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United States v. Bajoghli

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 11, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellant.
v.
AMIR A. BAJOGHLI, Defendant - Appellee

Argued March 25, 2015

Page 958

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria. (1:14-cr-00278-GBL-1). Gerald Bruce Lee, District Judge.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

ARGUED:

Paul Nathanson, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.

Peter Hugh White, SCHULTE ROTH & ZABEL LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney, Matthew Burke, Assistant United States Attorney, Katherine L. Wong, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.

Joe Robert Caldwell, Jr., BAKER BOTTS LLP, Washington, D.C.; Kirk Ogrosky, Murad Hussain, ARNOLD & PORTER LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.

Before NIEMEYER and FLOYD, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge. Judge Niemeyer wrote the opinion, in which Judge Floyd and Senior Judge Hamilton joined.

OPINION

Page 959

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge.

Dr. Amir Bajoghli, a board-certified dermatologist, was indicted for executing a " scheme or artifice to defraud" when billing public and private healthcare benefit programs during the period from January 2009 through August 2012, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1347, and for related offenses. The indictment set forth, in 53 of its 60 counts, particular " executions" of the fraudulent scheme.

On September 30, 2014, several weeks before the scheduled trial date of October 22, 2014, Bajoghli filed a motion to strike

Page 960

as unduly prejudicial certain financial details alleged in Paragraph 50 of the indictment; on October 13, he filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of post-scheme conduct that the government intended to introduce to show his consciousness of guilt; and on October 20, he filed a motion in limine to exclude all evidence of the scheme that was not directly related to one of the 53 specifically charged executions. The district court granted all three motions, the latter two on the day before the trial was scheduled to begin. On the same day, the government filed this interlocutory appeal, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731, challenging the rulings.

Because we conclude that the district court's rulings unduly restricted the latitude reasonably necessary for the government to carry its burden of proof, we reverse and remand.

I

Bajoghli is the owner of the Skin and Laser Surgery Center, a medical practice that operates from three offices in Virginia and one in Washington, D.C., and that specializes in skin diseases and the performance of Mohs micrographic surgery. According to the indictment, Mohs surgery is a " highly lucrative," " specialized surgical technique for the removal of skin cancer from healthy skin" that is " generally performed on sensitive areas of the body, such as the head and ...


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