Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence for wire fraud and theft in connection with health care, holding that Defendant’s upwardly variant sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Defendant pled guilty to one count of theft in connection with health care and one count of wire fraud. The district court imposed an upwardly variant sentence of sixty months’ imprisonment on each count of conviction, to run concurrently and to be followed by three years of supervised release. The court also ordered Defendant to forfeit $394,300 and to pay $590,296 in restitution to the victim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant’s sentence was neither procedurally unreasonable nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Gierbolini-Rivera" on Justia Law

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The district court’s decision to grant the jury’s oral request, made during deliberations, for a dictionary was improper, but under the circumstances of this case, the judge did not abuse his discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for a new trial. Appellant was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and substantive mail fraud, based upon his certification of false injury claims submitted to the American Family Life Insurance Company. On appeal, Appellant argued that the judge erred in denying his motion for a new trial where the jury was exposed to material not properly offered during trial. The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, holding (1) the judge’s decision to grant the jury’s request, over Defendant’s objection and with no discussion on the record, to use the dictionary was error; but (2) the trial judge took thorough, effective action to investigate the impact of the error and properly concluded that Appellant suffered no prejudice. View "United States v. Pagan-Romero" on Justia Law

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On the facts of the case, the constitutional speedy trial clock began to run from the date of the original indictment rather than from the date of an additional charge first brought in a superseding indictment. A federal grand jury indicted Defendant on twelve counts of wire fraud. Approximately six years later, the government filed a superseding indictment containing the same twelve wire-fraud counts as the original indictment and adding a new count for bank fraud. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss the original indictment and the added bank-fraud count on Sixth Amendment speedy trial grounds. The government appealed, arguing that, with respect to the bank-fraud charge, the district court should have measured the period of delay from the filing of the superseding indictment, not from the filing of the initial indictment. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the bringing of an additional charge does not reset the Sixth Amendment speedy trial clock to the date of the superseding indictment where the additional charge and the charge for which the defendant was previously accused are based on the same act or transaction, or common scheme or plan, and where the government could have, with diligence, brought the additional charge at the time of the prior accusation. View "United States v. Handa" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants’ convictions for wire fraud, embezzlement of public money, and conspiracy, holding that there was no merit in any of Defendants’ claims of error. Defendants, members of the United States Army National Guard in Puerto Rico, were convicted for carrying out a fraudulent scheme to obtain recruitment bonuses. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendants’ pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment as untimely; (2) the court’s rulings as to military dress in the courtroom were not an abuse of discretion; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (4) Defendants’ evidentiary challenges failed; and (5) one of the Defendant’s challenge to his sentence was unavailing. View "United States v. Melendez-Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for tax evasion, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, and health-care fraud, holding that Defendant was fairly tried and lawfully convicted. The Court held (1) the district court did not err in admitting other-acts evidence regarding Defendant’s sexual abuse of his daughter; (2) any error in the other evidentiary rulings disputed by Defendant on appeal were harmless; (3) the district court did not err in refusing to sever the tax evasion counts; (4) Defendant’s challenges to the district court’s jury instructions on the drug-distribution counts were unavailing; and (5) the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction on the drug-distribution counts. View "United States v. Sabean" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the convictions of co-defendants Doris Morel and Erika Tomasino for conspiracy and multiple fraud-related counts based on their participation in a multi-year tax-return fraud scheme. On appeal, Morel raised only a Batson jury claim. Tomasino adopted the Batson claim and raised four claims of her own. The First Circuit denied the claims, holding (1) the Batson challenge patently lacked merit; (2) the government produced sufficient evidence to support Tomasino’s conviction for aggravated identity theft; (2) the district court did not err in giving the jury a Pinkerton instruction; (3) the district court did not commit clear error in admitting against Tomasino incriminating statements made by Morel; and (4) the district court properly admitted testimony from IRS Special Agent Matthew Amsden. View "United States v. Morel" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for federal program bribery, lying to a federal agent, and obstructing justice. The court held that, contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, (1) the district court’s jury instructions did not effect a constructive amendment of the indictment on the bribery count; (2) the erroneous inclusion of a unanimity instruction in the jury charge on the particular benefits included within the “stream of benefits” alleged by the government on the bribery count did not prejudice Defendant; and (3) the court did not err in admitting evidence of prior bad acts and adequately instructed the jury about the testimony of immunized cooperating witnesses. View "United States v. Lopez-Cotto" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for conspiring to defraud the United States and four counts of wire fraud and the sentence imposed by the district court, thus rejecting Defendant’s arguments on appeal. Defendant was convicted of knowingly procuring government contracts for his construction company. The district court sentenced Defendant to thirty months’ imprisonment and entered an order of forfeiture, in the form of a money judgment, in an amount totaling more than $6.7 million, which the court determined was the amount of the proceeds of Defendant’s crimes. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (2) even assuming the prosecutor’s statements made during closing arguments were improper and deliberate, the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that its instruction likely cured any prejudice and that any surviving prejudice did not affect the jury’s verdict; and (3) there was no error in the district court’s forfeiture order and money judgment. View "United States v. Gorski" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant’s motion for a new trial in his criminal case pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 33. Appellant was convicted of antitrust conspiracy. The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s conviction and sentence. Appellant later moved for a new trial based on freshly discovered evidence, arguing that the government offended the due process guarantees memorialized in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The district court denied the motion, reasoning that the earlier disclosure of the freshly discovered evidence would not have changed the outcome of the criminal case. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court’s finding that Appellant suffered no cognizable prejudice from the delayed disclosure of the information at issue was not in error. View "United States v. Peake" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s convictions of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit both. The convictions arose from Appellant’s writing of false opinion letters so that his two co-conspirators could sell stock to the public in a “pump and dump” scheme. On appeal, Appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions in light of his interpretation of section 3(a)(9) of the Securities Act and that the district court constructively amended the indictment in its instructions to the jury. The First Circuit held (1) even if Appellant’s interpretation of section 3(a)(9) was correct, the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; and (2) Appellant’s constructive amendment claim was without merit. View "United States v. Weed" on Justia Law