United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. FRIEDRICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is defendant Concord Management & Consulting
LLC's Motion for a Bill of Particulars, Dkt. 104. For the
reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion in part
and deny it in part.
indictment charges Concord and others with conspiring to
defraud the United States by impairing the lawful functions
of three government agencies: the Federal Election Commission
(FEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of
State (DOS). Indictment ¶ 9. According to the indictment,
the conspirators' ultimate goal was to sow discord among
U.S. voters through divisive social media posts and political
rallies. Id. ¶ 6.
goal, by itself, was not illegal. But the indictment alleges
that the means used to achieve it were. The conspirators
apparently believed that their divisive messages would fall
on deaf ears unless they were perceived to come from U.S.
nationals. So the conspirators resolved to obscure their
Russian identities and affiliations from the public. See,
e.g., id. ¶¶ 4, 6-7. The problem is
that various federal laws require foreign nationals to
disclose certain information about themselves and their
activities to U.S. agencies. Id. ¶ 1. As
relevant here, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)
requires disclosure of certain political expenditures; the
Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) requires persons who
engage in certain activities on behalf of foreign entities to
register as foreign agents; and DOS requires foreign
nationals wishing to enter the United States to provide
truthful answers to questions on visa applications. See
Id. ¶¶ 25-27. If Concord and its conspirators
had complied with these requirements, they would have had to
disclose their Russian identities and affiliations to U.S.
regulators, jeopardizing their ability to masquerade as U.S.
with this obstacle, the defendants and their co-conspirators
agreed to impair the lawful functions of the FEC, DOJ, and
DOS in “administering federal requirements for
disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic
activities.” Id. ¶ 9; see also
Id. ¶¶ 25-27 (describing the disclosure
requirements administered by each agency). The defendants and
their co-conspirators impaired these functions directly by
failing to report expenditures under FECA, failing to
register as foreign agents under FARA, and providing false
statements on visa applications. Id. ¶ 7. And
they did so indirectly by using virtual private networks
(VPNs) to conceal the Russian origins of their online
activity, id. ¶ 39, and by destroying evidence
to avoid detection by U.S. investigators, id. ¶
58. Meanwhile, the conspirators conducted their
“information warfare” efforts online, using
fictitious U.S. personas and stolen U.S. identities to
inflame public opinion on various political issues and
candidates. Id. ¶ 10.
indictment identifies fifteen of Concord's
co-conspirators-two entities, Internet Research Agency (IRA)
and Concord Catering, and thirteen individuals, id.
¶¶ 10-24-and provides a detailed description of the
manner and means used to carry out the conspiracy,
id. ¶¶ 29-58. It also lists at least 26
overt acts taken in furtherance of the conspiracy. See
Id. ¶¶ 59- 85. Despite these details, Concord
seeks further clarification of the 85-paragraph indictment
through a bill of particulars.
the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, an indictment need
only include “a plain, concise, and definite written
statement of the essential facts constituting the offense
charged, ” Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c), but a “court
may direct the government to file a bill of
particulars” clarifying the allegations in the
indictment, id. 7(f). “A bill of particulars
can be used to ensure that the charges brought against a
defendant are stated with enough precision to allow the
defendant to understand the charges, to prepare a defense,
and perhaps also to be protected against retrial on the same
charges.” United States v. Butler, 822 F.2d
1191, 1193 (D.C. Cir. 1987). “[I]f the indictment is
sufficiently specific, ” however, “or if the
requested information is available in some other form, then a
bill of particulars is not required.” Id.
bill of particulars properly includes clarification of the
indictment, not the government's proof of its
case.” United States v. Lorenzana-Cordon, 130
F.Supp.3d 172, 174 (D.D.C. 2015) (internal quotation marks
omitted). “[A] bill of particulars is not a discovery
tool or a device for allowing the defense to preview the
government's evidence.” United States v.
Brodie, 326 F.Supp.2d 83, 91 (D.D.C. 2004). In rare
circumstances, a bill of particulars might be appropriate
even if what it seeks is “an identification, within
reasonable limits, of information [already] in the possession
of the accused” or “information” that is
“evidentiary in nature.” United States v.
U.S. Gypsum Co., 37 F.Supp. 398, 402-03 (D.D.C 1941).
But a bill of particulars is inappropriate if “by
reasonable investigation in the light of information
contained in the indictment, or otherwise furnished by the
prosecution, ” the defendant could avoid
“prejudicial surprise.” Id. at 404.
deciding whether to order a bill of particulars, “the
court must balance the defendant's need to know
evidentiary-type facts in order to adequately prepare a
defense with the government's need to avoid prematurely
disclosing evidentiary matters to the extent that it will be
unduly confined in presenting its evidence at trial.”
United States v. Sanford Ltd., 841 F.Supp.2d 309,
316 (D.D.C. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Ultimately, “the determination of whether a bill of
particulars is necessary rests within the sound discretion of
the trial court.” Butler, 822 F.2d at 1194.
has submitted a total of fifty-one separate requests for
clarification. Distilling those requests into categories,
Concord seeks a bill of particulars that:
• Identifies all unindicted co-conspirators known to the
• Identifies the particular conspirator or conspirators
who completed each conspiratorial act alleged in the
• Identifies certain statutory or regulatory provisions
and violations alleged or alluded to in the indictment;
• Identifies certain bank accounts, social media
accounts, email accounts, and VPNs referenced in the
• Provides information about corporate entities
referenced in ...