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United States v. Ubanwa

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

September 4, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BASIL UBANWA

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHIEF JUDGE THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Advance Trial Date [ECF No. 19], filed on August 22, 2019. For the reasons stated below, this Motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         On October 17, 2018, the Grand Jury charged the Defendant with (1) conspiracy to commit health care fraud, (2) health care fraud, and (3) Medicaid health care fraud [ECF No. 1]. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1347. On November 2, 2018, the Court conducted an arraignment hearing [ECF No. 5] at which the Government moved, without objection, to designate the case as complex. The Court found that “this is [a] COMPLEX case and the time from now until the next status conference is excluded under the Speedy Trial Act.” The Court scheduled the next status conference for April 1, 2019. The Defendant was also released on a $20, 000 unsecured appearance bond.

         On April 1, 2019, the Court conducted a status conference hearing [ECF No. 12]. At the hearing, the parties indicated that they anticipated a three-week trial. Defense counsel requested a continuance to allow for additional time to review discovery, and the Court granted this request. The Court scheduled another status conference for July 22, 2019. The Court found that “due to the complexity of [the] case and in the interests of justice, the time period from now until the next status conference is excludable under the Speedy Trial Act.”

         On July 2, 2019, the Government filed a Motion, without objection, to continue the status conference so that the parties could continue plea negotiations. Pl.'s Unopposed Mot. to Continue Status Date 1-2, ECF No. 14. On July 8, 2019, the Court granted this motion [ECF No. 15]. The Court rescheduled the status conference for August 5, 2019.

         On August 5, 2019, the Court conducted a status conference [ECF No. 17]. The Government requested a trial date in May 2020, and the Defendant did not object. The Court found that “due to [the] complexity of [the] case and in the interest of justice, the time period from now until the May 2020 trial setting is excludable under the Speedy Trial Act.” The Court scheduled the Defendant's trial to begin on May 11, 2020 [ECF No. 18].

         On August 22, 2019, the Defendant filed a Motion requesting that his trial start in November 2019. Def.'s Mot. to Advance Trial Date 2-3, ECF No. 19. On August 23, 2019, the Government filed a Response [ECF No. 20]. On August 29, 2019, the Defendant filed a Reply to the Response [ECF No. 21]. On September 3, 2019, the Defendant filed a Motion to Set Hearing Date [ECF No. 22].

         ANALYSIS

         The Defendant, within his Motion, “asserts his right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act.” Def.'s Mot. to Advance Trial Date 2-3, ECF No. 19. For the reasons that follow, this Motion is denied.

         A. The Speedy Trial Act

         The Court first concludes that an expedited trial pursuant to the Speedy Trial Act is not warranted in this case. The Speedy Trial Act “provides that a defendant must go to trial within seventy days of either the issuance of an indictment or a defendant's first appearance before a judicial officer, whichever is later.” United States v. Hills, 618 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1)). “If a defendant is not brought to trial within that seventy-day window, the indictment against the defendant must be dismissed upon the defendant's motion.” Id. at 625-26 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3162(a)(2)).

         “However, certain periods of time between arraignment and trial are excluded from the Speedy Trial calculation.” United States v. Larson, 417 F.3d 741, 744-45 (7th Cir. 2005) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)). For example, the Speedy Trial Act “permits a district court to grant a continuance and to exclude the resulting delay if the court, after considering certain factors, makes on-the-record findings that the ends of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the public's and defendant's interests in a speedy trial.” Zedner v. United States, 547 U.S. 489, 498-99 (2006). One such factor is whether the criminal case “is so unusual or so complex, due to the number of defendants, the nature of the prosecution, or the existence of novel questions of fact or law, that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself within the time limits established by this section.” 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii).

         In this case, at the Defendant's arraignment, the Court found that this was a complex case and that “the time from now until the next status conference is excluded from the Speedy Trial Act.” Docket Entry, ECF No. 5. At the next status conference on April 1, 2019, the Court found that “due to the complexity of [the] case and in the interests of justice, the time period from now until the next status conference is excludable under the Speedy Trial Act.” Docket Entry, ECF No. 12. At the next status conference on August 5, 2019, the Court found that “due to [the] complexity of [the] case and in the interest of justice, the time period from now until the May 2020 ...


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