United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER.
Morris United States District Court Judge.
Violet Eagleman (Eagleman) has moved for judgment of
acquittal with respect to her conviction on Count II of the
Indictment. The Government opposes the motion. The Court
conducted a hearing on the motion on February 9, 2017.
II of the Indictment charged Eagleman with illegally
structuring currency transactions to avoid currency reporting
requirements, in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(3).
The Indictment alleged that Eagleman committed the offense of
structuring by cashing four checks in the amount of $9, 000
at Leon's Buy and Sell check cashing business in Havre,
Montana, with the intent to evade the reporting requirements
of 31 U.S.C. § 5313(a).
made an oral motion for judgment of acquittal under Fed. R.
Crim. 29 at the close of the Government's case. Eagleman
argued that she could not be convicted of Structuring because
the Government had failed to prove that she possessed, or had
access to, more than $10, 000 when she cashed the checks at
Leon's Buy and Sell. The Court denied the motion. The
jury convicted Eagleman of Structuring. Eagleman has renewed
her motion for judgment of acquittal under Fed. R. Crim. P.
authorizes a court to set aside a guilty verdict and enter an
acquittal if the evidence introduced at trial was
insufficient to sustain a conviction. Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a);
United States v. Shetler, 665 F.3d 1150, 1163 (9th
Cir. 2011). The Court must review the evidence in a light
most favorable to the Government. United States v. Ching
Tang Lo, 447 F.3d 1212, 1221 (9th Cir. 2006). A Rule 29
motion must be denied if a rational trier of fact could have
found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
United States v. Nevils, 598 F.3d 1158, 1163-64 (9th
5313(a) of Title 31 and its implementing regulations require
that every domestic financial institution that engages in a
currency transaction of more than $10, 000 must file a
Currency Transaction Report with the Internal Revenue
Service. See 31 C.F.R. § 103.22(b)(1). Section
5324(a) of Title 31 prohibits a person from structuring a
currency transaction for the purpose of evading this currency
reporting requirement. 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a).
convict a defendant of structuring currency transactions to
avoid currency reporting requirements the Government must
prove the following elements: (1) the defendant knowingly
structured a currency transaction at a domestic financial
institution; (2) the defendant did so with knowledge that the
financial institution involved was legally obligated to
report currency transactions in excess of $10, 000; and (3)
the defendant acted with intent to evade this reporting
requirement. United States v. MacPherson, 424 F.3d
183, 189 (2nd Cir. 2005); United States v. Trading Post
of Pasco, Inc., 348 Fed.Appx. 315, 316 (9th Cir. 2009)
argues that her conviction for structuring should be set
aside because illegal structuring can occur only if it is
shown that she possessed, or had access to, more than $10,
000 at any one time, and the Government did not prove that
she possessed, or had access to, more than $10, 000 when she
cashed the $9, 000 checks at Leon's Buy and Sell. (Doc.
64 at 13-14).
Government was not required to prove that a defendant
possesses, or has access to, more than $10, 000 at any one
time. See United States v. Sperraza, 804 F.3d 1113,
1125 (11th Cir. 2015); United States v. Van Allen,
524 F.3d 814, 820-821 (7th Cir. 2008) (holding that
government is not required to prove a single “unitary
cash hoard”); United States v. Sweeny, 611
F.3d 459, 472-473 (8th Cir. 2010). In Sperraza, the
In sum, we hold the Government may properly charge a
defendant with structuring a transaction in violation of
§ 5324(a)(3) by alleging he engaged in a series of
currency transactions under $10, 000 for the purpose of
evading the reporting requirement. The statute does not
require the Government to show the defendant had in hand at
one time $10, 000 or more of the funds he allegedly
structured. The allegations in the Indictment of