957 F.Supp. 647 (E.D.Pa. 1997), Crim. A. 95-435-01, United States v. Nolan-Cooper

Docket NºCrim. A. 95-435-01
Citation957 F.Supp. 647
Party NameUnited States v. Nolan-Cooper
Case DateMarch 11, 1997
CourtUnited States District Courts, 3th Circuit, United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)

Page 647

957 F.Supp. 647 (E.D.Pa. 1997)

UNITED STATES of America

v.

Angela NOLAN-COOPER.

Criminal Action No. 95-435-01.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.

March 11, 1997

Page 648

David M. Howard, Dechert, Price and Rhoads, Philadelphia, PA, for Defendant.

Angela Nolan-Cooper, Philadelphia, PA, pro se.

Terri A. Marinari, U.S. Attorney's Office, Philadelphia, PA, for U.S.

MEMORANDUM

ROBRENO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Angela Nolan-Cooper stands before the Court for sentencing having pled guilty to: 1) one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) and 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3)(B) (Count 3); 2) ten counts of money laundering to conceal or disguise the source or ownership of property represented to be proceeds of specified unlawful activity and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Counts 11, 13 to 18, 20, 27 and 28); 3) one count of conspiracy to structure or assist in structuring any transaction with one or more domestic financial institutions, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(3) (Count 29); and 4) one count of criminal forfeiture pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(1) (Count 32).

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the government has moved to dismiss counts one, two,

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four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twenty-two and thirty-one of the superseding indictment. These counts include drug charges, as well as other charges of structuring, money laundering and criminal forfeiture.

Also in the plea agreement, the government and the defendant stipulated to a guideline range of 41 to 51 months of incarceration (this range is based on an offense level of 22). In the presentence investigation ("PSI") report, the probation officer calculates the offense level to be 26 which, based upon Ms. Nolan-Cooper's criminal history level of I, would subject the defendant to a sentence of 63 to 78 months.

The defendant has raised objections to the PSI report's recommendation for upward adjustments based on the defendant's use of her special skill as a lawyer and obstruction of justice. She also objects to the failure of the PSI report to recommend an additional one level downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility. 1 Additionally, the defendant moves for a downward departure on the grounds of outrageous government conduct and sentencing factor manipulation. For the reasons discussed below, the defendant's objections are overruled and her motion for downward departure is denied.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND 2

The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") received information from a confidential informant that Ms. Nolan-Cooper, a Philadelphia lawyer, was assisting others to launder funds received through the sale of drugs and other illegal activities. The IRS arranged for Ms. Nolan-Cooper to be introduced to IRS Special Agent Louis Oubre. Agent Oubre, acting in an undercover capacity, posed as "Louis A. Richard," a drug dealer from the New Orleans area, who had significant drug proceeds that he wished to make look legitimate. The introduction of Ms. Nolan-Cooper to Agent Oubre in his undercover capacity took place at a hotel near the Philadelphia Airport on February 7, 1994. This meeting was arranged and attended by one Oswald McBride, an acquaintance of Ms. Nolan-Cooper, who unbeknownst to Ms. Nolan-Cooper had turned Government informant.

Ms. Nolan-Cooper attended the meeting with the understanding that "Mr. Richard" (hereafter referred to as Agent Oubre in his undercover capacity), had some business dealings to discuss with her. She quickly learned that the business Agent Oubre wanted to discuss was how to make illegitimate money look legitimate. Tr. of Feb. 7, 1994 Meeting at 1-2. During that first meeting, Ms. Nolan-Cooper also learned that Agent Oubre was a drug dealer and that the money he was seeking to launder was the proceeds from illegal drug sales. Id. at 29, 32. 3

At the outset, Ms. Nolan-Cooper suggested that she could help Agent Oubre make his money look legitimate in two ways: 1) by

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setting up a sham business for him; and 2) by hiding his money in accounts in the Bahamas. Id. at 1-2. 4 She explained to the agent why he should, and how he could hide his money in the Bahamas, what procedures he would use, what precautions he would have to take, and how he could get his money back from the Bahamas. Id. at 2-9. 5 She then discussed the advantages of forming a corporation and running his money through a business to make it look legitimate by showing a source of income and filing tax returns. Id. at 9-12. After she told the agent about these options, Agent Oubre asked Ms. Nolan-Cooper, "So you could help me do all of these things?" Her answer was, "Um hmm." Id. at 12.

She further assured the agent that she was ready, willing and able to help him legitimize his purported ill-gotten gains, "trust me, I have plenty of clients ... and it's the same situation you have.... And there's nothing on 'em for years." Id. at 13-14. At the end of the first meeting, she again assured Agent Oubre, "the way I do it, I'm ... not gonna make any mistakes." Id. at 37. When the agent asked her, "Well, how soon ... can we start," Ms. Nolan-Cooper replied, "Right away." Id. at 29.

