Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

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Two medical doctors, licensed to prescribe controlled substances, were convicted for violating 21 U.S.C. 841, which makes it a crime, “[e]xcept as authorized[,] . . . for any person knowingly or intentionally . . . to manufacture, distribute, or dispense . . . a controlled substance.” Registered doctors may dispense controlled substances via prescription only if the prescription is “issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his professional practice.” 21 CFR 1306.04(a).The Supreme Court vacated their convictions. Section 841’s “knowingly or intentionally” mental state applies to the statute’s “except as authorized” clause. Once a defendant meets the burden of producing evidence that his conduct was “authorized,” the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner. Section 885 does not provide a basis for inferring that Congress intended to do away with, or weaken ordinary and longstanding scienter requirements but supports applying normal scienter principles to the “except as authorized” clause. The Court of Appeals in both cases evaluated the jury instructions relating to "mens rea" under an incorrect understanding of section 841’s scienter requirements. View "Ruan v. United States" on Justia Law

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Eaden defrauded his employer, SIT, of more than $200,000 by falsely inflating the profits at his store (to obtain unearned performance‐based bonuses) by billing SIT’s largest customer (Gibson) for products it did not purchase and by submitting false claims to a rewards program sponsored by a tire manufacturer. After receiving a tip, police investigated, and SIT hired a forensic accounting firm, which concluded that Eaden received more than $47,000 in unearned bonuses. At sentencing, the district court imposed 46 months’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and ordered restitution of $244,673.00, and the forfeiture of Eaden’s bonuses from 2014-2016, $88,106.78.The Seventh Circuit affirmed his convictions, rejecting arguments that the court deprived him of a fair trial by informing prospective jurors that a grand jury had issued Eaden’s indictment based on probable cause, meaning “it’s probably true that [Eaden] had some connection with criminal activity” and wrongly admitted a lay witness’s opinion testimony regarding a subset of his fraud charges. The witness used the word "fraudulent" in discussing Eaden's submissions to the rewards program. Based on miscalculation, the court reduced Eaden’s restitution and forfeiture obligations by $189,709 and $40,817.81, respectively. View "United States v. Eaden" on Justia Law

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Defendant and several others were indicted on various healthcare fraud offenses stemming from a scheme in which Defendant and others would pay TRICARE beneficiaries to order certain creams and vitamins. At a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of receiving an illegal kickback payment, and six counts of making illegal kickback payments. The District Court sentenced Defendant to 240 months imprisonment.On appeal, Defendant challenged, among other things, the sufficiency of the evidence pertaining to his convictions for paying illegal kickbacks. The Fifth Circuit agreed with Defendant's reasoning that he did not "induce" TRICARE beneficiaries to order the substances by paying them because the substances were for their own use. Thus, the court reversed Defendant's convictions for paying illegal kickback payments. The court affirmed Defendant's other convictions and remanded for resentencing. View "USA v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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Tinimbang invested $811,400, founding Donnarich Home Health in 2005 with his then-wife Josephine and their children. In 2006-2007, the others forced him out of management; Tinimbang maintained his equity position. Josephine and their son, Richard, later incorporated two healthcare businesses: Josdan and Patient Home; some of the funding came from Donnarich’s assets. Tinimbang later asserted that he was not compensated for those asset transfers or for his removal as Donnarich’s president.Josephine and others were charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud (18 U.S.C. 1349) and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of healthcare fraud and unlawful payments for patient referrals (18 U.S.C. 1956(h)) by using Donnarich and Josdan to fraudulently bill Medicare and creating shell companies to deposit checks. The government sought the forfeiture of assets involved in or traceable to the conspiracies. Josephine fled. Guerrero, an employee, pled guilty and agreed to forfeit assets. The district court entered a preliminary order of forfeiture.Tinimbang asserted a claim to the assets by instituting ancillary proceedings, citing his investment in Donnarich, his removal without compensation, and the allegedly improper transfers from Donnarich to Josdan and Patient. Tinimbang did not provide any financial tracing. The government “reviewed the movement of funds” and did not trace any of Tinimbang’s investment to the forfeiture assets. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. Tinimbang had not carried his burden to show a vested or superior interest in the forfeited assets at the time of the criminal acts. View "United States v. Tinimbang" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Russian citizen who resides in Russia, filed a civil RICO suit against Defendant Russian citizen who resides in California, and eleven other defendants. After securing a foreign arbitration award against Defendant. Plaintiff obtained a judgment from a United States district court confirming the award and giving Plaintiff the rights to execute that judgment in California and to pursue discovery. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants engaged in illegal activity, in violation of RICO, to thwart the execution of that California judgment.   Consistent with the Second and Third Circuits, but disagreeing with the Seventh Circuit’s residency-based test for domestic injuries involving intangible property, the court held that the alleged injuries to a judgment obtained by Plaintiff from a United States district court in California were domestic injuries to property such that Plaintiff had statutory standing under RICO. The court concluded that, for purposes of standing under RICO, the California judgment existed as property in California because the rights that it provided to Plaintiff existed only in California. In addition, much of the conduct underlying the alleged injury occurred in or was targeted at California. View "VITALY SMAGIN V. COMPAGNIE MONEGASQUE DE BANQUE" on Justia Law

