Monday, May 21, 2012

U.S. v. Khouli et al. Update: Judge Denies Defendants' Discovery Motion... With An Exception

"In general, defendants' motion for a bill of particulars is denied ...."  That was the order of Chief Magistrate Steven M. Gold in the alleged antiquities trafficking cases of Joseph A. Lewis, II and Salem Alshdaifat. Together with Mousa Khouli and Ayman Ramadan, the defendants were indicted by a New York federal grand jury in 2011.  Lewis and Alshdaifat deny the charges.  Khouli  pleaded guilty to the charges in April. Ramadan remains a fugitive from justice.

Cultural property seized in U.S. v. Khouli et al.
Courtesy ICE
On April 11, 2012 co-defendants Lewis and Alshdaifat submitted a bill of particulars requesting more specific discovery from the prosecution.  The prosecution objected, saying "the government has already provided more than the law requires."

After a hearing last Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled against the defendants "with the exception that the United States shall, by May 25, 2012, identify any regulations, treaty provisions, or foreign laws it will rely on at trial as 'laws' in connection with the charge that defendants 'fraudulently or knowingly import[ed or brought] into the United States, any merchandise, contrary to law' in violation of 18 USC 545."

18 USC 545 is the federal smuggling statute.  That law states in relevant part:

"Whoever fraudulently or knowingly imports or brings into the United States, any merchandise contrary to law, or receives, conceals, buys, sells, or in any manner facilitates the transportation, concealment, or sale of such merchandise after importation, knowing the same to have been imported or brought into the United States contrary to law—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Proof of defendant's possession of such goods, unless explained to the satisfaction of the jury, shall be deemed evidence sufficient to authorize conviction for violation of this section."