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United States of America v. Reza Tabatabai

May 14, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
REZA TABATABAI, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margaret M. Morrow United States District Judge

ORDER RE MOTION FOR RETURN OF PROPERTY

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 14, 2011, defendant Reza Tabatabai filed an ex parte motion for return of seized property. In his motion, defendant seeks the return of property seized during a July 2005 search of his home, such that he can prepare "adequate and applicable post trial remedies."*fn1

Defendant asserts that the seized items consist of "(a) critical exculpatory information, evidence, and documents which are essential for the petitioner pertaining to his ongoing legal proceeding . . . ,"*fn2 "(b) personal property of the family which was not relevant to this instant case . . . ,"*fn3 and "some official documents and personal items, [including] petitioner's driving license."*fn4

Defendant seeks return of the property under Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The government opposes defendant's motion. It asserts that because the case against many of defendant's co-defendants and co-conspirators is ongoing, and because "the government's need for the property as evidence against the remaining defendants continues," defendant is not entitled to return of the property at issue.*fn5 United States v. Mills, 991 F.2d 609, 612 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting United States v. Van Cauwenberghe, 934 F.2d 1048, 1061 (9th Cir. 1991)). In addition, the government asserts that "to the extent that defendant requires the property to prepare post-trial motions, defendant has already received copies of the property seized, as the government has already received copies of the [disputed] property."*fn6

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On July 19, 2005, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) executed a search warrant at defendant's Beverly Hills home.*fn7 During the search, agents seized approximately ten boxes of evidence consisting primarily of bank records and financial documents.*fn8 Hard copies of the records were produced to each of defendant's three sets of defense counsel.*fn9 In addition, the government recopied and reproduced the records to defendant prior to trial, in the form of compact disks containing approximately 31,000 pages of discovery.*fn10

On July 25, 2006, following a twelve day bench trial at which defendant represented himself pro se, the court found defendant guilty on all counts of a 55-count second superceding indictment that charged defendant and co-conspirators Edmond Masjedi, Touraj Benshian, Masoud Rahmani, and Masoud Sabet with conspiracy, interstate transportation of fraudulently obtained property, mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and causing an act to be done.*fn11

Defendant's convictions stemmed from his participation in a large-scale fraud scheme in which he and co-defendants Masjedi, Benshian, Rahmani, and Sabet assumed control of several businesses and their lines of credit; expanded the lines of credit; obtained large volumes of merchandise; and, ultimately, failed to pay the manufacturers of the merchandise for the goods obtained.*fn12

On August 11, 2008, defendant was sentenced to eighty-seven months in custody, to be followed by a three year period of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a special assessment of $5,500 and restitution in the amount of $2,235,801.22.*fn13

Thus far, defendant and co-defendants Touraj Benshian and Edmond Masjedi are the only named defendants who have been convicted.*fn14 Two additional co-defendants -- Masoud Sabet and Masoud Rahmani appear to be fugitives. Proceedings against them have not been dismissed.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Rule 41(g) Legal Standard Governing ...


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