United States v. Blechman, No. 10-3034 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In January 2009, Defendant-Appellant Robert Blechman and a codefendant, Itsik (Issac) Yass, were tried together in the District of Kansas on charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. Evidence introduced at trial showed that Yass operated a business that he used to temporarily halt home foreclosures by "attaching" foreclosure properties to fraudulent bankruptcy cases in order to take advantage of the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provision. After a two-week trial, the jury found Blechman and Yass guilty of all of the counts charged against them. The district court granted Blechman's motion for judgment of acquittal on the identity theft counts and ultimately sentenced Blechman to a total of eighteen months' imprisonment on the remaining counts. Blechman appealed, challenging the district court’s admission of an America Online (AOL) record that connected him to an e-mail address and three PACER records revealing that he accessed fraudulent bankruptcy cases in Tennessee that were similar to the Kansas bankruptcies identified in the indictment. Blechman argued that these records contained double hearsay and that the district court erroneously admitted them under the business records exception to the hearsay rule. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court erred in admitting the challenged AOL and PACER records under Rule 803(6). Nevertheless, because the Court concluded that the error was harmless, it affirmed Blechman's convictions.