Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Nicoletti

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL NICOLETTI, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL [ECF NO.139]

          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On June 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.

         Nicoletti filed this timely Motion for Judgment of Acquittal pursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. It is fully briefed.

         The court reviewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government. It finds there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict.

         The Court DENIES the Defendant's motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Nicoletti 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.

         During 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.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A Rule 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 consider whether,

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 facts.

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)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Nicoletti 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.

         To 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.