Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Internet Cafe and Using a Computer to "Conduct a Sweepstakes"

After a jury convicted Kawana Spruill and Richard Conoley Chapman of "violating North Carolina General Statutes §14–306.4 (`Electronic machines and devices for sweepstakes prohibited’)”, they appealed. State v. Spruill, 765 S.E.2d 84 (North Carolina Court of Appeals 2014).  
The Court of Appeals begins its opinion by explaining how the prosecution arose:
The evidence presented at trial tended to show that Chapman was the owner of Past Times Business Center (`Past Times’), an internet café, located at 2100 St. Andrews Street, Tabor City, and defendant Spruill was the manager. An undercover officer with the Tabor City Police Department went to Past Times to determine if the café was operating an electronic sweepstakes in violation of N.C. Gen.Stat. 14–306.4.

The undercover officer testified that he went to Past Times on 11 April 2013, equipped with a surveillance camera. The surveillance video was played for the jury while the officer narrated.

The officer presented the cashier with $25.00. The cashier presented the officer with a disclaimer which states, in part:

`I understand that I am purchasing computer time to be used at this location. I also realize that I can request to participate in the promotional game for free. . . .
I understand that I am not gambling. I am playing a promotional game in which the winners are predetermined. The games have no effect on the outcome of the prizes won.’

The undercover officer played internet games with the names `Keno,’ `Lucky's Loot,’ Lucky's Loot bonus round named `Pot O'Gold,’ `Lucky Sevens,’ `Lucky Ducks,’ and `Lucky Lamb.’ The undercover officer testified that his understanding was `[y]ou cannot win any more money than what it says you're already going to win before the game starts. So it's irrelevant what you click on.’

The lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Bruce Edwards, testified that Past Times' electronic games used a pre-reveal system. The pre-reveal system showed the prize amount the patron would win prior to the patron playing a game. Once the game was completed, the prize amount revealed prior to the start of the game would be displayed again.

Kevin Morse, a representative from the video game manufacturer Figure Eight, testified that the software used to make the electronic games available in Past Times was developed and controlled by Figure Eight and that Past Time paid a user licensing fee to access the games via the internet. Morse distinguished a `true sweepstakes,’ where the prize is revealed after the game is completed, from the electronic games used in Past Times, where the prize is revealed before a game is played.

At Past Times, the patron has the option of whether to play the game after the prize has been revealed. If the patron does not timely choose to play a game, the system prompts the next reveal opportunity.
State v. Spruill, supra.  You can read more about how the law at issue in this case has been used in North Carolina in the news story you can find here.
As noted, above, the jury convicted both defendants of “`operating or placing into operation an electronic machine or device for the purpose of conducting a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the revealing of a prize[.]’” State v. Spruill, supra. 
The judge sentenced Chapman “to an active term of 45 days” but the sentence “was suspended, and he was placed on unsupervised probation for a period of 36 months.” State v. Spruill, supra.  Spruill was also “sentenced to an active term of 45 days” but the “sentence was suspended, and she was placed on unsupervised probation for a period of 12 months.”  State v. Spruill, supra.  This appeal followed.
On appeal, both argued that, at trial, “there was not substantial evidence they conducted a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the revealing of a prize in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4.” State v. Spruill, supra.  The Court of Appeals began its analysis of their argument by explaining that under this statute, it is unlawful for
`any person to operate, or place into operation, an electronic machine or device to do either of the following:

(1) Conduct a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize.

(2) Promote a sweepstakes that is conducted through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize.’
State v. Spruill, supra.  The court also noted that
`[e]ntertaining display’ is defined as “visual information, capable of being seen by a sweepstakes entrant, that takes the form of actual game play, or simulated game play. . . .’ N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4(a)(3). An entertaining display can be `[a]ny [ ] video game not dependent on skill or dexterity that is played while revealing a prize as the result of an entry into a sweepstakes.’ N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4(a)(3)(i).

