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United States v. Ponds

454 F.3d 313 (2006)

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United States v. Ponds

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

454 F.3d 313 (2006)

Facts

In 1996, lawyer Navron Ponds (defendant) agreed to represent a drug dealer named Jerome Harris and received a Mercedes Benz through Harris’s mother as his retainer. Ponds and Harris did not mention the Mercedes when the government seized Harris’s assets after Harris’s conviction. However, Harris later told the Maryland United States Attorney’s Office, and that office launched an investigation into Ponds. The government searched Harris’s jail cell for the retainer agreement and subpoenaed several categories of documents from Ponds, including anything referencing use or ownership of the Mercedes, records of Harris’s legal-fee payments, documents that referred to Ponds’s sister, correspondence between the Law Offices of Navron Ponds and courts or prosecutors regarding Harris’s trial, and any records of employees of the Law Office of Navron Ponds since 1996. The district court granted the government’s request to give Ponds act-of-production immunity to provide the documents. Eventually, the District of Columbia United States Attorney’s Office launched its own investigation into Ponds’s failure to file tax returns in 1996 and 1997. After the government seized documents from Ponds’s house pursuant to a search warrant, Ponds was charged with tax evasion, fraud, and wire fraud. After a pretrial hearing, the district court held that Ponds’s production of documents under immunity in the Maryland investigation did not implicate Ponds’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The jury convicted Ponds, and Ponds appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rogers, J.)

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