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Wendy and Daryl Yurek were charged with tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. After a joint jury trial, the Yureks were convicted on both offenses. The district court then sentenced Mrs. Yurek to a prison term of 27 months, leading her to appeal the conviction and sentence. On appeal, Mrs. Yurek challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against her, and claimed the district court erred in denying her motions for severance and a new trial. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part: affirming Mrs. Yurek’s conviction, but vacated her sentence. The Court determined the district court applied the wrong test when deciding whether to grant a mitigating-role adjustment. View "United States v. Yurek (Wendy)" on Justia Law

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In this fraudulent transfer case, plaintiffs filed suit in the Georgia district court to recover a judgment obtained in a Kentucky district court against a defendant who had colluded with his former wife to fraudulently transfer his assets to her as part of a divorce settlement. A jury returned a favor for plaintiffs. After ruling on justiciability issues, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not err by awarding plaintiffs in an amount of $1,478,489; the district court did not err by instructing the jury on the burden of proof under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act (UFTA), because the correct burden was a preponderance of the evidence, rather than the heightened standard of clear and convincing evidence; and the absence of compensatory damages did not preclude the award of punitive damages. However, because plaintiffs' claim did not include the punitive damages awarded against defendant, the Georgia judgment was reversed to the extent it allowed plaintiffs to recover those damages from the ex-wife. Finally, the court held that plaintiffs were not entitled to any prejudgment interest under Georgia law because its claim was not previously liquidated to the ex-wife. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Alliant Tax Credit 31, Inc. v. Murphy" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of 90 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Defendant obtained millions of dollars from victims by telling them that he needed to pay CIA and FBI agents to protect him and his family from the Mafia, and that he would pay the victims back. The Ninth Circuit vacated in part, agreeing with the parties that insufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions for Counts 81-90. The panel rejected defendant's claim that his waiver of counsel was invalid; that he was not competent to represent himself; that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him; that the government committed misconduct during trial; that the district court erred by not granting him a continuance; that his trial suffered cumulative error; and that the district court erred in denying his post-trial motions. Accordingly, the panel affirmed defendant's convictions as to Counts 1-80 and Count 91. The panel remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Audette" on Justia Law

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Dr. Sheth, a cardiologist, admitted in a plea agreement that he engaged in a scheme to overbill government and private insurers by approximately $13 million, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1347. The scheme resulted in a loss to Medicare of about $9 million in payments for services Sheth did not render between 2002 and 2007, and a loss of about $4 million to private healthcare insurers for the same conduct. After the government detected the fraud, in June 2007, it initiated an administrative proceeding and seized funds from four Harris Bank accounts that the government believed were the proceeds of Sheth’s fraud. In his plea, Sheth agreed to forfeit $13 million in assets; the government would apply the proceeds of the forfeited property to any restitution judgment resulting from his conviction. Sheth disputed the valuation of some of the property applied to the restitution judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision as to the valuation of Seth’s real property but remanded for consideration of the application of $225,000 in interest that had accrued on the Harris accounts to the restitution judgment. View "United States v. Sheth" on Justia Law

