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UNITED STATES v. VLAHOV

April 4, 1995

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
GORISLAV VLAHOV, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES WARE

 I. INTRODUCTION

 This case raises the issue of whether the filing of a superseding indictment affects the time for bringing the case to trial under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161, et seq. ("the Act"). On March 8, 1995, the Court conducted a Trial Setting Conference in this case. The Court found that 56 days had elapsed for purposes of the Act. At the conference, the Government notified the Court that on March 7, 1995 a superseding indictment had been issued against the Defendant which added new charges based on the same facts and circumstances involved in the original indictment. The superseding indictment also incorporated the charge involved in the original indictment. At the conference, the Government represented that a new 70-day trial clock begins upon the filing of the superseding indictment and requested that the matter be set for trial on April 24, 1995. The Government and Defendant represented that this additional time was necessary to prepare for trial given the new changes.

 II. BACKGROUND

 On June 3, 1994, Defendant Gorislav Vlahov ("Vlahov"), doing business as G.V. Engineering, allegedly entered into an agreement with Seagate Magnetics ("Seagate") to rent 28 Exclusive Design Corporation Texture Machines ("EDC machines") and component parts for a period of six months at a cost of $ 84,000 per month. *fn1" All 28 EDC machines were to be returned to Seagate at the conclusion of the rental period.

 Earlier, on May 27, 1994, Vlahov allegedly had entered into an agreement with Akashic Memories Corporation ("Akashic"), for the sale of 20 EDC machines and component equipment. Akashic had given Vlahov a down payment in the amount of $ 280,000.

 On June 8, 1994, representatives of Akashic met with Vlahov and agreed to purchase two additional EDC machines bringing the total to 22. On June 10, 1994, Vlahov allegedly delivered 12 of the EDC machines to Akashic, and on June 13, 1994, Akashic allegedly wired the remaining balance of $ 336,000 to an attorney in Croatia on behalf of Vlahov. On June 14, 1994, Vlahov delivered the remaining ten machines to Akashic.

 On June 21, 1994, Vlahov allegedly notified Akashic that it was necessary to remove the serial numbers from all of the EDC machines because "somebody" was after him, and the next day, Vlahov allegedly entered Akashic's building and proceeded to remove the serial numbers himself. On June 22, 1994, an attorney for Seagate notified Akashic that all of the machines that Vlahov had sold to it were the property of Seagate and that they were not for sale. On June 23, 1994, a representative of Akashic confronted Vlahov about the problem and was told by Vlahov that he was closing his corporation and moving to Croatia within the next two weeks.

 Furthermore, in response to Vlahov's allegedly illegal conduct of selling the EDC machines, on June 20, 1994, Seagate sought and received a Writ of Possession stating that Seagate had legal possession of the 28 EDC machines that Vlahov had rented.

 On September 7, 1994, Vlahov was indicted on one count of Interstate Transportation of Monies Obtained by Fraud and Aiding and Abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2. On September 8, 1994, Vlahov was arraigned and pled not guilty. The case was set for trial within 70 days of the arraignment taking into account various exclusions.

 On March 7, 1995, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment which added four new charges based on the same facts and circumstances involved in the original indictment. Vlahov was indicted on three counts of Money Laundering pursuant 18 U.S.C. § 1957. The money laundering charges involve the deposit of monies in amounts of over $ 10,000 obtained by fraud in three different banks. Vlahov was also charged with one count of Criminal Forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853. The superseding indictment retained the original charge of Interstate Transportation of Monies Obtained by Fraud and Aiding and Abetting pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314 and 2. Vlahov was arraigned at a previously scheduled Trial Setting Conference on March 8, 1995, where he waived a formal reading of the indictment. Vlahov pled not guilty to all five counts set forth in the superseding indictment. At that time, the Government represented that the filing of a superseding indictment restarts the 70-day period within which trial must begin.

 III. DISCUSSION

 The Act is designed to ensure a federal criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial and to reduce the danger to the public from prolonged periods of the defendant's release on bail. United States v. Gonzales, 897 F.2d 1312, 1315 (5th Cir. 1990). To this end, the Act entitles a criminal defendant to dismissal of the charges pending against him if he is not brought to trial within 70 days of his initial appearance or indictment, whichever date last occurs. Id. In computing the running of this 70-day period, the Act permits certain periods of time to be excluded. Id. However, the Act does not specifically provide for exclusions of time based upon the filing of a superseding ...


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