US v. Dennis Paulsen
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 3:15-cr-00286-MBS-1 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [16-4286]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
DENNIS OWEN PAULSEN,
Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of
South Carolina, at Columbia.
Margaret B. Seymour, Senior
District Judge. (3:15-cr-00286-MBS-1)
Submitted: March 27, 2017
April 10, 2017
Before MOTZ, KING, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
G. Wells Dickson, Jr., WELLS DICKSON, P.A., Kingstree, South
Carolina, for Appellant.
William E. Day, II, Assistant United
States Attorney, Florence, South Carolina, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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willfully stealing money from the Department of Veterans Affairs
and the Social Security Administration by accepting payments to
which he knew he had no entitlement, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), asserting
that he found no meritorious issues for appeal but questioning
supplemental pro se brief expanding on some of the issues raised
The Government elected not to respond.
of the six issues in turn, we conclude that the district court
did not commit any reversible errors and affirm.
First, Paulsen raises as an affirmative defense the fiveyear statute of limitations for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641.
Because Paulsen engaged in “a recurring, automatic scheme of
embezzlement” from 1997 to 2015, his offense must be treated as
during the pendency of the scheme.
See United States v. Smith,
373 F.3d 561, 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2004).
Thus, although the
grand jury did not indict Paulsen until 2015, the statute of
limitations does not bar any part of the scheme.
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Second, Paulsen argues that the district court erred when
it denied his motion to dismiss for lack of venue.
We review a
district court’s denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of venue
United States v. Engle, 676 F.3d 405, 412 (4th Cir.
“[A]ny offense against the United States begun in one
district and completed in another, or committed in more than one
district, may be inquired of and prosecuted in any district in
U.S.C. § 3237(a) (2012).
Here, Paulsen started the offense in a
district in Virginia, but completed it in the District of South
Thus, under § 3237, the district court did not err
when it denied Paulsen’s motion to dismiss based on lack of
Third, Paulsen challenges the district court’s limits on
the cross-examination of three prosecution witnesses.
such limits for abuse of discretion.
United States v. Smith,
“possesses wide latitude to impose reasonable limits on crossexamination, premised on such concerns as prejudice, confusion,
repetition, and relevance.”
Id. at 221.
Here, the district
court acted within its discretion to limit cross-examination on
topics such as an unrelated divorce, administrative hearing, and
Thus, we conclude that the district court did not abuse
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Fourth, Paulsen argues that the district court should have
United States v. Shrader, 675 F.3d 300, 308 (4th
We will reverse on this basis only if the omitted
instruction was “(1) correct; (2) not substantially covered by
the court’s charge; and (3) dealing with some point in the trial
so important, that failure to give the requested instruction
requirements for disability, but no party disputed that Paulsen
had some disability from 1997 to 2015.
Instead, as the district
Because the charges regarding disability did not
affect an issue important, or even relevant, to the trial, we
Fifth, Paulsen claims that the evidence is insufficient to
support the jury’s verdict.
We review de novo the sufficiency
United States v. Cornell, 780 F.3d 616, 630 (4th Cir. 2015).
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will “uphold a defendant’s conviction if, viewing the evidence
substantial evidence in the record to support the verdict.”
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Substantial evidence means
adequate and sufficient to support a conclusion of a defendant’s
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Id. (internal quotation marks
Under § 641, the Government had to prove four elements:
States; (3) Paulsen intended to convert the money for his own
use or gain; and (4) Paulsen knew he was not entitled to the
Government failed to prove intent.
However, the inconsistencies
between Paulsen’s conduct at medical appointments or benefits
factfinder could also conclude from the record that Paulsen’s
entrapment defense lacked merit.
Thus, the jury had sufficient
evidence to support its guilty verdict.
Finally, Paulsen argues that the district court imposed an
We review sentences for reasonableness,
applying “a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard.”
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procedural reasonableness, we consider factors such as whether
the district court properly calculated the Sentencing Guidelines
range, considered the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2012) factors, and
sufficiently explained the sentence imposed.
If no significant procedural errors exist, we consider the
Louthian, 756 F.3d 295, 306 (4th Cir. 2014).
Applying this standard, we conclude that the district court
imposed a reasonable sentence.
The record reveals no procedural
sentence, which we presume reasonable absent a rebuttal of that
See Louthian, 756 F.3d at 306.
record in this case and have found no meritorious issues for
This court requires that counsel inform Paulsen, in writing, of
the right to petition the Supreme Court of the United States for
If Paulsen requests that a petition be filed,
but counsel believes that such a petition would be frivolous,
then counsel may move in this court for leave to withdraw from
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Counsel’s motion must state that a copy thereof
was served on Paulsen.
We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal
this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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