U.S. v. Stickle, No. 04-20072-CR.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
Writing for the CourtGold
Citation355 F.Supp.2d 1317
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Rick Dean STICKLE, Michael D. Reeve, John Karayannides, Michael M. Krider, George K. McKay, and Philip J. Hitchens, Defendants.
Decision Date06 October 2004
Docket NumberNo. 04-20072-CR.
355 F.Supp.2d 1317
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Rick Dean STICKLE, Michael D. Reeve, John Karayannides, Michael M. Krider, George K. McKay, and Philip J. Hitchens, Defendants.
No. 04-20072-CR.
United States District Court, S.D. Florida.
October 6, 2004.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Gregory F. Linsin, Special Litigation Counsel, Environmental Crimes Section, Washington, DC, Ausa Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald, Miami, for Plaintiffs.

Robert Tarun, Chicago, IL, for Rick Dean Stickle.

Hy Shapiro, Miami, FL, for Michael D. Reeve, David Gerger, David Markus, Local counsel, Houston, TX, for Michael M. Krider.

John Sweeney, Dallas, TX, for George K. McKay.

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Charles White, Miami, FL, for Philip J. Hitchens.

OMNIBUS ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS

GOLD, District Judge.


I. BACKGROUND

The Government has filed a three-count indictment against Defendants Stickle, Reeve, Karayannides, Krider, McKay and Hitchens [D.E. # 1]. Defendants Krider, McKay and Hitchens have entered guilty pleas. Defendant Karayannides is a fugitive. Defendants Stickle and Reeve are specially set for trial on October 25, 2004.

In Count One, all the defendants are charged with a conspiracy to knowingly discharge, or cause to discharge, approximately 442 metric tons of diesel-contaminated wheat and diesel fuel, into the sea, from a ship of more than 400 gross tons, without use of an oil discharge monitoring and control system, in violation of Title 33, United States Code, Section 1980(a); Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 151.10(a); MARPOL, Annex I, Regulation 9, and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. Count Two charges all defendants with the substantive crime alleged in Count One, and Count Three charges Defendant Krider with procuring, by false pretenses, the execution and delivery of an instrument of writing, the value of which did not exceed $1,000.00, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1025.

Defendants Stickle and Reeve have filed a number of joint motions relative to the Indictment. These motions are: (1) motion to transfer case to Northern District of Iowa [D.E. # 28]; (2) motion to dismiss Counts One and Two of the Indictment under the Rule of Lenity on basis that 33 C.F.R. § 151.10(a) is unconstitutionally vague [D.E. # 46]; (3) motion to dismiss Count One of the Indictment for failure to state an offense and for being fatally duplicitous [D.E. # 48]; (4) motion to dismiss Count One of the Indictment for lack of venue [D.E. # 49], and (5) motion to dismiss Count Two of the Indictment for lack of venue [D.E. # 50]. In addition, they filed a motion for a limited Bill of Particulars on venue for Count One of the Indictment [D.E. # 51], and a motion for timely production of exculpatory material and for disclosure of impeachment information [D.E. 52].

Oral argument on all motions was held on July 16, 2004. By Order dated August 11, 2004 [D.E. # 86], I denied all of the substantive motions. I also granted in part and denied in part the motion for limited Bill of Particulars, and granted the motion for timely production of exculpatory material and disclosure of impeachment information.1 I stated that, by separate order, I would set forth my reasons in writing for denying the substantive motions. I hereby enter this Order to accomplish that purpose.

II. DEFENDANTS' JOINT MOTION TO TRANSFER [D.E. # 28]

The Defendants, Rick Dean Stickle and Michael D. Reeve, move, pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 21(b), for an order transferring this case to the Northern District of Iowa. A motion for change of venue to another district made pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 21(b) is based on an evaluation of "convenience of the parties and the witnesses

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and in the interests of justice." In Platt v. Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., 376 U.S. 240, 84 S.Ct. 769, 11 L.Ed.2d 674 (1964), the United States Supreme Court summarized factors that are properly considered by a district court in evaluating a transfer motion, including: the location of the defendants; the location of possible witnesses; the location of events likely to be at issue; the location of documents; potential disruption of a defendant's business; expenses to the parties; location of counsel; relative accessibility of the place of trial; the docket condition of each district involved, and any other special factors which might affect transfer. The relative significance of these factors varies widely from case to case and "[t]he decision of whether to grant [a] motion to transfer under Rule 21 [lies] within the trial court's discretionary authority...." United States v. Kopituk, 690 F.2d 1289, 1322-23 (11th Cir.1982) (citations omitted). The burden falls on the defendant to demonstrate a substantial imbalance of inconvenience to himself if he is to succeed in nullifying the prosecutor's choice of venue. United States v. Sklaroff, 323 F.Supp. 296, 323-24 (S.D.Fla.1971).

