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United States v. Stavroulakis - 952 F.2d 686 (2d Cir. 1992)

Rule:

While conspirators need not agree on every detail of their venture, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that they agreed on the essential nature of the plan. It is not required that they agree on the ancillary aspects of a scheme not running to the heart of the agreement.

Facts:

Defendant Nick Stavroulakis was charged with a four-count indictment. Count One charged, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.S. § 371, that defendant conspired with Kostas Giziakis to violate the money laundering statute (18 U.S.C.S. § 1956) by attempting to conceal the source of certain money alleged to be the proceeds of unlawful activity, and to avoid the currency reporting requirements of Title 31. Counts Two and Three charged defendant with bank fraud by engaging in a scheme or artifice to defraud a federally chartered and insured financial institution. Count Four charged defendant with uttering and possessing forged securities.

A jury convicted defendant on all counts. Defendant appealed his convictions, contending that the government failed to prove a conspiracy to launder money because he and his co-conspirator did not agree on the source of the funds to be laundered. He further argued that that the evidence adduced at trial failed to support bank fraud convictions. Defendant also asserted that he was entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor, during jury selection, exercised one of her peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner.

Issue:

  1. Must the conspirators agree on the source of funds to be laundered in order to be convicted of the crime of conspiracy to launder money?
  2. Was the evidence adduced at trial sufficient to support defendant’s bank fraud convictions?
  3. Did the prosecutor exercise one of her peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner, thereby warranting the grant of a new trial to the defendant?

Answer:

1) No. 2) Yes. 3) No.

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed defendant’s conviction for conspiracy, holding that sufficient evidence established that defendant and his co-conspirator agreed on the essential nature of a scheme to launder money, and as long as the illegal activity was one enumerated by 18 U.S.C.S. § 1956 (c)(7), it was not essential that the parties agree on the same illegal activity. The Court further held that the indictment was sufficient to allege bank fraud as it tracked the language of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1344 (a)(1) with respect to bank fraud and that it sufficiently informed defendant of the charges against him. According to the Court, an indictment is required to do little more than to track the language of the statute charged and state the time and place in approximate terms of the alleged crime. Anent the third issue, the Court held that the defendant has the burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination in determining whether peremptory challenges have been exercised in a racially discriminatory manner. However, defendant did not show circumstances raising an inference of racial discrimination in jury selection by the prosecutor, and as such, he was not entitled to a new trial.

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