305 371-8101

Incercerated Inmates Convicted of Preparing False Tax Returns

U.S.  v.  RUTH,   413 Fed. Appx. 439 (3rd Cir. 2011, certiorari denied, Jan. 9, 2012)

Defendants were convicted in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey under 18 U.S.C.  286 of conspiring to file false claims with the Internal Revenue Service and under 18 U.S.C. 287 of filing false claims. They were each sentenced to 84 months in prison. Defendants appealed.

Defendants, who were incarcerated at the time in question, were accused of submitting tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds in the names of fellow inmates. They argued that the government violated their Fifth Amendment due process rights by suppressing exculpatory evidence. The court of appeals found no Brady violation; tapes of other inmates' conversations were made available for review by defendants and their attorneys, and defendants did not explain why they failed to take advantage of the offer.

Defendants' Sixth Amendment speedy trial right was not violated by the granting of continuances, as the continuances were either jointly requested or requested by defendants. Also, the 16-month delay was not unreasonable, and no prejudice was shown.

One defendant was not denied his right to self-representation by the district court's warnings of the risks of foregoing representation; defendant did not state his desire to proceed pro se unequivocally.

Admission of the other defendant's Freedom of Information Act request, which stated that defendant filed fraudulent returns, did not violate the privilege against self-incrimination; the privilege applied only to compelled incrimination.

The district court's judgment was affirmed.

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