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United States v. Bikundi

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 12, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
FLORENCE BIKUNDI, Defendant

For FLORENCE BIKUNDI, also known as FLORENCE NGWE, also known as FLORENCE IGWACHO, Defendant: William R. Martin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kerry Brainard Verdi, Sasha Elizabeth H.W. Battle, MARTIN & GITNER, PLLC, Washington, DC.

For USA, Plaintiff: Theodore L. Radway, LEAD ATTORNEY, Anthony D. Saler, Lionel Andre, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC; Dangkhoa T. Nguyen, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Michael Justin Friedman, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, DC.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.

Pending before the Court is a renewed motion filed by the defendant, Florence Bikundi, to revoke the pre-trial detention order entered first by a Magistrate Judge and, following de novo review, by this Court, to impose conditions of release, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142. Def.'s Renewed Mot. Reconsid. Ord. Detention and Impose Conditions of Release (" Def.'s Mot." ) at 1, ECF No. 30. For the reasons set forth below, this motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are explained in detail in this Court's previous Memorandum Opinion regarding the defendant's first motion for reconsideration of the detention order, see United States v. Bikundi, No. 14-030, 47 F.Supp.3d 131, 2014 WL 2761209, at *1 (D.D.C. June 18, 2014), and thus will be only briefly repeated here before addressing the events that have occurred since the entry of that Order. Defendant Florence Bikundi was indicted on February 19, 2014, for one count of health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1347; one count of Medicaid fraud, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(a)(3); four counts of laundering monetary instruments, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i);

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and three counts of engaging in monetary transaction with monies derived from the specified unlawful activities of health care and Medicaid fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957. Indictment ¶ ¶ 56-65, ECF No. 1.

According to the allegations in the Indictment, the defendant engaged in a massive fraud spanning almost seven years, from January 2008 until her arrest in 2014, to conceal her exclusion from participation in federal health care programs by using fraudulent forms and thereby obtain unauthorized Medicaid payments totaling over $75,000,000. See generally Indictment.

Following her arrest on February 21, 2014, the defendant was ordered temporarily detained, at the government's request, by a Magistrate Judge. Minute Entry, Feb. 21, 2014. The government subsequently filed a Motion for Pretrial Detention of the defendant, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § § 3142(d)(1)(B), (e)(1), and (f)(2)(A), " because defendant Bikundi poses a serious flight risk and there is no release condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure her appearance in court as required." Gov't Mot. for Pretrial Detention at 1, ECF No. 8. The defendant did not oppose this motion and was, consequently, ordered by the Magistrate Judge to be held without bond pending trial. Minute Entry, Feb. 25, 2014.

The defendant thereafter, on May 28, 2014, filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's detention order. See Def.'s Mot. Reconsid. Detention of Def. Florence Bikundi at 1, ECF No. 18. After a hearing on the motion on June 16, 2014, the Court issued an oral ruling denying the defendant's motion without prejudice. See Minute Entry, June 16, 2014. A Memorandum Opinion setting forth the basis of that ruling in further detail was issued on June 18, 2014. See generally Bikundi, 2014 WL 2761209.

The defendant and government counsel have, since June, engaged in " four months of ongoing discovery, pre-trial motion preparation and trial preparation." Def.'s Mem. Supp. Def.'s Mot. (" Def.'s Mem." ) at 1, ECF No. 30-1. Although the government indicated it would be filing a superseding indictment--and reiterated its commitment to do so at both hearings on the instant motion--no such indictment has yet been filed, due in part to ongoing plea negotiations. See Gov't's Opp'n Def.'s Mot. (" Gov't's Opp'n." ) at 3, ECF No. 31.

On October 28, 2014, the defendant filed the instant renewed motion for reconsideration, and the Court heard brief argument regarding the motion at a status conference held on Oc tober 31, 2014. At the October 31 hearing, the government was granted additional time in which to file any additional evidence or information in support of its contention that no combination of conditions exist that provide a reasonable assurance that the defendant will appear for further hearings and trial. See Gov't's Suppl. Mem. Opp'n Def. Florence Bikundi's Renewed Mot. Reconsider (" Gov't's Suppl. Mem." ) at 1, ECF No. 32. The Court heard further argument at a hearing on the defendant's Motion held November 6, 2014, after which decision on the Motion was reserved.

The following constitutes the finding of facts and statement of reasons required by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i)(1). See United States v. Nwokoro, 651 F.3d 108, 109, 397 U.S.App.D.C. 226 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (noting that Bail Reform Act requires pretrial detention order be supported by " a clear and legally sufficient basis for the court's determination" in written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention or in " the transcription of a detention hearing" )

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(quoting United States v. Peralta, 849 F.2d 625, 626, 270 U.S.App.D.C. 294 (D.C. Cir. 1988)) (per curiam).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b) for review of a Magistrate Judge's detention order requires that the Court review de novo whether conditions of release exist that " will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance in court or the safety of any other person or the community." United States v. Hassanshahi, 989 F.Supp.2d 110, 113 (D.D.C. 2013) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1)). " 'The Court is free to use in its analysis any evidence or reasons relied on by the magistrate judge, but it may also hear additional evidence and rely on its own reasons.'" United States v. Hubbard, 962 F.Supp.2d 212, 215 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting United States v. Sheffield, 799 F.Supp.2d 18, 20 (D.D.C. 2011)); see also United States v. Hitselberger, 909 F.Supp.2d 4, 7 (D.D.C. 2012).

The Bail Reform Act requires release of a defendant prior to trial unless a judicial officer determines, after a hearing, that " no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person[.]" 18 U.S.C. ยง 3142(e)(1). In determining whether any conditions of release will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required, the court must " take into account the available ...


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