Articles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendants Jeffrey W. Edwards and Frontier Holdings appealed the district court's order of restitution under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A. Edwards' convictions stemmed from his involvement in a scheme to solicit funds from investors by promising astronomical returns and then using the funds for extravagant personal expenditures. The court concluded that the district court correctly ignored Edwards' finances when determining the amount of restitution; the district court did not clearly err by ordering restitution to Camencita Jocson for losses caused by a related scheme; the district court properly found that Edwards owed restitution to victims whose related counts were dismissed at trial; and there was insufficient evidence supporting the restitution order to Teana Reece's alleged victims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the convictions; affirmed the restitution order generally; vacated the restitution order in respect to Reece's alleged victims; and remanded for a hearing to determine whether they were entitled to restitution. View "United States v. Edwards, et al." on Justia Law

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Wilson Lucom was an American expatriate who wished to bequeath assets worth more than $200 million to a foundation established for impoverished children in Panama. Plaintiff, Lucom's attorney, filed suit against the Arias Group/Arias Family, Lucom's wife and step-children, under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968, alleging that the Arias Group participated in a criminal conspiracy to thwart plaintiff through acts of intimidation, extortion, corruption, theft, money laundering, and bribery of foreign officials, so that the Arias Group could steal the Estate assets for themselves. At issue on appeal was RICO's four-year statute of limitations on civil actions and the "separate accrual" rule. Under the rule, the commission of a separable, new predicate act within a 4-year limitations period permitted a plaintiff to recover for the additional damages caused by that act. The court concluded that none of the injuries in plaintiff's complaint were new and independent because all of his alleged injuries were continuations of injuries that have been accumulating since before September 2007. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff had done little more than repackage his 2007 abuse of process complaint. Therefore, plaintiff's civil RICO complaint was untimely, and the district court did not err when it granted summary judgment in favor of the Arias Group. View "Lehman, et al. v. Lucom, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant, the founder and former CEO of HealthSouth, was found guilty of federal funds bribery, honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit the latter offenses. Defendant subsequently appealed the district court's denial of his motion for a new trial filed while Siegelman I was before the Supreme Court on certiorari, and the denial of his motion to recuse the trial judge. The court concluded that there was no abuse of discretion in Judge Henkle's denial of the motion to recuse under 28 U.S.C. 455(b) where the judge's ex parte meeting with the Marshals regarding a disputed factual issue did not lead an objective disinterested lay observer to entertain significant doubt about the judge's impartiality and the judge did not have personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding, nor was he likely to be a material witness. Addressing five of the six grounds defendant relied on in seeking a new trial, the court also concluded that there was no abuse of discretion in Judge Fuller's handling of the motion for new trial under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(b)(1). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Scrushy" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a lawyer, deposited lucre in his law firm's bank accounts after he was convicted of criminal activity, where it was commingled with the firm's receipts from legitimate clients. At issue was whether the money in the bank accounts at the time defendant was charged was subject to forfeiture. The sheer volume of financial information available and required to separate tainted from untainted monies in this case lead the court to apply the Third Circuit's rule in United States v. Voigt; in this case, the district court erred in ordering forfeiture of the funds as proceeds; consequently, all proceedings the court held subsequent to the imposition of defendant's sentence must be vacated; the court's conclusion did not foreclose the Government's attempt to forfeit a property interest held by defendant individually; and, after addressing the parties' remaining arguments, the court reversed and remanded the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Rothstein" on Justia Law

