United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. DAVIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss filed by
Defendant Jonathan Woodley ("Defendant"),
requesting that the Court dismiss all counts of the
indictment. Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 1, ECF No. 20. The
indictment charges Defendant with conspiracy to commit money
laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (Count
One), and five counts of concealment money laundering, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 (a) (1) (B) (i) and
2 (Counts Two through Six). ECF No. 13. Defendant argues that
all counts should be dismissed because the alleged facts show
that Defendant's conduct exposed the alleged money
laundering and did nothing to conceal it. Def.'s Mot.
motion to dismiss "stage of a criminal case, the
indictment allegations are presumed to be true, and the
motion should not ordinarily be used as a vehicle to test the
sufficiency of the evidence behind the allegations."
United States v. Treacy, No. 15-4742, 2017 WL
497674, at *3 (4th Cir. Feb. 7, 2017) (citing United
States v. Stewart, 744 F.3d 17, 21 (1st Cir. 2014)).
Thus, a district court may dismiss an indictment before trial
based upon "an infirmity of law, " but not based
upon a determination of facts that will be developed at
Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(c) requires an indictment to
"be a plain, concise, and definite written statement of
the essential facts constituting the offense charged."
Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1). Each count "must give the
official or customary citation of the statute, rule,
regulation, or other provision of law that the defendant is
alleged to have violated." Id. "To pass
constitutional muster, an indictment must (1) indicate the
elements of the offense and fairly inform the defendant of
the exact charges and (2) enable the defendant to plead
double jeopardy in subsequent prosecutions of the same
offense." United States v. Williams, 152 F.3d
294, 299 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing United States v.
Sutton, 961 F.2d 476, 279 (4th Cir. 1992)).
Fourth Circuit applies "heightened scrutiny" when
reviewing the sufficiency of an indictment challenged prior
to the entry of a verdict. United States v. Darby, 3
7 F.3d 1059, 1063 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing United States
v. Hooker, 841 F.2d 1225, 1229 (4th Cir. 1998) (en
banc)). Nonetheless, " [i] t is generally sufficient
that an indictment set forth the offense in the words of the
statute itself, as long as those words of themselves fully,
directly, and expressly, without any uncertainty or
ambiguity, set forth all the elements necessary to constitute
the offence intended to be punished." Hamling v.
United States, 418 U.S. 87, 117 (1974) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). An element is
necessary or essential if it is "one whose specification
... is necessary to establish the very illegality of the
behavior and thus the court's jurisdiction."
United States v. Hooker, 841 F.2d 1225, 1231 (4th
Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)
(alteration in original). Where a charging document uses the
language of the statute to generally describe the charged
offense, "it must be accompanied with such a statement
of the facts and circumstances as will inform the accused of
the specific offence, coming under the general description,
with which he is charged." Hamling, 418 U.S. at
117-18 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The
statement of facts in a charging document need not include
"detailed allegations, " however, because Rule 7(c)
(1) contemplates only that the charging document have a
"plain, concise, and definite written statement" of
the essential facts. United States v.
Resendiz-Ponce, 549 U.S. 102, 110 (2007).
court's review of a motion challenging the sufficiency of
a charging document "is ordinarily limited to the
allegations contained in the indictment." United
States v. Engle, 676 F.3d 405, 415 (4th Cir. 2012)
(citing United States v. Wills, 346 F.3d 476, 488
(4th Cir. 2003) (noting that "courts lack authority to
review the sufficiency of evidence supporting an
indictment"). A court should not consider "evidence
beyond the face of the indictment" because it cannot
dismiss an indictment "on a determination of facts that
should have been developed at trial." Id. at
415 & n.6. Likewise, a defendant may not challenge the
sufficiency of a charging document "on the ground that
[it is] not supported by adequate or competent
evidence." Costello v. United States, 350 U.S.
359, 364 (1956). Courts reviewing challenges to the
sufficiency of an indictment must therefore treat the
allegations in the indictment as true. Engle, 676
F.3d at 415. A defendant challenging the sufficiency of his
indictment before trial must show that the allegations
contained in the indictment, "even if true, " fail
to state an offense. Engle, 676 F.3d at 415.
Sufficiency in Charging Concealment Money Laundering
Two through Six charge Defendant with concealment money
laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1956 (a) (1) (B) (i).
The Fourth Circuit has interpreted this statute to require:
(1) the defendant conducted or attempted to conduct a
financial transaction having at least a de minimis
effect on interstate commerce or involving the use of a
financial institution which is engaged in, or the activities
of which have at least a de minimis effect on,
(2) the property that was the subject of the transaction
involved the proceeds of specified unlawful activity;
(3) the defendant knew that the property involved represented
the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity; and
(4) the defendant knew that the transaction was designed in
whole or part, to conceal or disguise the nature, the
location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the
proceeds of the unlawful activity.
United States v. Kivanc, 714 F.3d 782, 796 (4th Cir.
2013) (citation omitted). The Fourth Circuit has established
that the fourth element requires a specific intent to
conceal. UnitedStates v. Villarini, 238