Applying these factors, I deny the motion because Defendants Stickle and Reeve have failed to sufficiently demonstrate a substantial imbalance of inconvenience. Having considered and balanced the Platt factors, I conclude that a trial in Miami will best serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and the interest of justice.

The core of the Defendant's motion emphasizes the factors as to Count One (the conspiracy count) and virtually ignores an analysis of the pertinent factors as to Count Two (the substantive count) where all defendants are named as well. I, however, am not so limited in my analysis.2

Count Two charges that the Defendants, including Stickle and Reeve, "did knowingly discharge and cause to be discharged from a ship of more than 40 gross tons oil and oily mixture, that is, approximately 442 metric tons of diesel-contaminated wheat and diesel fuel, into the sea without the use of an oil discharge monitoring and control system," in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a). Indictment, page 11. The Government charged in the Indictment that the discharge occurred while the S.S. Juneau was on the high seas. See Indictment, Overt Act 16, page 10. Thus, according to the Government, the core substantive offense occurred "... upon the high seas, or elsewhere out of the jurisdiction of any particular State or district...." The Government argues, as is more fully set forth below, that venue might properly exist in the Southern District of Florida (residence of Defendant Hitchens), the Northern District of Iowa (residence of Defendants Stickle and Reeve), the Southern District of Texas (residence of Defendants McKay and Krider), and the District of Columbia (Defendant Karayannides being a current resident of Greece).

While it is correct that Defendants Stickle and Reeve reside in Iowa, and, in fact, may be the only defendants to proceed to trial at this point, "[A] criminal defendant has no right to be tried in the place of his domicile, ..., and the defendant's concerns about being tried away from home are ordinarily of little relevance to a motion for a change of venue." United States v. Bagnell, 679 F.2d 826, 832 (11th Cir.1982)("Bagnell also contends that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a change of venue to the central district of California pursuant to Rule 21(b) of the Federal Rules of

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Criminal Procedure. We disagree. A criminal defendant has no right to be tried in the place of his domicile, United States v. Walker, 559 F.2d at 372, and the defendant's concern about the expense and inconvenience of being tried away from home is ordinarily of little relevance to a motion for a change of venue. United States v. Sanchez, 508 F.2d 388, 393-95 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 827, 96 S.Ct. 45, 46 L.Ed.2d 44 (1975)").

Of more significance, the core fact witnesses in this case, as to Counts One and Two, are the seamen who served as officers and crew members about the S.S. Juneau during the voyage in question. According to the Government, these witnesses reside in a range of coastal districts around the United States, and none are residents of the Northern District of Iowa. The Government also advises that it will need to call several fact witnesses from overseas, including Bangladesh, Singapore, and potentially, Bulgaria, and further claims that other necessary fact witnesses presently reside in Alaska, New York, Washington, D.C., and a number of other States around the country. It intends to call relatively few fact witnesses who are residents of Iowa. Based on this situation, I conclude that the more dispositive Platt factor in this case with respect to nonparty witnesses is the relative accessibility of the place of trial in Miami, Florida, as compared to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Although Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the location of Sabine headquarters, the "location" for the relevant evidence of the claimed violations in Count Two is the vessel from which discharge of the diesel contaminated wheat occurred. In addition, while a number of the overt acts in Count One are alleged to have occurred, or originated, at Sabine headquarters, other overt acts are alleged to have occurred at other locations both in and out of the United States, or were carried out in such locations at the direction of the defendants from Sabine headquarters. In other words, this is a case where significant aspects of the conspiratorial agreement occurred in locations far removed from headquarters operations. Since the conspiracy and the substantive act alleged are widespread, this factor is at best neutral.

