18 F.3d 795 (9th Cir. 1994), 93-50624, United States v. Saccoccia

Docket Nº:93-50624.
Citation:18 F.3d 795
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Stephen SACCOCCIA, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:March 11, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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18 F.3d 795 (9th Cir. 1994)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Stephen SACCOCCIA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 93-50624.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 11, 1994

Argued and Submitted Jan. 3, 1994.

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Robert D. Luskin and Beth M. Bollinger, Comey Boyd & Luskin, Washington, D.C.; Stephen J. Finta, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the defendant-appellant.

Robert S. Calo and George S. Cardona, Assistant United States Attorneys, Los Angeles, California, for the plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Before: GOODWIN and HALL, Circuit Judges, and TANNER, District Judge. [*]


Stephen A. Saccoccia was indicted for aiding and abetting the laundering of drug proceeds in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2 and 1957. Saccoccia appeals the district court's order denying his motion to dismiss his indictment for violations of both the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Swiss-American Treaty under which he was extradited. We affirm the district court's ruling that Saccoccia's prosecution in California does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause and remand the case for trial. The extradition issues raised by Saccoccia are not subject to interlocutory review and therefore we dismiss that portion of his appeal.



Appellant Stephen A. Saccoccia participated in a money laundering operation which laundered in excess of $135 million in narcotics proceeds for Colombian drug cartels. Saccoccia was the ring leader of the enterprise, which involved several organizations located in New York, Los Angeles, and Rhode Island.

Saccoccia was tried and convicted with several codefendants in the district of Rhode Island for conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations laws ("RICO") (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1962(d)) and several other substantive charges, including illegal monetary transactions (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1957), money laundering (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1956) and Travel Act violations (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1952). On May 13, 1993, he was sentenced by the Rhode Island district court to 660 years in prison and ordered to pay a $15,700,000 fine.

Immediately after his sentencing in Rhode Island, Saccoccia was returned to California for a second trial. In the First Superseding Indictment which is the subject of this appeal ("California indictment or prosecution"), Saccoccia is charged with aiding and abetting codefendants Masino and Messer to launder funds in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2 and 1957, and is named as an unindicted coconspirator in the overarching conspiracy. Saccoccia is also named, together with his codefendants, in a forfeiture count (18 U.S.C. Sec. 982) which seeks criminal forfeiture of various funds and assets of the enterprise.

Saccoccia filed a motion to dismiss the California indictment on the grounds that his prosecution violates both the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Swiss-American Treaty under which he was extradited. 1 The California district court denied his motion and this interlocutory appeal followed.

The district court had jurisdiction over Saccoccia's challenges pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3231. We have jurisdiction over the double jeopardy issues pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291. See Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651, 662, 97 S.Ct. 2034, 2041-42, 52 L.Ed.2d 651 (1977). The parties dispute whether appellate jurisdiction exists over the extradition issues.


Double Jeopardy Claims

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides: "[N]or shall any

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person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." U.S. Const. amend. V. Under this clause, a defendant is protected from both successive prosecutions and multiple punishments for the same criminal offense. See North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 2076, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969), overruled on other grounds by Alabama v. Smith, 490 U.S. 794, 109 S.Ct. 2201, 104 L.Ed.2d 865 (1989). Saccoccia claims that the California indictment violates both of these double jeopardy protections. The district court's denial of a motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds is reviewed de novo. United States v. Lun, 944 F.2d 642, 644 (9th Cir.1991).

A. Multiple Prosecutions

Saccoccia initially argues that the California indictment violates the Double Jeopardy Clause's prohibition against trying an individual twice for the same offense. More specifically, he contends that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the government from prosecuting a defendant for conspiracy and related substantive offenses, and then prosecuting other related substantive offenses at a successive trial. We disagree.

A substantive crime and a conspiracy to commit that crime are not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes. United States v. Felix, --- U.S. ----, ----, 112 S.Ct. 1377, 1384, 118 L.Ed.2d 25 (1992). Accordingly, the government may prosecute successively a conspiracy and the substantive offenses it encompasses. Id. This rule has been interpreted to allow prosecution of a defendant once for a RICO conspiracy and thereafter for the predicate offenses constituting a pattern of racketeering activity. See United States v. Esposito, 912 F.2d 60, 65 (3rd Cir.1990), cert. dismissed, 498 U.S. 1075, 111 S.Ct. 806, 112 L.Ed.2d 1032 (1991); United States v. Grayson, 795 F.2d 278, 282 (3rd Cir.1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1054, 107 S.Ct. 927, 93 L.Ed.2d 978 (1987). Thus, the Double Jeopardy Clause is not violated by prosecuting Saccoccia on the Rhode Island RICO conspiracy count and then later in California for related substantive offenses. 2

Saccoccia also argues that the Rhode Island substantive counts and the California substantive counts are the same offense for double jeopardy purposes. In Felix, the Supreme Court held that the initial substantive charge of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine and the subsequent substantive charges relating to methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution were not the same offense for double jeopardy purposes even though they formed part of a single conspiracy. Felix, --- U.S. at ----, 112 S.Ct. at 1382. Saccoccia asserts that this holding was based solely on the Court's observation that the substantive offenses charged in the second prosecution were "different in both time and place" and were not linked by "common conduct" to the substantive offenses charged in the initial prosecution. Saccoccia argues that the negative implications of Felix dictate that the California charges here are barred because of their close link to the Rhode Island charges for which he has already been tried. This argument is without merit.

Saccoccia is correct in asserting that there is more "common conduct" linking the alleged offenses here than there was in Felix. In the instant case, the same overarching conspiracy is involved; the same method of handling the funds is alleged; the same coconspirators are implicated; and the purpose of the money transactions--to launder drug money--is the same. Further, it appears that the government's proof regarding the source of the funds and Saccoccia's knowledge of their illicit nature will be the same.

Despite this considerable overlap, the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar the California prosecution. The Supreme Court has made clear that mere overlap in proof between two prosecutions does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause. See id. at

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----, 112 S.Ct. at 1382; United States v. Dixon, --- U.S. ----, ---- - ----, 113 S.Ct. 2849, 2860-64, 125 L.Ed.2d 556 (1993). Further, while the substantive charges in Rhode Island and California are indisputably related, they involve distinct transactions occurring at different times in different venues. In the Rhode Island indictment, the Secs. 1956 and 1957 money laundering counts involved wire transfers in 1990 from a Rhode Island bank, while the Sec. 1952 Travel Act counts involved shipments of money and checks from New York to Rhode Island or Los Angeles. In contrast, the Sec. 1957 counts that are the subject of the California prosecution involve wire transfers in the summer and fall of 1991 out of Los Angeles bank accounts. We therefore reject Saccoccia's argument that the California indictment violates the Double Jeopardy Clause's prohibition against multiple prosecutions for the same offense.

B. Multiple Punishments

Saccoccia next argues that the California prosecution violates the Double Jeopardy Clause's prohibition against multiple punishments for the same offense because the sentence imposed by the Rhode Island district court was based on conduct charged in the California indictment.

As an initial matter, we must determine whether the Rhode Island sentence was,...

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