`Sweepstakes’ is defined as `any game, advertising scheme or plan, or other promotion, which, with or without payment of any consideration, a person may enter to win or become eligible to receive any prize, the determination of which is based upon chance.’ N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4(a)(5).
State v. Spruill, supra. 
On appeal, Spruill and Chapman argued that
because the prize is revealed to the patron prior to any opportunity to play a game, they have not run afoul of the plain meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4. Previously, games were used to reveal the sweepstakes prize.

But, according to Figure Eight representative Morse, the software accessible from Past Times was changed to incorporate the pre-reveal feature, specifically, to operate in compliance with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4.

`[N]o sooner is a lottery defined, and the definition applied to a given state of facts, than ingenuity is at work to evolve some scheme of evasion which is within the mischief, but not quite within the letter of the definition. But, in this way, it is not possible to escape the law's condemnation, for it will strip the transaction of all its thin and false apparel and consider it in its very nakedness. It will look to the substance and not to the form of it, in order to disclose its real elements and the pernicious tendencies which the law is seeking to prevent. The Court will inquire, not into the name, but into the game, however skillfully disguised, in order to ascertain if it is prohibited [.] It is the one playing at the game who is influenced by the hope enticingly held out, which is often false or disappointing, that he will, perhaps and by good luck, get something for nothing, or a great deal for a very little outlay. This is the lure that draws the credulous and unsuspecting into the deceptive scheme, and it is what the law denounces as wrong and demoralizing.’
Hest Technologies, Inc. v. State ex rel. Perdue, 366 N.C. 289, 749 S.E.2d 429, 430–31 (North Carolina Supreme Court 2012). . . .
State v. Spruill, supra. 
The Court of Appeals explained that
[i]t is undisputed that with the use of computers accessing the internet, defendants operated a sweepstakes wherein a prize was revealed to a patron not dependent upon the patron's skill or dexterity in playing a video game. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4(a)(3)(i). That the video game did not have to be played or played to completion is not determinative.

Defendants appear to define `game’ only as that interaction between patron and computer which occurs after the sweepstakes prize has been revealed and the patron presses the `game’ button. We disagree.

Under the pre-reveal format, entry and participation in the sweepstakes, through the pre-reveal, is a prerequisite to playing a video game. Thus, the sweepstakes takes place during the initial stages of any game played.
That the sweepstakes is conducted at the beginning of a game versus its conclusion makes no significant difference: the sweepstakes prize is not dependent upon the skill or dexterity of the patron; it is a game of chance. And, in conjunction, the electronic video game is a display which entices the patron to play.
State v. Spruill, supra. 
The court therefore found that
Section 14–306.4 seeks to prevent the use of entertaining displays in the form of video games to conduct sweepstakes wherein the prize is determined by chance. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14–306.4(b)(1).

Therefore, when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, it is clear that the jury was presented with substantial evidence of each essential element of the charge that defendants operated or placed into operation an electronic machine to conduct a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display, including the entry process or the reveal of a prize. See id.; see also State v. Trogdon, 216 N.C. App. 15, 715 S.E.2d at 635 (North Carolina Court of Appeals 2011).  

Therefore, we affirm the trial court's denial of defendants' motion to dismiss the charge and find no error in the judgment of the trial court. State v. Mobley, 206 N.C.A pp. 285 291, 696 S.E.2d 862 (North Carolina Court of Appeals 2010). Accordingly, defendant's [sic] argument is overruled.
State v. Spruill, supra. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Money Laundering, “Money” and Bitcoin

