Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bang-bang! DOJ shoots down Sean David Morton

        Government attorneys Hanna, Aull, Makarewicz and Hughes did a first-rate job of answering Sean David Morton's appeal against his conviction and sentencing on fraud charges. On 22nd July, they filed an Answering Brief with the Ninth Circuit. It's 78 pages of enlightenment for everyone, plus amusement for those of us who believe that Morton is a despicable shyster who ought to be in jail for even longer than he already is.

        I got a big kick out of this, from page 53, commenting on what the attorneys wrote were Morton's "self-aggrandizing proclamations":
"On multiple occasions during his closing argument, defendant claimed that he was being persecuted based on his efforts to bring hidden truths to an uninformed populace suffering under the heel of government oppression and a corrupt financial system. Viewed as a whole, the totality of the evidence introduced at trial reveals a much more mundane justification: defendant was selected for prosecution based on his continued pattern of fraudulent behavior in the face of repeated government warnings."
        Can't you just imagine Morton swaggering around the courtroom yelling that he was being unfairly persecuted, utterly disregarding the clearly-stated charges against him?

"The tax returns were all completely false"
        Speaking of which, this brief laid out a clearer version of Sean and Melissa's flagrant cheating than I think we have seen previously:
"Between March and April 2009, defendant and MM submitted a series of federal income tax returns ... claiming false federal tax refunds based on nonexistent income tax withholdings. The returns all followed the same pattern: On each return, the listed defendant would claim that he or she had received interest income from various financial institutions, and that substantially all of this income had been withheld and paid over to the IRS on their behalf. While the income reported by defendants resulted in applicable income taxes, these taxes were dwarfed by the withholdings alleged to have been made by the listed financial institutions. On their returns, defendants requested that the IRS refund the balance of the reported withholdings, net of the reported tax liability. As substantiation for their claimed income and withholdings, defendants included IRS Forms 1099 purportedly issued by the financial institutions listed on defendants’ tax returns. In total, defendant submitted returns for the years 2005 through 2008 claiming refunds of $3,930,811 (2005 - $136,077; 2006 - $1,560,634; 2007 - $1,754,594; 2008 - $479,506). The tax returns were all completely false. ... [N]o withholding payments were ever made to the IRS on their behalf. The Forms 1099-OID submitted by defendants were also utter fabrications, and had never been issued to defendants by the listed financial institutions.
Of the five false tax returns submitted by defendants in March/April of 2009, four were caught by the IRS and identified as frivolous, thus resulting in the denial of defendants’ claimed refunds.  However, defendant’s 2008 income tax return slipped through the IRS review process and resulted in a refund.  On April 17, 2009, the IRS direct deposited $480,322.55 into a joint bank account held by defendants with Bank of America."
         Prior to his conviction, at a time when he was claiming "all this will go away soon," Morton several times stated "It was the IRS's error, not ours." That statement must rate as world-class in the category of disingenuousness.

Estoppel
        The brief did not specifically address Morton's claim of judicial estoppel,note 1 other than to remark that Morton had never been portrayed by them as a victim of crimes committed by Brandon Adams and Gordon Hall (Adams and Hall are the villains who originally came up with this scheme to defraud the IRS—they were separately prosecuted in Arizona).note 2

        They were, however, at pains to rebut Morton's claim at appeal that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to be represented by counsel. That wasn't, in fact, very hard—they merely had to cite from the trial transcript (4th April 2017):
DEFENDANT: I knowing and unequivocally wish to represent myself.
THE COURT: I'm sure Ms. Cader has described to you the pitfalls of doing that, haven't you, Ms. Cader?
MS. CADER: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: The case has more than the ordinary complexity for a criminal case. If you're not trained in the law, you'll be up against a prosecutor who is. There are Rules of Evidence that have to be observed, and you may find yourself unable to present your defense effectively because of your lack of knowledge and experience in laying a foundation and presenting evidence. Likewise, you may be at a lost [sic] to prevent evidence that shouldn't be admitted by the government. The trial is an exercise that requires experience and skill, and I can't tell you -- at least in my view -- how foolish your decision is. On the other hand, I can't prevent you from even making a foolish decision.
DEFENDANT: I understand all that, sir.
THE COURT: That is still your wish?
DEFENDANT: Yes, it is.
        It was more than five months later, at the end of the sentencing hearing (18th September 2017), that SDM suddenly realized what a bloody fool he had been.
DEFENDANT: [R]eally at this point, Your Honor, I'm completely loss here, and I'm beginning to realize that in this proceeding, ... I'm not capable of representing myself, and I request either a federal defender – have appointed to review so that I can respond to this, because you've completely lost me. ... So at that this point, I have to represent -- I have to request counsel because I have no idea what you guys are talking about, 91s and 109snote 3 and how this comes to that and the other thing, and I think I have a right to presentation. ...
THE COURT: Okay. I'm now going to proceed to sentencing.
DEFENDANT: Even though I've requested counsel, sir?
THE COURT: Too late, Mr. Morton.
DEFENDANT: Too late?
THE COURT: I told you at the outset that you were making among the most foolish decisions you could possibly make by not having a lawyer.
        The Ninth Circuit will, in its plodding way, eventually rule on the appeal. If they find for Morton, I'll eat my hat.

