Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendant was convicted of theft of government property arising from the fraud she carried out to obtain subsidized housing benefits in New York City. The district court ordered her to pay $11,274 in restitution to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and to forfeit $11,274 to the United States. The court concluded that because the money defendant was ordered to forfeit was "obtained" by her "indirectly" as a result of her offense, was "traceable to" that offense, and constituted the "net gain" from that offense, the forfeiture order was authorized by the plain language of the relevant forfeiture statue, 18 U.S.C. 981. Although defendant did not challenge the order of restitution, the court also concluded that the imposition of both forfeiture and restitution orders was proper in this case because the orders would be paid to different entities, were authorized by different statutes, and served different purposes. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Torres" on Justia Law

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Four partners and employees of Ernst & Young, one of the largest accounting firms in the world, appealed their convictions in connection with the development and defense of five "tax shelters" that were sold or implemented by the firm between 1999 and 2001. At issue, among other things, was the scope of criminal liability in a conspiracy to defraud the United States under 18 U.S.C. 371 and the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to the criminal intent of certain defendants. The court held, among other things, that defendants' challenge to the so-called Klein conspiracy theory of criminal liability under section 371 failed under the law of the Circuit, which remained good law absent review or modification by the Supreme Court; with respect to sufficiency challenges, the court reversed some convictions based on insufficient evidence; and venue was proper with respect to Count Six, which charged defendant Vaughn with false statements to the IRS. The court addressed the remaining issues and affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated and remanded in part. View "United States v. Coplan (Nissenbaum)" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed from a Memorandum and Order of Restitution by the district court resentencing him to pay restitution to the victims of a massive "pump-and-dump" securities fraud scheme he and his co-conspirators designed and executed. Defendant contended, inter alia, that the district court should have released some or all of defendant's money held by the court pending his resentencing. The court held that a district court could exercise its authority under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 1651(a), to restrain a convicted defendant's funds in anticipation of sentencing. Therefore, the court affirmed the restitution order. View "United States v. Catoggio" on Justia Law

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Contorinis was a co-portfolio manager of the Fund, which invested in companies in the retail and personal products sectors. In 2000, Contorinis befriended Stephanou, who became an investment banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions group at UBS in 2002. Stephanou regularly provided confidential information to several friends and, in 2005, shared information about a planned acquisition with Contorinis and others. Based on a series of transactions following Stehanou’s disclosures the about and on-again, off-again acquisition, Contorinis was convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and insider trading. The district court imposed a forfeiture order of $12.65 million. The Second Circuit affirmed the conviction. A challenged jury instruction adequately conveyed the definition of material, nonpublic information; the court was within its discretion in admitting evidence of contemporaneous trades by individuals who received inside information from the same source as Contorinis. The court vacated the order to forfeit gains acquired by Contorinis’s employer, but not by him. View "United States v. Contorinis" on Justia Law

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Traders employed by brokerage firms were indicted for conspiring with employees of Watley, a day trading firm, to commit securities fraud by providing their employers’ confidential information to Watley. After a mistrial on conspiracy to commit securities fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1348, 1349, the government retried the conspiracy count with honest services fraud and property fraud as the charged objects of conspiracy. The jury convicted under each theory. The Supreme Court subsequently decided Skilling, limiting honest services fraud to schemes effectuated through bribes or kickbacks. After sentencing, the SEC initiated administrative proceedings and disclosed transcripts of investigative depositions taken as early as 2004. With access to those transcripts, defendants moved for a new trial, contending that the transcripts included material required to be disclosed under Brady because it contradicted or undermined testimony of key government witnesses on a central question: whether allegedly misappropriated information was confidential under Carpenter v. U. S. The district court concluded that the jury would not have reached a different result had the transcripts been disclosed. The Second Circuit vacated. Failure to disclose portions of the transcripts violated Brady and undermined confidence in the verdict. The court also did not adequately instruct the jury on the scope of honest services fraud. View "United States v. Mahaffy" on Justia Law

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In 2005 Truman and partners purchased a vacant commercial building for $175,000, insured for $4,250,000 in fire-related losses. The property, without the building, was worth more than with the building. After a minor accidental fire, Truman told an employee that if it ever caught fire again, just get out. Considering leasing, Truman stated that it would make more money if it burnt. By late 2006, Truman had less than $5,000 in personal bank accounts. Premiums were paid through November 17. The building burned down November 12. Truman, Jr. confessed that he had burned the building at his father’s direction. State charges were dismissed because of inability to corroborate junior’s testimony, as required under New York law. Truman was charged with aiding and abetting arson, 18 U.S.C. 844(i); mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1341; use of fire in commission of a felony, 18 U.S.C. 844(h); and loan fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1341. Following a guilty verdict the district court granted acquittal and conditionally granted a new trial. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded for sentencing. Junior’s refusal to answer certain questions did not render his testimony incredible as a matter of law, and his prior state testimony was nonhearsay. Truman was not prejudiced by improper cross-examination or summation argument references to the cooperation agreement. View "United States v. Truman" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a loan officer, recruited buyers to obtain mortgage loans for which they were not qualified by using false information. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349, and bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1344. The Second Circuit affirmed. The district court did not err by allowing jurors, after the beginning of jury deliberations and after receiving various cautionary instructions, to take the indictment home to read on their own time. View "United States v. Esso" on Justia Law

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Defendant threatened to reveal office gossip that the General Counsel of the New York State Comptroller's Office was having an affair unless the General Counsel recanted a recommendation to the State Comptroller to reject a proposal by defendant's company. He was convicted of attempted extortion of the office under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a), and interstate transmission of extortionate threats in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(d). The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting his argument that his conduct did not come within the statutory definition of extortion because he did not "attempt to obtain property" from the General Counsel. View "United States v. Sekhar" on Justia Law

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Defendants were convicted on charges arising from an elaborate, years-long financial fraud. Defendant Gowing continued to take actions in furtherance of the conspiracy to defraud even after he was arrested and released awaiting trial for that same charge. On appeal, Gowing principally argued that the district court's application of 18 U.S.C. 3147 was error because he did not commit a separate or additional offense while on release, but only continued to commit the conspiracy. Because the statute did not make such a distinction, and because Gowing's other sentencing arguments were without merit, the court affirmed the convictions and sentences. View "United States v. Gowing" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a securities broker, pleaded guilty to charges related to his conduct involving a bribe greater than $70,000. On appeal, defendant contended that the district court erred in calculating restitution insofar as it ordered both restitution and forfeiture in the amount of defendant's gains from the fraudulent scheme underlying his conviction. The court held that it was error for the district court to substitute defendant's gains for the victims' losses in calculating restitution, but declined to exercise the court's discretion to notice the error, as defendant failed to object in the district court, and had failed on appeal to show that the error affected his substantial rights or undermined the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of judicial proceedings. View "United States v. Zangari" on Justia Law