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In the Ninth Circuit, You Can't Blame Him For Trying:
Decision of the Day reports on an amusing argument made in a case seeking return of seized property in a drug raid:
  Defendant Tamer Ibrahim was a suspect in an ecstasy distribution ring. And a lucrative one at that. When police raided his apartment, they found $221,000 in a safe, $240,000 in a bag outside the apartment, and almost $30,000 scattered around the apartment. They also found some money on top of a dresser. After Ibrahim was convicted for his role in the drug ring, his presentencing report stated that the amount on top of the dresser was $485,000.. . . .
  [In the appeal,] Ibrahim wants all the money listed in the presentencing report, including the $485,000 supposedly found on the dresser. But the government argues that this was a typo, and that they only found $485 on the dresser. Big difference. Ibrahim argued that the government is now judicially estopped from correcting this typo for asset return purposes, since the larger figure was used in his sentencing. But the Ninth rejects this argument. Ibrahim may be entitled to sentencing relief, but he is certainly not entitled to a $484,515 windfall resulting from a typo. Nice try, though.
Just Saying:
Am I the only one wondering what an apartment with $30,000 "scattered" throughout looks like?
4.15.2008 4:57pm
Chris Newman (mail):
In the post-Booker world, isn't there supposed to be a jury finding of the amount on the dresser if they're going to base a sentence on it?
4.15.2008 5:08pm
Nathan_M (mail):
Was the defence lawyer asleep or something? How could a typo like that not get noticed before sentencing?
4.15.2008 5:29pm
Philistine (mail):

In the post-Booker world, isn't there supposed to be a jury finding of the amount on the dresser if they're going to base a sentence on it?



While you might think so--no.


Was the defence lawyer asleep or something? How could a typo like that not get noticed before sentencing?



From the opinion, it looks like the sentencing number used was either $2 million or $10 million (Probably $10M). Either way, 1/2 million wouldn't impact the guidelines. (Relevant guidelines appear to be $1M-$2.5M or $7M-$20M)
4.15.2008 5:53pm
LM (mail):

Ibrahim may be entitled to sentencing relief, but he is certainly not entitled to a $484,515 windfall resulting from a typo.

What a buzz kill.
4.15.2008 5:55pm
Gaius Marius:
How do we know there was a typo and that the local police didn't go blow $484,515 in Vegas?
4.15.2008 6:08pm
Steve:
I certainly can't blame him for trying. It's rather telling that the government didn't care one bit about correcting this typo until the guy asked for the money back.
4.15.2008 6:14pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
I bet $485K was the figure the cops gave the press.

At least they didn't make a typo in the address and raid the wrong place.

I note that if typical drug dealers have close to a half mil in cash laying around their apartment, the War on Drugs has failed.
4.15.2008 6:23pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Larry A: "I note that if typical drug dealers have close to a half mil in cash laying around their apartment, the War on Drugs has failed."

That of course would depend on what the goal of the War on Drugs is. The 4th amendment has been largely eviscerated, and our government ever more powerful and draconian. Our prison population is among the world's largest (very helpful to the increasingly powerful prison guard union). It is "common knowledge" that of course the government has the power, ability, and right to control what any citizen ingests or injects into his or her own body. So in many ways it's been a rousing success in certain circles...
4.15.2008 6:33pm
ithaqua (mail):
"I note that if typical drug dealers have close to a half mil in cash laying around their apartment, the War on Drugs has failed."

It's no coincidence that some of the most vocal proponents of the War on Drugs have links to organized crime. Who'd want to legalize a racket like that? :)
4.15.2008 6:42pm
CPDL:
It's true, I have a lot of friends in politics. They wouldn't be friendly long if I was involved in drugs instead of gambling, which they regard as a harmless vice, but drugs is a dirty business. It doesn't make any difference to me what a man does for a living. But your business is... a little dangerous.
--Don Corleone
4.15.2008 7:02pm
pgepps (www):
anyone wanting to test that $30,000 scattering thing, feel free to use my place. And, no, you really can't blame the guy for trying, can you?
4.15.2008 7:25pm
LM (mail):
That movie also gave us some folk wisdom I don't think would be warmly received here: "Leave the gun and take the cannoli."
4.15.2008 7:26pm
jccamp:
It's rather telling that the government didn't care one bit about correcting this typo until the guy asked for the money back.

Actually, the correct figure appeared in all the court documents, evidentiary files, etc, until after def was convicted. A probation officer, writing a (post-conviction) pre-sentence report, misplaced the decimal point. Insofar as sentencing guidelines, the error was meaningless as noted in Philistine's post. The government also cited the correct figure in their notices of forfeiture - which they served on the wrong person. The def is about halfway through his 15 year sentence now, but may very well get his money back over the notification issue. The 9th ordered a new hearing on the facts of the notification (or lack of same) at the same time it decided the def was not entitled to those extra decimal points.
It should keep his toothpaste and candy account at the prison PX funded until his release.
Re: Booker, this was a '99 case.
4.15.2008 8:25pm
PaulK (mail):
LM,

Have you ever had well-made cannoli? Of course you take the cannoli.
4.15.2008 8:51pm
jccamp:
You can only have my cannoli when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.
4.15.2008 9:12pm
jccamp:
I think that's what Luca Brasi said...
4.15.2008 9:14pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
hes going to loose on forfeiture anyway. hes not getting the 485 back either.
4.16.2008 2:29am
Ben P (mail):

Am I the only one wondering what an apartment with $30,000 "scattered" throughout looks like?


You've never seen the movie Blow?

As I recall at one point near the beginning of the Movie George Jung is living on a houseboat while selling cocaine. The boat is filled with money and one of the characters says "We're gonna need a bigger boat."
4.16.2008 12:05pm
Prof. S. (mail):
I'm just disappointed the line "Nice try though" wasn't in the actual opinion. It would have been a lot funnier if it was.

Judges should be able to have a good sense of humor about this stuff.
4.16.2008 1:32pm
Guest101:
"Re: Booker, this was a '99 case."

It wouldn't make any difference; even post-Booker there's no need for a jury determination of the amount of forfeiture, or of any other facts pertinent to sentencing, thanks to Justice Breyer and his magical "advisory" Guidelines.
4.16.2008 2:25pm