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United States v. Saffarinia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 10, 2019




         Defendant Eghbal Saffarinia (“Mr. Saffarinia”), a former Assistant Inspector General for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General (“HUD-OIG”), faces criminal charges arising from alleged falsifications and omissions in his annual public financial disclosure reports pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. App. 4 §§ 101-11. Mr. Saffarinia has been charged in a seven-count indictment for engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, making false statements, and falsifying records. Following the government's production of approximately 3.5 million pages with detailed production logs, Mr. Saffarinia moves for a bill of particulars. Upon careful consideration of the motion, the response, the reply thereto, the applicable law, and for the reasons explained below, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion for Bill of Particulars.

         I. Background

         The following allegations, which Mr. Saffarinia accepts as true for this motion and intends to disprove at trial, are drawn from the indictment. See Def.'s Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for Bill of Particulars (“Def.'s Mem.”), ECF No. 14-1 at 3 n.1.[1] Between 2012 and 2017, Mr. Saffarinia served as the Assistant Inspector General for Information Technology in HUD-OIG, and then as the Assistant Inspector General for Management and Technology. Indictment, ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶ 3. Mr. Saffarinia oversaw HUD-OIG's Office of Management and Technology, which was reorganized as HUD-OIG's Office of Information Technology (“IT”). Id. As a member of the Senior Executive Service (“SES”), Mr. Saffarinia had a “legal duty” to annually submit public financial disclosure reports pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act.[2] Id. at 2 ¶ 4. Such disclosures were filed using the Office of Government Ethics Form 278 (“OGE Form 278”). Id.

         Mr. Saffarinia also served as HUD-OIG's Head of Contracting Activity, overseeing “procurement review and approval processes, including IT contracts[.]” Id. at 2 ¶ 5. He was given “access to contractor proposal information and source selection information[.]” Id. In that position, Mr. Saffarinia had a “legal duty under governing regulations, ” requiring him to take the following actions:

[1] to disclose actual and potential conflicts of interest and [2] to not solicit and accept anything of monetary value, including loans, from anyone who (a) has or is seeking to obtain government business from HUD-OIG, (b) conducts activities that are regulated by HUD-OIG, and (c) has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of [his] official duties.

Id. at 2-3 ¶ 5.

         Mr. Saffarinia, however, did not disclose the nature of his relationship with Person A. Id. at 3-4 ¶ 11-12. Neither did Mr. Saffarinia disclose his loans and payments in excess of $10, 000 from Person A and his neighbor. Id. 17 ¶ 75. Mr. Saffarinia, Person A, and Person B were friends from college who emigrated to the United States from the same country. Id. at 3 ¶ 9. From 2012 to 2016, Mr. Saffarinia concealed his financial relationship with Person A, who was the owner of an IT company that contracted with HUD-OIG (“Company A”). See id. at 3 ¶ 6; 3-4 ¶¶ 11-12. Mr. Saffarinia “steer[ed] government business and disclos[ed] confidential government information” to Person A and Company A. Id. at 4 ¶ 12. Mr. Saffarinia omitted an $80, 000 promissory note that he owed to Person A in his OGE Forms 278, failing to report all liabilities in excess of $10, 000 in those forms. See id. at 2 ¶ 4; 4 ¶ 12.

         In 2012, Mr. Saffarinia caused Company B to enter into a business partnership with Person A and Company A, and Company A eventually served as one of Company B's subcontractors on a multi-year, $30 million IT services contract for HUD-OIG. Id. at 6 ¶ 18. HUD-OIG approved additional funding in the amount of $78, 000 for Company A's subcontract with Company B in 2013. Id. at 10 ¶ 42. Between 2012 to 2015, Company A received more than one million dollars as Company B's subcontractor. Id. at 9 ¶ 36. Mr. Saffarinia gave competitive advantages to Person A and Company A for a certain government contract between 2013 and 2014. Id. at 14 ¶ 61.

         Mr. Saffarinia hired his friend and former business partner, Person B, as the head of HUD-OIG's new predictive analytics department. Id. at 3 ¶¶ 7, 9. At Mr. Saffarinia's direction, Person B became the sole member of a technical evaluation panel for a government contract. Id. at 16 ¶ 72. For that contract, Person B rejected thirteen bid proposals, and HUD-OIG awarded it to Person A and Company A. Id.

