USA v. Alexander Ortega


UNPUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [14-40530 Affirmed ] Judge: ECP , Judge: PRO , Judge: JEG. Mandate pull date is 05/29/2015 for Appellant Alexander Ortega [14-40530]

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Case: 14-40530 Document: 00513036464 Page: 1 Date Filed: 05/08/2015 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT No. 14-40530 Summary Calendar United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED May 8, 2015 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee Lyle W. Cayce Clerk v. ALEXANDER ORTEGA, Defendant-Appellant Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas USDC No. 1:12-CR-68-1 Before PRADO, OWEN, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: * Alexander Ortega appeals from his conviction of conspiracy to possess more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute 5.1 kilograms of methamphetamine, conspiracy to import more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, and importation of 5.1 kilograms of methamphetamine. He argues that the district court committed reversible error by admitting the record of his prior border crossings into evidence. Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R. 47.5.4. * Case: 14-40530 Document: 00513036464 Page: 2 Date Filed: 05/08/2015 No. 14-40530 “This court applies a highly deferential standard in reviewing a district court’s evidentiary rulings, reversing only for abuse of discretion. Even then, the error is not reversible unless the defendant was prejudiced.” United States v. Booker, 334 F.3d 406, 411 (5th Cir. 2003). This court looks first at whether the extrinsic offense evidence is relevant to an issue other than the defendant’s character and next looks at whether the evidence possesses probative value that is not substantially outweighed by its undue prejudice. See United States v. Beechum, 582 F.2d 898, 911 (5th Cir. 1978) (en banc). The evidence must also satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of Evidence 403. Id. The evidence of Ortega’s prior border crossings was offered for an admissible purpose, namely, to show his knowledge of and familiarity with the Brownsville border crossing. Moreover, Agent Jupe specifically admitted that the information was not evidence of any crime or proof that Ortega was involved in drug trafficking. The evidence was probative of Ortega’s knowing participation in the conspiracy because it would have made it easier for him to direct other, less knowledgeable individuals through the area. Given the testimony provided by Ortega’s coconspirators, it is unlikely that evidence of Ortega’s purportedly innocent border crossings had any prejudicial impact on the jury. As such, the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting this evidence. Booker, 334 F.3d at 411. AFFIRMED. 2 Accordingly, the judgment is

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