347 F.3d 1293 (11th Cir. 2003), 02-12980, U.S. v. Alaboud

Docket Nº:02-12980
Citation:347 F.3d 1293
Party Name:U.S. v. Alaboud
Case Date:October 20, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1293

347 F.3d 1293 (11th Cir. 2003)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Kevin Mushin ALABOUD, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 02-12980.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

October 20, 2003

Page 1294

Kerry Bensinger, Bensinger, Ritt & Botterud, Pasadena, CA, for Defendant-Appellant.

Lisa A. Hirsch, Anne R. Schultz, Stephen Schlessinger, Miami, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before WILSON and COX, Circuit Judges, and GEORGE [*], District Judge.

Page 1295

WILSON, Circuit Judge:

Kevin Mushin Alaboud appeals his conviction on three counts of transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing a threat to injure the person of another, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). Alaboud contends that the government failed to adduce sufficient evidence at trial to convict him of § 875(c). In addition, Alaboud argues that the district court committed reversible error by permitting the victim, Marlowe Blake, to testify as to his belief that Alaboud's statements were threats. 1

We find that the evidence presented at trial sufficiently established that Alaboud violated § 875(c) and that the district court committed no reversible error regarding its evidentiary ruling.

BACKGROUND

Alaboud is a naturalized U.S. citizen, having immigrated to this country from his native Iraq in the early 1980's. He was educated as an engineer but was terminated from a series of jobs which he believed to be due to anti-Iraq sentiments engendered by the Gulf War. In 1994, he went to medical school in Montserrat, but he claims that he was unjustifiably denied his certification.

Seeking compensation for his allegedly unwarranted dismissal from medical school, he commenced legal proceedings against the institution in the Florida courts. In November 1998, Alaboud hired Marlowe Blake, a lawyer, for services in connection with his dismissal from medical school. He paid Blake a retainer fee before Blake began work on Alaboud's case. At one point when Blake was meeting Alaboud, Blake noted his Jewish ancestry. After working about 73 hours on the case, Alaboud refused to pay Blake the remainder of the fee he owed him. With Alaboud's written permission, Blake moved to withdraw from Alaboud's case.

Approximately two years later, in June 2001, Alaboud began to flood Blake's office with telephone calls which Blake and his receptionist thought were threatening. In all, Alaboud called Blake's office 89 times, including 29 calls in a single day. His telephone communications generally promised retribution upon Blake, his law firm, the population of Florida and the Jewish people if Alaboud was not refunded his retainer.

Five of the offending calls were selected to be charged in the indictment. One call was received on Blake's voicemail, wherein Alaboud stated that "one day soon one will come and liberate America and this planet from the grip of Jews, like yourself, Marlowe ... but the rest should be heads put in a vice and ... these should be knocked out with a sledge hammer." Shortly thereafter, Blake received a call from Alaboud where Blake was warned to "[l]ook at Montserrat, take an aerial photograph of Montserrat and you will then be looking at your company ... in the next few ... weeks" (the Island of Montserrat was largely destroyed by a volcanic eruption). In another call, Alaboud told Blake, "If justice is not given to me the population of the area from Key West to Tallahassee will be driven from their homes, what happened to Montserrat will happen to them, they will lose their homes." In another instance, Alaboud told Blake's receptionist that "you and all the Jewish women and

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children would be burned." A few months later, he told the firm's answering service that "Ax and...

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