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The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part the district court’s dismissal of Appellant’s complaint claiming that he was fired from his job in retaliation for accusing his employer of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and making false representations in customer contracts, holding that Appellant plausibly pleaded that he engaged in protected conduct within the meaning of a False Claims Act (FCA) retaliation claim. The district court dismissed the complaint after finding that Appellant did not allege sufficient facts to show he was engaged in protected conduct within the meaning of the retaliation provision of the FCA. The First Circuit affirmed as to the contractual language claim but vacated and remanded as to the AKS claim, holding that Appellant plausibly pleaded that the concerns he raised about certain payments could have led to an FCA action. View "Guilfoile v. Shields" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied and dismissed Petitioner’s petition challenging the Board of Immigration Appeals’s (BIA) denial of her motion to reopen and the BIA’s decision not to exercise its sua sponte authority to reopen her case to grant her request for an adjustment of status, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief. Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) Petitioner’s petition for review was denied as to her challenge to the BIA’s determination that the motion to reopen was untimely; and (2) because Petitioner had no colorable constitutional or legal claim on which the Court might base jurisdiction, the petition was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as to Petitioner’s challenge to the BIA’s decision not to exercise its authority to reopen sua sponte. View "Gyamfi v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant’s conviction of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, holding that the sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Defendant received a guideline sentence of forty-six months of imprisonment for his conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court abused its discretion by applying a six-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2S1.1(b)(1) when it was not proven that he knew his crime involved drug trafficking proceeds. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was ample evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant knew that laundered funds were drug-trafficking proceeds; and (2) Defendant’s sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Calderon-Lozano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant on twelve federal criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, Defendant’s lengthy prison sentence, and the $2.25 million money judgment forfeiture entered by the district court, holding that Defendant’s arguments on appeal were unavailing. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not manifestly abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial under Fed. R. Crim. P. 33 on the basis of what Defendant claimed was newly discovered evidence; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in ordering the forfeiture of a gold ring in partial satisfaction of the previously ordered money judgment forfeiture. View "United States v. Ponzo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of two counts of drug trafficking in international waters while aboard a stateless vessel in violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), 46 U.S.C. 70501-08, holding that Defendant’s challenges to his convictions failed but that the district court erred in denying Defendant a minor participant reduction under section 3B1.2(b) of the Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, the Court held (1) in light of prior precedent concerning Defendant’s assertion about the content of international law, the Court must reject Defendant’s constitutional contention regarding the scope of Congress’s power to criminalize his conduct that he argued lacked any nexus to the United States; and (2) because Amendment 794 to the Sentencing Guidelines, which added five factors to the application note, applies retroactively, this case must be remanded for resentencing so that the district court can have an opportunity to apply the new factors. View "United States v. Aybar-Ulloa" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s contract and tort claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the federal court in Puerto Rico lacked personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Plaintiff, a Puerto Rico tour company, brought this diversity suit in the United States District of Puerto Rico, alleging that a California youth soccer organization and related defendants breached duties that the organization owed to Plaintiff under Puerto Rico contract and tort law. The allegations centered around Defendants’ acts of first requesting that Plaintiff make an offer for a potential soccer trip to Puerto Rico for some of the organization’s teams and their families and then declining after further communications to book the tour. The district court dismissed the claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the exercise of specific jurisdiction in the forum over the out-of-forum defendants did not conform to the federal constitutional test. View "PREP Tours, Inc. v. American Youth Soccer Organization" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Petitioner’s petition for habeas corpus relief as time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1), holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief based on his two tolling theories. As grounds for reconsideration of the dismissal of his habeas petition, Petitioner argued (1) the statute of limitations should be statutorily tolled during the pendency of his motion to stay the execution of his sentence because that motion constituted an application for collateral review under section 2244(d)(2); and (2) the circumstances surrounding his conviction justified equitable tolling of the time between the finality of his Massachusetts convictions and the filing of his habeas petition. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) Petitioner’s motion to stay the execution of his sentence was not a request for collateral review and therefore did not toll the one-year statute of limitations; and (2) there was no reason to disrupt the district court’s discretionary ruling on equitable tolling. View "Blue v. Medeiros" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence without prejudice to his right to raise his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in a collateral proceeding brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, holding that Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim ought not to be aired for the first time on direct appeal. Defendant pleaded guilty to violating the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. 2423(a) and was sentenced to a 327-month term of immurement. On appeal, Defendant argued for the first time that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that this case did not qualify for an exception to the general rule that an ineffective assistance of counsel claim must first be raised in the district court. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s 109-month sentence for possession of child pornography, holding that the government did not violate the plea agreement in this case and that the district court did not err in applying an enhancement for knowingly distributing child pornography. Defendant entered a guilty plea to the charge of possession of child pornography. The district court sentenced Defendant to a 109-month term of immurement. On appeal, Defendant argued that the government breached the terms of the plea agreement by failing to advocate for the bargained-for sentence and that the district court’s finding that he knowingly distributed child pornography was in error. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err when it included a two-level enhancement for knowing distribution in its calculation of the guideline sentencing range; and (2) there was no breach of the plea agreement. View "United States v. Montanez-Quinones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Appellant’s federal petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the petition. In his petition, Appellant challenged his convictions under Massachusetts law for murder and other offenses, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The district court denied relief. Because Appellant’s case was adjudicated on the merits in state court, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s (AEDPA) highly deferential standard of review applied. See 28 U.S.C. 2254(d). The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of habeas relief, holding that any error on the part of counsel was not unsustainable under AEDPA’s deferential review standard. View "Walker v. Medeiros" on Justia Law