II. ANALYSIS

In relevant part, Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 provides that "the court on the defendant's motion must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction." FED. R. CRIM. P. 29(a). A defendant who requests a judgment of acquittal under Rule 29:

faces a nearly insurmountable hurdle because [the Court] consider[s] the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government, defer[s] to the credibility determinations of the jury, and overturn[s] a verdict only when the record contains no evidence, regardless of how it is weighed, from which the jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

United States v. Blassingame, 197 F.3d 271, 284 (7th Cir. 1999).

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 allows a court to vacate any judgment and grant a new trial "if the interest of justice so requires." FED. R. CRIM. P. 33(a). Motions under Rule 33 are not an opportunity "to reweigh the evidence and set aside the verdict simply because [the Court] feels some other result would be more reasonable." United States v. Reed, 875 F.2d 107, 113 (7th Cir. 1989). Relief is appropriate "only in those really exceptional cases" in which "the evidence [] preponderates heavily against the verdict, such that it would be a miscarriage of justice to let the verdict stand." Id. Relief under Rule 33 is disfavored and granted "sparingly and with caution." Id.

A. Defendant Anzaldi

Defendant Anzaldi contends that the jury erred because the jurors "had no concept of what was being presented before the court... as there is no money, there is just a means of exchange, also known as tax credits, which is what 1099 OIDs are." ECF No. 148 at 3. This argument is unsupported and perfunctory; it is ...


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