Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in White Collar Crime
by
The First Circuit affirmed Appellant's plea of guilty to one count of investment adviser fraud, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, holding that there was no prejudicial error in the proceedings below.On appeal, Appellant argued that her plea was not knowing and voluntary, that the evidence was insufficient to convict her of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, that several sentencing enhancements were improperly applied, and that her counsel was ineffective. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the district court's acceptance of Appellant's guilty plea; (2) Appellant's conduct clearly satisfied the statutory requirements for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft; and (3) Appellant's challenges to several aspects of her sentence were unavailing. View "United States v. Kitts" on Justia Law

by
In this interlocutory appeal, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendants' claims that their prosecutions ran afoul of the prohibition in a congressional appropriations rider against spending federal funds to prosecute criminal defendants for marijuana-related offenses, holding that there was no error.The appropriations rider at issue placed a practical limit on federal prosecutors' ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., with respect to certain conduct involving medical marijuana. Defendants - two individuals and three companies - were indicted for marijuana-related offenses. Defendants moved to enjoin their prosecutions pursuant to the appropriations rider. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the appropriations rider did not bar the pending federal prosecution against Defendants. View "United States v. Bilodeau" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of intentionally causing damage to a protected computer and conspiring to do the same, holding that there was no error, plain or otherwise, in the proceedings below.Defendant committed a cyberattack against Boston Children's Hospital and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network causing both to lose their internet capabilities for several weeks. Defendant publicly admitted responsibility for the attacks. After an eight-day trial, Defendant was convicted for intentionally causing damage to a protected computer and conspiring to cause damage to a protected computer. The First Circuit affirmed (1) there was no violation of the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. 3161-3174; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress; (3) there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's denial of the four motions to withdraw that were filed by Defendant's trial counsel; (4) the district court did not err in precluding Defendant from raising a defense-of-others argument at trial; and (5) the trial judge did not err in denying three recusal motions Defendant made pro se after the verdict but before sentencing. View "United States v. Gottesfeld" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendants' convictions connected with the murder of Steven DiSarro, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief on their allegations of error.Defendants, Francis Salemme and Paul Weadick, were convicted of the 1993 murder of DiSarro. At the time of the murder, Salemme was the boss of a criminal organization known as the New England La Cosa Nostra. Defendants murdered DiSarro to prevent him from talking with federal agents about his activities with Salemme, Weadick and Salemme's son. On appeal, Defendants challenged the trial court's admission of a significant amount of evidence concerning the prior criminal activities of Salemme and several witnesses. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in admitting the evidence. View "United States v. Weadick" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed in full the verdicts of the jury convicting the five defendants in this case on charges brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962(d) but vacated the restitution and forfeiture orders, holding that the jury's special findings and verdicts as to all defendants were affirmed.Defendants in this case were a group of pharmaceutical executives involved with Insys Therapeutics, Inc., which marketed and sold Subsys, a fentanyl-laced medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain. A jury found Defendants guilty of racketeering charges, and the court sentenced Defendants to prison terms of varying lengths. The First Circuit upheld the jury verdicts in full and affirmed the district court's denial of Defendants' various motions for judgments of acquittal and/or new trials but vacated the restitution and forfeiture orders, holding that the district court erred as to these orders. View "United States v. Simon" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit rejected the efforts of the two defendants in this consolidated appeal to retroactively vacate the forfeiture judgment against them, holding that neither defendant was entitled to relief on their claims of error.The defendants in this case were Donna Saccoccia and her brother, Vincent Hurley. Defendants were convicted for their role in a money laundering conspiracy controlled by Donna's husband, Stephen Saccoccia. In this appeal, Defendants appealed the district court's denial of Donna's petition for a writ of error coram nobis - a petition that Hurley sought to adopt - seeking vacate of a forfeiture judgment of approximately $136 million in proceeds from the conspiracy, arguing that the Supreme Court's decision in Honeycutt v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1626 (2017), should be applied retroactively to invalidate the forfeiture judgments against them. The First Circuit denied relief, holding (1) Donna's efforts to apply Honeycutt retroactively were unavailing for the same grounds applicable to Stephen, whose same attempt this Court recently rejected; and (2) Hurley waived his argument on appeal. View "United States v. Saccoccia" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of making a materially false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2), holding that Defendant's arguments on appeal lacked merit.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) Defendant's argument that multiple circumstances may have caused the jury to convict him of a second statement that had not been charged, causing a mismatch or variance between the indictment and the proof, was unavailing; (2) there was no clear prosecutorial misconduct in either the opening or the closing arguments; (3) Defendant waived his claim regarding the indictment not going to the jury and the verdict form; and (4) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "United States v. Chen" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of conspiracy to commit various financial crimes, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and converting government property, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief as to any of his assignments of error.This case arose from Defendant's participation, along with several coconspirators, in a scheme to defraud the federal government by falsifying tax returns. A jury convicted him of multiple counts, and the judge sentenced him to eighty-four months in jail. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's claims of error in the trial judge's evidentiary rulings were unavailing; and (2) the judge properly applied two sentencing enhancements. View "United States v. Grullon" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting the government's request to garnish Appellant's husband's 401(k) account and apply the proceeds to his nearly four million dollar criminal restitution obligations, holding that Appellant had no vested legal interest in her husband's account.Appellant's husband (Husband) pleaded guilty to eight counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and unlawful monetary transactions. The district court sentenced him to a term of incarceration and ordered him to pay $3,879,750 in restitution. The government later asked the district court for a writ of garnishment directed at Husband's 401(k) plan, which Husband held individually in his own name. The district court rejected Appellant's objections and issued a garnishment order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Massachusetts law did not give Appellant a vested legal interest in Husband's 401(k) account; and (2) it was not plain error for the district court to issue the writ of garnishment without compensating Appellant for her contingent death benefit under the policy. View "United States v. Abell" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit denied the petition for a writ of mandamus filed by Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. pursuant to the Crime Victim's Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. 3771(d)(3), requesting vacatur of the district court's restitution order, holding that the district court properly determined the award of restitution to Akebia, a corporate victim of a securities fraud conspiracy.A jury convicted Akebia's former director of biostatistics of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. During the sentencing phase, the government, on behalf of Akebia, sought reimbursement of $312,899 pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A. The requested reimbursement was for fees Akebia paid to attorneys it hired for assistance while Akebia responded to requests for information during the government's investigation into suspected insider trading activities. The district court awarded Akebia approximately half of the attorneys' fees it requested. The First Circuit affirmed the restitution award, holding that the district court did not improperly exercise its discretion in applying the relevant law and did not abuse its discretion in its award of restitution to Akebia. View "In re Akebia Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law