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United States v. Georgiadis

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

April 8, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
EVRIPIDES GEORGIADIS, Defendant, Appellant

          APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Nathaniel M. Gorton, U.S. District Judge.

         Andrew Levchuk, with whom Bulkley, Richardson & Gelinas was on brief, for appellant.

         Alex J. Grant, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Carmen M. Ortiz, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

         Before Barron, Circuit Judge, Souter,[*] Associate Justice, And Selya, Circuit Judge.

          OPINION

         BARRON, Circuit Judge.

         This case concerns a defendant's appeal of his convictions and sentence for participating in a complex, multi-million dollar investment fraud. Finding no error, we affirm in all respects.

         I.

         The appellant is Evripides Georgiadis, a Greek national. On June 16, 2011, he was named in an indictment by a federal grand jury in Massachusetts.

         The indictment charged Georgiadis and three others -- John Condo, Michael Zanetti, and Frank Barecich -- with creating a fictional private equity fund, known variously as " BBDA Global Investment Fund" or " DAC Global," and making false promises about that fund to defraud unwitting developers into making deposits totaling nearly $8 million into bank accounts controlled by the defendants from February 2008 through August 2010. The indictment set forth fourteen counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. A superseding indictment, dated September 22, 2011, added a sixteenth count for conspiracy to commit money laundering.[1]

         The following May, Croatian law enforcement authorities arrested Georgiadis at a border crossing in Croatia. In June of that year, the United States sought his extradition for trial on the charges set forth in the superseding indictment, and in December of that year Croatia's Ministry of Justice authorized his extradition.

         Prior to trial, Georgiadis moved for dismissal of the conspiracy to commit money laundering count on the ground that his extradition did not authorize his trial on that count. The District Court denied the motion.

         Over the course of March and April of 2014, Georgiadis's three co-defendants entered guilty pleas. Georgiadis did not. His trial began on April 22, 2014.

         At the close of the government's case, three of the wire fraud counts were dismissed on the government's motion. As a result, only thirteen total counts -- including the conspiracy to commit money laundering count -- went to the jury.

         On May 14, 2014, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all thirteen counts. The District Court then sentenced Georgiadis to 102 months of imprisonment.

         Georgiadis raises a number of challenges here.[2] Some relate only to his conviction for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Others relate to each of his convictions. He also challenges his sentence. We consider his arguments in this order, and we reject each of them.

         II.

         Georgiadis makes two separate challenges to his conviction on Count 16, which charged him with conspiracy to commit money laundering.[3] The first challenge concerns his extradition. The second challenge concerns venue.

         A.

         Georgiadis's extradition-based challenge implicates the " principle of specialty," or, as it is also known, the " doctrine of specialty." United States v. Tse, 135 F.3d 200, 204 (1st Cir. 1998); United States v. Saccoccia, 58 F.3d 754, 766 (1st Cir. 1995). That doctrine " generally requires that an extradited defendant be tried for the crimes on which extradition has been granted, and none other." Saccoccia, 58 F.3d at 766.[4] " Because the doctrine of specialty is concerned with comity rather than the rights of the defendant, . . . [it] exists only to the extent that the surrendering country wishes." Tse, 135 F.3d at 205. For that reason, " [i]n general, we do not believe that there can be a violation of the principle of specialty where the requesting nation prosecutes the returned fugitive for the exact crimes on which the surrendering nation granted extradition." Saccoccia, 58 F.3d at 768.

         Here, the decision of the Croatian Ministry of Justice (the " Decision" ) clearly authorized Georgiadis's extradition on all counts charged in the indictment, including Count 16. [Dkt. No. 157, Ex. 1, 1]. Indeed, the Decision specifically states that Georgiadis " can be extradited . . . based on the probable cause that he has committed . . . one criminal act of conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (h)."

         Nevertheless, Georgiadis contends that Croatia did not actually intend to extradite Georgiadis on Count 16. To support this surprising contention, he points to the statement in the Decision that expressly purports to extradite Georgiadis " [p]ursuant to the provisions of" a 1902 treaty between the United States and what was then Servia (" 1902 Treaty" ).[5] Georgiadis argues that the Decision nowhere states that conspiracy to commit money laundering is an offense covered by that 1902 Treaty. And Georgiadis further contends that the 1902 Treaty does not, in fact, cover that offense. Georgiadis also appears to argue that the Decision misidentified Count 16 as a reference to a " computer fraud" crime. Thus, Georgiadis concludes, the Decision is best read to authorize Georgiadis's extradition for only those crimes that are covered by the 1902 Treaty or, " [a]t best," to " reflect[] confusion" about the substance of Count 16.

         But Georgiadis's contention that Croatia did not actually authorize his extradition for Count 16 is not one that Croatia itself advances. Nor is it one that can be reconciled with the plain language of the Decision that Croatia issued to authorize Georgiadis's extradition. The references in the translated Decision to " computer fraud" seem clearly to track the wire fraud counts against Georgiadis, and the " justification" section of the Decision separately refers to " money laundering" on multiple occasions. Thus, the Decision does not reveal the confusion that Georgiadis claims it reflects, and it simply cannot be read to limit Georgiadis's extradition such that it does not cover Count 16.

         Georgiadis does also appear to argue that even if Croatia intended to extradite him on Count 16, the 1902 Treaty barred Croatia from doing so because the treaty does not cover the crime of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He relies on United States v. Rauscher, 119 U.S. 407, 7 S.Ct. 234, 30 L.Ed. 425 (1886), which states at one point that a defendant extradited pursuant to a treaty can " only be tried for one of the offenses described in that treaty." Id. at 430.

         But we have previously made clear that Rauscher applies to " situations where an American court tries the fugitive for a crime other than the one for which extradition was granted." Autry v. Wiley, 440 F.2d 799, 801 (1st Cir. 1971); see Rauscher, 119 U.S. at 424 (explaining that an extradited defendant has a right to " be tried only for the offense with which he is charged in the extradition proceedings, and for which he was delivered up" ). And, as we have explained, Croatia made clear in its Decision that it extradited Georgiadis for trial on the conspiracy to commit money laundering count for which he was tried.

         To the extent Georgiadis argues that we may independently determine that Croatia lacked the authority to effect the extradition that Croatia plainly authorized in its Decision " [p]ursuant to the provisions of the [1902 Treaty]," we rejected an equivalent argument in Autry. In doing so, we relied on the Supreme Court's decision in Ker v. Illinois,119 U.S. 436, 7 S.Ct. 225, 30 L.Ed. 421 (1886). We explained in Autry that the Court in Ker held that, subject to limited exceptions not applicable here, " neither the method by which an accused is brought before a criminal court, nor the legality of his forcible seizure or arrest . . . nor his subsequent forcible and illegal transportation and confinement are material to the question of the jurisdiction of a criminal court before whom he is present." Autry, 440 F.2d at 801. Thus, this aspect of Georgiadis's extradition-based challenge also cannot succeed. Id. (explaining that the defendant could not challenge his conviction on the ground that the treaty did not authorize ...


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