USA V. ALEXIS JAIMEZ, No. 19-50253 (9th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed his convictions for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, money laundering conspiracy, and conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO).
The Ninth Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions. The panel held that sufficient evidence supported Defendant’s conviction for money laundering conspiracy, which required the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an agreement to commit money laundering, Defendant knew the objective of the agreement, and Defendant joined the agreement with the intent to further its unlawful purpose. Defendant did not dispute that the CRO conspired to launder money by transferring extortionate “taxes” collected by foot soldiers to incarcerated gang leaders.
The panel concluded that there was sufficient evidence that Defendant himself knew of and intended to support the CRO’s money laundering, and that he was not convicted solely on the basis of his CRO membership. The panel held that, as related to the money laundering conspiracy charge, the district court did not plainly err in instructing the jury, in the course of generally defining the term “knowingly,” that the government was “not required to prove that the defendant knew that his acts or omissions were unlawful.”
The panel held that a conspiracy conviction can stand if one of the objects is only factually, but not legally, insufficient. Thus, even if there had been insufficient evidence for money laundering conspiracy, the RICO conviction would still stand because there was sufficient evidence for the other two valid predicate activities, drug distribution conspiracy and extortion.