686 Fed.Appx. 623 (11th Cir. 2017), 16-12213, United States v. Hope

Docket Nº:16-12213
Citation:686 Fed.Appx. 623
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROHAN HOPE, a.k.a. D.L., Defendant-Appellant
Attorney:For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Sivashree Sundaram, Christopher Barrett Browne, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Aileen Cannon, Wifredo A. Ferrer, Emily M. Smachetti, U.S. Attorney's Office, MIAMI, FL. For ROHAN HOPE, a.k.a. D.L., Defendant - Appellant: Jared Brown, Brown Legal, FORT ...
Judge Panel:Before JORDAN, ROSENBAUM and FAY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 19, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 623

686 Fed.Appx. 623 (11th Cir. 2017)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

ROHAN HOPE, a.k.a. D.L., Defendant-Appellant

No. 16-12213

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 19, 2017

Editorial Note:

DO NOT PUBLISH. (See Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1)

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 0:15-cr-60137-DTKH-1.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Sivashree Sundaram, Christopher Barrett Browne, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Aileen Cannon, Wifredo A. Ferrer, Emily M. Smachetti, U.S. Attorney's Office, MIAMI, FL.

For ROHAN HOPE, a.k.a. D.L., Defendant - Appellant: Jared Brown, Brown Legal, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL; Richard Anthony Merlino, Jr., Richard A. Merlino, PA, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL; Martin Lawrence Roth, Martin L. Roth, PA, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL.

Before JORDAN, ROSENBAUM and FAY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Rohan Hope appeals his conviction for aggravated identity theft and his 60-month-imprisonment sentence following his guilty plea to falsely claiming United States citizenship. We affirm in part, vacate and remand in part.

Page 624

I. BACKGROUND

Hope, a Jamaican citizen, visited a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (" DMV" ) branch in Broward County to obtain a Florida driver's license on November 10, 2014. Hope provided a birth certificate of D.L., a real person, to a DMV examiner. Based on that birth certificate, his country of birth was listed as the United States (" U.S." ). The birth certificate was scanned into the database by the examiner and appeared to be an original based on the watermarks and seal on the document. Although the state of birth listed on the birth certificate was Illinois, the examiner made a mistake and entered Florida as Hope's state of birth. The DMV examiner also scanned the social security card Hope provided, which was in D.L.'s name and had D.L.'s social security number, into the database. Hope's citizenship status was listed as a U.S. citizen, based on those documents. Hope affirmed the information he provided was true under penalty of perjury.

After submitting D.L.'s documentation and passing the road signs and road rules tests, Hope received a learner's permit. Two days later, on November 12, 2014, Hope returned to the DMV branch to take the driving test and received a driver's license using D.L.'s identification. Hope again swore to the veracity of the driver's license application under penalty of perjury

On June 19, 2015, Hope was indicted for one count of False Claim of U.S. Citizenship, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1015(e) (" Count One" ), and one count of Aggravated Identity Theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) (" Count Two" ). On September 24, 2015, U.S. Marshals executed a search warrant at Hope's residence in Philadelphia, where they found his wallet containing a Florida driver's license with his picture and D.L.'s name. Inside the wallet, U.S. Marshal Chad Grant also found an improperly formatted Pennsylvania identification card and a Jamaican driver's license with Hope's picture and a fraudulent name.

Hope pled guilty to Count One1 but contested Count Two in a nonjury trial. At the bench trial, the government introduced the parties' trial stipulations and read the stipulations into evidence: 1. The individual identified in the indictment as DL is a real person. DL's date of birth is December 17, 1977. DL's Social Security number ends in 9407.

2. Between April 16, 2001 and November 6, 2014, DL was issued ten Illinois state identification cards.

3. Government's Exhibits 1 through 4 are certified Florida [DMV] records and admissible.

4. Government's Exhibit 5, a Florida driver license in the name of DL was in [Hope's] possession on September 24, 2015.

5. [Hope] is a citizen of Jamaica. Prior to November 10, 2014, [Hope] applied

Page 625 for a United States nonimmigrant visa on five occasions.

Trial Tr. at 48 (Jan. 11, 2016). The government called DMV records custodian and prior driver's license examiner Mario Rallo, who testified as to Hope's driver's license application under D.L.'s name and to the DMV general driver's license application and verification procedures. The government introduced the driver's license record from the DMV database under D.L.'s name, which contained an Illinois birth certificate in D.L.'s name, a social security card in D.L.'s name, an address certification in D.L.'s name, a photograph, a statement that " under penalty of perjury, I swear or affirm that the information given by me in this application is true and correct," and the applicant's signature under the statement. Id. at 57. The government introduced D.L.'s driver's license transaction page from the DMV on November 12, 2014, which contained a signed and dated photograph of Hope. U.S. Marshal Grant also testified regarding the search of Hope's residence on September 24, 2015.

The district judge found, beyond a reasonable doubt, Hope knew at the time he used D.L.'s identifying information those means of identification belonged to a real person. The judge explained: Hope in seeking to go forward with his application for a Florida driver's license swore under penalty of perjury that the representations that he was making to the examiner were true and correct. . . . Clearly [Hope] in an effort to meet these requirements came in with documentation that had all of the indication of legitimacy, of a real human being, and he was successful the very first time, that is that as a result of his first visit to the [DMV], he ended up with a learner's permit, and then came back two days later, apparently took the driving test, and again, reaffirming and remaking the same representations, he ended up with a Florida driver's license.

Id. at 146. The judge considered the means of identification Hope used had been government-issued documents; he had signed documents subjecting himself to perjury; and, after he had...

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