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Defendants each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal government funds and one count of theft of government funds. The convictions stemmed from their participation in a scheme that involved submitting fraudulent tax returns to the IRS using stolen Social Security numbers, receiving refund checks from the federal government, and depositing these proceeds in various bank accounts of corporate entities controlled by them. On appeal, defendants challenged their sentence. The court concluded that the district court did not err in imposing the six-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(b)(2)(C) for a crime involving 250 or more victims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the sentence. View "United States v. Philidor" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to perpetrating a five-year, $3 million health care fraud scheme. In light of defendant's full restitution payment, his community service, and the rising costs of incarceration, the district court sentenced defendant to probation for the "time served" while awaiting his sentence, varying downward 20 levels. The government appealed defendant's sentence. The court concluded that the sentence did not reflect the seriousness and extent of the crime, nor did it promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, or adequately deter other similarly inclined health care providers. Therefore, the court found that the sentence was substantively unreasonable and an abuse of the district court's discretion. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Kuhlman" on Justia Law

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The United States obtained a judgment for restitution of more than $85 million against Lawrence Duran for crimes that he committed in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare. After the United States obtained a writ of execution against an apartment that, according to property records, was owned jointly by Lawrence and his former wife, Carmen Duran, she moved to dissolve or stay the writ on the ground that she had acquired sole title to the property as part of their divorce settlement several months before his prosecution. The district court denied the motion without prejudice on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction. Because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 28 U.S.C. 3203(a), provided that the United States could levy only property in which a judgment debtor had a substantial nonexempt interest, the district court erred in refusing to adjudicate Carmen's motion. Accordingly, the court vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Duran" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit consolidated two criminal cases involving sophisticated financial structuring arrangements between related corporate subsidiaries. Appellants, William Allen Broughton and Richard William Peterson were convicted of conducting a "modern-day financial shell game" in which they falsified financial statements, exchanged paper ownership over non-extant fraudulent assets, and collected insurance premiums and monthly payments from unwitting innocents. Collectively, they stated two bases for reversal: (1) Broughton contended that the Government's purported failure to file charges within the relevant statutes of limitations "demand[ed]" reversal; and (2) both Appellants claimed that the district court erred in denying their motions for judgment of acquittal due to an insufficiency of evidence. Finding no error, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Appellants' convictions. View "United States v. Peterson" on Justia Law

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In a consolidated appeal, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad appealed the District Court's denial of its asserted right to victim status under the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) and sought restitution. In December 2010, the United States filed a criminal information against Alcatel-Lucent, charging it with violating provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The government simultaneously filed criminal informations against three subsidiaries of Alcatel-Lucent (Alcatel-Lucent France, Alcatel Lucent Trade International, and Alcatel Centroamerica) charging them with conspiracy to violate the FCPA's accounting and anti-bribery provisions. In 2011, Alcatel-Lucent entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and factual proffer with the United States. The agreement deferred prosecution for three years, subject to Alcatel-Lucent's compliance with specific reforms in its accounting and oversight controls, and required Alcatel-Lucent to pay a penalty of $92 million. The facts proffered in Alcatel-Lucent's deferred prosecution agreement identified Appellant Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE). Alcatel-Lucent admitted that it hired and paid unusually large fees to "consultants," who in turn curried favor with ICE officials and board members to secure telecommunications contracts by offering direct bribes or kickbacks from any contracts awarded by ICE to Alcatel-Lucent or its subsidiaries. After thorough review of the record, and with the benefit of oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal. View "United States v. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad" on Justia Law

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Willie Keen, a former zoning official for Dixie County, Florida, appealed convictions arising from two different cases consolidated on appeal. In Case No. 09-16027, a jury convicted Keen of fraudulently obtaining low-income housing funds in violation of federal criminal law. In Case Nos. 09-16028, 10-10438, and 10-10439, a jury convicted Keen, together with former Dixie County Commissioners John Driggers and Alton Land, of federal bribery charges that stemmed from an undercover investigation of corruption in Dixie County. On appeal, Keen, Driggers, and Land challenged their convictions. The court confirmed all convictions after careful review of the record and the parties' briefs, and after having had the benefit of oral argument. However, because the court concluded that the district court erred in calculating Keen's sentence, the court remanded to the district court with a mandate to vacate the sentence and re-sentence him. View "United States v. Keen, Jr.; United States v. Driggers, et al." on Justia Law