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United States v. Ewais

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 26, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KHALIL EWAIS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motions of Defendant Khalil Ewais (Doc. 33) and Abdeljawad Ewais (Doc. 34) to Sever certain counts and Defendants from the single Indictment. The Government does not object to severing Defendants. Therefore, Abdeljawad's Motion is GRANTED. For a similar reason, Khalil's Motion to Sever Defendants is also GRANTED. However, for the following reasons, Khalil's Motion to Sever the Counts is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Khalil is an engineer by trade. He worked for the Mayor's Office of Capital Projects for the City of Cleveland as its Section Chief of Construction in the Division of Engineering and Construction. He and his brother - Defendant Abdeljawad - also owned a specific commercial property located at the corner of Storer Avenue and West 62nd Place in Cleveland, Ohio. Defendants leased the property to at least two businesses. Khalil also owned and operated a private engineering and consulting company through which he did work for private clients in Cleveland.

         On December 19, 2019, a Federal Grand Jury indicted both Defendants in a single Indictment. The crux of the Indictment focuses on what Khalil calls the “corruption charges.” According to the Indictment, Khalil unlawfully used his position with the City to his private benefit. He allegedly influenced third-parties to provide either his commercial property or his private business clients improper benefits.

         For this, the Grand Jury indicted Khalil with one count of Extortion Under Color of Official Right, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951; one count of Bribery in Federally Funded Programs, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B); one count of Theft from a Program Receiving Federal Funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A); one count of Wire Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and one count of False Statement or Representation Made to a Department or Agency of the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2).

         The Grand Jury also indicted Khalil on four counts of Making and Subscribing False Income Tax Returns for tax years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, each in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1) (the “tax charges”). According to the Indictment, Khalil failed to report “rental income and other things of value” in his tax returns.

         Similarly, the Grand Jury indicted Abdeljawad on five counts of Making and Subscribing False Income Tax Returns for tax years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, all in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1). These charges stem from Abdeljawad's alleged failure to report rental income on his tax returns.

         On April 18, 2019, both Khalil and Abdeljawad asked the Court to sever the Defendants. Khalil also asked the Court to sever the corruption charges from the tax charges. On May 18, 2019, the Government responded, agreeing to sever the Defendants but opposing Khalil's request to sever the tax and corruption charges. Khalil filed his Reply shortly thereafter.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

          Whether “counts of an indictment are to be joined or severed are governed by Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 8 and 14.” Thomas v. United States, 849 F.3d 669, 675 (6th Cir. 2017). Rule 8(a) states:

The indictment or information may charge a defendant in separate counts with 2 or more offenses if the offenses charged-whether felonies or misdemeanors or both-are of the same or similar character, or are based on the same act or transaction, or are ...

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