United States v. Tamie Samuels

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 16-3871 ___________________________ United States of America lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff - Appellee v. Tamie Marie Samuels lllllllllllllllllllll Defendant - Appellant ____________ Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Cedar Rapids ____________ Submitted: September 22, 2017 Filed: November 6, 2017 ____________ Before LOKEN, ARNOLD, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges. ____________ LOKEN, Circuit Judge. In March 2015, Tamie Marie Samuels (“Samuels”) filed an alien relative visa petition (Form I-130) for the benefit of her new husband, Randell Samuels (“Randell”). The petition asked, “Have you ever before filed a petition for this or any other alien?” Samuels falsely checked “no.” A jury convicted Samuels of knowingly making a false statement with respect to a material fact in an immigration matter in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a). The district court1 sentenced her to three months in prison and three years of supervised release. Samuels appeals, arguing the district court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence the false statement (i) was made knowingly, and (ii) was made with respect to a material fact. We review the sufficiency of the evidence de novo, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and accepting all reasonable inferences that support the jury’s verdict. United States v. Causevic, 636 F.3d 998, 1005 (8th Cir. 2011). We affirm. I. The Trial Evidence. At trial, documentary evidence established that Randell is Samuels’s fourth husband. Samuels married Randell, a citizen of Jamaica, on February 3, 2015, two days after he entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa. On March 12, 2015, Samuels filed the Form I-130 visa petition, and Randell filed a Form I-485 application for adjustment of status. In 1997, Samuels had filed a Form I-130 visa petition for her second husband, Temistocles Lobaton, which was approved in December 1997. Samuels falsely stated on the 2015 Form I-130 for Randell that she had never before filed a petition for any other alien. Samuels and Lobaton divorced in March 1999; Lobaton did not receive a visa. Samuels’s third husband, Demone Square, was a United States citizen; they divorced in April 2010. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Officer Justin Kaleas testified that he interviewed Samuels and Randell in June 2015 as part of the Form I-130 decision process. At the interview, Samuels confirmed that she had never filed a Form I-130 petition for any other relative. Two days after the interview, Kaleas approved Samuels’s Form I-130 petition, unaware of the Form I-130 Samuels 1 The Honorable Linda R. Reade, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Iowa. -2- filed in 1997 on behalf of Lobaton. Kaleas testified that checking “yes” in response to the question, “Have you ever before filed a petition . . .?” is considered a “fraud indicator” that triggers inquiry into prior Form I-130 filings. USCIS examines the details of any prior petition, the status of that petition, and ...

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