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In re Extradition of Thompson

July 9, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF THE EXTRADITION OF DENEILLE RICHIE THOMPSON


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER OF CERTIFICATION

Introduction and Summary

The Republic of France seeks the extradition of Deneille Richie Thompson ("Thompson") for some rather dated economic crimes: (a) theft in violation of the French Penal Code, articles 311-1, 311-3, 311-13, 311-14; and (b) fraud in violation of the French Penal Code Articles 311-1, 313-3, 313-7, and 313-8. For the reasons set forth herein, extradition on the theft charge is denied, but extradition on the fraud charge is certified to the Secretary of State.

Background

In mid-1999, Thompson allegedly used his French girlfriend's credit card and PIN number in order to make purchases which were not authorized by the girlfriend. A little over a year later, he allegedly, fraudulently used checks (from a defunct bank account located in Rhode Island), printed with another's name, which were cashed and deposited at a French bank in an amount in excess of $150,000. The person whose name appeared on the check had closed out his checking account sometime before, and Thompson had no authority to use the checks. As part of the scheme, when the checks first failed to clear, Thompson gave a contact number for a person, supposedly in authority at the bank on which the checks were written, who "approved" the checks for payment. Thompson was able to draw down, in part, on these supposed funds at the French bank. Of course, the money "deposited" ultimately failed to materialize as there was no active Rhode Island bank checking account.

The French investigation of these economic crimes commenced in 2001, and proceeded slowly thereafter, complicated by the necessity to conduct investigation by letters rogatory in the United States, and also the fugitive status of Thompson. Under French law, the statute of limitations is tolled during the pendency of official investigation.

A complaint seeking extradition was finally filed on May 20, 2009, and signed by the undersigned. Apparently, the United States Attorney had information that Thompson was located within the Eastern District of California. Thompson was arrested, initial appearances were made, counsel was appointed for Thompson, and he was ordered detained pending the extradition process in this district. Documentary evidence was filed in June 2009, and a hearing on the evidence was held on June 22, 2009. Thompson did not seek to present "explanatory" evidence relevant to the charges; however, he did contest the sufficiency of the evidence for extradition purposes. Because Thompson filed a brief on the day of the hearing, the appearing AUSA was given ten days in which to file a reply brief. That response was timely filed on July 1, 2009.

Discussion

Extradition proceedings are not Article III jurisprudential proceedings. Rather, the proceedings derive from Article II of the Constitution, and have been interpreted by the Supreme Court as necessarily involving the courts. See In re Kaine, 55 U.S. 103, 109, 14 L.Ed. 345 (1852); Matter of Requested Extradition of Smyth, 61 F.3d 711, 720 (9th Cir. 1995) ("[E]xtradition hearings [are] conducted under the authority of a treaty enacted pursuant to Article II."). Title 18 U.S.C. § 3184 provides:

Whenever there is a treaty or convention for extradition between the United States and any foreign government, or in cases arising under section 3181(b), any justice or judge of the United States, or any magistrate judge authorized so to do by a court of the United States, or any judge of a court of record of general jurisdiction of any State, may, upon complaint made under oath, charging any person found within his jurisdiction, with having committed within the jurisdiction of any such foreign government any of the crimes provided for by such treaty or convention, or provided for under section 3181(b), issue his warrant for the apprehension of the person so charged, that he may be brought before such justice, judge, or magistrate judge, to the end that the evidence of criminality may be heard and considered.

Magistrate judges are designated to preside in extradition proceedings. E.D. Cal. L.R 72-302 (b)(8).

Ultimately, there are five issues which must be resolved before extradition is proper:

1) the extradition judge had jurisdiction to conduct proceedings;

(2) the extradition court had jurisdiction over ...


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