This post examines an opinion a U.S. District Court Judge who sits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued in August in a federal prosecution involving Bitcoin.  U.S. v. Faiella, 2014 WL 4100897 (2014).  
If you are interested, you can find a press release describing the original indictment here. Basically, it charged
ROBERT M. FAIELLA, a/k/a `BTCKing’ an underground Bitcoin exchanger, and CHARLIE SHREM, the Chief Executive Officer and Compliance Officer of a Bitcoin exchange company, for engaging in a scheme to sell over $1 million in Bitcoins to users of `Silk Road,’ the underground website that enabled its users to buy and sell illegal drugs anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement. Each defendant is charged with conspiring to commit money laundering, and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. . . .
After the indictment came out, Faiella, who was  
charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1960 Indictment (Count One), and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S. Code §1956(h), Indictment (Count Three).
U.S. v. Faiella, supra.
As Wikipedia explains, money laundering
is the process in which the proceeds of crime are transformed into ostensibly legitimate money or other assets. However, in a number of legal and regulatory systems the term money laundering has become conflated with other forms of financial crime, and sometimes used more generally to include misuse of the financial system (involving things such as securities, digital currencies, credit cards, and traditional currency), including terrorism financing, tax evasion and evading of international sanctions. 
After he was indicted, Faiella
moved to dismiss Count One of the Indictment on three grounds: first, that Bitcoin does not qualify as `money’ under Section 1960; second, that operating a Bitcoin exchange does not constitute `transmitting’ money under Section 1960; and third that Faiella is not a `money transmitter’ under Section 1960. 
U.S. v. Faiella, supra.  The judge held a hearing on Faiella’s motions, and then issued the opinion this post examines.
He began with the issue of whether Bitcoin constitutes “money.”  U.S. v. Faiella, supra.
The judge explained, initially, that
`money’ in ordinary parlance means `something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment. MERRIAM–WEBSTER ONLINE, (last visited Aug. 18, 2014). As examples of this, Merriam–Webster Online includes `officially coined or stamped metal currency,’ `paper money,’ and `money of account’ -- the latter defined as `a denominator of value or basis of exchange which is used in keeping accounts and for which there may or may not be an equivalent coin or denomination of paper money.’ Id.

Further, the text of Section 1960 refers not simply to `money,’ but to `funds.’  In particular, Section 1960 defines `money transmitting’ as `transferring funds on behalf of the public by any and all means.’ 18 U.S. Code § 1960(b)(2) (emphasis added).

Merriam–Webster Online defines `funds’ as `available money’ or `an amount of something that is available for use: a supply of something.’ MERRIAM–WEBSTER ONLINE, supra. . . . Bitcoin clearly qualifies as `money’ or `funds’ under these plain meaning definitions. Bitcoin can be easily purchased in exchange for ordinary currency, acts as a denominator of value, and is used to conduct financial transactions. See, e.g., SEC v. Shavers, 2013 WL 4028182 (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Aug. 6, 2013) (`It is clear that Bitcoin can be used as money. It can be used to purchase goods or services. . . . [I]t can also be exchanged for conventional currencies. . .’).

If there were any ambiguity in this regard -- and the Court finds none -- the legislative history supports application of Section 1960 in this instance. Section 1960 was passed as an anti-money laundering statute, designed `to prevent the movement of funds in connection with drug dealing.’ U.S. v. Bah, 574 F.3d 106 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit 2009) (citing House of Representatives Report No. 107–250(I), at 54 (2001)).

Congress was concerned that drug dealers would turn increasingly to `nonbank financial institutions’ to `convert street currency into monetary instruments’ in order to transmit the proceeds of their drug sales. Senate Report 101–460, 1990 WL 201710 (1990). Section 1960 was drafted to address this `gaping hole in the money laundering deterrence effort.’ Senate Report 101--460 Indeed, it is likely Congress designed the statute to keep pace with such evolving threats, which is precisely why it drafted the statute to apply to any business involved in transferring `funds . . . by any and all means.’ 18 U.S. Code § 1960(b)(2).
U.S. v. Faiella, supra. 
Next, the judge found that Faiella’s
activities on Silk Road constitute `transmitting’ money under Section 1960. [He] argues that while Section 1960 requires that the defendant sell money transmitting services to others for a profit, see 31 C.F.R. § 1010.100(ff)(5)(1)(2013) (defining `money transmission services’ to require transmission of funds to `another location or person’), Faiella merely sold Bitcoin as a product in and of itself. But, as set forth in the Criminal Complaint that initiated this case, the Government alleges that Faiella received cash deposits from his customers and then, after exchanging them for Bitcoins, transferred those funds to the customers' accounts on Silk Road. . . .

