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United States v. Beasley

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 31, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Antoine Beasley, Defendant.



         On the basis of recently-acquired information, the government moved for attorney fees from defendant Antoine Beasley. (Dkt. 553). Citing evidence strongly suggesting that Beasley is not indigent, the government seeks an order requiring compensation for the amount expended to provide him with an attorney at no charge. Subsequently, the government filed a supplemental motion (Dkt. 556), supplying additional information.

         The court conducted a hearing in which the parties argued the government's motions, and allowed both the government and defendant an opportunity to submit additional briefing on the issue.

         The relief sought by the government is unusual, but the law is straightforward. If a defendant charged with a felony is indigent, he is entitled to a court-appointed attorney at government expense. However, if it is later discovered that the defendant was not indigent, or if he obtained substantial funds in the interim, he may be required to reimburse the government for the cost of his court-appointed attorney. If the government provides evidence casting doubt on a defendant's inability to afford counsel, the defendant has the burden of coming forward with evidence rebutting the government's evidence. United States v. Allen, 596 F.2d 227, 232 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 871 (1979).

         The court will consider factors including the accessability of defendant's assets, whether he would suffer hardship if deprived of the assets, and his and his family's needs. United States v. Simmers, 911 F.Supp. 483, 486 (D.Kan., 1995) (citing United States v. Bracewell , 569 F.2d 1194 (2d Cir. 1978)). Here, the government has provided such evidence.

         Antoine Beasley made his initial appearance on April 11, 2014, and reported that he was indigent and required court-appointed counsel. The court granted his request. The Financial Affidavit submitted by the defendant states that his monthly income from his employment with a real estate investment firm is $2, 000, and that he has monthly expenses of $750. (Dkt. 76).

         Slightly over a year later, according to information now presented by the government, Beasley purchased a luxury automobile, a 2015 Audi A7 3.0T Quattro. The MSRP for this vehicle was $67, 163, but with the added optional equipment, the purchase price was $7, 715.00. In conjunction with the purchase, Beasley completed a credit application in which he reported that his monthly income was $10, 000.00. This income was reported separately from his wife (Patrice Beasley Duncan) which was listed as $3, 588.00 per month.

         Beasley then made monthly payments on the Audi, but not by electronic transfer or by bank checks. Rather, according to the government, Beasely made the payments of $1, 347.62 each month by exchanging cash for money orders at Dillons. On each occasion, Beasley obtained two money orders: one for $1, 000, and one for $347.62.

         The defendant and his wife have two additional vehicles, a 2006 Chevy and a 2008 Ford. Both are in working condition and lien-free, although defendant asserts in his brief the vehicles have high mileage.

         The information submitted by the government in its first supplemental motion is a set of grocery store money orders made out to Audi Financial Services, which collectively indicate that Beasley began to significantly increase the payments on the Audi in 2017. In March, he made $4, 000 in total payments, and in April a total of $5, 000. In each month, the payments were made by separate $1, 000 payments.

         The defendant's brief in opposition asserts that defendant makes some $1, 500 per month managing rental housing, and his wife brings home $3, 500 working as a teacher. His assertion is not supported by any affidavit or other evidence.

         After reviewing the material submitted by the parties, the court finds the government has presented prima facie evidence that Antoine Beasley was not indigent during the time of his court-appointed representation.

         In his response, the defendant stresses the complexity of the case(Dkt. at 3-5) and that, after the government seized some $500, 000.00 in cash at the time of his arrest, he was without any funds at the time of his indictment to employ counsel. The defendant also, as he did at the hearing, invokes the doctrine of laches, but expands upon it, arguing that not only the government but “the Court is collaterally estopped from ordering him to repay any of the attorney fees in the case.” Id. at 5. Beasley argues that the fact of his indigence cannot be reviewed because the court entered judgment as to his sentence.

         Notwithstanding defendant's arguments, the fact remains that defendant bought, financed, and paid for a luxury car while he was also receiving government-funded free legal services, based on the representation of limited financial resources. The evidence before the court establishes that defendant does have “specific funds, assets, or asset streams (or the fixed right to those funds, assets or asset streams) that are (1) identified by the court and (2) available to the ...

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