United States District Court, D. Nevada
before the court is defendant William Waller’s
(“defendant”) motion for acquittal. (ECF No.
113). The United States of America (“the
government”) filed a response (ECF No. 117), to which
defendant replied (ECF No. 119).
was charged by way of a criminal indictment filed on April
17, 2018. (ECF No. 1). The five-count indictment charged
defendant with the following tax crimes: evasion of payment
(count one), attempting to interfere with administration of
internal revenue laws (count two), willful failure to file a
return (counts three and four), and false statements on a
loan application (count five). Id.
parties proceeded to trial on March 11, 2019. (ECF No. 91).
Following the close of the government’s case, defendant
made an oral motion for acquittal on the basis of improper
venue. (ECF No. 119 at 2). At this time, defendant also made
an oral motion for acquittal. Id. The court denied
the motion for acquittal and declined to entertain
defendant’s argument regarding venue, noting that any
motion regarding venue was untimely.
close of evidence for both sides, the parties were given the
opportunity to make objections to the jury instructions and
propose additional instructions. (ECF No. 100). Defendant
neither submitted nor requested a jury instruction regarding
proper venue at that time. Accordingly, the court did not
submit to the jury the issue of venue.
March 18, 2019, the jury reached its verdict, finding
defendant guilty on counts one, three, and four. (ECF No.
102). The jury failed to reach a verdict on counts two and
five. Id. On April 1, 2019, defendant filed the
instant motion for acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 29. (ECF No. 113).
defendant may move for a judgment of acquittal, or renew such
a motion, within fourteen days after a guilty verdict. Fed.
R. Crim. P. 29(c). Such a motion is reviewed for sufficiency
of the evidence. United States v. Stoddard, 150 F.3d
1140, 1144 (9th Cir. 1988).
standard of review for determining the sufficiency of the
evidence is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution, any rational
trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the
crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” United States v.
Inzunza, 638 F.3d 1006, 1013 (9th Cir. 2009) (emphasis
in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318 (1979)
(explaining that “the critical inquiry” is
“whether the record evidence could reasonably support a
finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”)).
district court must bear in mind that it is the exclusive
function of the jury to determine the credibility of
witnesses, resolve evidentiary conflicts, and draw reasonable
inferences from proven facts.” United States v.
Alarcon-Simi, 300 F.3d 1172, 1176 (9th Cir. 2002).
“Circumstantial evidence and inferences drawn from it
may be sufficient to sustain a conviction.” United
States v. Reyes-Alvarado, 963 F.2d 1184, 1188 (9th Cir.
motion raises two distinct arguments in favor of acquittal.
First, defendant argues that venue in this district was
improper as to counts three and four. (ECF No. 113 at 2).
Second, defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial
was insufficient to support his conviction on count one.
Id. at 5–14. The court will address each of
these arguments in turn. . . .
preliminary matter, the court acknowledges that venue is
typically “a question of fact that the government must
prove by a preponderance of the evidence.” United
States v. Lukashov, 694 F.3d 1107, 1120 (9th Cir. 2012).
However, the court will instruct the jury on venue only when
such an instruction is properly requested. See Id.