United States v. Muho, No. 18-11248 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for bank fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. The court held that the district court did not err by allowing defendant to proceed pro se after he invoked his right to self-representation. In this case, the waiver of defendant's right to counsel was clear, uncontested on appeal, and repeatedly reaffirmed after signs of uncertainty. The court also held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 17(b) and, in any event, any error was harmless.
The court further held that, to trigger the USSG 2B1.1(b)(16)(A) enhancement, at least in a case involving property held by a financial institution for a depositor, the financial institution (1) must be the source of the property, which the court interprets as having property rights in the property, and (2) must have been victimized by the offense conduct. The court held that the two-level enhancement was not erroneously applied to defendant's sentence where HSBC-Monaco, not defendant, was a source of the derived property; control over the property transferred directly from HSBC-Monaco to defendant; and the bank was not just a conduit for a transfer of property that resulted from criminal conduct directed elsewhere. The court explained that the bank was a victim of defendant's fraud. Finally, the court held that defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and the district court did not abuse its discretion.