Ms. Nolan-Cooper also suggested that, rather than start his own business, Agent Oubre could "invest in a business already established here" which, she said, is run by "someone who's in a very similar situation with you" who "has a recording studio ... in Jersey." Id. at 19-20. While the business itself may not be profitable, "even in losing the money ... it's helped [the person doing the money laundering] to legitimize everything else." Id. at 20. She also acknowledged that she helps this person hide his money in the Bahamas. "[H]e's another person that I'm back and forth. I do the same thing with him." Id. The evidence bears out that the person to whom Ms. Nolan-Cooper was referring was codefendant Ester Carter, who also stands convicted of money laundering in connection with this case.

Ms. Nolan-Cooper touted the advantages of the music business because "you create your own records.... you can ... show on paper ... that you generated ... eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars in five months.... In studio time. And nobody's ever been in the studio ... they can't ever check that.... So this is income. This is legitimate income." Id. at 21. She explains that this is possible because the agent could "make up" a rap group and say they spent several thousand dollars at the studio and there would be "no way that the IRS can trace those people." Id. at 22. As the first meeting was concluding, Ms. Nolan-Cooper offered to take the agent to look at the studio the following day. Id. at 36.

The second meeting took place only two days later. Agent Oubre told Ms. Nolan-Cooper that he wanted to start his own corporation first, instead of investing in the existing business. Tr. of Feb. 9, 1994 Meeting at 10, 12. He told her that he did like

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the idea of starting a corporation in the music business. Id. at 12-13. Ms. Nolan-Cooper said that to look legitimate, Agent Oubre's business would need an office. She volunteered to set Agent Oubre up with office space at the New Jersey studio. Id. at 13, 35. She told Agent Oubre that once the corporation is incorporated, he can "set up a corporate bank account," "pay rent for a couple of months" and then "start making intermittent deposits" and "start to build the account up." Id. at 16-17. She also told him that she could use her attorney escrow account to help him funnel his money into his "legitimate" business account, or into his Bahamian account. Id. at 17-19. 6

Agent Oubre and Ms. Nolan-Cooper met for a third time on March 11, 1994. At that meeting they agreed to set up a corporation entitled "LAR Productions, Inc." as a purported music production, promotion and recording company. Tr. of Mar. 11, 1994 Meeting at 2-4, 26-27. Agent Oubre gave Ms. Nolan-Cooper twelve thousand dollars to open the corporate bank account. Id. at 41. She then introduced Agent Oubre to Mr. Carter by phone so that Agent Oubre could rent office space for LAR Productions at Mr. Carter's music studio. Id. at 43-45. She told Agent Oubre that he should furnish the office with a phone, fax, computer, desk and pictures, and that she could help him do that. Id. at 29. She told him that he could prepare vouchers with names of fictitious aspiring recording artists to make it appear as though the money going into the business account was coming from legitimate musical production work, which would be untraceable. Id. at 31. She explained to Agent Oubre that he would have to pay taxes on the money he ran through the production company and that she "w[ould] set [him] up with an accountant." Id. at 38. At this meeting, Agent Oubre also paid Ms. Nolan-Cooper $5,000 as a retainer. Id. at 21. Subsequent to the meeting, Ms. Nolan-Cooper incorporated "LAR Productions, Inc.," opened a bank account and provided Agent Oubre with a corporate seal.

On May 10, 1994, Ms. Nolan-Cooper took Agent Oubre to Mr. Carter's recording studio in New Jersey. Agent Oubre expressly told Mr. Carter that his money came from drugs and that Ms. Nolan-Cooper was helping him make it look legitimate. Tr. of May 10, 1994 Meeting at 147. On September 29, 1994, Agent Oubre paid Mr. Carter $6,615 for six months rent and one month security deposit for an office at the recording studio. On December 19, 1994, a lease, backdated to July 1, 1994, was drafted by Ms. Nolan-Cooper. Mr. Carter and Agent Oubre both signed the backdated lease. On February 1, 1995, Agent Oubre paid Mr. Carter $955 for the January rent. The space rented by Agent Oubre remained unoccupied throughout...

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1 practice notes
  • 155 F.3d 221 (3rd Cir. 1998), 97-1171, United States v. Nolan-Cooper
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 2, 1998
    ...agreement at the sentencing hearing, Nolan-Cooper filed a motion for resentencing, which was denied. See United States v. Nolan-Cooper, 957 F.Supp. 647 (E.D.Pa.1997). This appeal, of both the sentence and the order denying the motion to dismiss, followed. We have appellate jurisdiction purs......
1 cases
  • 155 F.3d 221 (3rd Cir. 1998), 97-1171, United States v. Nolan-Cooper
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 2, 1998
    ...agreement at the sentencing hearing, Nolan-Cooper filed a motion for resentencing, which was denied. See United States v. Nolan-Cooper, 957 F.Supp. 647 (E.D.Pa.1997). This appeal, of both the sentence and the order denying the motion to dismiss, followed. We have appellate jurisdiction purs......