United States v. Rolando Mulet

Case: 16-16400 Date Filed: 03/27/2018 Page: 1 of 11 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 16-16400 ________________________ D.C. Docket No. 1:15-cr-20579-JAL-2 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, versus ROLANDO MULET, ODALYS MARRERO, a.k.a. Tita, Defendants - Appellants. ________________________ Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ________________________ (March 27, 2018) Before MARCUS, FAY, and HULL, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: Case: 16-16400 Date Filed: 03/27/2018 Page: 2 of 11 Rolando Mulet and Odalys Marrero appeal their convictions for conspiracy to defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. § 371, and unlawfully encouraging an alien to reside in the United States, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv). Mulet also appeals his total sentence. Both defendants argue that the district court deprived them of their constitutional right to present a defense by excluding evidence that they had little financial incentive to commit immigration fraud. Mulet further asserts that his right to remain silent was violated when the government elicited testimony that he had said he “had nothing to say.” Mulet also contends that the district court erred by imposing a three-level enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines and that his total sentence is substantively unreasonable. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding evidence of Marrero and Mulet’s legitimate business activities and that Mulet’s argument regarding the comment on his right to remain silent is foreclosed by binding precedent. Even if the district court erred in assessing a three-level Guidelines enhancement, such error does not warrant reversal because his total sentence was reasonable. Accordingly, we affirm. I. BACKGROUND From 1999 until 2015, Marrero and Mulet owned and operated Tita’s Tramite & Travel (Tita’s), a Florida business that provided immigration services. In 2015, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Marrero and Mulet with 2 Case: 16-16400 Date Filed: 03/27/2018 Page: 3 of 11 conspiracy to defraud the United States (Count 1) and unlawfully encouraging an alien to reside in the United States (Counts 7 through 12).1 Specifically, the indictment alleged that Marrero and Mulet arranged fraudulent marriages between Cuban citizens and non-Cuban aliens in order to qualify the non-Cuban aliens for immigration benefits, including lawful permanent residency. 2 Prior to trial, the government filed a motion in limine to exclude, in relevant part, evidence of the defendants’ legitimate business activities. In response to the government’s motion in limine, Marrero stated that she was “prepared to present evidence that Tita’s Tramite & Travel was by and large a legitimate business” that “offered a wide variety of immigration services besides . . . marriage-based petitions,” including “applications for employment authorization, applications for travel, applications to bring alien relatives to the United States, and naturalization applications.” The district court granted the motion in part, finding that evidence of Marrero and Mulet’s legitimate business activities was not admissible to negate the elements of the charged offenses. At trial, the government presented the following evidence. Manuel Andres Gomez, Okyvi Olmar Yoll ...

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals