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United States v. Curtis

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

June 3, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff--Appellee
v.
BOBBY D. CURTIS, Defendant--Appellant

Page 563

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Cristina Walker, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA.

For Bobby D. Curtis, Defendant - Appellant: Carol B. Whitehurst, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Dustin Charles Talbot, Federal Public Defender's Office for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA.

Before JONES, SMITH, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 564

EDITH H. JONES, Circuit Judge:

Appellant Bobby D. Curtis was indicted for and pled guilty to concealment of bankruptcy estate assets valued at more than $942,000. After unsuccessfully moving to withdraw his guilty plea, Curtis filed a motion to vacate his conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his court-appointed counsel rendered ineffective assistance. A magistrate judge recommended granting relief but was overruled by the district court. For the following reasons we AFFIRM.

BACKGROUND

In early January 2002, Curtis formed the company Gen-I-Tech, Inc. for the purpose of installing computer and internet equipment in public schools and libraries pursuant to the Universal Service Administrative Company's (" USAC" ) School and Libraries Program, commonly referred to as the federal E-Rate Program. The E-Rate Program provides discounts to qualifying schools and libraries on eligible telecommunication or internet services by paying a percentage of the fee for such services. In order to receive this discount, the school or library must select a service provider, such as Gen-I-Tech, from a competitive bidding process and apply to the USAC for E-Rate discount funds. After the USAC reviews and approves an application, the USAC issues a funding commitment decision letter to the school or library indicating the discount share that has been approved for the services being performed. Once the funding commitment letter is received and services have begun, either the service provider or the qualifying school or library may invoice the USAC for the discount share of those services.

Shortly after Curtis formed Gen-I-Tech, the company agreed to perform technology services for Westside Alternative School (" Westside" ) pursuant to the E-Rate Program. Westside submitted an application to the USAC for funds on January 17, 2002, and the USAC issued a funding commitment letter for Gen-I-Tech's services on October 8, 2002. Gen-I-Tech completed services for Westside on October 30, 2002, and was paid a total of $213,111.38. The E-Rate Program paid Gen-I-Tech $191,800.72 of the total, making four separate payments on March 31, 2003, May 8, 2003, June 19, 2003, and June 30, 2003. On February 6, 2003, three additional applications for Gen-I-Tech's services were submitted to the USAC by Lafayette Christian Academy (" Lafayette" ), Youth Challenge Program, and Job Challenge Program. The USAC did not issue funding commitment letters to those programs until after Curtis was discharged from bankruptcy later in 2003.

On May 24, 2002, months after Westside applied for the E-Rate discount funds but before the application was approved, Curtis filed for personal bankruptcy under Chapter 13, listing as a personal asset his stock in Gen-I-Tech, valued at $2000. Three months later, on August 29, 2002, Curtis converted to Chapter 11 bankruptcy, followed by a conversion to Chapter 7 bankruptcy on February 12, 2003. The bankruptcy court discharged Curtis from bankruptcy on July 23, 2003, three weeks after Gen-I-Tech received its last payment from the E-Rate Program for its work at Westside. Attorney Rocky Willson represented Curtis throughout his bankruptcy case.

On July 23, 2008, exactly five years after being discharged from bankruptcy, Curtis was charged by indictment with knowingly and fraudulently concealing bankruptcy ...


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