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United States v. Camara

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 6, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
LAMINE CAMARA, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: September 28, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria. Claude M. Hilton, Senior District Judge. (1:17-cr-00001-CMH-1)

         ARGUED:

          John Marcus McNichols, WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Kellen Sean Dwyer, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Geremy C. Kamens, Federal Public Defender, Cadence A. Mertz, Assistant Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Alexandria, Virginia; Martha C. Kidd, WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney, Nathaniel Smith III, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before WILKINSON and HARRIS, Circuit Judges, and William L. OSTEEN, Jr., United States District Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina, sitting by designation.

          PAMELA HARRIS, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         A jury convicted appellant Lamine Camara of criminal conspiracy for his involvement in a scheme to acquire and resell luxury vehicles using stolen identities. Ray Ekobena orchestrated this scheme, and Camara's indictment charged him with conspiring "with Ray Ekobena and others, known and unknown," to violate three different federal laws. J.A. 9 (emphasis added). Following Camara's trial, the district court instructed the jury using the same language. During deliberations, however, the jury submitted a written question, asking, "Do we need to agree the defendant was conspiring with Ray specifically or conspiring in general?" J.A. 617. The district court responded, "[T]he government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was conspiring specifically with Ray or other known or unknown co-conspirators." J.A. 628 (emphasis added).

         Camara identifies two putative constitutional errors based on this supplemental instruction. First, he contends it constructively amended the indictment in violation of the Fifth Amendment by allowing the jury to convict him of a conspiracy that did not involve Ekobena. Second, he argues that it violated his Sixth Amendment right to a trial in a district in which the crime took place, on the theory that Ekobena provided the only connection between his crime and the district in which the government prosecuted him. In the alternative, Camara raises two challenges to the district court's sentence.

         Finding no error, we affirm both Camara's conviction and his sentence.

         I.

         A.

         The case against Camara centered on his involvement in Ray Ekobena's luxury car scheme. Ekobena used stolen identities to submit fraudulent loan applications to car dealerships. Once a dealership approved his loan applications, Ekobena relied on third parties to deliver the vehicles to Washington, D.C. Ekobena then resold those vehicles at a steep discount, mostly because he did not have valid title to transfer to a subsequent buyer, as is ...


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