Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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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

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Defendant appealed his sentence and order of restitution after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud. The court concluded that the district court committed procedural error when it departed upward from the advisory sentencing guidelines and thus remanded for resentencing. In this case, the analysis the district court provided did not adequately explain and support the district court's significant departure from Criminal History Category II to Category VI. The court also concluded that defendant's appeal waiver was enforceable as to the restitution order and thus dismissed the appeal of the restitution order. View "United States v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

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Defendants Delgrosso and Cain were convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Delgrosso also was found guilty of failing to file IRS Form 8300. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendants' motions for a new trial based on Jerry Wright's post-trial affidavit because, even if Wright testified or the affidavit were admitted, the Government could impeach Wright's credibility by introducing evidence of his seven prior felony convictions. Furthermore, even if the jury believed Wright's statements, that does not mean that it would likely acquit defendants. In this case, the Government provided ample evidence that would allow the jury to conclude that Delgrosso and Cain knew or willfully blinded themselves to the fact that Wright acquired his cash through drug sales. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Delgrosso's motion for a new trial based on Government misconduct under Brady v. Maryland where it was untimely and, even if it was timely, his allegations either relate to issues that were irrelevant or were directly contradicted; the district court did not plainly err by instructing the jury on willful blindness; the district court did not err in denying Delgrosso's motion for acquittal where sufficient evidence supported the jury's verdict; and the district court did not clearly err in denying Delgrosso safety-valve relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Delgrosso" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to eight counts of a sixteen count indictment that included wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. Defendant appealed his sentence of 111 months in prison and 5 years of supervised release. The court affirmed the sentence but remanded the forfeiture order for further proceedings. The district court, upon rehearing, ordered forfeiture of the entirety of defendant's Castlerock property under 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(1). The court held that the evidence satisfied the requisite nexus between defendant's money-laundering convictions and the entirety of the property at issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Beltramea" on Justia Law

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Defendant was ordered to pay restitution of almost $500,000 after he pled guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The court concluded that, although the district court missed the 90-day deadline, the district court retained its power to order restitution; the government failed to provide sufficient evidence of the ultimate losses defendant caused the victim banks; and since more than four years have passed after defendant was originally sentenced, and in the interest of finality, the court declined to remand for a third restitution proceeding. Therefore, the court vacated the restitution amount. View "United States v. Adejumo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, 92 investors in a Ponzi scheme called the British Lending Program (BLP), filed suit against PNC, alleging, among other things, (1) violations of Missouri's Uniform Fiduciaries Law (UFL); (2) aiding and abetting the breach of fiduciary duties; (3) conspiracy to breach fiduciary duties; and (4) conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962(d). Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that PNC's predecessor, Allegiant, conspired with and aided Martin Sigillito in his scheme to defraud investors when it served as custodian for the self-directed IRAs of those who chose to invest in the BLP at its inception. The court granted summary judgment to PNC, concluding that even if the court overlooked plaintiffs' failure to cite any legal authorities in support of their RICO and common-law claims, those claims fail on the merits. In this case, the evidence is insufficient to establish a reasonable fact dispute as to whether Allegiant, PNC's predecessor, objectively manifested an agreement to participate in criminal activity with Sigillito, had a meeting of the minds with Sigillito, or substantially assisted or encouraged Sigillito's conduct. The court also rejected plaintiffs' UFL claim, concluding that no evidence exists that Allegiant processed any transaction with actual knowledge that Sigillito was breaching his fiduciary duties, and the evidence fails to show that Allegiant acted in bad faith. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Aguilar v. PNC Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud arising from a scheme in which he overpaid for commodities to the benefit of certain customers while managing a grain elevator for Bunge. The district court ordered defendant to pay $1,561,516.25 in restitution to Bunge, which included $87,536.65 in attorney's fees and expenses Bunge paid to an outside counsel during the investigation of defendant's fraudulent scheme and his prosecution. The court affirmed the portion of the district court's restitution award which does not include attorney's fees; vacated the portion awarding attorney's fees and expenses; and remanded to the district court to specifically address whether the attorney's fees incurred after the government initiated its own investigation were "necessary" under 18 U.S.C. 3663A(b)(4). View "United States v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to four counts of wire fraud. The court concluded that, because the district court did not apply one of the two total offense levels specifically contemplated by the plea agreement, defendant's appeal waiver does not preclude this appeal. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in determining that defendant's post-plea conduct was inconsistent with a finding that he had accepted responsibility for his offenses. The court concluded, however, that it must reverse and remand so that the district court may determine in the first instance whether M.U. was a victim under the Guidelines and, if necessary, proceed to resentencing. The court further concluded that the district court did not plainly err when determining the amount of restitution owed to A.B. and R.W. Finally, the court declined to consider defendant's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, the court otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Binkholder" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of laundering and conspiring to launder money, and making a false statement. Defendant had laundered drug proceeds received from his brother-in-law, Brandon Lusk, through his law firm, and then lied to an IRS agent about his financial arrangements with Lusk. When Lusk was investigated by authorities, defendant acted as his lawyer and advised him to hide the nature of their financial relationship. The court concluded that the district court acted well within its discretion to rule that a question implying that defendant had associated with a person later charged with criminal activity, even if improper, did not require a new trial. In this case, the question was half-finished and unanswered. Moreover, the other inculpatory evidence the jury heard was extensive. The court also concluded that the district court properly considered the fact that defendant put his own personal interests ahead of his clients, and that this factor was enough to justify the sentence imposed, even if it resulted in a sentence that was harsh in comparison to others involved in the drug trafficking operation. Finally, there is no indication that the district court punished defendant more harshly because he was a lawyer. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Boedigheimer" on Justia Law