Monday, August 15, 2011

U.S. v. Vasquez, No. 10-50336 (8-15-11) (Rymer with Tallman and Ikuta).

This is an appeal from a felon in possession conviction. The appeal focuses on the search warrant; sufficiency of evidence; and touches on sentencing. The 9th ends up affirming the conviction and sentence. The defendant was not only a member of the Mongols Motorcycle club, but was also an officer, and possibly a president of a chapter. The government obtained a search warrant for evidence of a RICO violation. The club supposedly kept records, minutes, and details of its criminal activities. In the course of the search, weapons and ammunition were found in the defendant's garage. One weapon was in a pair of sweatpants and another in a black canvas bag. The defendant argues that the search warrant was defective as overbroad, searching for records and documents. The 9th found that the warrant was limited: it described the process for record keeping, and tied the defendant to the organization. He may not have been president, but he was an officer. Moreover, he did not attack the veracity of the CIs as to the organization. The warrant was also not solely directed at membership but was directed to criminal activity. Turning to sufficiency of the evidence, the 9th found that there was enough. The weapon was in a pair of pants in his garage, on shelving next to a t-shirt with his nickname on it. There was also Mongol paraphernalia close by. The evidence was sufficient. Finally, the sentence -- below guidelines because of over representation of criminal history -- was reasonable.


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