Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, May 17, 2010

Frazier: False statement is material to firearm sale

In U.S. v. Frazier, No. 08-11655 (May 14, 2010), the Court affirmed false statement firearm convictions, and reversed a sentence because it was incorrectly calculated.

Turning first to a jurisdictional question, the Court recognized that the defendant filed his notice after the expiration of the 10-day deadline for filing a notice of appeal. However, because the government voluntarily forfeited its objection to the untimeliness of the notice, the Court had jurisdiction.

The Court rejected the argument that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the false statement convictions. The defendant argued that the false statement relating to the purchaser of the firearm was immaterial, because neither the real purchaser, nor the straw purchaser of the firearm, was a convicted felon; both were eligible to purchase the firearm. The Court noted that while the lawfulness of the sale may depend on the identity of the purchaser, the identity of the purchaser remains material to the sale itself. Therefore, the false statements relating to the identity of the purchaser were material to the sale, regardless of whether the buyers were all eligible to punish a firearm.

The Court also found sufficient evidence to sustain a money laundering conviction. Although the facts did not establish a direct link between drug proceeds and moneys, there was ample circumstantial evidence from which an inference could be drawn that a connection existed.

Finally, the Court vacated the sentence on account of the district court miscalculation of the Guideline offense level.