United States v. Reyes

Court Case Details
Court Case Opinion

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

United States Court of Appeals

Fifth Circuit

F I L E D

September 29, 2009

No. 08-50907

Summary Calendar

Charles R. Fulbruge III

Clerk

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff-Appellee

v.

JESUS JOSE REYES,

Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the United States District Court

for the Western District of Texas

USDC No. 7:08-CR-85-ALL

Before DENNIS, CLEMENT, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.

*

PER CURIAM:

Jesus Jose Reyes appeals his conviction by jury for two counts of

knowingly possessing, passing, and uttering counterfeit obligations and

securities of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472, for which he

received concurrent 21-month terms of imprisonment. He contends that the

evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, more specifically, that there

was insufficient evidence to show his knowledge that the bills he possessed and

*

Pursuant to 5

C

.

R.

47.5, the court has determined that this opinion

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IR

should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited
circumstances set forth in 5

C

.

R.

47.5.4.

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No. 08-50907

attempted to pass were counterfeit. This court reviews the claim “to determine

whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the

prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of

the crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” accepting all reasonable inferences to

support the verdict. United States v. Infante, 404 F.3d 376, 384 (5th Cir. 2005)

(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

“To establish a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472, the government must prove

that the defendant knew that the bills were counterfeit and that the defendant

intended to defraud when he negotiated the bills.” United States v. Acosta, 972

F.2d 86, 89 (5th Cir. 1992). A defendant’s intent to defraud and knowledge that

the bills were counterfeit may be proved through circumstantial evidence. See

United States v. Perez, 698 F.2d 1168, 1170 (5th Cir. 1983).

Contrary to Reyes’ argument, there was sufficient evidence from which a

reasonable jury could conclude that he knew the bills he possessed were

counterfeit. The Government presented direct evidence in the form of Martinez’s

testimony, which established that he and Reyes discussed counterfeiting bills,

that Reyes agreed to having Martinez produce some counterfeit bills, that he

copied an original $50 bill of Reyes’ and returned the two copies and the original

to Reyes, and that, although he may have given Reyes additional counterfeit

bills in payment for a car wash, the $150 consisting of the original and two

counterfeit $50 bills was a separate transaction of which Reyes was fully aware.

The testimony was corroborated by the fact that Reyes was found with an

original, legitimate $50 bill and two counterfeit bills bearing the same serial

number as the legitimate bill, carried together in his back pocket, apart from the

stash of legitimate bills contained in his front pocket.

Reyes challenges Martinez’s credibility. However, he makes no argument

that the testimony was incredible as a matter of law, and this court will not

disturb the jury’s credibility findings. See United States v. Freeman, 77 F.3d

812, 816 (5th Cir. 1996). To the extent that Reyes argues that, because the jury

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No. 08-50907

must have discredited Martinez’s testimony as it concerned Agent Mundy’s

alleged trickery, it could not credit the other portions of Martinez’s testimony,

his argument is without merit. See United States v. Pruneda-Gonzalez, 953 F.2d

190, 196 n.9 (5th Cir. 1992) (internal citations omitted) (determining that a jury

is free to credit only certain portions of a witness’s testimony).

Moreover, the Government presented other circumstantial evidence of

Reyes’ guilty knowledge, including the fact that he kept the counterfeit bills in

a separate stash of bills in his back pocket, that he paid Loera from money

retrieved from his back pocket, that he offered only the stash of legitimate bills

contained in his front pocket to officers for inspection, and that he attempted to

conceal and/or denied having any additional money on him aside from the

legitimate bills he offered for inspection. See Perez, 698 F.2d at 1170 (holding

that a defendant’s keeping counterfeit bills segregated from legitimate bills is

sufficient circumstantial evidence of guilty knowledge); see also United States v.

Gonzalez, 617 F.2d 104, 107 (5th Cir. 1979) (determining that a defendant’s

attempt to abandon or conceal counterfeit currency circumstantially establishes

guilty knowledge).

The evidence was thus sufficient to support Reyes’ convictions. See

Infante, 404 F.3d at 384. The district court’s judgment is AFFIRMED.

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