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Freed was the president and CEO of JFA, a real estate development company, and created and managed several real estate ventures including UGV. In 2002, UGV secured Chicago tax increment financing (TIF) for an Uptown development. The city issued a redevelopment note for $4.3 million and project note for $2.4 million. UGV was required to annually it was not in default on any loans and had not entered into any transactions that would harm its ability to meet its financial obligations. Freed thereafter obtained loans and allowed them to become double-pledged and go into default. He made false statements to obtain loan modifications. In annual requisition forms Freed provided the city under the TIF agreement, Freed claimed none of his entities were in default. The Seventh Circuit affirmed Freed’s convictions for bank fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344); mail fraud (18 U.S.C. 1341); wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 1343); and making false statements to a financial institution (18 U.S.C. 1014), rejecting arguments that two jury instructions, concerning "aiding and abetting" and "wilfully causing" were incorrect and there was insufficient evidence for several of his convictions. View "United States v. Freed" on Justia Law

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Over seven years, Dr. Greenspan referred more than 100,000 blood tests to Biodiagnostic Laboratory, which made more than $3 million off these tests. In exchange, the Lab gave Greenspan and his associates more than $200,000 in cash, gifts, and other benefits. A jury convicted Greenspan of accepting kickbacks, 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7(b)(1)(A); using interstate facilities with the intent to commit commercial bribery, 18 U.S.C. 1952(a)(1), (3); honest-services wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, 1346; and conspiracy to do all of those things. The Third Circuit affirmed, characterizing the evidence of his guilt as overwhelming. The district court erred in instructing the jury that Greenspan had to “demonstrate” the prerequisites for an advice-of-counsel defense; in excluding as hearsay some of his testimony about that legal advice; in asking only Greenspan’s counsel, not Greenspan personally, whether he wished to speak at sentencing; and in limiting the scope of the defense to five particular agreements rather than all eight, but all of those errors were harmless. The court properly excluded evidence that the blood tests were medically necessary. That evidence was only marginally relevant and risked misleading the jury. View "United States v. Greenspan" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and several substantive counts of health care fraud. Defendants' charges stemmed from their involvement in a scheme to defraud Medicare. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant Bagoumian's conviction for conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute; the evidence was sufficient to support defendants' conviction for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud; and the evidence was sufficient to support the counts against the doctor defendants for engaging in monetary transactions of property derived from specified unlawful activity. The court also held that any error in the jury instructions was harmless; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendants' request for a good faith instruction; and defendants' evidentiary challenges were rejected. Finally, the court affirmed Bagoumian's sentence, holding that the district court did not prejudicially rely on her national origin, did not err in refusing to grant a downward adjustment, and did not impose a substantively unreasonable sentence. View "United States v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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Patel pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, for his role in selling $179 million in fraudulent loans to an investment advisor. Patel delayed his sentencing date for a year while he purported to help recover funds for his victims. While on bond, just days before he was to be sentenced, Patel attempted to flee the U.S. and seek political asylum elsewhere. Agents arrested him just before he boarded a chartered flight to Ecuador. The government discovered that while on bond, instead of earning money for his victims through consulting fees and redevelopment projects, Patel and another used fictitious identities and entities to defraud an Iowa lender out of millions of dollars. Approximately $2.2 million of the money Patel had ostensibly earned for the fraud victims was newly‐stolen money. The court imposed a below-guidelines sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the sentence as procedurally and substantively reasonable. Patel made a disparity argument, the government had the opportunity to respond, and the court addressed it on the record; nothing more is required. The court’s comments regarding Patel’s psychological state and motivations relate to factors that a court must consider at sentencing, 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(1), (2)(A). There is no indication that the court “did not like” him and sentenced him inappropriately as a result. View "United States v. Patel" on Justia Law

