United States v. Baptiste, No. 16-17175 (11th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence for crimes related to his involvement in an $11 million scheme that involved cashing tax refund checks that he had fraudulently obtained in the names of inmates, minors, dead people, and other insentient or otherwise unsuspecting "clients."
The Eleventh Circuit held that it need not decide whether the testimony of a government witness constituted inadmissible hearsay, because any error in admitting the testimony was harmless. In this case, there was more than enough evidence to support defendant's conviction. The court rejected defendant's remaining claims of evidentiary errors, and held that the district court did not err in imposing sentencing enhancements pertaining to the amount of money that the government lost and the number and vulnerability of the victims. However, the court held that the district court did commit reversible error when it failed to permit defendant to allocute personally. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and remanded for defendant to have the opportunity to address the district court directly.