Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

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After defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing a false tax return, he unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his plea. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that defendant failed to show fair and just reasons why he should have been allowed to withdraw his plea where the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded, based on the totality of the circumstances, that defendant's guilty plea was knowing and voluntary; his plea did not lack a factual basis supporting the conviction; and the Government did not breach the plea agreement by failing to recommend a sentence reduction for acceptance of responsibility.The court also held that the Klein conspiracy conviction under 18 U.S.C. 371 was not void for vagueness; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's motion to continue his sentencing or to bifurcate the sentencing and restitution proceedings; there was no error in the district court's order of restitution; and the court rejected defendant's argument that the district court erred by imposing a four-level enhancement under USSG 3B1.1. View "United States v. Flynn" on Justia Law

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If a defendant is convicted of a money laundering scheme that caused no financial harm to an innocently involved bank, an order of forfeiture is still mandatory.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the government's forfeiture motion. The court held that the definition of property in 18 U.S.C. 982(a)(1) is distinct from that in the other subsections of section 982(a), as well as 21 U.S.C. 853(a). The court's ruling allows forfeiture in the amount of property that defendant transferred as a part of his laundering scheme. The court explained that this outcome is what Congress intended when it used the broad term "any property, real or personal, involved in such offense" and instituted a scheme of substitute forfeiture. Therefore, the district court was under an obligation to order forfeiture against defendant. View "United States v. Hatum" on Justia Law

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After defendant was indicted on healthcare fraud and money laundering charges, he challenged a pre-trial repatriation order entered by the district court as a violation of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The order requires defendant to repatriate any proceeds of the fraudulent scheme that he may have transferred to any African bank during a three-year period, up to $7,287,000, despite the indictment alleging that he transferred only $760,000 to two specific banks in Uganda and Kenya.The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's order, holding that the challenged order compels defendant to incriminate himself by personally identifying, and demonstrating his control over, untold amounts of money located in places the government may not presently know about. The panel also held that the district court failed to apply the proper "foregone conclusion" exception test, relieving the government of its obligation to prove its prior knowledge of the incriminating information that may be implicitly communicated by repatriation. The panel explained that the order allows the government to shirk its responsibility to discover its own evidence, and the government's narrow promise of limited use immunity is insufficient to counterbalance these harms. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to conduct an evidentiary hearing. View "United States v. Oriho" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions of aiding and abetting the wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information and obstructing a criminal investigation of a health care offense, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) inferring from certain evidence that Defendant knew that protected information was being accessed was neither unreasonable, insupportable, nor overly speculative, and therefore, the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction of aiding and abetting the wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction for obstructing a criminal investigation of a health care offense. View "United States v. Luthra" on Justia Law