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Ace, a licensed physician, and Lesa Chaney owned and operated Ace Clinique in Hazard, Kentucky. An anonymous caller told the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services that Ace pre-signed prescriptions. An investigation revealed that Ace was absent on the day that several prescriptions signed by Ace and dated that day were filled. Clinique employees admitted to using and showed agents pre-signed prescription blanks. Agents obtained warrants to search Clinique and the Chaneys’ home and airplane hangar for evidence of violations of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), knowing or intentional distribution of controlled substances, and 18 U.S.C. 1956(h), conspiracies to commit money laundering. Evidence seized from the hangar and evidence seized from Clinique that dated to before March 2006 were suppressed. The court rejected arguments that the warrants’ enumeration of “patient files” was overly broad and insufficiently particular. During trial, an alternate juror reported some “concerns about how serious[ly] the jury was taking their duty.” The court did not tell counsel about those concerns. After the verdict, the same alternate juror—who did not participate in deliberations—contacted defense counsel; the court conducted an in camera interview, then denied a motion for a new trial. To calculate the sentencing guidelines range, the PSR recommended that every drug Ace prescribed during the relevant time period and every Medicaid billing should be used to calculate drug quantity and loss amount. The court found that 60 percent of the drugs and billings were fraudulent, varied downward from the guidelines-recommended life sentences, and sentenced Ace to 180 months and Lesa to 80 months in custody. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the constitutionality of the warrant that allowed the search of the clinic; the sufficiency of the evidence; and the calculation of the guidelines range and a claim of jury misconduct. View "United States v. Chaney" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's order granting partial summary judgment in favor of River Birch in a civil action under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, alleging that River Birch bribed former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to shut down a landfill opened in the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The court held that there were genuine issues of material fact as to both whether defendants' campaign contribution to Nagin was a bribe and whether the payment was the but for and proximate cause of Nagin's decision to close the Chef Menteur landfill. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Waste Management of Louisiana v. River Birch, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of a 60 month term of probation and assessment of a fine to defendant, who was convicted of several counts of tax evasion and filing false income tax returns. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by departing downward from the recommended sentencing guidelines by considering defendant's lack of prior criminal history, that he acted alone, his age, physical condition, family responsibilities, charitable activity, work as a law enforcement officer, and voluntary service during the Vietnam era. View "United States v. Taffaro" on Justia Law

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Defendants Waits and Mills appealed their convictions and sentences for wire fraud related to their involvement with government feeding programs to children in low income areas. The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing defendants' proffered jury instructions; the district court did not err by admitting into evidence a recording of a conversation between Waits and a coconspirator; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Waits' motion for a new trial; and the district court did not err in calculating Waits' criminal history score and in sentencing him. However, the court vacated and remanded the forfeiture order against Waits, because the order was based on the incorrect statute. View "United States v. Waits" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss the indictment against them for failing to satisfy the "obtaining of property" element of Hobbs Act extortion, holding that the "obtaining of property" element was satisfied in this case. Defendants were two officials of the City of Boston, Massachusetts, who allegedly threatened to withhold permits from a production company that need the permits to hold a music festival unless the company agreed to hire works from a specific union to work at the event. Defendants were indicted for Hobbs act extortion and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to show, as it interpreted "obtaining of property" in the Hobbs Act extortion provision to require, that Defendants received a personal benefit from the transfer of wages and benefits to the union workers that Defendants allegedly directed the production company to make. The First Circuit vacated the order of dismissal, holding that the "obtaining of property" element may be satisfied by evidence showing that Defendants induced the victim's consent to transfer property to third parties that Defendants identified, even where Defendants did not incur any personal benefit from the transfer. View "United States v. Brissette" on Justia Law

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Lee was a member of the Summit County Council. The FBI obtained wiretaps and investigated the relationship between Lee and Abdelqader, a store owner, after complaints that Abdelqader “was insisting on monthly cash payments from other local businesses” that he would give to Lee in exchange for political favors. Abdelqader’s nephews were arrested for felonious assault. Abdelqader called Lee for help; they discussed Lee’s financial problems. Abdelqader promised that they would “work it out.” Lee placed calls to the juvenile court bailiff and the judicial assistant; Lee subsequently deposited 200 dollars in her bank account and placed calls to the judge who was handling the case. Lee also took payment for attempting to intervene in an IRS investigation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Lee’s convictions on four counts of conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, honest services mail fraud, Hobbs Act conspiracy, and Hobbs Act extortion, 18 U.S.C. 1341, 1343, 1346, 1349, and 1951 and two counts concerning obstruction of justice and false statements to law enforcement, 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2); 18 U.S.C. 1001 and her 60-month sentence. The court rejected challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and to the sufficiency of her indictment in light of the Supreme Court’s 2016 “McDonnell” decision. At a minimum, the indictment supports an inference that Lee agreed to perform an official act or pressure or advise other officials to perform official acts in exchange for gifts or loans from Abdelqader. View "United States v. Lee" on Justia Law