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A defendant is vicariously liable for the substantive acts of her coconspirators whether or not she directly participates in such acts, so long as those acts are committed pursuant to and in furtherance of the conspiracy. Further a conspirator who joins a pre-existing conspiracy is bound by all that has gone on before in the conspiracy.
The inmates in the pro. per. section of the Los Angeles County Jail posed as law enforcement or bank security personnel checking on credit card problems, and telephoned individuals whose numbers had been obtained from the city phone book. The inmate would have the person read off his or her credit card number to "verify" it, and would then call Western Union and order a money order, charging it to the misappropriated credit card number. The inmate would direct the money order to a specific Western Union office, made out to someone on the outside who would pick it up. The person receiving the money order had to present identification and had to identify the amount of the order, the sender, and when it was sent. Defendant Carlotta Santana Saavedra, using the names Carlotta Santana and Charlotte Carpenter, acted as one of these outside persons. She later deposited most of the money in the inmates' jail accounts. Defendant was arrested and was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and three substantive counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. On September 18, 1980, a jury was impaneled and sworn to fairly try the case. The jury trial commenced on October 28, 1980 and lasted four days. Defendant was found guilty on each of the counts with which she was charged. On appeal, defendant contended that the delay between the impaneling of the jury and the beginning of trial violated her Sixth Amendment and statutory rights to a speedy trial, her Fifth Amendment right to due process, and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 48(b). Defendant argued that the delay was caused by inappropriate Government activity stemming from an ongoing dispute between the Judge and the U.S. Attorney's women lawyers. Moreover, defendant contended that the district court erred in admitting hearsay evidence against her. According to the defendant, there was insufficient evidence of the existence of a conspiracy and her connection to it to permit the introduction of the evidence under the declarations of coconspirators exclusion from the hearsay rule.
The court noted that the factors which must be balanced in determining whether post-indictment delay has violated a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial were: (i) the length of the delay, (ii) the reasons for the delay, (iii) whether the defendant asserted his or her right to a speedy trial, and (iv) whether the defendant has been prejudiced by the delay. In this case, the delay complained of was only three and one-half weeks duration, one week of which was for the convenience of defendant’s counsel. Defendant was not in custody during the time period in question, and she made no claim that any witnesses became unavailable or suffered loss of memory due to the delay. Moreover, the court held that there was no likelihood that the delay prejudiced defendant. The court also held that the government had reason to be concerned about bias from the bench. Because the delay was short, the likelihood of prejudice minimal, and the reasons for the delay permissible, the court concluded that there was no Sixth Amendment violation. Anent the second issue, the court held that the evidence sufficiently connected defendant to the inmates and the money orders. The court found that the testimony of three victims that they had not charged or authorized anyone else to charge money orders to the credit cards, the fact that defendant used a false name when she picked up the money orders, the fact that soon after the money orders were sent defendant deposited the money into the bank accounts of the inmates, and the fact that a paper was found in the prison with phone numbers and her name on it constituted sufficient evidence to support her conviction. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant’s conviction.