The Double Jeopardy Clause is not applicable in Mohammad Jahangir Miah's case and does not prohibit the U.S. government from seeking to void his plea agreement, according to assistant U.S. attorney Stephen F. Leon Guerrero.
Leon Guerrero said Miah relies on a proposition that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the U.S. government from using his actions underlying the acquitted charges as a basis for the breach of plea agreement.
Miah is mistaken, said Leon Guerrero in the U.S. government's reply to the defendant's opposition to a motion to declare him in breach of plea agreement.
Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits anyone from being prosecuted twice for substantially the same crime.
Leon Guerrero said the U.S. Supreme Court, in addressing acquittals, has reasoned that “acquittal on criminal charges does not prove that the defendant is innocent; it merely proves the existence of a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.”
The prosecutor said Miah admitted to his participation in the bank fraud conspiracy.
Leon Guerrero said the U.S. government submits that dismissal of the conspiracy to commit bank fraud charge against Miah in the forging of stale CNMI tax refund checks case was improper.
“In essence, the basis for dismissing the case against defendant Miah was because no independent evidence was presented to corroborate defendant Miah's admission as to the fraudulent check cashing scheme,” he said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Leon Guerrero pointed out, has held that once the existence of a conspiracy is shown, a defendant's confession may be used to link him to that conspiracy.
Leon Guerrero said the evidence produced at trial against Miah, prior to the dismissal, showed he was complicit in the conspiracy to fraudulently cash the tax-refund checks.
“Based on the criminal activity defendant Miah engaged in after his plea in this case, defendant Miah breached his plea agreement and the government is not bound to recommend a minimum sentence. The government intends to seek an upward departure at sentencing,” the prosecutor said.
In August 2011, Miah pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to unlawfully produce and transfer identification documents. His original sentencing date was Nov. 15, 2011.
The defendant's sentencing was postponed several times for various reasons, including his indictment in a case of conspiracy to forge stale CNMI tax refund checks. Miah's charges in that case were subsequently dismissed. His co-defendant Earl Eric Mirano was found guilty.
Assistant U.S. attorney Garth R. Backe filed in March 2012 a motion asking the federal court to declare Miah in breach of the plea agreement.
Backe argued that the plea agreement expressly stated that, should defendant “engage in criminal conduct after the entry of his plea agreement and before sentencing,” the government would then be “free from its obligations under the agreement.”
On Monday, Miah, through counsel Colin Thompson, asked the federal court to proceed with his sentencing in connection with his conviction in the driver's license scam at the Department of Public Safety.
Thompson, requested the U.S. District Court for the NMI to deny the U.S. government's motion to declare him in breach of plea agreement.
According to Thompson, Miah was acquitted at trial of the offense(s) for which the government seeks to prove as the basis for finding him in breach of the plea agreement.
“As a consequence of a finding of breach, the government desires to void its obligations concerning the dismissal of criminal counts and imposition of punishment. The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the government's intended actions,” Thompson said.