United States v. Masha, No. 19-20673 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Defendant was indicted in a second superseding indictment on eight charges of false use of a passport in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1543, and eight charges of misuse of a passport in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1544. The Government now agrees that the convictions under section 1544 must be vacated based on insufficient evidence.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for false use of a passport and held that there was ample evidence, both direct and circumstantial, to conclude that defendant used fraudulent passports to open accounts at various banks in the Houston area. Because the court has determined that there is insufficient evidence to support defendant's section 1544 convictions for misuse of a passport, the court need not address defendant's argument that the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment as to those charges. Finally, the court also held that defendant failed to show that the district court plainly erred in allowing certain lay opinion testimony and failed to demonstrate that the district court clearly erred in its loss calculation. Accordingly, the court vacated the section 1544 convictions and affirmed the section 1543 convictions.