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Yordanov v. Milusnic

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 18, 2017

LYUBOMIR MIHAILOV YORDANOV Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN L.J. MILUSNIC Respondent.

          ORDER

          CHRISTINA A. SNYDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 18, 2017, Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick entered an order certifying that Petitioner Lyubomir Mihailov Yordanov could be extradited to Bulgaria to face trial on charges of deceit. Case No. 2:16-cv-00170-CAS-E (Doc. 54) (hereinafter, “Extradition Order”). On March 14, 2017, Yordanov filed a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Doc. 1. The next day, he filed an ex parte application to stay extradition proceedings pending resolution of the habeas petition, and a memorandum in support of the habeas petition. Docs. 3, 4. The Court granted Yordanov's petition to stay. Doc. 8. The government filed an opposition to Yordanov's habeas petition (Doc. 6); Yordanov elected not to reply. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the habeas petition and vacates the stay.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Governing Law

         Upon the filing of a sworn complaint by a U.S. attorney, a magistrate judge may hold an extradition hearing with respect to any person within his jurisdiction who is charged by a foreign government of having committed a crime that is extraditable under a treaty or convention. 18 U.S.C. § 3184; see Santos v. Thomas, 830 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 2016). Such a hearing is akin to a grand jury investigation; its purpose is not to determine guilt, but merely to determine “whether there is evidence sufficient to sustain the charge under the provisions of the proper treaty or convention, or, in other words, whether there is probable cause.” Santos, 830 F.3d at 991 (quoting Vo v. Benov, 447 F.3d 1235, 1237 (9th Cir. 2006). “Given the limited nature of extradition proceedings, neither the Federal Rules of Evidence nor the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure apply.” Id. at 992. Rather, documents “shall be received and admitted as evidence” if they are “properly and legally authenticated so as to entitle them to be received for similar purposes by the tribunals of the foreign country from which the accused party shall have escaped.” 18 U.S.C. § 3190. The fugitive generally is not permitted to present evidence, unless such evidence “‘explains away or completely obliterates probable cause.'” Santos, 830 F.3d at 992 (citation omitted). If, after considering the evidence presented, the magistrate judge finds probable cause to extradite, he must issue a certification of extraditability. 18 U.S.C. § 3184.

         The relevant treaty in this case is the Extradition Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria, Case No. 2:16-cv-00170-CAS-E (Doc. 10 at 26-46) (“Extradition Treaty”). It provides generally for the extradition of an individual charged with an offense that is “punishable under the laws in both States by deprivation of liberty for a maximum period of more than one year or by a more severe penalty.” Id. at Art. 2(2).

         B. Extradition Proceedings

         Yordanov, an individual residing in the United States, faces charges of criminal deceit in the town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Case No. 2:16-cv-00170-CAS-E (Doc. 10-1 at 6). Bulgaria has requested that the U.S. Government extradite Yordanov pursuant to the Extradition Treaty between the two countries. On December 15, 2015, the Government filed a sealed “Complaint for Arrest Warrant and Extradition” against Yordanov. Yordanov was arrested three days later. On January 8, 2016, the United States filed a complaint seeking Yordanov's extradition on behalf of the Government of Bulgaria. Yordanov opposed and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. On November 10, 2016, Judge Eick held a hearing. On January 18, 2017, Judge Eick denied the motion to dismiss and certified that Yordanov was subject to extradition.

         C. Evidence

         In the extradition proceeding, Bulgaria offered the following evidence: a criminal information prepared by S. Pencheva, Public Prosecutor for the City of Plovid; a witness statement of the victim, Yordanov Vasilev Angelov; and two witness statements of Angelov's associate, Atanas Ivanov Bubarov. Yordanov offered his own evidence.

         1. Pencheva Statement

         The criminal information prepared by Pencheva contains the following allegations:

• Angelov was the owner and manager of “SMM” PLCC, a company that imported and sold cars in Bulgaria.
• Angelov met Yordanov in February 2008. Yordanov represented that he was in the business of importing cars to Bulgaria from the United States, and expressed a desire to go into business with Angelov. The two men entered an oral agreement to collaborate on this project.
• Initially, Yordanov performed his obligations under the oral agreement. Yordanov would send invoices to Angelov describing a vehicle, Angelov would transfer the purchase price to Yordanov in the United States, and Yordanov would ship the purchased vehicle by container to Bulgaria.
• In May 2008, Yordanov decided “that he [was] going to send to the witness Angelov data about vehicles, which actually he was not going to buy, thus motivating the witness to transfer money for the purchase.” Yordanov's intent was to use the transferred money “for his own necessities.” • Between May 2008 and August 29, 2008, Yordanov sent Angelov invoices for nine vehicles that he intended to purchase for sale to Angelov. During this same time period, Angelov transferred $870, 439.43 to Yordanov's bank to cover the purchase price and Yordanov's commission.
• When the vehicles did not arrive in Bulgaria, Angelov repeatedly called Yordanov to inquire as to why the deliveries were late. Yordanov attempted to explain away the delay, and later sent Angelov container numbers in which the vehicles were allegedly going to ship. Angelov determined that the container numbers existed but that the containers were not going to ship. Angelov made further attempts to call Yordanov but Yordanov either refused to answer or offered an excuse and quickly ended the conversation.
• Angelov then flew to the United States, accompanied by Atanas Ivanov Bubarov-Angelov's best man and the godfather of his children-to determine why the delivery had been delayed. Yordanov assured Angelov that the vehicles were set to sail from New York at any moment.
• Angelov and Bubarov returned to Bulgaria to await the shipment. They soon discovered that the vehicles had not shipped and that Yordanov had never purchased them at all.
• At this point, Bubarov returned to the United States to meet with Yordanov. At the meeting, Yordanov confessed that he had never purchased the vehicles he invoiced to Angelov and never had any intention of doing so. He further admitted that he had kept the transferred money for himself and spent it on his personal needs.

Case No. 2:16-cv-00170-CAS-E (Doc. 10-1 at 6-8).

         2. Angelov Statement

         On March 14, 2013, Angelov offered a statement before the Regional Court of Plovdiv. According to the statement:

• Angelov met Yordanov in 2008. Yordanov said he was the owner of a company called ID Emerson based in California. The two men entered an agreement, pursuant to which Angelov would tell Yordanov which cars he was interested in, Yordanov would buy the cars and transport them to Bulgaria, and Angelov would pay the purchase price and a commission.
• Angelov began purchasing about 20 to 30 cars per month, ultimately purchasing about 100 cars. Angelov would send Yordanov the specifications for the car, Yordanov would find a car matching the specification and issue an invoice, Angelov would transfer funds, and Yordanov would buy the car.
• Between May 23, 2008 and August 29, 2008, Yordanov invoiced Angelov for nine cars (seven BMWs and two Mercedes), and Angelov paid the purchase price, about $640, 000. After these cars did not arrive, Angelov called Yordanov to inquire about the status of the shipment. Yordanov “deciev[ed]” Angelov, stating that it ...

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