Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Defendant pled guilty to embezzlement by a bank employee and was sentenced to 21-months in prison. Although defendant offered the sort of evidence that could have persuaded the district court to vary downward from the advisory Guidelines sentence, the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to do so. After viewing defendant's exhibits and considering her arguments in light of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, the district court concluded that the nature and circumstances of defendant's offense gave insight into her character, namely that she endeared herself to her coworkers and employers, established trust with them, stole from them for four years, attempted to hide the embezzlement, and then denied that it occurred. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in this case and affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Kobriger" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, aiding and abetting copyright infringement, and aiding and abetting the trafficking of counterfeit goods. Defendant's convictions stemmed from his role as the owner of a flea market where vendors sold counterfeit goods. The court rejected defendant's argument that the statutes under which he was charged and convicted are unconstitutional as applied to him because he did not have fair notice that his behavior was criminal; it was unclear what he should have done to avoid liability; and law enforcement enforced the statutes arbitrarily. In this case, defendant was not merely a passive landlord who is merely renting his property. Rather, defendant was actively involved at his market, continually reminded his vendors that he was in charge, and even involved himself in regulating the prices of counterfeit goods. Even if defendant had been a less active landlord, a person of ordinary intelligence would reasonably understand that intentionally selling counterfeit products at a flea market, or willfully infringing copyrighted works at the market for financial gain, could result in criminal liability, and that intentionally aiding and abetting such conduct could result in the same. Furthermore, the evidence shows that defendant received actual notice that his conduct as the operator of the flea market was unlawful. The evidence showed that defendant both understood that his tenants were acting contrary to the law and actively helped to facilitate the unlawful conduct to his and his tenants’ financial benefit. In this case, defendant presents no reason to believe the statutes at issue did not clearly apply to him, and he fails to consider that although his arrest did not occur sooner, he was given numerous warnings over the years that his conduct violated the law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Frison, Sr." on Justia Law

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Defendants Nshanian and Nash were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud. Defendants' convictions stemmed from their involvement in a scheme to purchase real estate using material misrepresentations. The court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to convict Nshanian where a reasonable jury could infer that he knew of the conspiracy and scheme to defraud, and that he intended to defraud lenders. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying Nshanian’s motion for judgment of acquittal. The court also concluded that the district court did not err at sentencing when it imposed a two-level increase for obstruction of justice pursuant to USSG 3C1.1 where the record is clear that the district court recognized its obligation to consider whether inaccurate testimony resulted from confusion, mistake or faulty memory. Under these circumstances, the district court’s finding was adequate. The court also concluded that Nshanian's 42-month sentence was substantively reasonable where it represented a substantial downward variance from the advisory guideline range. Finally, Nash's 42-month sentence was also substantively reasonable where the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and sentenced Nash to a lower advisory guideline range. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Arman Nshanian" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed her conviction of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud. Defendant's conviction stemmed from her involvement in a conspiracy to solicit participation in fake credit-repair or grant programs. The court concluded that a reasonable jury could have found defendant guilty of the conspiracy and wire fraud counts beyond a reasonable doubt; the district court properly admitted voicemail messages where defendant is heard threatening a victim that she had her social security numbers, personal information, and knew where she lived, because the evidence was relevant to show intent and was not unfairly prejudicial; the district court court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for new trial based on a co-conspirator’s statement that defendant "killed a baby" where the statement was explained in context and was cured with further questioning; the district court's instruction sufficiently cured any potential prejudice caused by the prosecutor's comment in rebuttal closing; and the district court properly explained its reasons for defendant's sentence under the 18 U.S.C. 3353(a) factors and rejected defendant's claims that the district court should have varied downward. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Morris" on Justia Law

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Defendant, former president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Bixby, was convicted of four counts of mail fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, witness tampering, and three counts of tax evasion. The court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to prove that defendant had the requisite intent to defraud Bixby investors; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of the tax evasion counts; the district court committed no clear error in reasonably estimating the actual loss resulting from defendant’s fraud offenses as equaling the total amounts lost by Bixby investors who submitted Victim Impact Statements; the district court did not err by imposing a two-level enhancement because defendant abused a position of public or private trust under USSG 3B1.3; and, because the Commission has not made retroactive the amendments on which defendant wishes to rely, 18 U.S.C. 3742(g)(1) would apply if he were resentenced, making the requested remand a futile exercise. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Walker" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed her conviction for one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of making a false claim against the United States. Defendant's convictions stemmed from her filing of fraudulent 1099-OID forms. Defendant argued that the district court erred when it excluded a video about fractional-reserve banking from evidence that she claims supported her good-faith defense. The court concluded that the district court's exclusion of the video from the jury deliberations did not affect defendant's substantial rights and admission of the video would not have changed the verdict. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court did not err in excluding the video. The court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. McQuarry" on Justia Law