Glass Emporium Owner Motions for New Trial in Fraud Case; Alleges
Case was Prejudiced and That Court Erred on Several Counts
April 21, 2010
Glass Emporium owner Mehrdad Hakimian, who recently was found guilty
of charges related to insurance fraud in a U.S. District Court jury
trial, has motioned for a new trial, alleging prejudice against
him and that the court erred on several counts, according to court
HERE for related story.)
Hakimian alleges that though he had pled guilty to charges related
to visa fraud and harboring illegal aliens, visa fraud-related evidence
was admitted in court as part of the fraud trial, which he claims
had a negative outcome the of the trial.
"It consumed court time and required [Hakimian] to respond
to numerous questions about it," writes Hakimian's counsel.
"It diverted the jury's attention from the issues on trial,
which had to do with whether the defendant had knowingly inflated
invoices to defraud insurance companies, to the volatile issues
involving illegal immigration and employment of undocumented workers.
It required Mr. Hakimian to repeatedly admit his responsibility
for this wrongful conduct, allowing the government to portray him
as a person who would be likely wrongfully and unlawfully defraud
insurance companies as alleged."
In addition, Hakimian alleges that the jury was not told that he
had pled guilty to the visa fraud charges, leading them to "assume
that he had not been criminally prosecuted and had thus 'gotten
away' with visa fraud in spite of his admissions."
Hakimian's counsel also claims that he was prejudiced by the fact
that the court did not allow him to "testify or present evidence
concerning his repayment to numerous insurance companies of money
he concluded they had been overcharged in the invoices submitted
"This evidence was relevant [to] assessing the defendant's
intent and knowledge at the time the original invoices were submitted,"
writes Hakimian's counsel. "It was the defendant's trial position
that he was unaware of the over-billing and neither authorized nor
directed it. When he learned it had occurred, he made restitution
to the greatest extent possible."
Hakimian's counsel goes on to allege that the court erred by not
ordering the government to provide Glass Emporium vice president
Emma DeGuzman, who had accepted a plea bargain, "use immunity."
According to the defendant, at the time DeGuzman pled guilty, she
was advised by the prosecution that "if she elected to testify
at trial on Mr. Hakimian's behalf in a manner the government believed
inconsistent with their view of the facts relating to the obstruction
of justice charge, they would seek to have such testimony held against
her at sentencing." (CLICK
HERE for related story.)
For that reason, Hakimian's counsel claims DeGuzman invoked her
right to remain silent upon being subpoenaed to testify "concerning
her knowledge of the moving of boxes of GEMI paperwork to storage
and recycling." (In the details of the obstruction of justice
charges issued in mid-January, the prosecution had alleged that
Hakimian and DeGuzman "did, and did attempt to, corruptly alter,
destroy, mutilate, and conceal documents and records, namely, glass
invoices, glass work orders, and electronically stored invoice records,
with the intent to impair their integrity and availability for use
in an official proceeding.")
"In this case, by virtue of its admonition to DeGuzman that
testimony favorable to the defendant (or unfavorable to the government)
will expose her to serious consequences at her own sentencing, the
government also has interfered with the defendant's ability to present
his defense in violation of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,"
writes Hakimian's counsel.
Defendant Hakimian's motion for a new trial is scheduled to be
heard on June 4, which also is scheduled to be the day of his sentencing.
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