Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendant was convicted of producing a false identification document that appeared to be issued by or under the authority of the United States government in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028(a)(1). Defendant subsequently appealed. The court concluded that: (1) as applied to defendant, section 1028(a)(1) was not unconstitutionally vague; (2) the district court properly instructed the jury to use a "reasonable person standard" to determine whether defendant's ID "appeared to be" government-issued; (3) the Government produced sufficient evidence that defendant produced the ID, and that venue was proper, such that the district court properly denied defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal; and (4) it was not necessary to charge defendant with "aiding and abetting" in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2(b). Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "United States v. Jaensch" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities registration violations, securities fraud, and wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, and nine counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343. Defendant raised several issues on appeal. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its ruling on defendant's motion in limine and when regulating the testimony of two expert witnesses during trial. Because the relevant legal regimes were complex, it assisted the jury to have them explained. The court also concluded that the district court acted well within its broad discretion in admitting lay opinion testimony of two co-conspirators under Rule 701. Defendant's challenges to two other rulings by the district court made during trial did not merit extensive discussion and were rejected. The court further concluded that defendant's sentence was reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Offill, Jr." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed from a judgment in which the district court found him guilty of four counts of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7206(2). At issue was whether the district court unlawfully based its verdict on the guilty pleas of co-defendants, which were not evidence in the case, thereby depriving defendant of his due process right to a fair trial; whether the district court improperly credited testimony by the government's key witness that defendant contended was false; and whether the evidence was insufficient to prove that defendant knew that the tax returns he prepared were fraudulent and that he willfully violated section 7206(2). The court held that the district court's erroneous references to the unadmitted guilty pleas of his co-defendants constituted harmless error where the evidence overwhelmingly supported the conclusion that defendant deliberately avoided learning of materially false representations on the tax returns at issue. The court also held that the district court did not err in its consideration of a key witness' testimony where the the testimony was the product of reliable principles and methods. The court further held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction where a reasonable trier of fact could conclude the defendant purposefully "closed his eyes" to large accounting discrepancies, which strongly indicated that the tax forms he prepared during the years in question contained materially false financial information.

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The government filed a complaint for forfeiture of the money claimant consolidated into a single bank account at Bank of America pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 5317(2), 5324, after claimant made eight separate currency transactions at two banks and deposited a total of $79,650 in cash. At issue was whether the government was required to prove that claimant had actual knowledge of the banks' obligation to report currency transactions in excess of $10,000 to the government and whether the magistrate judge erred when it issued an order reducing the forfeiture amount on Eight Amendment grounds from $79,650 to $50,000. The court held that the totality of the circumstances, and in particular the compelling evidence of prior structuring activities, was more than sufficient to justify the court's findings in support of the section 5324 offenses. Therefore, the court rejected claimant's cross-appeal and affirmed the judgment that he committed the offense of currency structuring. The court vacated the order reducing the forfeiture judgment and remanded, holding that the magistrate judge's proportionality analysis was erroneously conducted where it predicated the proportionality analysis on an incorrect understanding that the authorized penalty was the advisory fine of $60,000 when the correct authorized penalty was the statutory maximum fine of $500,000.