Thanks to AE once again for monitoring

=======================/ \=======================
[1] See "Sean David Morton takes his best shot" 29th November 2018

[2] Morton testified that he paid Adams and Hall $6,000 to concoct the scheme

[3] The judge and the prosecutors had been discussing the admittedly arcane question of sentencing guidelines.

14 comments:

expat said...

In the interests of brevity, I elided several key points from the DOJ brief. Readers who have a particlular interest in the Mortons' crimes might like these excerpts from pp.7-9

« Defendant included a document marked “Coupon for Setoff Settlement and Closure” with a stated value of $5,286,867. The document bore a verisimilitude to a bank or cashier’s check, and contained numerous indicia of a typical financial instrument, including a routing number, account number, payment amount, and endorsement. In truth, the purported instrument was completely fictitious; the routing number listed on the document did not correspond to a consumer financial institution, but rather to an account with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

In April 2013, defendant submitted documents labeled “’Non-Negotiable’ Discharging Bond and Indemnity” (“discharging bonds”) to the IRS as alleged payment for their debts. The discharging bonds were drafted to appear like securities issued by a corporation or government entity; they were printed on paper ringed in an ornate border and were littered with technical jargon and official-sounding identifiers, such as “ISIN #,” “Registration #,” and “CUSIP #.” These discharging bonds listed defendants as issuers and the Internal
Revenue Service as beneficiary, with the United States Treasury Department designated as “securities intermediary.” »

THE said...

Morton has grounds for another appeal, based upon the fact the his request for legal counsel on appeal was denied. Not that it will matter. A Court appointed attorney as an Officer of the Court, will advise him to plead guilty and refuse to mouth the arguments that Morton would undoubtedly insist that the attorney make.

expat said...

Theadora: So you think the law allows a defendant to appeal TWICE on the same grounds? Got a precedent for that?

expat said...

It's interesting to me that on four occasions the IRS, faced with a clearly fraudulent claim, simply denied it as "frivolous" rather than prosecuting immediately.

THE said...

Morton can file for Mistrial, and he'd be right.

expat said...

On what grounds?

THE said...

Was Morton's request for an attorney after conviction and before sentencing in the first trial? If so, then that would be too late, but he would be entitled to file an appeal.

Did he file an appeal with a request for an attorney which was denied? He shouldn't have been allowed to file for an appeal himself without an attorney. That is different grounds. If the judge was actually, hearing Morton's appeal and denied him an attorney, that would be a mistrial, unless he also, waived the attorney on the appeal until just prior to sentencing again.

Binaryspellbook said...

But Kerry Cassidy says SDM is a legal savant. I once saw him wearing Harry Potter style robes whilst posing with a cat. Surely this must mean something.

expat said...

Theadora: SDM has only been on trial once.
The Ninth Circuit has not yet ruled on the appeal.

Here are the Govt. attorneys' comments on SDM's very late request for representation:

« He made no objection to representing himself during the initial phase of the sentencing hearing. Rather, defendant made this request after an 85-minute speech wherein, among other things, he accused the government and the court of collusion, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction over him, and demanded that his accuser, the United States of America, be brought to court. Defendant even stated that he did not know what the charges brought against him were, even though he had personally prepared and filed dozens of pleadings and motions arguing about those charges. Defendant’s argument attacked the legitimacy of the investigation, the prosecution, the trial, his conviction, his co-defendant’s counsel, and the sentencing proceeding itself. After defendant spoke at great length (approximately 45 pages of transcript), defendant’s request occurred at the very point the court announced it was going to pronounce the sentence. Defendant’s request was apparent for what it was -- a
maneuver designed to delay his day of judgment. A court must be wary of the “right of counsel” being used as a ploy to gain time and effect delay. Defendant had already delayed the pronouncement of his sentence when he failed to appear at his originally scheduling sentencing hearing. He failed to self-surrender pursuant to a bench warrant, and needed to be arrested by federal officials. Defendant’s conduct at the sentencing hearing, especially when he requested counsel, was clearly dilatory and was meant to hinder the efficient administration of justice. Thus, the district court’s denial of defendant’s request for counsel did not violate his Sixth Amendment rights. »

THE said...

I believe you've stated in a thread below, that Morton filed for an appeal, himself. If it gets rejected, then he needs to request an attorney to refile for appeal. He is entitled to a fair appeal, irrespective of past behavior, and he will get one.

expat said...

Yes, he filed his appeal in May. There's no reason to think the Ninth Circuit will be anything but fair in reviewing it.

THE said...

Ninth Circuit??? He's screwed!!!

expat said...

I'd say he screwed himself. I mean, what kind of brainless moron do you have to be, to create totally fake paperwork with titles like “’Non-Negotiable’ Discharging Bond and Indemnity” or “Coupon for Setoff Settlement and Closure”, send them to the IRS and expect them to be accepted at face value?

Erickson said...

Just to clarify, before the Ninth Circuit allowed Morton to represent himself on appeal, the court appointed a commissioner who held a hearing to determine whether Sean should be allowed on appeal to proceed per se. The commissioner recommended that Sean be able to do so. Morton filed a response stating that he "wholeheartedly" agreed "with the wisdom and good judgement of the Appellate Commissioner that I do NOT need to re-presented and wish to proceed pro-per." The Ninth Circuit granted his wish.

He was not unfairly denied his right to counsel.