Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for bribing an Arkansas state official. The court held that the indictment adequately stated the offenses of honest-services and federal-funds bribery; because the indictment stated an offense, defendant's assertion that the government constructively amended the indictment also failed; defendant's objections to the jury instructions for honest-services bribery and federal-funds bribery were rejected; defendant's evidentiary challenges were rejected; and the district court's amount of loss calculation was not clearly erroneous. View "United States v. Suhl" on Justia Law

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Mark and Ornella Hammerschmidt were convicted of charges related to their involvement in two schemes to obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the Treasury through the IRS. Mark was sentenced to 135 months in prison and Ornella was sentenced to 48 months in prison. The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence, holding that the district court did not make the findings required to increase Mark's offense level for being a manager or supervisor and it should not have assessed criminal history points for a 2008 purged disposition of civil contempt. The court affirmed Ornella's sentence, holding that the district court did not err in applying an enhancement for being in the business of preparing or assisting in the preparation of tax returns. Furthermore, the district court did not err in relying on victim impact statements and Ornella's criminal history. View "United States v. Hammerschmidt" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for charges related to his involvement in a scheme to defraud TierOne Bank's shareholders and to mislead its regulators by concealing millions of dollars in losses related to the failure of certain real estate loans. The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal, because the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant possessed the knowledge and intent required to sustain his convictions; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a bill of particulars where the government's disclosures were sufficient to enable defendant to understand the nature of the charges against him, prepare a defense, and avoid any surprise; the court rejected defendant's evidentiary challenges; and the district court properly declined to issue defendant's requested jury instructions. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in adopting the loss calculation methodology set forth in the Sentencing Guidelines; the district court did not err in applying a 4-level leadership enhancement under USSG 3B1.1(a); and defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable. Finally, the district court did not err in its calculation of the restitution award. View "United States v. Lundstrom" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence and conviction of wire fraud and unlawful monetary transaction. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting ATM-location evidence where the location of defendant's withdrawals -- an adult club -- was proof he might not have used investor funds for legitimate business expenses. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in applying a two-level vulnerable-victim enhancement where vulnerability no longer needed to contribute to success of the scheme; although the district court did not make explicit factual findings, the victims testified at sentencing; the district court heard arguments regarding whether that testimony warranted the enhancement; and defendant ignored the combination of factors he knew about the victims, including disability and alcoholism. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to review the district court's denial of a downward departure. View "United States v. Beyer" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for three counts of soliciting or receiving an illegal kickback related to a federal health-care program and one count of making a false statement to federal agents. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of three charges under the anti-kickback statute. In this case, the district court identified one element of the charges as proof that defendant solicited or received a payment that was paid primarily in order to induce the referral of patients insured by Medicare or Medicaid. Then the district court found that the evidence showed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant solicited kickbacks, represented that he could control the referrals, and actually received money for the few referrals that were made through his efforts. Finally, defendant's challenge to his false statement conviction failed. View "United States v. Iqbal" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to abstain from a suit arising out of the collapse of Thomas Petters' massive Ponzi scheme, because the case before the district court was duplicative of the case before the other federal court. While the district court appropriately invoked its discretion to abstain, the district court should have stayed the action rather than dismiss it. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment dismissing the action and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ritchie Capital Management LLC v. BMO Harris Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendants Springer and Makohoniuk's convictions for bank fraud. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that defendants intended to cause a financial loss and that their scheme subjected the financial institutions to a risk of loss; the jury instructions did not put defendants at risk of being convicted of bank fraud based on trivial irrelevancies where the "materiality" qualification obviates any fear that the instructions could allow the jury to convict defendants for harmless misrepresentations; the jury had ample evidence to find materiality; the indictment fully and fairly apprised defendants of the charges they must meet at trial; submission of an aiding and abetting instruction was not error; the government did not violate Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) by admitting evidence of the underlying scheme; the jury had sufficient evidence to conclude that the HUD-1s were false; the district court did not err by sua sponte severing Makohoniuk's trial from Springer's; and Makohoniuk knowingly waived his right to testify at trial. View "United States v. Springer" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for tax evasion, mail fraud, and wire fraud for conduct relating to the operation of three companies that he owned. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by limiting defendant's cross-examination of a prosecution witness; the district court did not clearly err in determining that defendant's base offense level was 22 based on a tax loss of greater than $1,000,000; and the district court did not clearly err by applying and two-level adjustment under USSG 3C1.1 for obstruction of justice. Because the government concedes that it did not establish sufficient evidence to support the application of the USSG 2T1.1(b)(1) enhancement for failing to report income exceeding $10,000 from criminal activity, the court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Montanari" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to discharge a restitution obligation resulting from defendant's involvement in a fraud scheme as the owner of a life insurance company. The court held that the time limit on criminal appeals was a claims-processing rule so even if the prior panel mistakenly applied the rule governing civil appeals, there was no bar to the court's consideration of the current appeal. The court concluded that the district court correctly denied defendant's motion on the merits because the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A(c)(1)(A)(ii), did not provide authority to reduce the amount of a restitution obligation to match the value of a negotiated settlement with the victim in civil proceedings. Consequently, the district court did not have authority to grant defendant's request to deem the restitution obligation discharged if he paid the negotiated settlement. The district court, however, did not foreclose defendant from seeking relief under section 3664(j)(2)(B) upon a proper showing, and neither did the court. View "United States v. Whitbeck" on Justia Law

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Midamar Corporation and Jalel Aossey conditionally plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses in connection with a scheme to sale falsely labeled halal meat. William Aossey was convicted of conspiracy, making false statements on export certificates, and wire fraud in connection with the scheme. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss, arguing that Congress had reserved exclusive enforcement authority over the alleged statutory violations to the Secretary of Agriculture, and that the United States Attorney could not proceed against defendants in a criminal prosecution. The court rejected defendants' contention that two sections of the Meat Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. 674 and 607(e), show that Congress removed these prosecutions from the jurisdiction of the district courts. Rather, the court concluded that the district court did not err in denying the motion to dismiss, because Congress afforded the Executive two independent avenues to address false or misleading meat labeling. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Aossey, Jr." on Justia Law