United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter came before the Court for a bench trial on December 5,
2016, after Defendant Pierre Watson ("Watson")
waived his right to a trial by a jury. After conclusion of
the evidence, a transcript was prepared and the parties
submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Upon careful consideration of the direct and circumstantial
evidence, exhibits, testimony, and transcripts, the Court
hereby supplements its findings on the record with the
following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
or about November 18, 2015, Defendant was detained at the
Jennings Correctional Facility awaiting trial in criminal
case number S3-4:15CR00440 AGF (JMB).
Through a series of telephone calls, notes, and jail visits
beginning on March 20, 2016 and continuing until June 16,
2016, Defendant discussed various fraudulent schemes,
including check-kiting, with co-defendant Taion Brown
particular, Defendant instructed Brown to open checking
accounts at branches of U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank, and Bank
of America, located in the St. Louis metropolitan area,
activate debit cards issued by the banks, and set up personal
identification numbers ("PINS"). Trial Transcript
("Tr."), Doc. No. 101 at 30:4-32:13; Ex. 8.01
(compact disc of recorded jail visits at Jail Visit Nos. 10,
15, 60, 74, 93); Ex. 13 ("activate the cards"
letter from Watson to Brown). Pursuant to Defendant's
instructions, Brown was to draft checks in amounts which
exceeded her account balances, and deposit them into accounts
at Regions Bank and U.S. Bank. Ex. 13.
Watson also directed Brown to recruit other people to help
her open checking accounts. Brown followed the direction from
Watson and recruited her cousin, co-defendant Justice Carter
("Carter"). Tr. 36:3-21.
March 25, 2016, at the direction of Defendant, Brown opened
checking accounts at U.S. Bank and Bank of America with cash
deposits of $25.00. Ex. 13; Tr. 28-30.
March 27, 2016, Brown met with Defendant at the Jennings
facility. In her possession were bank deposit records and
financial documents, including a deposit receipt from Bank of
America confirming a cash deposit of $25.00 on March 25,
2016; a U.S. Bank receipt for $25.00; a U.S. Bank account
identification card; a Bank of America Direct Deposit
Enrollment form for an account ending in 1666 for Brown; and
Power of Attorney forms for Defendant. Tr. 10-12; Ex. 8.01 at
Jail Visit 15; Ex. 7 (documents Brown brought to Defendant).
Defendant explained to Brown that, within the first 30 days
of opening an account, the bank would grant her immediate
access to the first $200.00 of any check deposits, and the
balance of the funds would be made available within three to
five days thereafter. Ex. 8.01 at Jail Visit 15.
April 2, 2016, pursuant to Watson's instructions, Brown
wrote a check payable to herself in the amount of $200.00
from her U.S. Bank account, despite the fact that her account
lacked sufficient funds to cover the check, and then
deposited it into her Bank of America account. Tr. 35:3-9;
Ex. 1.01 (Check No. 98). She then withdrew $200.00 from the
Bank of America account, got a money order in that amount,
and deposited the money order into her U.S. Bank account. Tr.
April 7, 2016, Brown and Carter traveled to branches of
Regions Bank and Bank of America so that Carter could open
checking accounts. Tr. 36:22-25; Ex. 2 (bank records of
Justice Carter). The Bank of America account was opened with
an initial cash deposit of $25.00; the Regions Bank account
was opened with an initial cash deposit of $50.00. Ex. 2 at
1, 18 (Bank of America records for Carter); Ex. 12 at 1, 3,
10, 11 (Regions Bank records for Carter). Upon opening the
accounts, Carter drafted a check drawn on her Regions Bank
account in the amount of $1, 000.00 made payable to Brown.
Tr. 37:9-15; Ex. 12.01 (check made payable to Brown). Brown,
accompanied by Carter, deposited the check into her U.S. Bank
account through an ATM transaction even though Brown and
Carter knew Carter's balance in her Regions Bank account
was $50.00. Tr. 37:16-38:18; Ex. 3 (U.S. Bank records of
Brown); Exs. 3.02, 3.03 (U.S. Bank surveillance photographs);
Ex. 3.04 (U.S. Bank ATM transaction detail); Ex. 3.05 (U.S.
Bank Image ATM Deposit Ticket); Ex. 3.06 (Regions Bank check
made payable to Brown). Immediately after the deposit, Brown
withdrew $60.00 from a U.S. Bank branch located in
Florissant, Missouri, and $200.00 from a U.S. Bank branch
located in St. Louis, Missouri, which resulted in the removal
of funds in excess of any legitimate deposits. Ex. 3.00.
on April 7, 2016, Brown and Carter deposited a $400.00
insufficient funds check drawn on Brown's U.S. Bank
account into Carter's Bank of America account. Ex. 2.00
at 6-9; Ex. 3.00 at 1, 17.
a result of the fraudulent deposits, Bank of America and
Regions Bank closed Carter's accounts. Ex. 2.00 at 18-19;
Ex. 12 at 3, 12.
mid-April 2016, Defendant instructed Brown to contact someone
named "Lumpy" who agreed to provide her with
additional checks. Tr. 39:14-40:4, 68-69.
April 19, 2016, Brown called Defendant to tell him she had
met Lumpy and obtained three checks. Ex. 8.00 at Jail Call
393. Each check bore the name of Dyanthony Owens. Tr.
April 22, 2016, Brown filled out one of the checks as
instructed by Defendant. She made it payable to herself in
the amount of $600.00 and signed the name of Dyanthony Owens.
Tr. 42:19-43:7, 48:2-5; 49:5-7; Ex. 1.00 at 24, 25; Ex. 1.02
(Check Number 1098). Brown deposited the check into ...