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United States v. Hassanshahi

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 5, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SHANTIA HASSANSHAHI, also known as Shantia Hassan Shahi, also known as Shahi, also known as Shantia Haas, also known as Sean Haas, and HASSTON, INC., Defendants

Re Document Nos. 8, 12.

For USA, Plaintiff: Frederick Walton Yette, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Criminal Division, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 111

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge

Denying the Government's Motion to Revoke Pretrial Release Order; and Denying Defendant's Motion to Strike

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant Shantia Hassanshahi was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on September 11, 2013, on one count of conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods and technology to Iran and to defraud the United States. On September 24, 2013, a Central District of California magistrate judge denied the Government's motion for pretrial detention and ordered that Mr. Hassanshahi be released on $560,000 bond and with electronic monitoring. The Government now appeals and seeks revocation of the magistrate judge's release order. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the Government's motion.

Page 112

II. BACKGROUND

Shantia Hassanshahi is a dual U.S.--Iranian citizen and owner of Hasston, Inc. See generally Indictment, ECF No. 7. According to the Government's allegations, Hasston, Inc. purchases protection relays on the U.S. market and sells them to a co-conspirator in Armenia; the co-conspirator then sells the items back to Kian Day, a company owned by Mr. Hassanshahi in Iran; and Kian Day then sells the relays to the Iranian government. See Gov't's Mot. Revoke & Stay 3, ECF No. 8. Protection relays are electromechanical devices that calculate the operating conditions on electrical circuits--a use that, at least at this time, the Government has not disputed is civilian in nature. See id. at 8 n.2; see also Def.'s Opp'n Mot. Revoke & Stay 4, ECF No. 9. In support of its allegations, the Government presents correspondence, spreadsheets, and other files recovered from Mr. Hassanshahi's computer.

On January 9, 2013, the Government filed a complaint outlining the above allegations against Defendants. See Compl., ECF No. 1. On that same date, Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson signed off on the complaint and issued a warrant for Mr. Hassanshahi's arrest. Mr. Hassanshahi was arrested on September 11, 2013, at Los Angeles International airport, and the Department of Homeland Security confiscated both his U.S. and Iranian passports at that time. See Gov't's Mot. Revoke & Stay 1-2 & n.1, ECF No. 8. He had spent the previous several months in Iran, where he reportedly stayed with a cousin. On September 16, 2013, he made his initial appearance in the Central District of California before Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle. See id. at 2. At that appearance, the Government moved to have Mr. Hassanshahi detained pending trial on the theory that he presented a flight risk. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A) (2012). On September 24, 2013, Judge Woehrle denied the Government's motion and ordered that Mr. Hassanshahi be released on $560,000 bond and with electronic monitoring. See Gov't's Mot. Revoke & Stay 2, ECF No. 8; Def.'s Opp'n Mot. Revoke & Stay 5, ECF No. 9.

The Government then moved in this Court for an order staying and revoking Judge Woehrle's release order. See generally Gov't's Mot. Revoke & Stay, ECF No. 8. After briefing on the motion was completed, Mr. Hassanshahi filed an objection and motion to strike the Government's reference in its reply brief to the infamous mobster Whitey Bulger. See generally Obj. & Mot. Strike, ECF No. 12. [1] Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, sitting as Acting Chief Judge, issued an order on September 26, 2013, staying the release order and requiring that Mr. Hassanshahi be brought to Washington, D.C. on or before October 7, 2013. See Order, ECF No. 4. Also on September 26, 2013, a grand jury indicted Mr. Hassanshahi and Hasston, Inc., charging them with conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods and technology to Iran and to defraud the United States, in violation

Page 113

of 18 U.S.C. § 371; 50 U.S.C. § 1705; and 31 C.F.R. pt. 560. See Indictment, ECF No. 7.

October 7 came and went, and Mr. Hassanshahi was not transferred to D.C., apparently due to his medical condition. On October 15, 2013, the Court contacted both parties in an attempt to set up a hearing on Mr. Hassanshahi's detention--via video conference, if necessary. That day, Mr. Hassanshahi's then-attorney responded that he was still " in the process of determining whether there are facilities that are available and whether Mr. Hassanshahi's medical condition would permit him to participate in th[at] fashion." The Court heard nothing further until October 25, 2013, when Mr. Hassanshahi's new local counsel phoned the Court to indicate that a motion for hearing would be forthcoming. On the evening of October 30, 2013, Mr. Hassanshahi filed his motion for hearing, which the Court granted. See Mot. Hr'g, ECF No. 18; Min. Order, Nov. 1, 2013. On November 4, 2013, the Court held oral argument on the Government's appeal and allowed Mr. ...


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