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United States v. Lopez

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

February 16, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
CLAUDIA LOPEZ, OSKEL LEZCANO, ARIEL BORREGO HERNANDEZ, SERGIO BETANCOURT, LEDINSON CHAVEZ, and YURIESKY DIAZ RODRIGUEZ DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH H. MCKINLEY, JR., CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on two motions in limine by defendants Claudia Lopez (DN 240) and Ledinson Chavez. (DN 246.) These matters are ripe for decision.

         The second superseding indictment charges all defendants with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, while also charging some defendants individually with health care fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. (DN 207.) The defendants are alleged to have operated various chiropractic clinics and fraudulently billed health insurers for injections that were never administered by the clinics. (Id.) Lopez has moved to exclude evidence that she allegedly purchased or was in possession of two stolen vehicles during the conspiracy. (DN 240.) Chavez joins in that motion and also seeks to exclude any evidence related to three other matters: that the defendants purchased and sold expensive vehicles, largely with cash, during the conspiracy; that the defendants engaged in patient recruiting to attract business to the clinics; and that he left the United States around the time that he was indicted and search warrants were executed in this case. (DN 246.) The Court will address each in turn.

         I. Evidence That Vehicles Were Stolen

         Lopez seeks to exclude evidence of her alleged ownership and possession of stolen vehicles, as this is inadmissible as a prior bad act under Fed.R.Evid. 404(b). This evidence is outlined in the government's pretrial memorandum. (See DN 235, at 6.) The government concedes that the stolen nature of the vehicles is not relevant and states that it will not seek admission of that evidence at trial. (DN 251.) Therefore, the government will not be permitted to introduce evidence regarding the stolen nature of the vehicles.

         II. Evidence of Vehicle Purchases

         In addition to joining the motion to exclude evidence that Lopez's vehicles were stolen, Chavez seeks to exclude evidence that the defendants purchased or drove expensive vehicles, as the information is irrelevant and unduly prejudicial. The government has indicated that it will seek to introduce the following evidence regarding vehicle transactions:

(1) Lopez purchased a Porsche for $74, 000 in cash from an individual who listed the vehicle on Craigslist;
(2) Lopez purchased an Audi from a dealership for $24, 000 in cash and later sold the vehicle to an individual for $28, 000 in cash;
(3) Chavez purchased a Mercedes for $37, 125 from a dealership, putting $15, 000 down in cash, which was provided by Lezcano, and listing his employer on his credit application as one of the companies that fraudulently billed for injections;
(4) Betancourt purchased a Mercedes for $39, 344.78 from a dealership, putting $5, 000 down in cash and listing his employer on his credit application as one of the companies that fraudulently billed for injections;
(5) Diaz purchased a Mercedes for $33, 797.59 from a dealership, putting $5, 000 down in cash and listing his employer on his credit application as one of the companies that fraudulently billed for injections; and
(6) Lezcano's girlfriend purchased a Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes from a dealership during the existence of the conspiracy.

(DN 252, at 3.) The government also seeks to introduce evidence surrounding an incident in which Chavez was involved in an accident while driving the Porsche belonging to Lopez, as the insurance company's investigation into the accident includes sworn testimony by Lopez that Chavez was her boyfriend ...


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