United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF
ACQUITTAL [ECF NO.139]
Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge
23, 2015, the United States charged Paul Nicoletti
(“Nicoletti”) in a four-count indictment - one
count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1349 and three counts of aiding and abetting
bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344(2). On
May 5, 2019, a jury convicted Nicoletti on all four counts.
filed this timely Motion for Judgment of Acquittal pursuant
to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. It is
court reviewed the evidence in the light most favorable to
the Government. It finds there was sufficient evidence to
support the jury's verdict.
Court DENIES the Defendant's motion.
participated in obtaining loans to purchase homes in Oakland
County. He was a licensed attorney in the State of Michigan
and President of Continental Title Insurance Agency.
Nicoletti recruited unqualified straw buyers to purchase
high-end residential property using the proceeds of
multi-million-dollar mortgage loans from Fifth Third Bank.
This fraudulent scheme and conspiracy was designed to obtain
financing to purchase real estate located at 3935 Quarton
Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; 3941 Quarton Road,
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and “Vacant Lone Pine Lot,
” Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Nicoletti acted as a
title agent; coordinated and conducted the real estate
closings; prepared false HUD-1 Settlement Statements; and
disbursed the proceeds of the mortgage loans.
6 days of trial, the government proved Nicoletti knowingly
facilitated fraudulent real estate transactions. The evidence
established Nicoletti submitted fraudulent loan applications
to financial institutions - including Fifth Third Bank - that
contained materially false information, including false
identities of loan applicants, false income and assets of
loan applicants, false sources of down payments, and false
intentions on the part of the buyers to use the properties as
principal residences. The evidence showed the loans were all
funded by money in the custody of Fifth Third Bank, disbursed
to Nicoletti's title company's bank account - also at
Fifth Third Bank - and then distributed by Nicoletti to
himself and others.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
29 motion challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
sustain a conviction. United States v. Jones, 102
F.3d 804, 807 (6th Cir. 1996). When addressing such a motion,
whether made under 29(a) or (c), the trial court must
after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt. This familiar standard gives full play to the
responsibility of the trier of fact fairly to resolve
conflicts in the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to
draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979)
(emphasis in original); Jones, 102 F.3d at 807. The
Court must, in performing this review, “refrain from
independently judging the credibility of witnesses or weight
of the evidence.” United States v. Price, 258
F.3d 539, 544 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting United States v.
Welch, 97 F.3d 142, 148 (6th Cir. 1996)). The Court can
reverse a jury's verdict for insufficient evidence only
if it is not supported by "‘substantial and
competent evidence'" on the record as a whole and
must "make all reasonable inferences and credibility
choices in support of the jury's verdict."
Grubbs, 506 F.3d at 438; United States v.
Newsom, 452 F.3d 593, 608 (6th Cir. 2006) (quotation
marks omitted). This standard is difficult to overcome; it
places a heavy burden on the defendant. United States v.
Webber, 208 F.3d 545, 553 (6th Cir. 2000) (citing
United States v. Spearman, 186 F.3d 743, 746
(6th Cir. 1999)).
says the evidence was insufficient to prove both that he had
the requisite criminal intent to obtain money within the
custody of a financial institution and to establish that he
submitted false information to financial institutions.
support a conviction for bank fraud under 18 U.S.C. 1344(2),
the government must prove that the defendant intended to: (1)
obtain money in the custody or control of an insured
financial institution; and (2) defraud financial ...