After his August 2014 guilty plea to federal obstruction and conspiracy charges in connection with the aftermath of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing Dias Kadyrbayev had been scheduled for November, 9, 2014, sentencing by U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock.
The day before, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a Florida case, Yates v. US, and the highest court’s decision could could affect sentencing for Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both of whom are from Kazakhstan.
Judge Woodlock postponed their sentencings until the court renders its Yates decision, which is expected by July 2015. Commercial fisherman Yates was convicted under the Sarbanes-Oxley law which makes destroying, “any record, document, or tangible object” in an effort to thwart or impede a federal government matter under the government’s jurisdiction.
Yates has been charged under the 2002 law, according to media reports, after he replaced illegally caught under-sized fish that a conservation officer had ordered boxed and then surrendered at the dock for evidence, with larger, legal fish. The government then charged Yates under Sarbanes-Oxley for obstructing justice by destroying potential evidence.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, who was convicted at trial, were both charged with obstruction of justice under that same Sarbanes-Oxley statute.
In Judge Woodlock’s two-page order he noted that the highest court’s decision could define what is considered “tangible” evidence which, in turn, could affect the indictment of Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov.
“The court made the prudent and wise decision to hold off on sentencing until the Supreme Court decides the Yates decision since that decision affects the statute the government has charged in this case,” Defense Attorney Robert G. Stal told the Boston Globe after the the postponement decision.
“The government has chosen [to use] this statute, and so what the Supreme Court does could potentially impact the case here,” Mr. Stahl said.
The National Law Journal and Law.com
“On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Yates. That case tests the scope of the phrase ‘tangible object’ in the statute, which makes it a crime to obstruct an investigation by knowingly altering, destroying, mutilating, concealing, covering up, falsifying or making a false entry in any record, document or tangible object. Commercial fisherman John Yates appealed his conviction under the statute to the Supreme Court. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison and three years of supervised release for impeding an investigation by destroying a ‘tangible object’—specifically, tossing overboard grouper that a conservation officer had deemed undersized.
“The court ‘exercised its sound discretion and took the prudent course of action,’ in postponing sentencing, said Kadyrbayev’s lead trial counsel Robert Stahl of Stahl Gasiorowski Criminal Defense Lawyers in Westfield, N.J.
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The Christian Science Monitor
“Avast ye Supreme Court justices,
thar be an undersized grouper!”