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United States v. Tajideen

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 15, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on defendant Kassim Tajideen's Motion for Pretrial Release (“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 58.[1] Upon consideration of the parties' submissions[2] and oral arguments presented at the motion hearing held on February 1, 2018, and at the status conference held on February 16, 2018, the Court concludes that it must deny the defendant's motion.[3]

         I. BACKGROUND

         In an eleven-count Superseding Indictment filed on February 15, 2018, the government charges the defendant with the federal offenses of (1) conspiracy to conduct unlawful transactions and cause United States persons to conduct unlawful transactions with a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist (“SDGT”), and to defraud the United States by dishonest means; (2) nine unlawful transactions with a SDGT and aiding and abetting and causing an act to be done; and (3) conspiracy to commit money laundering. See generally Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 89. In short, the defendant is charged with allegedly “continu[ing] to conduct business with [United States] entities through a large network of businesses with ever-changing names run by a relatively small group of personnel, effectively hiding his own involvement in the transactions, ” despite his designation as an SDGT by the United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). Government's Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Pretrial Release at 3, ECF No. 22.

         The defendant, who is sixty-two years old, is purportedly “an extremely wealthy businessman with vast overseas holdings.” Gov't's Opp'n at 3. According to the government, he is a citizen of Belgium, Sierra Leone, and Lebanon, and has no significant ties to the District of Columbia or the United States. See id. at 4. The government also represents that he has a “prior foreign felony conviction related to forgery of documents” and faces a “potential lengthy sentence” if convicted in this case. Id. at 2.

         The defendant proposes the following pretrial release conditions: (1) the defendant “will post a two-million dollar cash bond, ” Def.'s Mot. at 7; (2) he is willing to “be fitted with a security bracelet and be subject to [the] Pretrial Service [Agency's] (“Pretrial Services”) electronic home monitoring program, ” id. at 6; (3) he “will agree not to obtain a passport, ” id. at 7; and (4) his brother-in-law, who is a United States citizen, will “put up his home as security, ” id. at 5. The defendant also states that he “will agree to reside in an apartment that will be secured and monitored” by Guidepost Solutions LLC (“Guidepost”), a security company, id., and “will agree to travel from the secured residence only for court appearances or when otherwise approved in advance by [ ] Pretrial Services, ” id. at 6. In terms of the defendant's monitoring, Guidepost proposes the following surveillance measures: (1) monitoring of the defendant by two armed guards, id. at 5, “who will be inside the apartment [twenty-four] hours [per] day”; (2) monitoring of “[t]he apartment's exterior doors and windows . . . by sensors”; (3) monitoring by “two individuals outside the apartment [twelve] hours [per] day who will conduct counter-surveillance”; and (4) monitoring of the apartment “by a video feed that will be monitored and recorded, ” id. at 6. In addition, “Guidepost will not permit [the defendant to have] any visits that are not pre-approved” by Pretrial Services. Id. And, when the defendant is traveling, Guidepost will secure his travel by having: “(1) a third security professional . . . drive[ ] a security vehicle; (2) a fourth security professional [ ] remain behind at the residence to maintain a security presence . . .; (3) the vehicle [used to transport the defendant] be outfitted with GPS tracking; and (4) . . . [the defendant blocked from] access to communication devices.” Id.


         “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[.]'” United States v. Bikundi, 47 F.Supp.3d 131, 133 (D.D.C. 2014) (alteration in original) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1) (2012)); see also United States v. Hassanshahi, 989 F.Supp.2d 110, 113 (D.D.C. 2013) (“Our system of criminal justice embraces a strong presumption against detention. In our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.” (first quoting United States v. Hanson, 613 F.Supp.2d 85, 87 (D.D.C. 2009); then quoting United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987))). In evaluating whether any combination of conditions exists that will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance at trial, courts must consider “the available information concerning” the following four factors:

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, . . .;
(2) the weight of the evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including . . . the person's character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, . . . criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and . . .
(4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release.

18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).

         Because “the government seeks pretrial detention only on the ground that the defendant poses a flight risk, it must make that showing by a preponderance of the evidence.” UnitedStates v. Hong Vo, 978 F.Supp.2d 41, 42 (D.D.C. 2013) (citing United States v. Xulam, 84 F.3d 441, 442 (D.C. Cir. 1996)). ‚ÄúThat preponderance must, of course, go to the ultimate issue: that no combination of conditions-either those set out in the Bail Reform Act or any others that the . . . judge might find ...

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