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United States v. Musso

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 27, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff(s),
v.
MARY MUSSO, Defendant(s)

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendant Mary Musso's motion for district judge to reconsider the magistrate judge's order. (Doc. # 33). The government has filed a response (doc. # 37) to which the defendant has replied (doc. # 40).

I. Background[1]

On July 25, 2012, Musso was indicted on five counts of wire fraud in connection with a "tenant improvement scheme" (counts one and two) and a "forged deeds of trust scheme" (counts three through five). ( See indictment, doc. # 1).

Musso thereafter filed a motion to sever counts one and two from three through five. (Doc. # 26). Magistrate Judge Ferenbach denied that motion, holding that the counts as alleged in the indictment share the same character and were therefore properly joined under Fed. R. Crim. P. 8. (Doc. # 29). The instant motion seeks reconsideration of that order.

A. Tenant improvement scheme

The indictment alleges that the tenant improvement scheme occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada between March 2007 and May 29, 2008. In early March 2007, Musso allegedly contacted victims "D.R." and "J.S." and represented that another individual, "J.M.", was interested in leasing two commercial properties owned by D.R. and J.S. On March 21, 2007, and March 30, 2007, Musso allegedly forged J.M.'s signature on leases for both properties, and soon thereafter forged J.M.'s signature on a contract between D.R., J.S., and J.M. for tenant improvements to those properties.

In reliance on the contract, on May 4, 2007, J.S. and D.R. transferred approximately $1, 200, 000.00 to a bank account controlled by Musso for improvements on the first property. Within days, Musso allegedly transferred $250, 000.00, $44, 000.00, $127, 000.00, and $250, 000.00 to various other accounts in an attempt to launder the money. On May 10, 2007, J.S. and D.R. made a second transfer of approximately $450, 00.00 for improvements on the second property. Musso, again, allegedly laundered the funds.

In mid-July 2007, D.R. demanded that J.M. and Musso return a portion of the funds. In an attempt to induce D.R. to withdraw his demand, on July 26, 2007, Musso allegedly fabricated an email from J.M. to Musso, which stated that the funds could not be returned because doing so would breach a sub-lease. The e-mail also implied that the funds were still available in the account to which D.R. and J.S. had transferred them into on May 4, 2007. This e-mail serves as the basis of the government's first wire fraud count in the indictment.

Approximately two weeks later, on August 16, 2007, Musso allegedly fabricated a second email. The second e-mail, which purported to be from J.M., was sent to J.S. and represented that Musso pleaded with J.M. for J.M. to release the funds back to D.R. and J.S. This email serves as the basis for the government's second count of wire fraud.

B. Forged deeds of trust scheme

As outlined by the Government's indictment, the forged deeds of trust scheme occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada between July 2010 and September 1, 2010. In July 2010-again posing as J.M.'s agent-Musso allegedly sent an e-mail to "hard money" lenders to inquire about obtaining a loan secured by real property owned by J.M. Through a series of fraudulent e-mails and email accounts, Musso allegedly induced the lenders to agree to lend money to J.M.

Between August 17, 2010, and August 20, 2010, the lenders transferred funds to an account controlled by Musso and recorded a deed of trust and a promissory note securing the property owned by J.M., despite the fact that J.M. had no knowledge of the transaction and never gave Musso permission to encumber the property. Like the tenant improvement scheme, Musso allegedly laundered the funds as soon as they were within her possession. This transaction serves as the basis for the government's third count of wire fraud.

Between August 24, 2010, and August 26, 2010, Musso allegedly did it again. Posing as J.M.'s agent, Musso caused the lenders to record a second Deed of Trust and a Promissory Note against a second piece of property owned by J.M. Again, J.M. had no knowledge of the transaction and never gave Musso permission to encumber the ...


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