Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The anti-structuring law may well have been intended to prevent criminals from concealing their illicit profits, but that is not the limit of its reach. 31 U.S.C.S. § 5324 makes no reference to the source of the monies at issue or to the reason why a person seeks to avoid a Form 4789 Currency Transaction Report filing. Its singular focus is on the method employed to evade that filing requirement, i.e., structuring. If a defendant structures cash transactions knowing that the financial institution involved is obligated to report transactions exceeding $10,000 and intending to evade that requirement, he is guilty of structuring without regard to whether the cash at issue represents criminal or lawful proceeds. More to the point, whether or not a 31 U.S.C.S. § 5324 prosecution relates to criminal proceeds, a jury may properly consider the pattern of structuring activities and draw reasonable inferences therefrom as to whether the defendant possessed the requisite mens rea.
In a four-month period, defendant William MacPherson deposited a total of $258,100 in cash into three bank accounts by means of thirty-two transactions, structured so that no single transaction exceeded $10,000. Defendant was charged with structuring currency transactions in violation of 31 U.S.C.S. § 5324(a)(3). The government did not contend that the deposited funds derived from any criminal activity but suggested that the deposits were made with monies that defendant had previously shielded against a possible civil judgment. A jury returned a verdict of guilty, but the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(c) and concluded that the evidence was insufficient to prove defendant's knowledge of and intent to evade currency reporting requirements. The United States appealed, arguing that the totality of the circumstantial evidence permitted the jury to infer defendant’s guilty knowledge and intent.
Did the totality of the circumstantial evidence permit the jury to infer defendant’s guilty knowledge and intent, thereby warranting defendant’s conviction?
The Court held that the jury could have reasonably inferred from the pattern of defendant's structuring, as well as from the record of his earlier cash withdrawals that did generate Form 4789 Currency Transaction Report filings, that defendant knew of and, in connection with the charged deposits, intended to evade currency reporting requirements. According to the Court, the evidence suggested that the cash was a long-held asset, and in six out of seven consecutive weeks, defendant traveled to three different banks on the same day to make identical deposits of $9,000. Thus, Court held that the trial court erroneously usurped the role of the jury when it entered a judgment of acquittal.