Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Sorensen

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 23, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN SORENSEN, Defendant.

          ORDER

          NANCY J. KOPPE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Brian Sorensen's motion to amend his conditions of release in order to allow him to associate with his co-defendant Dustin Lewis. Docket No. 25. Also pending before the Court is Defendant Dustin Lewis' motion for joinder. Docket No. 30. The Court has considered Defendant Sorensen's motion, the United States' response, Defendant Sorensen's reply, Defendant Lewis' motion, and the United States' response. Docket Nos. 25, 26, 28, 30, 31.[1]

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 3, 2017, Defendant Sorensen appeared before this Court for his initial appearance/arraignment and plea, as well as his detention hearing. Docket No. 9. After hearing arguments of counsel, the Court released Defendant pending trial on a personal recognizance bond with certain conditions. Id.; Docket No. 14. Defendant's conditions of release include a condition that he “shall avoid all contact directly or indirectly” with his co-defendant unless such contact is in the presence of counsel. Docket No. 14 at 4. At his detention hearing, Defendant objected to the necessity of the no contact condition. Hearing Tr. (8/3/2017) at 3:39 p.m. The Court found that, having read the Pretrial Services report, the recommended conditions, including the no contact condition, are the least restrictive conditions to address the risks of nonappearance and danger to the community. Hearing Tr. (8/3/2017) at 3:40 p.m. As a result, the Court imposed the no contact condition as a condition of Defendant's release. Hearing Tr. (8/3/2017) at 3:41 p.m.

         On August 3, 2017, Defendant Lewis also appeared before this Court for his initial appearance/arraignment and plea, as well as his detention hearing. Docket No. 8. After hearing arguments of counsel, the Court released Defendant pending trial on a personal recognizance bond with certain conditions. Id.; Docket No. 13. Defendant's conditions of release include a condition that he “shall avoid all contact directly or indirectly” with his co-defendant unless such contact is in the presence of counsel. Docket No. 13 at 4; Hearing Tr. (8/3/2017) at 3:28 - 3:29 p.m. Defendant affirmatively agreed with this condition of release, as well as all other conditions the Court imposed, at his detention hearing. Hearing Tr. (8/3/2017) at 3:27 - 3:28 p.m.

         II. DEFENDANT SORENSEN'S MOTION

         Defendant Sorensen asks the Court to modify his conditions of release by removing the condition that he avoid all contact directly or indirectly with his co-defendant, Defendant Lewis, unless in the presence of counsel. Docket No. 25 at 2. In support of his request, Defendant Sorensen states that he and Defendant Lewis “have been best friends most of their lives [and] would like to be able to socialize and remain friends while on release. Id. Defendant Sorensen further submits that an the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held, in 1986, that a valid reason must exist for the association restriction condition that will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant in court. Id. at 3. Defendant submits that as he and his co-defendant are not prior felons and no finding has been made that associating with each other would hinder them from appearing in court. Id. Therefore, he asks the Court to remove the condition. Id.

         In response, the United States submits that Defendant Sorensen and Defendant Lewis committed a short sale mortgage fraud that “inflicted nearly half a million dollars in loss on the victim bank.” Docket No. 26 at 1. The United States sets out the scheme agreed on by the two friends: essentially, Defendant Lewis owned a 5, 331 square-foot home, on which he owed approximately twice its value; therefore, he and Defendant Sorensen agreed that Defendant Lewis would submit a short-sale application to the bank that held the mortgage, and would propose selling the home for approximately half its mortgage amount to Defendant Sorensen's mother. Id. at 2. In the short-sale application, the United States submits, Defendant Lewis made numerous false representations, including claiming that the sale was an arm's-length transaction; misrepresenting that he did not have an undisclosed side agreement with Defendant Sorensen to remain in the house and buy it back at a later date; and misrepresenting his financial means. Id.

         The United States submits that e-mails exchanged between the co-defendants demonstrate their collusion in arranging for the short-sale and for the property to then be sold back to Defendant Lewis once the property was free and clear of the original mortgage. Id. The United States further submits that Defendant Lewis never moved out of the residence, and further sets out more details of the agreement between the co-defendants, as well as return of money from Defendant Sorensen to Defendant Lewis to cover the interest he paid between the short sale and the time he repurchased the residence, as well as Defendant Sorensen's misrepresentations and admissions when interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). Id. at 3-6. During the interview, Defendant Sorensen told the FBI that he “engaged in the fraud scheme due to his friendship with [Defendant] Lewis for whom he ‘would lay down [his] life.'” Id. at 9. Significantly, Defendant Sorensen indicated that his motive for allegedly committing the crime for which he stands indicted is not profit but, rather, to help his friend, Defendant Lewis. Id.

         The United States submits that the close friendship between Defendants Sorensen and Lewis “expressed itself in a criminal fraud conspiracy...” Id. at 8. Further, the United States notes that this Court “routinely imposes as a condition of release that co-defendants have no contact with one another while the case is pending, ” which “makes good sense, particularly where a Grand Jury has found that the defendants conspired together to commit felony crimes.” Id. Further, the United States submits that it intends to indict Defendants Sorensen and Lewis for yet another short-sale mortgage fraud committed by the two. Id. at 9. The United States submits that Defendant Sorensen needs contact with Defendant Lewis to further the financial transactions on the yet-unindicted property. Id.

         The United States submits that the Court “enjoys broad statutory discretion to prohibit previously-unconvicted co[-]defendants from associating with one another if the restriction is reasonably necessary to protect the community.” Id. at 10. Further, the United States contends that the Eighth Circuit's decision cited in Defendant Sorensen's brief does not, as Defendant Sorensen submits, state a rule that pretrial conditions restricting associations are allowed only where reasonably necessary to ensure appearance in court, or that the defendant would need to be a convicted felon for the proper imposition of the condition. Id.

         In reply, Defendant Sorensen reiterates that he and Defendant Lewis “have been best friends most of their lives [and] would like to be able to socialize and remain friends while on release.” Docket No. 28 at 3. Defendant submits that he has no prior convictions and is aware of no prior convictions of Defendant Lewis. Id. Defendant further submits that the association restriction should only be used to assure the appearance in court of a defendant, and that “[n]othing about modifying the [condition] will cause [him] not to appear in court.” Id. Defendant acknowledges the Court's discretion in fashioning conditions of release, and asks the Court to modify his conditions to remove the association restriction. Id.

         III. DEFENDANT LEWIS' MOTION

         Defendant Lewis moves to join Defendant Sorensen's motion to modify conditions. Docket No. 30. In addition, Defendant Lewis submits that the condition “has no rational bearing on ensuring Defendants' appearance as required in this case, and is not reasonably necessary to assure the safety of any other person and the community.” Id. at 1. Defendant Lewis submits that he knew he was the target of a federal investigation for more than a year-and-a-half prior to the indictment in the instant case, and that the United States “has zero evidence” to suggest that he or Defendant Sorensen has not cooperated, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.