Regarding the potential documentary evidence, the Government claims that the volume of documents it intends to introduce, and has provided in discovery, is "quite modest." On the other hand, the defense claims that it will not have meaningful access to its records and resources because it is logistically impossible to move "years" worth of business records from Iowa to Florida. Defendants have...

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10 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Perraud, Case No. 09-60129-CR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • 1 Diciembre 2009
    ...v. Leo, 941 F.2d 181, 198-99 (3d Cir.1991); United States v. Senffner, 280 F.3d 755, 761 (7th Cir.2002); United States v. Stickle, 355 F.Supp.2d 1317, 1328 (S.D.Fla.2004); United States v. Adams, 472 F.Supp.2d 811, 816 (W.D.Va.2007). Indeed, the Eighth Circuit has opined, "`Proceeding'......
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    ...Pipe Company, Indictment, available at http://www.justice. gov/opa/pr/2006/April/06_enrd_250.html (last visited May 30, 2013). 732. 355 F. Supp. 2d 1317 (S.D. Fla. 2004), af’d, 454 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir. 2006). 733. Id . at 1329. 734. 314 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2002). 735. See Press Release, DOJ......
  • United States v. Pena, No. 10–15928.
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • 20 Junio 2012
    ...from U.S.-flagged ships. See, e.g., United States v. Apex Oil Co., 132 F.3d 1287, 1288 (9th Cir.1997); United States v. Stickle, 355 F.Supp.2d 1317 (S.D.Fla.2004), aff'd,454 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir.2006). 2. “Bilge water” is the mixture of oil and water that accumulates in the “bilge”—or bottom......
  • Cuervo v. Airport Servs., Inc., Case No. 12–20608–CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • 22 Noviembre 2013
    ...that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals would conclude that successor liability exists under the FLSA). Cf. United States v. Stickle, 355 F.Supp.2d 1317, 1328 (S.D.Fla.2004) (concluding that the Eleventh Circuit would “likely follow” a line of authority). 5. Second Circuit: Alvarez v. 40 Mu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • U.S. v. Perraud, Case No. 09-60129-CR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • 1 Diciembre 2009
    ...v. Leo, 941 F.2d 181, 198-99 (3d Cir.1991); United States v. Senffner, 280 F.3d 755, 761 (7th Cir.2002); United States v. Stickle, 355 F.Supp.2d 1317, 1328 (S.D.Fla.2004); United States v. Adams, 472 F.Supp.2d 811, 816 (W.D.Va.2007). Indeed, the Eighth Circuit has opined, "`Proceeding'......
  • United States v. Pena, No. 10–15928.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • 20 Junio 2012
    ...from U.S.-flagged ships. See, e.g., United States v. Apex Oil Co., 132 F.3d 1287, 1288 (9th Cir.1997); United States v. Stickle, 355 F.Supp.2d 1317 (S.D.Fla.2004), aff'd,454 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir.2006). 2. “Bilge water” is the mixture of oil and water that accumulates in the “bilge”—or bottom......
  • Cuervo v. Airport Servs., Inc., Case No. 12–20608–CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • 22 Noviembre 2013
    ...that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals would conclude that successor liability exists under the FLSA). Cf. United States v. Stickle, 355 F.Supp.2d 1317, 1328 (S.D.Fla.2004) (concluding that the Eleventh Circuit would “likely follow” a line of authority). 5. Second Circuit: Alvarez v. 40 Mu......
  • Cuervo v. Airport Servs., Inc., CASE NO. 12-20608-CIV-GOODMAN
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • 22 Noviembre 2013
    ...that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals would conclude that successor liability exists under the FLSA). Cf. United States v. Stickle, 355 F. Supp. 2d 1317, 1328 (S.D. Fla. 2004) (concluding that the Eleventh Circuit would "likely follow" a line of authority). 5. Second Circuit: Al......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Specific Environmental Statutes
    • United States
    • Environmental crimes deskbook 2nd edition Part Three
    • 20 Junio 2014
    ...Pipe Company, Indictment, available at http://www.justice. gov/opa/pr/2006/April/06_enrd_250.html (last visited May 30, 2013). 732. 355 F. Supp. 2d 1317 (S.D. Fla. 2004), af’d, 454 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir. 2006). 733. Id . at 1329. 734. 314 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2002). 735. See Press Release, DOJ......

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