800 F.3d 998 (8th Cir. 2015), 14-3685, United States v. Doren

Docket Nº:14-3685
Citation:800 F.3d 998
Opinion Judge:BEAM, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee v. James Van Doren, Defendant - Appellant
Attorney:For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Conner Eldridge, Jr., U.S. Attorney, Kenneth P. Elser, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith, AR; Benjamin Wulff, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Western District of Arkansas, ...
Judge Panel:Before GRUENDER, BEAM, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 03, 2015
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 998

800 F.3d 998 (8th Cir. 2015)

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee

v.

James Van Doren, Defendant - Appellant

No. 14-3685

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 3, 2015

Submitted June 11, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas - Fayetteville.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Conner Eldridge, Jr., U.S. Attorney, Kenneth P. Elser, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith, AR; Benjamin Wulff, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana, AR.

For James Van Doren, Defendant - Appellant: Stephen Louis Braga, I, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF LAW, Charlottesville, VA; Gary D. Corum, WILSON & ENGSTROM, Little Rock, AR.

James Van Doren, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Minersville, PA.

Before GRUENDER, BEAM, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 999

BEAM, Circuit Judge.

James Van Doren appeals his conviction and sentence as well as the district court's1 denial of his motion to withdraw his plea; Van Doren also appeals the denial of his motion for reconsideration of this motion to withdraw; the district court's refusal to vacate the money judgment for $22,000; and the district court's order applying Van Doren's $25,000 cash bond toward payment of a fine, special assessment, and satisfaction of the money judgment.2 For the reasons stated herein, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2013, a grand jury charged James Van Doren and two codefendants in a multicount indictment containing various counts of bankruptcy fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, and similar charges, all related to financial dealings between the three men charged. The twenty-seven-count, third superseding indictment specifically named Van Doren in seven counts, and he ultimately pled guilty to one count, count 24, which charged Van Doren with money laundering by engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.

As relevant to this matter, and in general terms, the third superseding indictment contained allegations of an elaborate scheme by Brandon Barber, Van Doren, and Barber's attorney K. Vaughn Knight to defraud Barber's creditors by concealing income, assets, and funds from them in order to allow Barber to use those funds for his benefit, including for his personal expenses. The dealings between the men generally stemmed from Barber's extensive real estate development, construction, and sales, and the various businesses created to handle Barber's business ventures. The resulting bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering allegations, along with the related conspiracy charges, stem from these many dealings with Barber. Noted previously, Van Doren pled guilty to count 24, which specifically alleged:

On or about the 29th day of October, 2008, in the Western District of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division and elsewhere, the defendants, Brandon Lynn Barber and James Van Doren, aided and abetted by each other and others known and unknown to the grand jury, did knowingly engage in a monetary transaction through a financial institution, affecting interstate commerce, in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000, that is, by causing $22,000 to be transferred from a Citibank Account in New York in the name of James Van Doren to a First Security Bank account in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the name of the Barber Group, an entity owned by Barber, such proceeds having derived from a specified unlawful activity, that is wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. All in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 1957 and 2.

Particular transfers of money between Barber and Van Doren formed the basis for Van Doren's guilty plea and the district court's loss calculations at sentencing. The factual basis for the guilty plea states:

On or about October 29, 2008, in the Western District of Arkansas, and elsewhere, James Van Doren, aided and abetted by Brandon Barber, engaged in a monetary transaction through a financial institution, affecting interstate commerce, in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000. Van Doren had agreed with Barber to conceal certain amounts of Barber's income and transactions from creditors. As part of this scheme and artifice to hide money from and thereby defraud his creditors, on or about September 29, 2008, Barber endorsed a check payable to him in the amount of $64,000 over to Van Doren. Van Doren deposited this check into his Citibank Account in New York. On or about October 29, 2008, Van Doren wired $22,000 of these funds from his Citibank account in New York, to an account at First Security Bank in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the name of The Barber Group, controlled by Barber. Van Doren agreed and intended to help Barber conceal these funds and defraud Barber's creditors. The records and evidence would further show that the specified unlawful activity for this transaction was wire fraud, specifically a wire transaction in furtherance of the scheme to defraud Barber's creditors of $64,000 by concealing these funds to make it appear that some of the funds belonged to Van Doren, when in fact, Van Doren knew and agreed that the funds would be used by Barber for his benefit, including his personal living expenses. The banks involved were FDIC insured and the use of the wires in some way or degree affected interstate commerce.

Van Doren later moved to withdraw his plea, advancing that he was " compelled by conscience to act with honesty and integrity . . . [and therefore could not] honor a commitment to truthfulness and continue to affirm a legal position that is contrary to the truth." He specifically clarified that his claim was not that the district court committed any procedural error under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure during its acceptance of his guilty plea, but rather, in his own words, his request to withdraw his plea was " based solely on his factual innocence." The district court denied Van Doren's motion to withdraw his plea as well as his motion for reconsideration of the denial, holding that his claim of innocence was insufficient to overcome his sworn testimony acknowledging his guilt and that there was a sufficient factual basis supporting the charge. The district court sentenced Van Doren to fifteen months' imprisonment followed by a two-year term of supervised release. Van Doren appeals these rulings and the sentence imposed.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Plea

We review the denial of a motion to withdraw a guilty plea for an abuse of discretion. United States v. Gamble, 327 F.3d 662, 663 (8th Cir. 2003). Relevant here, under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d), a defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty before the court imposes a sentence if " the defendant can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal." Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(d)(2)(B). " 'While the standard is liberal, the defendant has no automatic right to withdraw a plea.'" United States v. Heid, 651 F.3d 850, 853 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. Ramirez-Hernandez, 449 F.3d 824, 826 (8th Cir. 2006)). Rule 11(b)(3) additionally mandates that " [b]efore entering judgment on a guilty plea, the court must determine that there is a factual basis for the plea." Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(3). A defendant may establish a fair and just reason for withdrawing his guilty plea by demonstrating that his plea is not supported by an adequate factual basis. Heid, 651 F.3d at 855-56.

Van Doren renews his contention that an inadequate factual basis existed for his guilty plea and, thus, that a fair and just reason exists for withdrawing the plea. The crux of Van Doren's claim is that because count 24 does not specify the facts...

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