Second Circuit Holds Government Can Establish Venue By Directing Cooperator to Place Calls to Co-Conspirators From That District
In United States v. Tank Yuk, et al., 15-131 (March 15, 2018), the Second Circuit (Chin (dissenting), Carney, Forrest, sitting by designation) affirmed the convictions of three defendants in a drug trafficking conspiracy who were prosecuted and convicted by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, despite the fact that the bulk of defendants’ criminal activities took place in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida. The central issue on appeal was whether venue was proper in the S.D.N.Y.; the majority held that it was, but Judge Chin dissented, concluding that it was not foreseeable to the defendants that an act in furtherance of the conspiracy would occur in the S.D.N.Y.
In United States v. Holcombe, 16-1429-cr, the Second Circuit (Jacobs, Leval, Lohier) resolved three open issues involving a conviction for failing to register pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). First, the Court held that the interstate travel offense at issue “began” in the state the defendant left, New York, and thus venue in SDNY was proper. Second, the Court held that any potential vagueness in a 30-day window for updating registration did not render defendant’s conviction here void for vagueness given the passage of at least 18 months. Last, the Court rejected defendant’s claim that the SORNA registration requirement violated his constitutional right to travel.
On August 15, 2016, the Second Circuit issued a rare opinion on the subject of the sufficiency of evidence to establish venue in United States v. Lange, No. 14-2442-cr (Jacobs, Chin, Droney). In this securities fraud and conspiracy case, the Court found there was sufficient evidence that the defendants committed a crime in the Eastern District of New York (“EDNY”) when they were aware of “cold call” lists including EDNY residents and where emails soliciting investment were sent to a Postal Inspector in Brooklyn. This connection was sufficient even though the participants in the scheme operated out of Washington State and had little contact with EDNY.