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United States v. Kelerchian

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

April 28, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
VAHAN KELERCHIAN

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I.

         Defendant Vahan Kelerchian was tried before a Jury on criminal allegations set out in a nine-count indictment. The charges were as follows:

• Count 1: Conspiracy to make false statements to a federal firearms licensee; . Count 2: Conspiracy to defraud the FDA of its regulatory function regarding restricted laser sights;
• Count 3: Conspiracy to make false statements in demonstration letters;
• Counts 4-7: Making of the false statements in demonstration letters
• Count 8: Bribery; and
• Count 9: Conspiracy to commit money laundering.

         The Jury found Kelerchian guilty of all counts except Count 8. As to Count 9, the Court took under advisement Kelerchian's motion for acquittal. Following the trial, and after some extensions of deadlines, the parties submitted briefs regarding their positions.

         Kelerchian claims three grounds for acquittal: (1) the government did not present evidence of concealment or disguise as required by 18 U.S.C. § 1956; (2) there was no evidence that Kelerchian received any proceeds of unlawful activity as required by United States v. Santos, 553 U.S. 507 (2008); and (3) the facts regarding the underlying wire fraud charge and the facts regarding the money laundering allegations have been merged into one offense. Kelerchian also submits that Count 9 is confusing and vague, compounding the legal problems identified in his brief.

         “A motion for judgment of acquittal should be granted only if there is insufficient evidence to sustain the jury's finding.” United States v. O'Hara, 301 F.3d 563, 569 (7th Cir. 2002). Of course, the evidence has to be viewed in the light most favorable to the government and the conviction may be overturned only “if the record contains no evidence on which a rational jury could have returned a guilty verdict.” Id. at 569--570.

         II.

         Kelerchian stresses that Count 9 is “written in a convoluted and vexing manner.” The plain-English advocates would have no problem agreeing but convoluted and vexing verbiage in an indictment does not by itself nullify a criminal charge. If a count states the elements of the crime, informs the defendant of the nature of the charge, and enables him to plead the judgment as a bar against future prosecutions for the same offense, the charge is legally sufficient. United States v. Agostino, 132 F.3d 1183, 1189 (7th Cir. 1997). Here, Count 9 falls within these parameters, even though one may have to draw a diagram to figure it out. But then again, the convoluted language of the statutes upon which the count is based may be the wellspring of the problem.

         Moreover, insofar as Kelerchian may now be challenging the phrasing of Count 9, the challenge is belated. Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3)(B), motions challenging an indictment must come before trial. In any case, the government's filing of ...


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