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United States v. Flotron

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 25, 2018



          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

         This is a criminal case about allegedly fraudulent transactions involving the trading of precious metals futures contracts. The principal issue now before me is about where and when this case will be tried. Having detained and confined defendant away from his home country of Switzerland, the Government would like to break its agreement to proceed with a speedy trial in Connecticut so that it may pursue more charges and an eventual trial someday in Illinois. I conclude that a speedy trial should proceed here in Connecticut on the schedule previously agreed to by the Government.[1]


         Defendant Andre Flotron is a citizen and resident of Switzerland. On September 13, 2017, while visiting his girlfriend in the United States, he was arrested in New Jersey on a federal criminal complaint that issued from the District of Connecticut. The complaint alleged defendant's violation of federal criminal laws including conspiracy, wire fraud, commodities fraud, and “spoofing” between July 2008 and November 2013.[2] The charges stemmed from allegedly fraudulent or manipulative practices by defendant while he was employed as a precious metals trader for UBS AG, one of the largest global banking and financial services companies in the world.

         Defendant was jailed from his arrest until after his transfer to Connecticut and his eventual release on October 2, 2017. He was released on a $4 million bond and strict conditions of home confinement with GPS monitoring at a residence of a custodian in New Jersey. Doc. #10. In the meantime, on September 26, 2017, a federal grand jury in Connecticut returned a one-count indictment charging defendant with a multi-object conspiracy to commit wire fraud, commodities fraud, and spoofing “in the District of Connecticut and elsewhere.” Doc. #14 at 4-5.

         On October 5, 2017, I held an initial status conference with the parties. The Government described how defendant was a Swiss citizen and how it had seized upon the opportunity to arrest him when it learned that he was in the United States: “he was arrested on a complaint because we didn't want to lose him, ” and “[o]nce he's in Switzerland, we have no effective extradition, realistic extradition possibility.” Doc. #30 at 6. According to the Government, it had discussed with defense counsel its intent to supersede the conspiracy indictment to add substantive counts, “but the conduct is all the same conduct that's sort of contemplated now in the existing indictment, ” and “[i]t's not going to extend discovery.” Ibid.

         Defense counsel stated that “[f]rom our point of view, we do want a trial as early as possible, but with enough time to review what is a complex discovery set that I anticipated we're getting.” Doc. #30 at 9. The Court and parties agreed to convene again in 30 days for a scheduling conference.

         On November 6, 2017, the Court held a telephonic conference with the parties to discuss scheduling matters. I told the parties that I would like to set a “realistic trial date that would not move” and that “I don't think that the government has a free hand to essentially keep superseding on the brink of trial and to upset that trial date schedule.” Doc. #38 at 9. The Government assured me that's not what it was going to do: “it's not our intention to supersede on the brink of trial” and that “we have no interest in moving the trial date once it's set.” Ibid. (emphasis added). It further stated that “we would like to supersede in December, but frankly it's just a question of scheduling with the grand jury, ” and “[i]f we're not able to get in towards the end of December, then certainly we believe by January.” Ibid.

         The Government then explained how its seeking the return of a superseding indictment would not end up prejudicing defendant because the evidence would remain essentially the same:

As we said when we were together in person, we don't actually think superseding changes the shape of this trial at all. Whether we proceeded on this indictment or the [superseding indictment] that we're working towards, we think the trial will likely be the same. Either way, it will charge a scheme. And maybe there might be some specified allegations about what are the instances of that scheme being executed, but either way, the evidence will be the same, the discovery will be the same, the theory of the case will be the same.

Id. at 9-10 (emphasis added).

         Defendant through his counsel did not oppose the Government's seeking the return of a superseding indictment but advised that he wished to proceed to trial as soon as possible in light of his restrictive conditions of confinement:

MR. MUKASEY: I'll tell you, I want to remind the Court, briefly, my client is on house arrest with an ankle bracelet confined to his girlfriend's home largely other than lawyer visits and medical visits and church visits and is, you know, locked down by Pretrial Services. We're happy that we reached a bail agreement, but we'd like to have this case heard as soon as we can.

Id. at 18. After further discussion, I decided with the agreement of all parties to schedule this case for jury selection on April 6, 2018. For its part, the Government subsequently filed a motion to adopt a detailed pretrial discovery and motions schedule, all leading up to jury selection and trial in early April as agreed. Doc. #42.

         On December 4, 2017, I held another scheduling conference in person with the parties. There was no indication at that time that the Government intended to abandon the trial schedule or start charging defendant with crimes beyond Connecticut. I asked the Government for an estimate when it would file a superseding indictment and whether the Government had spoken to defense counsel “about the scope of [the] anticipated superseding” indictment and to see “if it's going to be a surprise to Mr. Mukasey [defense counsel].” Doc. #47 at 4. The Government responded that “[g]enerally we've spoken about the fact that the government will allege specific instances of spoofing, so particular counts in addition to the conspiracy charge.” Ibid. The Government later added that “when we supersede, there will be the individual counts which will be charged, for instance, as Title [7] spoofing, right, but that's just part of the conspiracy, ” and “[t]he larger conspiracy includes this much larger universe where Mr. ...

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