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United States v. Miller

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 5, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Ryan Miller, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued November 28, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 11 CR 292 - Edmond E. Chang, Judge.

          Before BAUER, ROVNER, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

          BAUER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Defendant-appellant, Ryan Miller, entered into a written plea agreement with the government and pleaded guilty to mail fraud affecting a financial institution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1). Miller now appeals on the grounds that the indictment failed to specify proper means of identification; that the district court improperly applied two points to his criminal history calculation under U.S.S.G. § 4Al.l(d) for committing the charged crimes while under a criminal justice sentence; and that the district court improperly mandated participation in the inmate financial responsibility program ("IFRP").

         I. BACKGROUND

         Between July 2007 and December 2009, Miller obtained and possessed identifying information for a number of individuals without their knowledge or consent. Miller possessed at least some personal identifying information, including names, addresses, birth dates, and social security numbers for over 200 individuals in a notebook. Miller knew this information belonged to at least one actual person and that he lacked authorization to have this information.

         Miller used this personal identifying information to open credit card accounts with financial institutions, falsely representing that these individuals had applied for cards. To receive the fraudulently obtained credit cards, Miller opened mailboxes at UPS stores in the Chicago area under the victims' names. Miller then used these fraudulently obtained credit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.

         From approximately October 2009 through February 2010, as part of a second scheme, Miller fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits from the Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC"), an agency that administers unemployment insurance in Texas. Using personal identifying information belonging to other individuals, Miller submitted more than 600 fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits to the TWC. In response to these submissions, TWC sent debit cards to the Chicago mailboxes Miller opened using personal identifying information he unlawfully possessed. Miller used these debit cards to withdraw money from ATMs.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 14, 2011, a grand jury returned a twelve-count indictment against Miller. In relation to his fraudulent credit card scheme, the grand jury charged Miller with conspiring to commit mail fraud, bank fraud, and identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count One); mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Counts Two and Three); bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (Counts Four and Five); identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7) (Count Six); and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) (Count Seven). In relation to Miller's fraudulent unemployment benefits scheme, the grand jury charged Miller with mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Counts Eight, Nine, Ten, and Eleven), and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) (Count Twelve).

         After releasing him on bond, the district court discovered Miller stole $13, 750 from the correctional facility where he had initially been detained, prompting the district court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest. Miller fled to, and was later found, in the Dominican Republic in February 2015. Upon extradition to the Northern District of Illinois, Miller sought a bill of particulars in regards to Count Twelve and moved to dismiss Counts Six, Seven, and Twelve, for duplicity and lack of specificity. The district court denied these motions. The government then provided Miller with additional details regarding these three counts and amended the indictment to dismiss Count One and narrow the predicate offenses in Counts Six and Seven from mail fraud and bank fraud to solely mail fraud.

         Relevant to the issues before us, Count Six of the original indictment alleged that Miller

knowingly possessed, without lawful authority, means of identification of another person, namely a notebook containing more than 200 names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers for various persons, with the intent to commit and to aid and abet, and in connection with, unlawful activity constituting a violation of Federal law, namely mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States ...

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