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United States v. Walker

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 25, 2014

GREGORY WALKER, Defendant-Appellant

Argued January 23, 2014.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:11-cr-00004-3 -- Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Jessica Romero, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Gregory Walker, Defendant - Appellant: Sarah O'Rourke Schrup, Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, IL.

Before POSNER and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges, and GILBERT, District Judge.[*]


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Gilbert, District Judge.

On January 16, 2013, a jury found Gregory Walker guilty of two counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. On appeal, Walker makes the following three arguments: (1) the failure to obtain and turn over Walker's seized items from a previous unrelated state case constitutes a Brady violation and prevented Walker from presenting his theory of defense; (2) the district court erred when it refused to give Walker's proposed buyer-seller instruction to the jury; and (3) the district erred in ordering restitution. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court.

In sum, Walker was involved in a mortgage fraud scheme encompassing at least ten different loans and seven different properties in the Chicago area. Throughout the scheme, Walker served as both a fraudulent buyer and seller. He also used his then-girlfriend, co-defendant Tanya McChristion, as a straw purchaser in some transactions. With respect to the two wire fraud counts that went to trial, Walker fraudulently caused Long Beach Mortgage to loan money on two different occasions with properties located at 9023 South Kingston, Chicago, Illinois (" the Kingston property" ) and 277 Allegheny Street, Park Forest, Illinois (" the Park Forest property" ) serving as collateral.

In his role as a fraudulent buyer, Walker first obtained a fraudulent loan for the Kingston property on May 19, 2005, when he submitted a loan application through

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co-defendant Carol Simmons, a loan processor. Simmons prepared and submitted the loan application containing false information about Walker's employment, assets, and rental income. Thereafter, Walker sold the Kingston property to McChristion on January 31, 2006. This transaction, in Walker's role as a fraudulent seller, is the subject of Count Two. To obtain the January 2006 mortgage on the Kingston property, Simmons submitted loan applications on behalf of McChristion to Long Beach Mortgage. The application was replete with false information regarding McChristion's assets, employment, income, and earnest money payments. Walker obtained control of a portion of the loan proceeds through a check made payable to Real Deal Construction, a company owned by Walker.

The loan for the Park Forest property, the subject of Count Three, was obtained through Walker's use of McChristion as a straw buyer. This loan was obtained in a similar manner as the Kingston property loan, wherein Simmons prepared and submitted fraudulent loan documents in McChristion's name. In addition to listing McChristion's fraudulent income information, the loan application stated the sale price was $137,000; however, at trial the seller testified the negotiated sale price was $86,000. Eventually, the loans went into default and the properties were foreclosed on. In sum, Walker's conduct relating to the ten fraudulent transactions caused an estimated $956,300 in loss to Long Beach Mortgage.

Walker's trial counsel entered his appearance in the instant case just a few weeks prior to trial. Counsel filed a motion to continue citing his need to conduct an investigation of the evidence to determine whether Walker had a Silverthorne claim.[1] Specifically, counsel was concerned that illegally seized material from an unrelated state case, in the possession of the South Holland Police Department, may have been used to form the basis of the instant federal case. That evidence stems from Walker's 2006 arrest by Secret Service and others for possession of a gun. During that arrest, law enforcement seized property from Walker's home, including third parties' state identification cards, social security numbers, and credit histories; electronic storage devices; and documents and ledgers. The state court held that the search was in violation of Walker's Fourth Amendment rights and suppressed the evidence in his state case.

Throughout the district court proceedings, the government maintained that its evidence for the instant case came from lenders, title companies, financial institutions and eyewitness testimony, not from the 2006 state search. It further maintained that the only investigating agency was Housing and Urban Development, not the Secret Service.

During an October 17, 2012, hearing on Walker's motion for return of a subpoena directed at the South Holland Police Department, the district court clarified the information sought by Walker. Specifically, defense counsel said, " All I'm asking for is disclosure from the police as to what they did with this stuff," and " I want to know what they did with the stuff. That's all, what the police did with the stuff." Defense counsel further explained that he was no longer seeking production of the seized property because " it would be a little unwise for a criminal attorney to ask

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for evidence of crimes that he wasn't charged with." Defense counsel then clarified that his request was in the alternative, and he was alternatively requesting, pursuant to Brady, " a disclosure as to what the Federal Government or the ...

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