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United States v. Parker

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 25, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
JACK WINFRED PARKER, Defendant - Appellant. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
DOUGLAS E. TAYLOR, Defendant - Appellant

Argued: March 27, 2015.

Page 551

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 552

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Columbia. (3:13-cr-00133-CMC-2; 3:13-cr-00133-CMC-3). Cameron McGowan Currie, Senior District Judge.

ARGUED:

Joshua Snow Kendrick, KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C., Greenville, South Carolina, for Appellants.

Julius Ness Richardson, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Christopher S. Leonard, KENDRICK & LEONARD, P.C., Greenville, South Carolina, for Appellants.

William N. Nettles, United States Attorney, Winston D. Holliday, Jr., Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

Before DUNCAN, KEENAN, and THACKER, Circuit Judges. Judge Keenan wrote the opinion, in which Judge Duncan and Judge Thacker joined.

OPINION

Page 553

BARBARA MILANO KEENAN, Circuit Judge:

Jack Parker and Douglas Taylor (collectively, the defendants) appeal their convictions for engaging in illegal gambling, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1955. This appeal primarily presents the question whether prosecutors' failure to disclose certain impeachment evidence, despite knowing of such evidence before trial, violated the constitutional protections articulated in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963).

The central contested issue during the jury trial was the sufficiency of the evidence to satisfy the statutory requirement that the gambling operation involve at

Page 554

least five persons. The government advanced several theories regarding the identity of the " fifth participant" in the gambling business, including that Jack Parker's daughter-in-law, Tammy Parker, participated in the enterprise by maintaining financial and tax records of gambling proceeds.

The defendants argue on appeal that the government violated Brady by failing to disclose certain impeachment information regarding Ben Staples, a government witness who testified about Tammy Parker's involvement in the gambling operation. Upon our review, we conclude that the government violated its obligations under Brady and, accordingly, we vacate the defendants' convictions and remand their cases to the district court.

I.

Jack Parker, his son, Brett Parker, and Douglas Taylor[1] were tried in the district court for participating in an illegal gambling business involving at least five participants, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1955. All three defendants were convicted following a three-day jury trial, although only Jack and Douglas have filed this appeal from their convictions.[2]

A.

We begin by describing the statute under which the defendants were convicted, 18 U.S.C. § 1955, which prohibits the acts of " conduct[ing], financ[ing], manag[ing], supervis[ing], direct[ing], or own[ing] all or part of an illegal gambling business." 18 U.S.C. § 1955(a). An " illegal gambling business" is defined as a gambling business that: (1) is operated in violation of applicable state or local law; (2) " involves five or more persons who conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct, or own all or part of such business" (the five-participant requirement); and (3) " has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or has a gross revenue of $2,000 in any single day." Id. § 1955(b).

Congress imposed the above size and duration limitations in Section 1955 " as a means of screening out those gambling businesses that are too insignificant to warrant federal action." United States v. Gresko, 632 F.2d 1128, 1132 (4th Cir. 1980). When attempting to prove the five-participant requirement, the government need not show that the same five participants were involved in the business for all thirty days; " [h]owever, there must be evidence that the business involved at least five people at all times for thirty days." Id. at 1132-33. Accordingly, a jury considering the five-participant requirement may reach a guilty verdict under Section 1955 so long " [a]s each member of the jury agrees that some five persons were involved at all times over some thirty-day period or on any one single day in which the gross revenues exceeded $2,000." United States v. Nicolaou, 180 F.3d 565, 571 (4th Cir. 1999) (emphasis in original).

B.

The defendants stipulated at trial that they engaged in " bookmaking" in violation of South Carolina law. Therefore, the government's evidence focused on the five-participant requirement of Section ...


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