United States District Court, S.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION FOLLOWING BENCH TRIAL
MARILYN L. HUFF, District Judge
Government brought an information against Defendant Shabab
Karimi for a violation of Title 21, U.S.C. Sections 846 and
841 (a)(1) and (h)(4) for Conspiracy to Manufacture and
Possess with Intent to Distribute Anabolic Steroids. (Doc.
No. 30.) Karimi waived his constitutional right to a jury
trial and agreed to have the case tried to the Court. (Doc.
No. 81.) The case proceeded to a bench trial beginning on
June 21, 2016. Lindsey Forrester Archer and Michael Wheat
appeared for the Government. John Lanahan appeared for the
order for the Government to prove its case against the
Defendant, the Government must prove by proof beyond a
reasonable doubt the following elements of a conspiracy:
1. Beginning on a date unknown and continuing up to September
14, 2015, there was an agreement between two or more persons
to manufacture anabolic steroids and to possess with intent
to distribute anabolic steroids; and
2. Karimi became a member of the conspiracy knowing of its
object and intending to help accomplish that object.
legal standards for a conspiracy are well-settled. A
conspiracy is a kind of criminal partnership - an agreement
of two or more persons to commit one or more crimes.
United States v. Abushi, 682 F.2d 1289, 1293 (9th
Cir. 1982). The crime of conspiracy is the agreement to do
something unlawful; it does not matter whether the crime
agreed upon was committed. United States v. Iribe,
564 F.3d 1155, 1161 (9th Cir. 2009). A defendant charged in a
conspiracy need not have knowledge of all the purposes or
participants in the conspiracy to belong to a criminal
conspiracy. United States v. Escalante, 637 F.2d
1197, 1200 (9th Cir. 1980); United States v.
Kearney, 560 F.2d 1358, 1362 (9th Cir. 1977).
United States v. Perry, 550 F.2d 524, 533 (9th Cir.
1997), the Ninth Circuit held that the government need not
"prove that all of the defendants met together at the
same time and ratified the illegal scheme."
Additionally, a defendant's participation in a conspiracy
may be inferred from the circumstantial evidence. United
States v. Batimana, 623 F.2d 1366, 1368 (9th Cir. 1980).
Indeed, "[t]he connection of the defendant to a
conspiracy need only be slight, if there is sufficient
evidence to establish that connection beyond a reasonable
doubt." Id. It is not necessary that the
conspirators made a formal agreement or that they agreed on
every detail of the conspiracy. United States. v.
Romero, 282 F.3d 683, 687 (9th Cir. 2002); United
States v. Melvin, 91 F.3d 1218, 1224 (9th Cir. 1996).
But it is not enough that they simply met, discussed matters
of common interest, or acted in similar ways or perhaps
helped one another. Melvin, 91 F.3d at 1224. There
must be an agreement to commit at least one of the crimes
alleged as an object or purpose of the conspiracy. United
States v. Montgomery, 384 F.3d 1050, 1062 (9th Cir.
drug conspiracy, the government is not required to prove the
commission of an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10, 15 (1994).
Moreover, a defendant's possession of a substantial
quantity of a controlled substance may show that the
defendant knowingly possessed the substance. United
States v. Barbosa, 906 F.2d 1366, 1368 (9th Cir. 1990).
A conspiracy to commit a crime "does not require
completion of the intended underlying offense."
Iribe, 564 F.3d at 1161. With the legal standards in
mind, the Court turns to the evidence presented at the trial.
Government first called a co-defendant, Robert Walters, to
testify about the conspiracy to manufacture and possess with
intent to distribute anabolic steroids. Walters testified
that he arranged for the importation of steroids. He admitted
to a prior felony in Pennsylvania related to steroids. His
supervision was transferred to San Diego, and he spent six
months in a halfway house. During Walters' time in the
halfway house, he met his co-conspirator Henry, a
correctional officer at the halfway house. Henry knew his
prior record, and asked if Walters would get involved with
steroids for Henry. Walters continued to use his contact in
Israel to get the steroid product. Once he got the product,
Walters mailed packages of steroids for co-conspirator Henry.
Henry introduced him to Karimi, an individual he met at
another halfway house. Henry knew that Karimi had many
contacts in the bodybuilding field. Henry and Walters
discussed with Karimi that they had steroids available and
asked if Karimi was interested in helping them sell the
had the product mailed to Henry's P.O. box in San Ysidro
from his Israeli source who used a company name of Skyrocks.
Once the raw materials were delivered to the P.O. box in San
Ysidro, Walters got the product ready to distribute. The
powders had to be put into an oil and had to be heated to
dissolve the powder. Walters used a storage unit in National
City that Henry had arranged for through an individual named
Apodaca. Walters would use a hotel room to get the product
ready to market or sometimes they would go to Karimi's
house and use his house to get the product ready to market.
Karimi had his own customers and Walters' overseas
contact had his own customers. Walters did not profit from
the customers of his overseas contact. But he would profit
from Karimi's sales to his customers.
overseas contact taught him how to manufacture the steroids.
Walters took the powder, used a pyrex cup, heated it up,
mixed the powder with oil, and filtered the liquid steroid
into the vials. Henry paid for the equipment. Walters used
the equipment at Karimi's house, but more often at
Walters' hotel. He also had some tabs that were taken
orally. Karimi told Walters that Karimi was distributing the
product to his customers. Walters was not present, but Karimi
let him know what his customers needed. Whatever Karimi sold,
Karimi and Walters split the proceeds. Karimi was selling
about $1000 of product a week mostly in the $25 to $65 range.
After he prepared the steroids for distribution, he mailed
the product to the overseas customers or dropped them off at
Karimi's house. Walters used different post offices. One
of them was near Karimi's Scott Street address. Karimi
accompanied him to the post office on occasion.
cross-examination, Walters testified that he had a prior
conviction for a felony involving steroids. His supervision
was transferred to San Diego. Ultimately, the judge revoked
his probation, and he served 180 days at a halfway house.
While there, he met his co-conspirator Henry in San Diego.
After his arrest in this case, Walters pled guilty pursuant
to a written plea agreement with the Government. As a result
of his plea in this case, he may receive a reduced sentence
for assisting the Government.
met Henry, a case manager at the halfway house who had access
to Walter's file. Henry approached him within the first
month or two and brought up Karimi's name because Henry
met Karimi at another halfway house. When Walters got out of
the halfway house, Henry stayed in contact with Walters and
Karimi. Walters was to contact his overseas contact, set it
up and go from there. Henry said that he had people that
would distribute the product for him.
was a previous bodybuilder and was familiar with steroid use.
A cycle is a 10 to 16 week combination of steroids and
ancillaries. Ancillaries limit the effects of the steroids.