         From 2013 to 2014, Mr. Saffarinia caused HUD-OIG to recompete Company B's IT service contract, and he caused Company C to enter into a business partnership with Company A in order for both companies to submit a joint bid for the recompete contract. Id. at 11 ¶ 47. Mr. Saffarinia directed his subordinate to meet with Person A and the owner of Company C for the formation of the partnership and the submission of the joint bid. Id. at 12 ¶ 50. HUD-OIG awarded the recompete contract, which was worth more than $17 million, to Company C. Id. at 11 ¶ 47. Company A became a subcontractor for Company C, and Company A was expected to receive roughly nine million dollars. Id.

         On June 25, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a 19-page, 78-paragraph, seven-count indictment charging Mr. Saffarinia with concealing material facts, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001(a)(1) and 2 (“Count I”); making false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001(a)(2) and 2 (“Counts II-IV”); and falsifying records, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1519 and 2 (“Counts V-VII”). Id. 3-18 ¶¶ 10-78. Count I asserts that Mr. Saffarinia “did knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal, and cover up by trick, scheme, and device material facts . . . by violating his legal duty to disclose a financial relationship with Person A, including on his annual OGE Forms 278.” Id. at 4 ¶ 11. Listing Mr. Saffarinia's 2014, 2015, and 2016 publicly-filed OGE Forms 278, Counts II through IV assert that Mr. Saffarinia “did willfully and knowingly make and caused to be made material false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Government of the United States, namely, HUD and OGE[.]” Id. at 17 ¶ 76. Finally, Counts V through VII list the same three separate OGE forms, alleging that Mr. Saffarinia “knowingly concealed, covered up, falsified, and made false entries in a record, document, and tangible object” when he caused those forms to be filed “with HUD and OGE.” Id. at 18 ¶ 78.

         On June 28, 2019, this Court issued a Standing Order requiring the government to produce any evidence in its possession that is favorable to Mr. Saffarinia and material to either his guilt or punishment. See generally Standing Order, ECF No. 11 at 1 (citing Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963); Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, 153-55 (1972)). On the same day, the Court granted the parties' consent motion for a Protective Order governing discovery. See Min. Order of June 28, 2019. As early as June 2019, the government produced more than one million records to Mr. Saffarinia's counsel. Gov't Opp'n, ECF No. 15 at 2. That production included, among other things, virtually all of the investigative case file from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), interview reports, agent notes, and witnesses' statements pursuant to the Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3500. Id. at 2-3. The government's production, while voluminous, was sent to defense counsel in an “organized and navigable digital format (specifically, in an electronic, ‘load ready' format), with bates-stamping and detailed discovery production logs that include[d] all of the metadata for the records.” Id. at 3. The government gave Mr. Saffarinia an “explicit roadmap” during two reverse proffer sessions in February 2018 and June 2019, [3] and the parties engaged in further discussions and telephone conversations about the charges. Id. at 11. Given its continuing discovery obligations, the government has provided Mr. Saffarinia with nearly 3.5 million pages of discovery. Def.'s Mem., ECF No. 14-1 at 10.

         Dissatisfied, Mr. Saffarinia filed a motion for bill of particulars on July 5, 2019. See Def.'s Mot. for Bill of Particulars (“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 14 at 1. Mr. Saffarinia seeks an order compelling the government to produce a bill of particulars addressing three points: (1) the legal duties that form the basis of the concealment of material facts charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 with respect to Count I; (2) the “governing regulations” that required Mr. Saffarinia to disclose his conflicts of interest as to Count I; and (3) the investigation or matter Mr. Saffarinia allegedly impeded, impaired, or obstructed under 18 U.S.C. § 1519 with respect to Counts V through VII. Id. The government filed its opposition brief on July 7, 2019, see Gov't Opp'n, ECF No. 15 at 1-13, and Mr. Saffarinia filed his reply brief on July 11, 2019, see Def.'s Reply, ECF No. 16 at 1-10. The motion is ripe and ready for the Court's adjudication.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(c) requires an indictment to “be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged[.]” Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1); see also United States v. Edmond, 924 F.2d 261, 269 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (“[T]he function of a federal indictment is . . . not how the government plans to go about proving [those essential facts].”). Under Rule 7(f), a “court may direct the government to file a bill of particulars.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 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. ...

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