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Clark v. United States

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 20, 2017

MAUREEN CLARK,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS ATTACKING HER SENTENCE

          WARREN W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         After a four-week trial in the summer of 2012, a jury convicted Maureen Clark on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, thirteen counts of wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering. The charges stemmed from a scheme by Clark and co-defendant Christopher Plummer to solicit investments under false pretenses for a Mississippi casino development. The Court sentenced Clark to eighty-seven months in prison and ordered her to pay $1.75 million in restitution. Clark appealed her conviction to the Second Circuit, making many of the same arguments she advances now. The Second Circuit rejected her appeal, with the exception of a remand for amendment of the restitution order to reflect amounts repaid to victims by third parties. A motion for rehearing en banc was denied, as was Clark's petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

         Clark has filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 along with various other motions that are different in style and label but similar in substance. She claims: (1) violation of due process; (2) jury instruction error; (3) improper exclusion of evidence; (4) improper sentencing procedure; (5) improper order of restitution; (6) insufficient evidence of conspiracy; and (7) failure by counsel to notify her of a plea offer from the government.[1] For the following reasons, Clark's motions will be denied.

         DISCUSSION

         Familiarity with the facts of this case is presumed for the purposes of this decision. Due to Clark's pro se status, the Court reviews her petition with a “lenient eye.” See Williams v. Kullman, 722 F.2d 1048, 1050 (2d Cir. 1983). Nevertheless, liberally construed, Clark's complaints still lack merit.

         I. Violation of Due Process

         a. Government Filibuster

         Clark argues that she was denied an opportunity to present evidence of her innocence as a result of the government's “filibustering of the trial.” Clark contends that the government utilized trial days for its case in chief that had been set aside for rebuttal, preventing Clark from a full opportunity to present evidence of her innocence.

         The government responds that Clark was able to introduce over 500 exhibits; and Clark herself testified over the course of three days. Moreover, defense counsel voluntarily rested its case without pressure from the Court, so it is unclear why Clark has the impression that her defense was limited in time. Finally, Clark does not adequately specify the evidence that was omitted or how it would have affected the jury's determination of guilt; she has not demonstrated prejudice. Accordingly, the Court is not persuaded by Clark's filibuster argument.

         b. Verbal Attacks and Vouching

         Clark argues that due process was impeded due to the government's repeated verbal attacks against her and vouching for its own witnesses. But these issues were raised on appeal to the Second Circuit, and “a § 2255 motion may not relitigate issues that were raised and considered on direct appeal.” U.S. v. Perez, 129 F.3d 255, 260 (2d Cir. 1997). The Second Circuit rejected these arguments, and this Court will not overturn that decision.

         II. Jury Instruction Error

         Clark argues that the Court's wire fraud instruction to the jury rests on an unsupported theory of liability: that a scheme to defraud could be established by proof that investors were deprived of information necessary to make discretionary economic decisions. Again, this challenge was explicitly raised on appeal to the Second Circuit, which held that the issue is “well settled.” See U.S. v. Clark, 593 Fed.Appx. 53, 54 (2d Cir. 2014).

Therefore, the district court did not err in explaining that a scheme to defraud could be established by proof that investors were deprived of information necessary to ...

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