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Kozerski owned two construction companies in Detroit. He formed the second one, CA, to bid on Veterans Administration contracts set aside for small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Kozerski does not have a service-related disability. He convinced J.R., a service-disabled veteran, to pretend to be the company’s owner. CA handled six contracts. Kozerski forged J.R.’s signature and sent the government emails supposedly from J.R.. For five contracts, Kozerski did not pay J.R. anything, lying to him that CA did not receive any contracts after the first one.The government eventually discovered the scheme and charged Kozerski with wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343. Kozerski pleaded guilty. The PSR recommended a loss amount of $9.5 million to $25 million, calculated by adding the amounts the government paid CA on all six contracts without crediting the value of the work performed on the contracts: $11,891,243.45, resulting in a Guidelines range of 37-46 months. Kozerski argued the loss should be the amount of profit a qualifying veteran-owned business would receive from the contract, yielding a guidelines range of eight-14 months. The district court adopted Kozerski’s formula and sentenced him to a year and a day. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court’s calculation of the loss as the aggregate difference between Kozerski’s bids and the next-lowest bids, about $250,000. View "United States v. Kozerski" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for making false statements to obtain federal workers' compensation benefits under 18 U.S.C. 1920 and for theft of public money under 18 U.S.C. 641. The court assumed without deciding that it was clear error to admit the testimony about the general honesty of workers' compensation patients, and held that the error was harmless because it did not affect plaintiff's substantial rights. The court also held that the district court's jury instruction was not erroneous where the alternative verbs in the first paragraph of Section 641 are means of committing the offense, not elements. View "United States v. Coffman" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated defendant's sentence and restitution imposed after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The court held that the district court erred at sentencing by applying the commercial bribery sentencing guideline based on an uncharged bribery scheme that the government dropped in exchange for defendant pleading guilty to the wire fraud. The court explained that vacatur is warranted because the court could not be confident, despite the district court's statement to the contrary, that it would have imposed the same sentence had it instead used the correct guideline. The court also held that the district court erred by ordering $19 million in restitution to be paid to the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association, an entity that was not a victim of the convicted conduct under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. The court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Huberfeld" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an attempt to hold Defendant Paul Robben liable for securities fraud. Various Plaintiffs alleged that Robben fraudulently induced them to purchase ownership interests in a Kansas limited liability company named Foxfield Villa Associates, LLC (“Foxfield”). Plaintiffs argued that those interests were securities under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Plaintiffs contended Robben violated section 10(b) of the 1934 Act (its broad antifraud provision) and SEC Rule 10b-5 (an administrative regulation expounding upon that antifraud provision) when engaging in his allegedly deceitful conduct. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the specific attributes of the LLC interests in this case lead it to conclude the interests at issue were not securities as that term was defined by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Court affirmed the district court's order declining to characterize the LLC interests as securities, thus granting summary judgment to defendants on those grounds. View "Foxfield Villa Associates v. Robben" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for 14 counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and six counts of aiding and abetting securities fraud. Defendant's convictions stemmed from his involvement in a market manipulation scheme.The court held that the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that defendant's conduct was fraudulent and manipulative within the meaning of the statutes in question; the evidence was sufficient to show nondisclosure or active concealment of a material fact where a jury could easily find that a reasonable investor would have found material the fact that a corporate insider had, through a nominee, purchased more than half of the freely tradeable stock and was directing that nominee and others to trade the stock at pre-arranged prices for the purpose of triggering tens of millions of dollars in bonus payments that would likely cripple the corporation; the district court did not abuse its discretion or plainly err in admitting lay opinion testimony; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering restitution in the amount of $15,135,361. View "United States v. Gilbertson" on Justia Law

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In 2001, two chiropractors, defendant-appellant Dr. Thomas Forster Gehrmann, Jr., and Dr. Eric Carlson, opened Atlas Chiropractic Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They hired a newly graduated chiropractor, Dr. John Davis, as a preceptee, who eventually completed his preceptorship at Atlas, enabling him to become an associate at the business. In the last few months of 2006, Dr. Davis negotiated with the other two doctors for a one-third share of the business. In January 2007, Dr. Davis became a full partner in the practice. Drs. Gehrmann and Carlson advised Dr. Davis of an income-diversion scheme: placing cash payments and checks written to the treating doctor (as opposed to the business) in a cookie jar and regularly split those proceeds. Dr. Davis understood that the purpose of the scheme was to avoid claiming the diverted money as income on their tax forms. After splitting the money, each doctor deposited his share of this diverted money into his personal bank account instead of Atlas’s business account. They neither reported this income to Atlas’s bookkeeper or tax preparer nor paid taxes on it. Federal agents executed a search warrant at Atlas' office in 2011. By July 2015, a grand jury indicted Drs. Gehrmann and Carlson on four felony charges each: one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and three counts of filing false tax returns. A month later, Dr. Davis, who was cooperating with investigators, and not indicted, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor willfully delivering a false tax return to the Internal Revenue Service. In October 2018, after the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s order suppressing evidence seized under the search warrant, Dr. Carlson pleaded guilty to a felony count of filing a false tax return; Dr. Gehrmann went to trial, and a jury convicted him on all four counts. Dr. Gehrmann appealed a portion of the sentence he received. At district court, Dr. Gehrmann never objected to the adequacy of the sentencing court's explanation of its sentencing decision. The Tenth Circuit determined the district court did not adequately explain its basis for imposing its level adjustment to the sentence. But the Court also concluded that Dr. Gehrmann could not show a reasonable probability of a different sentencing outcome on a remand. The sentence was therefore affirmed. View "United States v. Gehrmann" on Justia Law