These were, in essence, transfers to a third-party agent, Silk Road, for Silk Road users did not have full control over the Bitcoins transferred into their accounts. Rather, Silk Road administrators could block or seize user funds. . . . Thus, the Court finds that in sending his customers' funds to Silk Road, Faiella `transferred’ them to others for a profit.
U.S. v. Faiella, supra. 
The judge then found that Faiella
clearly qualifies as a `money transmitter’ for purposes of Section 1960. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (`FinCEN’) has issued guidance specifically clarifying that virtual currency exchangers constitute `money transmitters’ under its regulations. See FinCEN Guidance at 1 (`[A]n administrator or exchanger [of virtual currency] is an MSB [money services business] under FinCEN's regulations, specifically, a money transmitter, unless a limitation to or exemption from the definition applies to the person.’ (emphasis in original)).

FinCEN has further clarified that the exception on which defendant relies for its argument that Faiella is not a `money transmitter,’ 31 C.F.R. § 1010.100(ff)(5)(ii)(F), is inapplicable. See FinCEN Guidance at 4 (`It might be argued that the exchanger is entitled to the exemption from the definition of “money transmitter” for persons involved in the sale of goods or the provision of services. . . .However, this exemption does not apply when the only services being provided are money transmission services’).
U.S. v. Faiella, supra. 
And, finally, he explained that Faiella
claims that applying Section 1960 to a Bitcoin exchange business would run afoul of the rule of lenity, constituting such a novel and unanticipated construction of the statute as to operate like an ex post facto law in violation of the Due Process Clause.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that the rule of lenity is `reserved . . . for those situations in which a reasonable doubt persists about a statute's intended scope even after resort to “the language and structure, legislative  history, and motivating policies' of the statute.”’ Moskal v. U.S., 498 U.S. 103 (1990) (quoting Bifulco v. U.S., 447 U.S. 381 (1980) (emphasis in original)).

Here, as noted, there is no such irreconcilable ambiguity requiring resort to the rule of lenity. Further, defendant's argument that this case constitutes ex post facto judicial lawmaking that violates the Due Process Clause is undermined by Faiella's own statements to the operator of Silk Road that Bitcoin exchanges have `to be licensed,’ and that law enforcement agencies might `seize [his] funds. . . .
U.S. v. Faiella, supra. 
The judge therefore denied Faiella’s motion to dismiss.  As this press release notes, he pled guilty early in September.  You can read more about the facts in the case here. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Enticing a Minor for Sexual Activity, Text Messages and "Testimony"

After a jury convicted Arnold Maurice Mathis “of several child exploitation offenses and the district court sentenced him to a 480-month total term of imprisonment”, he appealed.  U.S. v. Mathis, 767 F.3d 1264 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit 2014).  He appealed, raising several issues; this post examines one of them.
The Court of Appeals began its opinion by explaining that in 2004, Mathis,
who was approximately 34 years old, approached Jarvis J. after a high school basketball game. Jarvis was 14 years old. . . .  Mathis introduced himself as Pastor Maurice and gave Jarvis approximately $20 to purchase items at the concession stand. Mathis also told Jarvis he was willing to act as a father figure or mentor and he could assist Jarvis financially by helping him purchase shoes and clothes. Mathis gave Jarvis his cell phone number and told Jarvis to call him the next day.

At some point the following week, Jarvis met Mathis and Mathis gave him a pair of shoes, a shirt, and $100 to purchase a prepaid cell phone. Jarvis subsequently purchased a cell phone, phone card, and minutes for the phone. Jarvis used the phone to talk to Mathis, and the two met a few days after Jarvis bought the phone.

On that occasion, after going to a fast food restaurant, Mathis took Jarvis to Mathis's house where Mathis eventually goaded Jarvis into showing him his penis. Mathis then performed oral sex on Jarvis. Mathis told Jarvis not to tell anyone about the encounter and promised that he would give Jarvis money and take care of him. Mathis took Jarvis to an ATM and gave him money.

