Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia
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Jereno Kinslow's felony conviction for computer trespass was premised on evidence that Kinslow altered his employer’s computer network settings so that e-mail messages meant for Kinslow’s boss would also be copied and forwarded to Kinslow’s personal e-mail account. The Court of Appeals affirmed Kinslow’s conviction, and the Georgia Supreme Court granted Kinslow’s petition for certiorari, posing the question of whether Kinslow’s conduct constituted a violation of OCGA 16-9-93 (b)(2). The Court found that although the statute in general was extremely broad, the portion of (b)(2) on which the State exclusively relied did not reach Kinslow’s conduct. Accordingly, the Supreme Court concluded the evidence presented at Kinslow’s trial was insufficient to support his conviction under Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979), and thus reversed. View "Kinslow v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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InComm Financial Services issued pre-paid debit and credit cards under the “Vanilla VISA” brand to cardholders who use the cards to buy goods and services. Global Payments, Inc. was a financial data payment processor. Thieves purchased Vanilla VISA pre-paid debit and credit cards and used them to buy goods and services. Then, using certain merchants that were not the merchants who originally sold the goods and services, the thieves initiated counterfeit electronic “reversal transactions” – basically requests for refunds on behalf of the cardholders. Upon receiving the reversal transaction data from the merchants, Global relayed the data to the VISA network. The VISA network then submitted the reversal transaction data to InComm. InComm received the data, posted the reversal transactions to the cardholder accounts, and then issued credits to the merchants who, in turn, passed the credits on to the thieves holding the Vanilla VISA cards. The thieves then converted those credits (in excess of $1.5 million made over 3,600 transactions) to their use. InComm did not allege that Global participated in creating the counterfeit reversal transactions. InComm asserted that Global was liable for the losses InComm suffered as a consequence of those transactions because Global negligently supplied to the VISA network the data created by the reversal merchants. In support of its claim, InComm asserted that Global, as a payment processor, “had a duty to exercise reasonable care in supplying the VISA Network and its participants with the transactions initiated by the Reversal Merchants.” The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order dismissing InComm's negligent misrepresentation claim against Global. Global's petition for certiorari review was granted, and the Georgia Supreme Court concluded that because the allegations of the complaint showed that Global merely transmitted data concerning debit and credit card transactions without representing that the transactions were legitimate, the Court of Appeals erred, and the Supreme Court therefore reversed. View "Global Payments, Inc. v. InComm Financial Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Former DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer W. Burrell Ellis, Jr. was indicted in 2013 on fifteen counts of attempted extortion and other acts of alleged corruption. He was re=indicted in early 2014 on thirteen counts relating to attempted extortion, theft, coercion, bribery and perjury. The first indictment was nolle prossed, and his first trial ended in a mistrial. Ellis was retried in 2015 on nine counts: four counts of attempt to commit theft by extortion, three counts of perjury, one count of bribery and one count of theft by extortion. The extortion charge came from Ellis' alleged attempt to procure a $2500 political campaign contribution from a DeKalb County vendor by threatening to cut the vendor's contract with the County if the Vendor did not pay. The perjury charges stemmed from Ellis allegedly lying to a Special Purpose Grand Jury about his role in cutting the contract of the same DeKalb County vendor. On appeal, Ellis contended, among other things, that his rights to substantive due process and equal protection of the laws were violated based on the inapplicability of the former version of OCGA 45-11-4 to his case, and that the trial court erred with respect to various evidentiary matters at his trial. The Supreme Court found that, although the trial court properly concluded that the inapplicability of former OCGA 45-11-4 to Ellis’ case did not result in any violation of his constitutional rights, the Court nevertheless reversed Ellis’ convictions based on certain evidentiary errors that occurred at his trial. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part to allow for a retrial on the charges of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion and perjury. View "Ellis v. Georgia" on Justia Law