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United States v. Mouzone, No. 10-4781

Decided: July 26, 2012

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions of Mouzone and Fleming, gang members who were jointly tried and convicted for racketeering and drug offenses.  The jury convicted Mouzone and Fleming after an eight-day trial, and the appellate court found no reversible error.

Mouzone and Fleming were members of Tree Top Piru (“TTP”) which is a subset of the Bloods gang that developed in the Maryland prison system.  As gang members, Fleming and Mouzone participated in the gang’s drug-trafficking and other illicit activities.  At trial, the government introduced evidence regarding their participation in two murders.  The first murder was of a man in retaliation for his testimony against another TTP member.  The second was in retaliation for selling marijuana in their neighborhood because he was not a TTP member.

The defendants asserted errors regarding evidence admitted at trial, jury instructions, improper joinder of criminal charges, and sentencing.  The Fourth Circuit held there were no reversible errors among any of these allegations.  One noteworthy holding in this appeal related to the challenged jury instructions for the conspiracy to violate RICO charge.  The defendants allege that to conspire to violate RICO requires a managerial role in the enterprise’s affairs, and the district court did not instruct the jury properly on this issue.  The Fourth Circuit joined all the other circuits that have considered this issue and held that liability for conspiring to violate RICO does not require a role in directing the enterprise.

Full Opinion

-Jennifer Routh