Following the incident at Mathis's house, Jarvis used his cell phone to talk to Mathis on a daily basis. During his conversations with Jarvis, Mathis became more explicit and told Jarvis that he wanted to engage in sexual conduct with him. Mathis eventually met Jarvis again and, after having a meal, Mathis took Jarvis to Mathis's house. Mathis performed oral sex on Jarvis and instructed him to perform anal sex on Mathis. Jarvis complied with Mathis's instructions.

Sometime thereafter, Mathis talked to Jarvis on the phone about traveling to Orlando to go bowling. When Mathis arrived to pick up Jarvis, Jarvis observed another man in the car with Mathis as well as a boy around Jarvis's own age. The group drove to Orlando, but instead of going bowling, they went to a diner and then a hotel. At the hotel, Mathis performed oral sex on Jarvis and had Jarvis perform anal sex on him while the other boy performed anal sex on the other man.

Subsequently, Mathis took Jarvis to a townhouse in Lakeland and tried to perform oral sex on him, but Jarvis resisted. Jarvis did not tell anyone about his experiences with Mathis until December 2011, nearly seven years later. At that time, Jarvis ran into the other man who had gone with him and Mathis to Orlando.

After arguing with the man in a store, Jarvis talked to his pastor and then went to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. At the sheriff's office, Jarvis told Sergeant James Evans and Detective Zoe Vizcarrondo about his experiences with Mathis. Detective Vizcarrondo asked Jarvis to make a recorded phone call to Mathis. During the call, Mathis acknowledged that he had engaged in sexual conduct with Jarvis.

A few hours after Jarvis's recorded call with Mathis, law enforcement officers arrested Mathis. During the arrest, officers seized Mathis's cell phone, which was a Sprint smartphone.
U.S. v. Mathis, supra.            
A number of witnesses testified at Mathis’ trial, one of whom was Michelle Gonzalez, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  U.S. v. Mathis, supra. In her first appearance as a witness, she testified that “Jarvis J. was 14 years old in 2004.” U.S. v. Mathis, supra.  She was recalled to the stand after
Gary Scevola, a senior investigator with the U.S. Marshal Service, testified that he obtained certified copies of Mathis's sex offender registration forms from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Government introduced the forms into evidence.
U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
In her second appearance as a witness, Gonzalez testified that
as part of her investigation she reviewed text messages between Mathis and Jerel A. After Mathis objected to the introduction of Jerel's text messages as impermissible hearsay, the district court instructed the jurors that they could not consider Jerel's text messages for the truth of the matter asserted. The court further instructed the jurors that they could nevertheless consider Mathis's text messages for the truth of the matter asserted.

Mathis also objected to the introduction of the text messages on Confrontation Clause grounds. Over Mathis's objections, Agent Gonzalez testified that on May 2, 2011, Jerel sent a text message to Mathis stating `[h]ey this jerel . . .  this my number,’ to which Mathis replied, `[o]k did you have enough money’ and `[o]k well you will get some more. Also text me tonite when you by yourself want to talk to you, and know I care about you.’

Mathis then sent Jerel text messages expressing affection and promising to provide for him, as well as messages asking Jerel to send him pictures. Jerel complied and sent Mathis several pictures of himself. 

Mathis also repeatedly sent Jerel text messages discussing the size of Jerel's genitalia and Jerel's sexual activity. Mathis sent Jerel text messages asking Jerel to trust him, such as the following message on May 8, 2011: `Jerel you got it real good and don't realize it. You need to let your guards down and let me be close to you.’  Eventually, Mathis sent Jerel text messages asking him for pictures of his genitalia.

On June 29, 2011, Jerel sent Mathis a text message containing a picture of his genitalia. Mathis responded by sending Jerel text messages asking to touch Jerel's genitalia.

On September 11, 2011, Mathis again sent text messages to Jerel asking for pictures of Jerel's genitalia. In response, Jerel sent Mathis a text message containing a picture of his genitalia. On cross-examination, Agent Gonzalez  acknowledged that Jerel had been present in the courthouse the previous day.
U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
One of the issues Mathis raised in appealing his conviction concerned the admission of Jerel’s text messages into evidence at his trial.  U.S. v. Mathis, supra. He claimed that the admission of the text messages violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment to the U.S.Constitution.  U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
As Wikipedia explains, the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment to the
United States Constitution provides that `in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him.’ Generally, the right is to have a face-to-face confrontation with witnesses who are offering testimonial evidence against the accused in the form of cross-examination during a trial.