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Defendant Sara Salcido provided immigration services. Under the Immigration Consultant Act (Act), with certain exceptions, it is illegal for a person to act as an “immigration consultant” (as defined in the Act) unless he or she has complied with a host of consumer protection requirements, such as passing a background check and filing a bond. Defendant failed to comply with these. As a result, defendant was convicted on one count of misdemeanor unlawfully engaging in the business of an immigration consultant. The State argued, however, that each time defendant took money from a client in exchange for providing immigration services, she was committing theft by false pretenses, because she was not a legally qualified immigration consultant under state law. The trial court agreed; thus, it also convicted her on six counts of grand theft, and two counts of petty theft. It dismissed two additional counts of grand theft as time-barred. Defendant was placed on probation for five years. Defendant contended the Act was preempted by federal law. She demurred to the complaint on this ground. The Court of Appeal determined federal law did not preempt the application of the Act to defendant. View "California v. Salcido" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit joined the Eleventh Circuit in holding that a district court may order restitution for all losses resulting from a fraudulent scheme, even those caused by conduct occurring outside the statute of limitations. The panel affirmed the district court's order requiring defendant to pay in restitution the full amount of Medicare's losses from convictions arising from a fraudulent healthcare scheme. The panel held that the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's restitution order; the district court properly included losses relating to the overall fraudulent scheme in the restitution amount; and the district court did not plainly err by ordering restitution for the entire amount of damages caused by the fraudulent scheme as alleged in the indictment. View "United States v. Anieze-Smith" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jedadiah Bolding was convicted of one count of grand theft and eight counts of money laundering. On appeal, he challenged his money laundering convictions, in part, on the ground that the prosecution failed to offer sufficient evidence tracing the illegally obtained money to the monetary transactions involved in each of the money laundering counts. After review, the Court of Appeal determined there was sufficient evidence supporting defendant’s money laundering convictions based on the language of Penal Code section 186.10(a), and current analogous federal law on money laundering. In the unpublished portions of its opinion, the Court concluded: (1) there was sufficient evidence of money laundering in count 25 of the operative charging document; (2) defendant forfeited an issue regarding the jury instructions for the money laundering counts; (3) the sentencing enhancements for white collar crime should have been reversed; (4) the trial court did not err by imposing consecutive rather than concurrent sentences on the money laundering counts; and (5) the minute order and abstract of judgment must be amended to reflect the correct amount of defendant’s custody credits. View "California v. Bolding" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant Bechir and Kenny's convictions and sentences for seven crimes arising out of their identity theft and tax fraud operations. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Bechir's motion to suppress and held that the automobile exception to the warrant requirement applied to the warrantless search of his car and, in the alternative, the inevitable discovery doctrine applied to the search. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that Kenny knowingly took part in the criminal activities of identity theft and tax fraud; the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing a detective to testify as an expert witness as to the meanings of the terminology used in stolen identity refund fraud generally or by the individuals recorded on the undercover video specifically; and defendants' cumulative error claim lacked merit. The court also held that the district court did not err by applying a two-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(15)(B) for possession of a firearm in connection with defendants' offenses. Finally, Kenny's 84 month sentence was substantively reasonable and the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing him. View "United States v. Delva" on Justia Law

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Shawn Gorrell was an insurance salesman based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father was an accountant in Tulsa whose clients included several dentists and Gorrell sold insurance to some of them. In 2009, Gorrell began to pitch investments to these dentists that were outside of his typical insurance products. Some dentists initially gave Gorrell modest sums to invest, but later the amounts ballooned to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Gorrell would ultimately be convicted by jury on three counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion. He appealed only the tax evasion charges, seeking a new trial on those counts. He argued the trial court plainly erred when it instructed the jury to consider “specified theories of an affirmative act (an element of tax evasion), which were legally invalid theories of guilt as a matter of law, the jury was instructed to be unanimous in finding an affirmative act, and the jury returned a general verdict of guilt.” The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court did not err, “much less plainly err,” in its instructions to the jury. Given the evidence elicited at trial, in light of those instructions, Gorrell’s convictions for tax evasion were supported. View "United States v. Gorrell" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for referring Medicare patients to a particular health care provider, three counts of receiving such kickbacks for such referrals, three counts of identity theft, and one count of making false statements to a federal agent. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's convictions, rejected defendant's evidentiary challenge, and rejected defendant's challenge to the inclusion of a deliberate ignorance jury instruction. However, the court vacated defendant's sentence, holding that the district court erred by not deducting Progressive's direct costs—the value of the treatment Progressive provided—in calculating the improper benefit conferred under USSG 2B4.1. The court also held that the district court erred by ordering defendant to pay restitution in any amount where the district court failed to offset the amount Medicare would have reimbursed Progressive for the services rendered had there been no illegal kickback scheme. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing and dismissal of the restitution order. View "United States v. Ricard" on Justia Law