Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Votrobek: Georgia and Florida conspiracies were separate

In U.S. v. Votrobek, No. 14-12790 (Feb. 13, 2017), the Court affirmed the convictions and sentences of defendants convicted of conspiring to distribute drugs and money laundering. The Court rejected the argument that Double Jeopardy barred prosecution for a Georgia conspiracy on the ground that it was the same conspiracy for which a defendant was acquitted after a jury trial in Florida. The Court concluded that the defendant committed two separate conspiracies, noting that the conspiracies did not overlap in time, and involved different co-conspirators. Though the offenses were almost identical, this factor is least important to the Double Jeopardy analysis. Moreover, the overt acts were different – and the conspiracies took place in two separate States: Florida and Georgia. The Court also rejected a challenged failure to hold a Franks hearing to determine whether the probable cause affidavit supporting a warrant lacked a basis. The Court cited the information detailed in the affidavit, and found that it supported the need for a wiretap. The Court further rejected the argument that the district court should have given an “entrapment by estoppel” defense jury instruction. Entrapment by estoppel occurs when a defendant reasonably relies on an official’s approval of the conduct at issue. Here, at no point did an official communicate to a defendant that his conduct was in compliance with the law.