United States v. Stacy Paul Waddell


USCA11 Case: 18-10980 Date Filed: 12/23/2020 Page: 1 of 61 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 18-10980 ________________________ D.C. Docket No. 4:15-cr-00095-WTM-GRS-1 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff – Appellee, versus STACY PAUL WADDELL, Defendant – Appellant. ________________________ Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia ________________________ (December 23, 2020) Before MARCUS, JULIE CARNES, and KELLY,* Circuit Judges. JULIE CARNES, Circuit Judge: ______________________________ * Honorable Paul J. Kelly, Jr., United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit, sitting by designation. USCA11 Case: 18-10980 Date Filed: 12/23/2020 Page: 2 of 61 All that glitters is not gold. The customers of defendant Stacy Paul Waddell know too well the truth of that expression. Defendant established an online store purporting to sell gold and silver at below market rates. After luring customers to make purchases and wire large sums of money, however, Defendant often discontinued communications with the buyer and failed to ship any goods at all. For a while, Defendant was able to bilk his unwitting customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. His boom times turned to bust, however, when the United States Secret Service began an investigation into his and his company’s activities. This investigation led to a federal indictment charging Defendant in a six-count indictment with wire fraud, possession and sale of counterfeit coins, and attempted destruction of evidence. A jury convicted him on all counts and the district court sentenced him to 183 months’ imprisonment. Defendant appeals his conviction. 1 As grounds for that challenge, he argues that the district court should have suppressed evidence discovered through warrantless searches of a corporate website and corporate mail. He further argues that the Government failed to prove that wire transfers for two of the wire fraud counts were “for the purpose of executing” a scheme to defraud. Defendant also 1 Defendant directly challenges his conviction on the wire fraud counts. It is not clear whether he is also contending that the information uncovered as a result of the warrantless search of the non-public portion of the website of one of his companies impacted the Government’s ability to prove his guilt on the other two counts of conviction: possession and sale of counterfeit coins and attempted destruction of evidence. 2 USCA11 Case: 18-10980 Date Filed: 12/23/2020 Page: 3 of 61 contends that the Government violated his confrontation and due process rights by withholding evidence and playing an edited videotaped deposition of a deceased fraud victim for the jury. He further appeals his sentence, arguing that the district court erred in its assessment of loss amount and in applying a leadership-role enhancement. After careful review, and with the benefit of oral argument, we reverse the conviction on Count 1, concluding that insufficient evidence supported that conviction. We also remand for further fact-finding and legal analysis by the district court as to the warrantless search of the computer website, as well as for the district court to conduct …

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