Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud. The conviction arose out of his work for former United States Representative Curt Weldon where defendant intentionally failed to disclose certain payments made to his wife. After the Supreme Court handed down Skilling v. United States, a decision that substantially limited the permissible reach of the honest-services fraud statute, defendant filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate and set aside his conviction and sentence. The court concluded that defendant was denied an opportunity to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence because he could not demonstrate that he was also innocent of a separate and uncharged offense that had a lower sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines. The court reversed the order denying defendant's motion to vacate his conviction because defendant was not required to make such a showing. View "United States v. Caso, Jr." on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and was sentenced to 8 years and 9 months of imprisonment, as well as ordered to pay restitution to his victims. Defendant appealed. The court held that defendant could challenge the application of the vulnerable victim enhancement but, under the due deference standard, the court upheld the enhancement where it was reasonable for the district court to conclude that the combination of the victims' characteristics made them particularly susceptible to defendant's fraud. The court remanded defendant's ineffective-assistance claim that his trial counsel made errors relating to the amount-of-loss calculation because it required further factual development. Finally, the court remanded to the district court to correct the specific amounts of restitution owed to each of defendant's victim so that the amounts added up to total $3,646,747.83. View "United States v. Fareri" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former national treasurer of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, pled guilty to a single count of bank fraud and received a sentence of the time he had already served on earlier convictions, plus five years of supervised release. Defendant had successfully appealed his convictions of multiple counts of bank fraud because the district court erred in admitting certain of his statements in evidence. On appeal, defendant contended that his term of supervised release should be calculated as having commenced when he was ordered released on his own recognizance pending his ultimately successful appeal. The court disagreed and concluded that defendant's term of supervised release did not commence until he was sentenced, on the charge to which he pled guilty, to time served plus five years of supervised release. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former CFO of the National City Christian Church, was convicted of offenses related to his role in swindling the church out of more than $850,000, much of it through arranging an increase in the church's line of credit at Adams National Bank. On appeal, defendant contended that the government was required to prove that he stole certain individuals' identity information and that these individuals suffered individual harm beyond that suffered by the church. The court rejected defendant's argument that 18 U.S.C. 1028A required evidence that defendant stole the identity information at issue. The court also held that defendant's argument, that section 1028A applied only where the individuals whose means of identification were unlawfully used have suffered individual harm, lacked merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to Student Aid Fraud, Bank Fraud, and Social Security Fraud. Defendant appealed from the district court's judgment on several grounds. The court held that the district court erred in describing the elements of Student Aid Fraud; however, the error did not affect defendant's substantial rights. The court found no merit in any of the remaining claims raised by defendant on appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Moore" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to copyright infringement and mail fraud. Pursuant to the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, the district court ordered him to pay restitution to Adobe Systems in an amount equivalent to the revenue he received from his sales of the pirated products. The court vacated the order because the government failed to meet its burden to present evidence from which the district court could determine Adobe Systems' actual loss as a result of the pirated sales. View "United States v. Fair" on Justia Law

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Appellants were executives at the Purdue Frederick Company when it misbranded the painkiller OxyContin a schedule II controlled substance. The Company was convicted of fraudulent misbranding, and the executives were convicted under the "responsible corporate officer" doctrine of the misdemeanor of misbranding a drug. Based upon their convictions, the Secretary of Health and Human Services later excluded the individuals from participation in federal health care programs for twelve years under 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7(b). Appellants sought review, arguing that the statute did not authorize their exclusion and the Secretary's decision was unsupported by substantial evidence and was arbitrary and capricious. The district court granted summary judgment for the Secretary. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the statute authorized the Secretary's exclusion of Appellants, but (2) the Secretary's decision was arbitrary and capricious for want of a reasoned explanation for the length of the exclusions. View "Friedman v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed his conviction and sentence on two counts of attempted tax evasion. Appellant argued that the government failed to prove the element of tax loss because it relied upon a flawed calculation under the "cash method of proof" and attributed to appellant $1.9 million of alleged gain when those funds, as a matter of law, belonged to his two corporations. Appellant challenged his sentence to the extent it rested upon the allegedly incorrect calculation of tax loss. The court found no error in the district court's denial of defendant's motions for judgment of acquittal. The court also held that, because a rational trier of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt a tax was due and owing on $300,000 of income, the court left for another day how best to interpret the dictum in James v. United States. The court affirmed the sentence because the district court made sufficient factual findings at sentencing to support the inclusion of the $1.9 million in the calculation of tax loss. View "United States v. Khanu" on Justia Law

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In this civil enforcement action, a jury found that appellant aided and abetted a securities fraud by his former employer, in violation of 15 U.S.C. 78t(e). The district court fined appellant and barred him from serving as an officer or director of a publicly held company for five years. On appeal, appellant argued that the district court erred in allowing his trial to proceed in the District of Columbia pursuant to the "co-conspirator theory of venue." The court held that the SEC failed to lay venue in the District of Columbia under the straightforward language of 15 U.S.C. 78aa. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed and the district court was instructed to dismiss the case without prejudice. View "Securities and Exchange Comm'n v. Johnson, Jr., et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to one count of identity theft as part of a plea agreement where defendant had treated hundreds of patients while falsely representing that he was a licensed physician. In determining defendant's sentence, the district court increased his sentence under U.S.S.G. 3A1.1(b)(1) because some of his patients were children with serious mental health conditions. On appeal, defendant disputed the increase in his offense level, contending that section 3A1.1(b)(1)'s 2-level adjustment for vulnerable victims applied only to victims of defendant's offense of conviction, who in this case would include only those victims who suffered financial loss. The court disagreed and held that the adjustment applied not only to victims of the offense of conviction, but also to victims of defendant's relevant conduct. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.