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The Bank Secrecy Act requires U.S. citizens to report interests in foreign accounts with a value exceeding $10,000, 31 U.S.C. 5314. Collins, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, has lived in the U.S. since 1994 and has bank accounts in the U.S., Canada, France, and Switzerland. In 2007, the balance of his Swiss account exceeded $800,000. Collins did not report any of those accounts until he voluntarily amended his tax returns in 2010. The IRS accepted Collins into its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). His amended returns for 2002-2009 yielded modest refunds stemming from large capital losses in 2002. Collins then withdrew from the OVDP, prompting an audit. Because Collins invested in foreign mutual funds, his Swiss holdings were subject to an additional tax on passive foreign investment companies, 26 U.S.C. 1291, which he failed to compute in his amended returns. The IRS audit determined that Collins owed an additional $71,324 plus penalties. In 2015 the IRS determined that since he withdrew from the OVDP, Collins was liable for civil penalties for “willful failure” to report foreign accounts. The IRS assessed a civil penalty of $308,064.The district court and Third Circuit affirmed, citing a “decades‐long course of conduct, omission, and scienter” by Collins in failing to disclose his foreign accounts. The disparity between Collins’s putative income tax liability and his penalty is stark but is consistent with the statute. View "United States v. Collins" on Justia Law

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Defendant and others came upon a start-up airline called People Express, but People Express had trouble securing funding. Defendant spearheaded an effort to use restricted state and federal funds as collateral to secure a bank loan for People Express. After People Express defaulted on the loan, Defendant was indicted, tried, and convicted of federal program fraud, money laundering, and perjury.   On appeal, Defendant maintained that there was insufficient evidence to support conviction on some counts, as well as that the district court erred by refusing to give a particular jury instruction, excluding a certain piece of evidence, and entering a forfeiture money judgment without notice.   The Fourth Circuit found one of Defendant’s arguments persuasive and reversed the conviction on Count 19, and affirmed the district court’s judgment of convictions and sentences as to the other counts. In regards to Defendant’s federal program fraud conviction, as charged in Count 19, the question presented was whether Section 666(a)(1)(A)(i) criminalizes multiple conversions of less than $5,000, if the government must point to conversions that took place over more than one year to reach the $5,000 statutory minimum. The court concluded that Section 666 requires each transaction used to reach the aggregate $5,000 requirement to occur within the same one-year period aligns with the conclusions of other circuit courts that have considered the issue. Thus, the court reversed finding that the government failed to present evidence showing that, within a one-year period, Defendant committed one or more acts of conversion with an aggregate value of $5,000 or more. View "US v. Kenneth Spirito" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the district court's denial of Appellant's postconviction petition in which she argued that her restitution order should be reduced, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Appellant was convicted of medical assistance fraud for submitting fraudulent Medicaid claims to the Minnesota Department of Human Services through a company she owned and operated. The district court convicted Appellant of racketeering and ordered her to pay a $2.64 million restitution award. In her postconviction motion Appellant argued that her restitution award should be reduced because DHS's economic loss had to account for the economic benefit it received from her offense. The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Minn. Stat. 611A.045, subd. 1(a)(1) requires a district court to consider the value of any economic benefits a defendant conferred on a victim when calculating a restitution award; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it calculated DHS's economic loss. View "State v. Currin" on Justia Law

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Sara, an elderly woman, owned the property and resided there with her husband, who has dementia. San Mateo County informed Sara that she owed taxes and faced foreclosure. Miller, a real estate salesperson, contacted Sara and offered to secure a reverse mortgage to pay Sara’s tax obligation. Miller provided Sara with a document to sign. Sara believed the document was to secure a $500,000 reverse mortgage and that after she signed, Miller would pay the taxes. Sara did not read the document but signed it. The document was actually a purchase agreement. A deed transferring the property to Rex was recorded the same day. The District Attorney’s Office notified Sara of the sale. Lion had purchased the property from Rex. Miller pled no contest to unlawfully and knowingly procuring and offering a false or forged instrument to be filed in a state public office and grand theft of the property. Lion filed a quiet title action.The state moved to void the deed to Rex. The court determined the deed was forged and that the matter was appropriately addressed in the criminal proceeding. The court of appeal affirmed the adjudication of the deed as void from its inception, rejecting arguments that Miller’s no contest plea “was not an adjudication of the alleged falsity or forgery” of the deed, that the finding was not supported by the record, and the court should have deferred to the pending quiet title action. View "People v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Jennings, who was not a medical professional, ran Results Weight Loss Clinic in Lombard, Illinois. Jennings paid Mikaitis, who was working full‐time for a hospital in Lockport, Illinois cash to secure a Drug Enforcement Agency registration number for the clinic and to review patient charts. Over the next two years, Jennings ordered over 530,000 diet pills (controlled substances) for over $84,000 using Mikaitis’s credit card and DEA number. Mikaitis appeared at Results weekly to get $1,750 cash and review four to eight charts. Results also gave drugs—in person and by mail— to many patients whose charts he never reviewed. A nurse practitioner who worked at the clinic later testified she noticed almost immediately that Jennings was unlawfully distributing drugs. Jennings paid Mikaitis about $98,000 cash, in addition to reimbursement for drug costs.Mikaitis was tried on 17 counts. He denied knowing about illegal activity. The district judge issued a deliberate avoidance (ostrich) instruction. Convicted, Mikaitis was sentenced to 30 months. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Ample evidence demonstrated that Mikaitis subjectively believed that there was a high probability he was participating in criminal activity and that he took specific, deliberate actions to avoid learning that fact. Mikaitis was a medical professional with corresponding duties. The jury was free to conclude the red flags were obvious to him. View "United States v. Mikaitis" on Justia Law