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U.S.A. v. Trinh

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 31, 2017

U.S.A. Trinh

          Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER

          CRIMINAL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - MOTION FOR BOND PENDING APPEAL (Dkt. 150, filed July 28, 2017)

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On April 14, 2015, the Government filed a First Superseding Indictment charging Howard Quoc Trinh (“defendant”) with two counts of bribery of a public official, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(1)(C). Dkt. 24. Following a four-day trial, a jury found defendant guilty of both counts on April 26, 2016. Dkt. 86.

         On June 16, 2016, defendant filed two motions, a motion for judgment of acquittal, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(b), dkt. 94, and a motion for a new trial, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33, dkt. 95. Dkt. 98. On July 18, 2016, the Government filed oppositions to both of defendant's motions. Dkt. 99-100. On August 1, 2016, defendant filed a combined reply. Dkt. 101. On September 12, 2016, the Court denied defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal pursuant to Rule 29 and defendant's motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 33. Dkt. 104.

         On May 17, 2017 the Court held a sentencing hearing and committed defendant to the Bureau of Prisons for 18 months on each of Counts 1 and 2, to be served concurrently, and ordered that defendant be placed on supervised release for two years. Dkt. 143.

         On May 23, 2017 defendant appealed his conviction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Dkt. 145.

         On July 28, 2017, defendant filed a motion for bond pending appeal. Dkt. 150. The Government filed its opposition to defendant's motion on August 7, 2017, dkt. 151, and defendant filed his reply on August 21, 2017, dkt. 152. Defendant filed a supplement to the motion for bond pending appeal, without leave, on August 29, 2017. Dkt. 154.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In March 2015, defendant worked at Seven Brothers Enterprises, a sewing contractor in La Puente, California (“the Company”). The Department of Labor received a complaint that the Company had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), and initiated an investigation of the Company. The Department of Labor assigned an investigator, Van Rijsbergen, to lead the investigation of the Company and to determine whether or not the Company had violated the FLSA.

         On March 10, 2015, the Department of Labor sent investigators to the Company's warehouse to conduct an unannounced inspection. Investigators met with defendant and conducted interviews with other employees. At trial, Rijsbergen testified that, as of March 10, 2015, the employee interviews had uncovered overtime-pay violations and that there were also record-keeping violations at the Company. On March 10, 2015, Rijsbergen presented defendant with written notice that the Department of Labor believed the Company had violated the FLSA (a/k/a the “hot goods objection”). The written notice explained that shipping goods produced in violation of the FLSA was unlawful and stated that “[a]ny unauthorized movement or shipment of these goods may be subject to legal action by the United States Department of Labor.” Defendant signed the notice, which stated that the signatory “fully underst[ood] the ramification[s] . . . and agreed to not move, ship, or allow any movement or shipment of the affected goods.” The Department of Labor's Assistant District Director, Skarleth Kozlo, and Regional Director of Enforcement, Richard Longo, testified that they agreed with Rijsbergen's decision to issue the so called “hot goods objection” to the Company. Longo testified that he approved of the notice based on investigators' interviews with Company employees.

         The first count charging bribery is based on the events of March 18, 2015. On March 18, 2015, Rijsbergen visited the Company to obtain additional records and met with defendant. Based on his initial March 18, 2015, meeting Rijsbergen believed that defendant had offered him a bribe. Rijsbergen testified that defendant told him, “I don't want to pay the department, ” and “I want to pay you.” Rijsbergen reported the potential bribe offer to supervisors at the Department of Labor, which initiated an undercover operation to record any potential attempted bribes from defendant. On March 18, 2015, Rijsbergen returned to the Company and met defendant while wearing concealed audio and video recording devices. At trial, the jury watched and listened to portions of the recordings Rijsbergen had made. Rijsbergen recorded defendant discussing the Company's employees, saying “they a little bit crazy because a lot of containers arrive at the same time, so they work a little bit more than regular hour. I have to admit that.” Defendant also said, “I want this clean. No violation. . . . I would say to you $10, 000 . . . in your pocket.” Rijsbergen asked defendant if he wanted the “hot goods objection lifted” and a report saying there were “no violations at all.” Defendant answered, “No violations. No violations.”

         The second count charging bribery is based on the events of March 19, 2015. On March 19, 2015, Rijsbergen met with defendant again and recorded the meeting on concealed audio and video recording devices. The March 19, 2015, recordings showed defendant handing Rijsbergen an envelope containing $3, 000. Defendant touched the envelope and said, “we never met . . . we never sat at this table . . . we never had any of this.” Rijsbergen told defendant “it is easier to say that we just revisited it, looked at our evidence and there wasn't a violation, ” to which defendant replied, “[t]hat's what I want to hear.”[1]

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Defendant now seeks bond bending appeal. For a defendant to obtain release on bond ...


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