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United States v. Thomas

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

June 29, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MICHAEL THOMAS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is the Defendant Michael Thomas' Motion to Strike Surplusage [DE 20] and Motion for a Bill of Particulars [DE 22]. The government filed a response on June 8, 2018 [DE 26]. The Defendant filed his reply on June 15, 2018 [DE 27]. In essence, the Defendant is asserting that the indictment does not contain enough information of one kind but contains too much information of another kind.

         The indictment [DE 1] charges Mr. Thomas in four counts. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 1341, each count alleges “a scheme and artifice to defraud and obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and for the purpose of executing the [foregoing allegations]…knowingly caused to be sent, delivered, and moved by the United States Postal Service” specific checks from an Insurance Company to Mr. Thomas. Each individual check constitutes a separate count in the indictment.

         The Defendant's motions are now ripe for consideration. For the reasons stated below, the Defendant's Motion to Strike Surplusage is granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant's Motion for a Bill of Particulars is denied.

         MOTION TO STRIKE SURPLUSAGE

         BACKGROUND

         On May 23, 2018, the Defendant filed his motion to strike surplusage in the indictment [DE20], in which he argues that the government has included irrelevant and potentially prejudicial information in the indictment, which needs to be stricken. In his motion, Mr. Thomas asserts the following sections should be stricken because they are irrelevant, immaterial, and/or prejudicial:

2. From 2004 through 2013, seven fires occurred at residences in which Thomas and/or his wife had an ownership interest. Thomas and/or his wife obtained insurance policies shortly before each fire, submitted insurance claims promptly after each fire, and received payments totaling $616, 749.58 from the insurance companies. These residences were located in or near a mobile home park in North Judson, Indiana.
3. On August 31, 2004, Michael Thomas obtained an insurance policy from Insurance Company A on a mobile home he owned at 2691 Julia Drive, North Judson, Indiana. On September 17, 2004, a fire occurred at this mobile home. Thomas submitted an insurance claim three days later, and Insurance Company A mailed Thomas checks totaling $75, 000.
4. On November 4, 2010, Thomas's wife obtained an insurance policy from Insurance Company A on a mobile home and garage owned by Thomas and others at 5081 S 275 W, North Judson, Indiana. On November 14, 2010, one fire occurred at this mobile home and another fire occurred in the garage. An associate of Thomas set these fires at Thomas's direction. Thomas's wife submitted an insurance claim two days later (as well as a later claim), and Insurance Company A mailed Thomas and others checks totaling $25, 961.15. Thomas deposited these checks into the joint bank account he held with his wife. Fire officials determined that these fires were arsons.
5. On November 4, 2010, Thomas's wife obtained an insurance policy from Insurance Company A on a mobile home owned by Thomas's wife and mother in law at 5326 SA Street, North Judson, Indiana. On November 14, 2010, a fire occurred at this mobile home. Thomas's wife submitted an insurance claim two days later (as well as later claims), and Insurance Company A mailed Thomas's wife and mother in law checks totaling $29, 561.12. Thomas's wife deposited these checks into the joint bank account she held with Thomas. Fire officials determined that this fire was an arson.
6. In addition to these three fires on November 14, 2010, two other fires occurred at two residences in the mobile home park on the same date. These fires occurred at 5370 Holiday Street and 2729 Air Stream Court, both in North Judson, Indiana.
Thomas did not have an ownership interest in either of these residences, and an associate of Thomas set the fire at 2729 Air Stream Court to deflect suspicion from Thomas. Fire officials determined that these fires were arsons.
7. On December 11, 2012, Thomas and his wife obtained an insurance policy from Insurance Company A on a mobile home they owned at 5101 S 275 W, North Judson, Indiana. Thomas was attempting to sell this mobile home, and the listing price was reduced from $24, 000 to $19, 000 in October 2012. On January 9. 2013, a fire occurred at this mobile home. Thomas submitted an insurance claim the next day, and Insurance Company A mailed Thomas and his ...

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