Friday, February 19, 2016
STEVEN INGERSOLL: Obstruction Of Justice! (Who Knew?)
Though the court did not direct supplemental briefing on the issue of Ingersoll’s obstruction of justice, that issue should not be forgotten. Ingersoll has attempted to obstruct justice in multiple ways, warranting two separate assessments for discrete attempts at obstruction.
First, as discussed in Steve Ingersoll’s PSR on page 9, paragraphs 36 and 37, and in the government’s brief in opposition to his Rule 29/Rule 33 motions (R. 199 at PgId 2278-82), Ingersoll should be assessed two points for obstruction of justice under USSG §3C1.1 for misleading conduct that he engaged in and caused to be committed during trial.
In sum, Ingersoll contrived to present evidence to the jury that falsely suggested that there was an innocent explanation for the fact that he kept multiple and different sets of books for the entities that he used to obtain and conceal unreported taxable income.
Ingersoll intended to influence the jury in a manner favorable to him with that misleading evidence.
Therefore, Ingersoll’s guideline scoring in his PSR should include a two-point obstruction of justice assessment for that conduct.
Second, Ingersoll has on multiple occasions presented false information to the court, attempting thereby to favorably influence the court’s sentencing-related decisions.
Because these separate acts of attempted obstruction are aimed at influencing the court’s sentencing decisions, they are distinct from the obstructive conduct that Ingersoll engaged in and caused during the trial.
Ingersoll’s sentencing-related obstructive behavior can be scored separately from the conduct that Ingersoll caused to be committed at trial.
The most egregious example of Ingersoll’s sentencing-related obstructive behavior is the false testimony he provided to the court.
One example of his materially false testimony can be discerned in his attempt to convince the court that the money needed to start the BCA project came from the Traverse City State Bank line of credit account rather than from GTA.
As part of his sentencing hearing testimony, Ingersoll stated:
During the construction of Grand Traverse Academy – or of Bay City – of the Madison Arts project, I needed to put money into that project in order to get reimbursement from the bank. I needed sources for that money. I used my line of credit at Traverse City State Bank. If you look at the bank statement at Traverse City State Bank the – I had a million dollars available.
I drew $756,000 from that line of credit from March of ’11 to June of ’11. I sent $752,000 of that to Roy Bradley and the bank finally blessed the work that was done. … I drew money off that line of credit and moved it from Smart Schools to me, to other LLCs that were involved in the effort to get Bay City done.
Ingersoll also indicated that TCSB was aware of and agreeable to his use of draws against the TCSB line of credit to fund the BCA project and that an email exchange with Dan Stahl at TCSB documented that understanding.
However, Agent Russo testified that he reviewed the bank records in the wake of Ingersoll’s testimony and found that approximately $120,000 from the TCSB line of credit account went to the BCA project via one of Ingersoll’s personal accounts, which is well less than the $752,000 now claimed by Ingersoll.
In addition, in an email dated January 17, 2013, Dan Stahl expressed concern to Ingersoll about the possible use of the TCSB line of credit funds for purposes other than the benefit of GTA.
Ingersoll responded with an email that same day. (Email exchange is shown below; click on image to enlarge.) As part of his response, Ingersoll told Stahl, “The funds from the LOC were always used for GTA cashflow[,]” and added, “TCSB LOC funds were not used for BCA purposes[.]”
Thus, Ingersoll’s sentencing hearing testimony regarding the source of the seed money for the BCA project conflicts with Ingersoll’s statement to Kaye Mentley after the Chemical Bank construction loan was approved regarding BCA returning seed money to GTA and with Ingersoll’s emailed statements to Dan Stahl of TCSB in January of 2013.
Both of those statements were made before Ingersoll was indicted.
Ingersoll’s testimony regarding the source of the seed money for BCA also conflicts with the objective bank records reviewed by Agent Russo.
The most reasonable explanation for the conflict between Ingersoll’s past statements and his financial records, and his current testimony, is that Ingersoll’s testimony at his sentencing hearing is false. Ingersoll knows, and probably recognizes, that the evidence indicates that he did not have resources of his own to start the BCA project.
He also recognizes the potential adverse consequence to his sentence if the court finds that he obtained the seed money for the BCA project from GTA.
Ingersoll therefore has testified falsely that $752,000 of the BCA seed money came from the TCSB line of credit account.
In addition, as discussed above in the context of the sophisticated means enhancement, Ingersoll has provided yet another untenable explanation for his creation of multiple sets of QuickBooks.
Ingersoll’s alternative explanation for his creation of multiple books falsely places the blame on Matthew Baker, tax preparer once used by Ingersoll. More important, this explanation is intended to influence Ingersoll’s sentence rather than the outcome of the trial.
Alternatively, for the reasons discussed in the government’s motion asking the court to require Steven Ingersoll to provide complete and accurate information to his probation officer, Ingersoll should be assessed two additional points for obstruction of justice under USSG §3C1.1.
Even at this juncture, it is impossible to accurately assess Ingersoll’s current financial condition. In fact, Steven Ingersoll has so successfully concealed the truth about his finances -- even from himself and his counsel -- that Ingersoll could not address the question of his solvency on August 10, 2010.
Accordingly, Ingersoll’s guideline scoring in his PSR should include a second obstruction of justice assessment for his more recent and separate attempts at obstructing justice with regards to his sentence.