Feds Object to Hakimian's Motion for New Trial
in Insurance Fraud Case
May 26, 2010
Attorneys for the federal government, which brought an insurance
fraud case against Glass Emporium owner Mehrdad Hakimian in late
2007, have filed an objection in response to his request for a new
trial in the case.
Hakimian was found guilty of several charges related to insurance
fraud in March, and in April he motioned for a new trial, alleging
prejudice and that the court erred on several counts, according
to court documents. (CLICK
HERE for related story.)
Though Hakimian's counsel argued in the April motion for a new
trial that visa fraud evidence should not have been admitted in
the case, as he'd previously pleaded guilty to these, U.S. attorney
Joseph P. Russoniello argues in his motion that "the visa fraud
facilitated the wire fraud offenses," and that "the inextricably
intertwined visa fraud was necessary to explain the heightened degree
of control Hakimian exercised over certain foreign employees in
instructing them to over-bill insurance companies for windshield
parts and installation materials."
He goes on to allege that because Hakimian sponsored employees
involved in the fraud through the H1-B visa program, their immigration
status "was tenuous and contingent on continued employment
This evidence assisted the jury in understanding
why certain employees committed fraud at Hakimian's direction instead
of refusing, quitting or reporting him to authorities. (The H1-B
program allows employers to employ foreign professionals in the
United States in a specialty occupation for three years, according
to court documents.)
Hakimian's counsel also had argued that his pre-trial 2009 restitution
payments should have been permitted to be used as evidence, but
the court had accepted a motion to exclude these from the case.
However, Russoniello argues that "evidence of payments to insurance
companies by Hakimian two years after he was charged with wire fraud,
and only months before his first scheduled trial, was irrelevant
to Hakimian's intent at the time he committed the fraud."
In support of a new trial, the defendant's counsel also had contended
in its motion that by not granting Glass Emporium vice president
Emma Deguzman "use immunity" in the trial, his case was
impacted negatively, as Deguzman ultimately plead the Fifth Amendment
and declined to testify. Hakimian's counsel had pointed out that
her testimony regarding the removal of several boxes of invoices
to storage and the disposal of some past invoices would have corroborated
his defense toward the obstruction of justice charges filed against
However, Russionello writes, "Hakimian has not proffered evidence
for this accusation of prosecutorial misconduct other than alleging,
without proper foundation, in his argument that prosecutors wrongly
admonished DeGuzman's attorney that DeGuzman should not testify
in support of Hakimian, or 'it would go badly for DeGuzman at sentencing.'"
Likewise, Hakimian had argued that the jury should have received
instructions about DeGuzman, and should have been notified "that
[she] was only available to the defense."
"But because a witness who invokes the right against self-incrimination
is equally unavailable to both parties, a missing person instruction
is unwarranted," writes Russoniello in opposition to Hakimian's
Hakimian's motion for a new trial is scheduled to be heard next
week, on June 4, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District
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