United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. Bunning United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court upon the United States' Motion
in Limine (Doc. # 18), wherein the United States seeks to
admit certain evidence and exclude any argument or evidence
related to the alleged negligence of U.S. Bank. On June 7,
2018, the Court held a Pretrial Conference, during which the
Court ordered Defendant Adam C. Vance to file a written
response to the United States' Motion in Limine on or
before June 13, 2018. (Doc. # 20). Defendant having failed to
file a response, the United States' Motion in Limine is
now ripe for the Court's review. For the reasons that
follow, the United States' Motion in Limine (Doc. # 18)
is hereby granted. The United States may
introduce the requested background evidence and the Defendant
is precluded from introducing any argument or evidence
related to the alleged negligence of U.S. Bank.
Standard of Review
district court's inherent authority to manage the course
of its trials encompasses the right to rule on motions in
limine.” Highland Capital Mgmt., L.P. v.
Schneider, 551 F.Supp.2d 173, 176-77 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)
(citing Luce v. Unites States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n. 4
(1984)). “The Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal
Rules of Criminal and Civil Procedure, and interpretive
rulings of the Supreme Court and this court all encourage,
and in some cases require, parties and the court to utilize
extensive pretrial procedures- including motions in limine-in
order to narrow the issues remaining for trial and to
minimize disruptions at trial.” United States v.
Brawner, 173 F.3d 966, 970 (6th Cir. 1999); see also
United States v. Huff, No. 10-CR-73, 2011 WL 4916195, at
*1 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 27, 2011).
The evidence sought to be admitted is proper background
evidence and is not subject to the restrictions of Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 404(b).
United States seeks to admit evidence that on October 3,
2017, the Defendant applied for a personal loan on a line of
credit that the Defendant's great-grandfather, Charles
Spriggs, maintained with U.S. Bank. (Doc. # 18 at 2). The
Defendant allegedly transferred the loan proceeds to a joint
checking account managed by Charles Spriggs and his wife,
Selena Spriggs. Id. To retrieve the funds, the
Defendant accessed the account with a debit card issued to
Charles Spriggs. Id. The United States also seeks to
admit evidence that the Defendant allegedly forged checks
made payable to the Defendant and drawn on Charles
Sprigg's checking account. Id.
United States argues that this evidence is inextricably
intertwined with the crimes charged and is, therefore,
admissible as background evidence. Id. Specifically,
the United States argues that the evidence completes the
story of the fraud the Defendant perpetrated-where the money
in the account came from and who the money went to.
Id. at 3. The Court agrees.
Rule of Civil Procedure 404(b) prohibits evidence of
“other crimes, wrongs, or acts … to prove the
character of a person in order to show action in conformity
therewith.” Fed.R.Civ.P. § 404(b). In essence,
evidence of other crimes cannot be admitted “to invite
the jury to infer that because [the Defendant] committed the
prior acts, he [is] guilty of the charged offense.”
United States v. Joseph, 270 Fed.Appx. 399, 405 (6th
Cir. 2018). However, there are instances were evidence of
other crimes committed by the Defendant is admissible
evidence and not subject to the restrictions of 404(b).
Id. “Res gestae” evidence, more properly
referred to as background evidence, is one type of such
evidence includes evidence of acts that “are
inextricably intertwined with the charged offense or those
acts, the telling of which is necessary to complete the story
of the charged offense.” Id. The Sixth Circuit
has explained that background evidence is admissible
“as long there is an adequate ‘causal, temporal,
or spatial connection with the charged offense.'”
Id. (quoting United States v. Hardy, 228
F.3d 745, 748 (6th Cir. 2000)).
the Court finds that the evidence sought to be admitted by
the United States is admissible background evidence. In this
case, the Defendant has been charged with several counts of
access device fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1029(a)(5), and aggravated identity theft in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1028A. Evidence that the Defendant applied for
a loan on Sprigg's account, transferred the loan proceeds
into that account, accessed the account using a debit card
issued to Sprigg's, and forged checks to withdraw money
from the account “completes the story of the charged
offenses.” Id. The Court finds that the acts
share adequate “causal, temporal, or spatial
connection” with the charged offenses such that the
acts are properly considered background evidence.
Id. Accordingly, the proffered evidence is not
404(b) evidence. Rather, it is admissible as permissible
Argument or evidence relating to U.S. Bank's alleged
negligence will not be permitted at trial.
United States also seeks to exclude any evidence or argument
that U.S. Bank was negligent in allowing the Defendant's
fraud to occur. The Defendant has been charged with several
counts of access device fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1029(a)(5), and aggravated identity theft in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. The United States argues that
evidence relating to any alleged negligence of U.S. Bank
should be excluded because such evidence does not negate any
of the elements of access device fraud or aggravated identity
theft. (Doc. # 18 at 4). Again, the Court agrees.
lender's negligence cannot be used to excuse criminal
fraudulent behavior. “A victim's negligence is not
a defense under the federal fraud statutes.” United
States v. Frenkel, 682 Fed.Appx. 20, 22 (2d Cir. 2017)
(citing United States v. Thomas, 377 F.3d 232,
240-43 (2d Cir. 2004)). The Second Circuit in
Frenkel found that evidence of a victim's
negligence negates none of the elements of wire fraud. That
is because “two wrongs do not make a right, and
lender's negligence, or even, intentional disregard,
cannot excuse another's criminal fraud.” United
States v. Lindsey, 850 F.3d 1009, 1014 (9th Cir. 2017).
The same analysis holds true here. Evidence of U.S.
Bank's alleged negligence negates none of the ...