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United States v. Robinson

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 19, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiffs,
v.
BRIAN ROBINSON, KFMBERLY SANTIAGO ROBINSON, CUC THI SCHAEFFER, JOHN ACOSTA, and ANTONIO BENITEZ GONZALEZ, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUSAN M. BAZIS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Kimberly Santiago Robinson's ("K. Robinson") motion to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California (Filing No. 267.) Defendants Brian Robinson ("B. Robinson"), Cue Thi Schaeffer ("Schaeffer"), John Acosta ("Acosta") and Antonio Benitez Gonzalez ("Gonzalez") have joined K. Robinson's motion (Filing Nos. 273, 276, 278, 287), asserting similar grounds for relief[1]The arguments of each Defendant are considered within this Findings and Recommendation. For the reasons expressed below, the undersigned will recommend that K. Robinson's motion to transfer (Filing No. 267), along with the other Defendants' respective motions, be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 19, 2015, Defendants were charged in a Second Superseding Indictment (Filing No. 70) with conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. K. Robinson and B. Robinson were also charged with conspiracy to launder money in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956. B. Robinson was further charged with interstate travel with regard to a racketeering enterprise in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952. The Second Superseding Indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation referencing $380, 050 in funds that were seized from B. Robinson during a traffic stop in Seward County, Nebraska.

         K. Robinson and the government entered into a joint stipulation (Filing No. 268-2) for purposes of K. Robinson's motion to transfer. Without objection from the government, the other defendants rely upon this stipulation to support their respective motions. K. Robinson and the government generally stipulated, or otherwise agree, as follows:

1. This case is the result of an investigation into B. Robinson and his alleged movement of marijuana from the area of Sacramento, California to Pennsylvania, and his alleged movement of marijuana proceeds from Pennsylvania back to California. Those travels, at times, caused B. Robinson to travel through Nebraska.
2. K. Robinson, Schaeffer, Acosta, and Gonzalez are named in this case because of their alleged involvement in a marijuana distribution conspiracy with B. Robinson. K. Robinson is also charged due to her alleged involvement in a money laundering conspiracy with her husband, B. Robinson.
3. All Defendants live in California. Other than their alleged association with B. Robinson in the marijuana conspiracy, Schaeffer, Acosta, and Gonzalez have no association with Nebraska. Likewise, other than her marriage to B. Robinson and her alleged association with B. Robinson in the marijuana and money laundering conspiracies, K. Robinson has no association with Nebraska.
4. The majority of the governments' law enforcement witnesses reside and work in the Sacramento, California area. There are three Nebraska officers involved in this case: one case agent, one K-9 officer involved in B. Robinson's traffic stop, and another deputy who assisted in the search of B. Robinson's truck. There are approximately ten California officers involved, including a case agent, three K-9 officers, one or two transporting/post-arrest statement officers, officers who participated in searches, and evidence custodians.
5. There will be some phone company and cell tower witnesses at trial. They are expected to testify to cell tower data obtained describing the use of a cell phone belonging to B. Robinson. The parties do not know where they reside or work. There will also be chain of custody witnesses. The parties do not know where these witnesses reside or work. These individuals processed and tested the seized controlled substances.
6. There will be some United States Postal Services employees called as witnesses. The relevant postal workers live and work in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and California. All of these witnesses have no connection to the District of Nebraska and would have to travel for trial.
7. This case involves bank, credit union, and Edward Jones financial records custodians from PNC Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, USAA, and Edward Jones. PNC Bank's corporate headquarters are located in Wilmington, Delaware; Wells Fargo Bank's corporate headquarters are located in San Francisco, California; USAA's corporate headquarters are located in San Antonio, Texas and Edward Jones's corporate headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri. The parties do not know if each branch maintains a records custodian for transactions made through the individual branch.
8. Travis Credit Union records custodians may be called as witnesses. These credit union employees live and work in California.
9. K. Robinson expects to call a bank records custodian from the bank where she has her business and personal accounts as a trial witness. The bank and its custodian are located in California.
10. The expert for the prosecution is a CB&P dog training expert who lives and works in El Paso, Texas. K. Robinson's dog training expert is expected to travel to wherever the trial is held.
11. The majority of K. Robinson's witnesses are not willing to travel to Nebraska to testify. Witnesses Valerie Temple and Kimberlee Tran have indicated that they are willing to travel to Nebraska. Theresa Borrego, Jenn Burch, Stephanie Giorgi, Kelly Lamb, Tracy Franklin, Tierra Lewis, Terri Franklin, Angie Tran, Jasmyn Ruth, and Trinette Nastor have indicated they are not willing to travel to Nebraska.
12. The majority of documents the government anticipates it will offer in its case-in-chief were generated outside Nebraska.
13. The lead investigator has custody of some of the potential exhibits. The seized currency has been photographed, indexed and returned to the United States ...

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