The Fourteenth Amendment makes the right to confrontation applicable to the states and not just the federal government. The right only applies to criminal prosecutions, not civil cases or other proceedings.
As Wikipedia also notes,
[g]enerally, having the opportunity to cross-examine a witness at trial will satisfy the Confrontation Clause's guarantee. And trial courts are given `broad discretion . . . to preclude repetitive and unduly harassing interrogation.’ The Supreme Court has emphasized that the `Confrontation Clause guarantees an opportunity for effective cross-examination, not cross-examination that is in whatever way, and to whatever extent, the defendant might wish.’  
Nonetheless, a trial court cannot preclude cross-examination on some subjects. Besides the subject matter of the case, the crime for which a defendant is charged, a defendant has the right to attack the credibility or impeach the testimony of the witness. 
Wikipedia, supra (emphasis in the original). As Wikipedia explains, “impeaching” a witness “in the law of evidence of the United States, is the process of calling into question the credibility of an individual who is testifying in a trial.”   
In his appeal, Mathis argued that the admission into evidence of Jerel A's text messages
at trial violated his rights under the Confrontation Clause. Mathis contends he was prohibited from cross-examining and impeaching Jerel's testimony, while the Government was allowed to introduce favorable evidence in the form of Jerel's text messages.

`We review a preserved Confrontation Clause claim de novo,’ U.S. v. Curbelo, 726 F.3d 1260 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit 2013), and also review de novo `the question of whether hearsay statements are testimonial for purposes of the Confrontation Clause,’ U.S. v. Caraballo, 595 F.3d 1214  (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit 2010). . . .
U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
The Court of Appeals did not buy Mathis’ Confrontation Clause argument.  U.S. v. Mathis, supra.  It found that it “lack[ed] merit”. U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
The Confrontation Clause bars the admission of a witness's testimonial statements when the witness did not appear at trial unless the witness was unavailable and the defendant had a prior opportunity to examine him. U.S. v. Caraballo, 595 F.3d 1214 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit 2010); see also Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004).

Mathis does not argue on appeal that Jerel's text messages were testimonial and he has `therefore abandoned an issue on which he had to prevail in order to obtain reversal.’ U.S. v. King, 751 F.3d 1268 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit 2014).

Regardless, any argument that Jerel's text messages were testimonial would be unavailing. We have explained that:

`[F]ormal statements to government officers are generally testimonial as are affidavits, custodial examinations, prior testimony that the defendant was unable to cross-examine, or similar pretrial statements that declarants would reasonably expect to be used prosecutorially. Similarly, extrajudicial statements contained in formalized testimonial materials, such as affidavits, depositions, prior testimony, or confessions, and statements that were made under circumstances which would lead an objective witness reasonably to believe that the statement would be available for use at a later trial, fall within the core class of testimony.’
U.S. v. Caraballo, supra (brackets and alterations omitted).
The Court of Appeals then went on to explain that Jerel’s text messages were
not formal statements to government officers, they were not made during a custodial examination, and they did not constitute an affidavit, prior testimony, or pretrial statements that he would reasonably expect to be used prosecutorially.

Jerel's text messages were not formalized testimonial materials, and they were not made under circumstances that would lead an objective witness reasonably to believe that they would be available for use at a later trial. See U.S. v. Caraballo, supra. Far from amounting to `the functional equivalent of in-court testimony,’ U.S. v. Curbelo, 726 F.3d 1260 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit 2013). . .

Jerel's text messages were informal, haphazard communications sent at all hours and from locations such as his house, the bus stop, and his school. Jerel's text messages were not testimonial statements and Mathis's right of confrontation was not violated by their admission at trial.
U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
For these and other reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed Mathis’ convictions and sentence.  U.S. v. Mathis, supra.
(If you are interested, about a month ago I did a post that dealt with another issue Mathis raised on appeal.)