Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 58 month sentence imposed after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds, theft of public funds, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and mail fraud. Defendant's conviction stemmed from improper billing practices related to a federal program called the Child Care and Development Fund.The court held that the record supports the district court's conclusion that defendant was responsible for a loss amount between $250,000 and $550,000, and thus the offense level (and resulting guidelines range) was correct. In this case, defendant presented no evidence that he provided legitimate services or submitted legitimate bills. Furthermore, he provided no evidence differentiating legitimate from illegal billing. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in concluding that the $536,833.75 paid to defendant's daycares by Missouri is the loss amount under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. View "United States v. Karie" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and four counts of health care fraud. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant entered into an agreement with others to create a medical testing lab that made money through illegal kickbacks. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to establish that members of the conspiracy committed substantive violations and defendant, as a co-conspirator, was properly held liable for these substantive crimes committed in furtherance of the scheme. View "United States v. Golding" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiring to violate federal health care laws and eleven counts of health care fraud. Defendant's conviction stemmed from his involvement in a health care fraud scheme involving AMS, an entity that provided medical testing of blood, urine, and other specimens.The court held that the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant voluntarily and intentionally participated in the conspiracy with knowledge that his plan to receive kickback payments and defraud Medicare was unjustifiable and wrongful. In this case, the evidence of defendant's significant experience within the health care industry combined with his attempt to conceal the true terms of his agreement with AMS was enough for the jury to conclude he knew the arrangement was unjustifiable and wrongful when he knowingly became a part of the conspiracy. View "United States v. McTizic" on Justia Law

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After defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing a false tax return, he unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his plea. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that defendant failed to show fair and just reasons why he should have been allowed to withdraw his plea where the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded, based on the totality of the circumstances, that defendant's guilty plea was knowing and voluntary; his plea did not lack a factual basis supporting the conviction; and the Government did not breach the plea agreement by failing to recommend a sentence reduction for acceptance of responsibility.The court also held that the Klein conspiracy conviction under 18 U.S.C. 371 was not void for vagueness; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's motion to continue his sentencing or to bifurcate the sentencing and restitution proceedings; there was no error in the district court's order of restitution; and the court rejected defendant's argument that the district court erred by imposing a four-level enhancement under USSG 3B1.1. View "United States v. Flynn" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for 14 counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and six counts of aiding and abetting securities fraud. Defendant's convictions stemmed from his involvement in a market manipulation scheme.The court held that the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that defendant's conduct was fraudulent and manipulative within the meaning of the statutes in question; the evidence was sufficient to show nondisclosure or active concealment of a material fact where a jury could easily find that a reasonable investor would have found material the fact that a corporate insider had, through a nominee, purchased more than half of the freely tradeable stock and was directing that nominee and others to trade the stock at pre-arranged prices for the purpose of triggering tens of millions of dollars in bonus payments that would likely cripple the corporation; the district court did not abuse its discretion or plainly err in admitting lay opinion testimony; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering restitution in the amount of $15,135,361. View "United States v. Gilbertson" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after she pleaded guilty to nine counts of wire fraud, two counts of tax evasion, and one count of making and subscribing a false tax return. The court held that the district court did not err by applying a two-level sentencing enhancement pursuant to USSG 3B1.3 for abusing a position of private trust. In this case, it is clear that defendant would not have been able to commit or conceal her fraud if not for the discretion she was granted through her position as an office manager and bookkeeper in the company. View "United States v. Natysin" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for nine counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. The court held that the district court did not plainly err by finding that defendant's consent to search the vehicle was voluntary. In this case, the district court adopted the magistrate judge's finding that although defendant was being watched by deputies while on the property, did not have access to a phone, and was told that a warrant would be sought whether or not he consented to a search of his truck, his consent was not mere acquiescence to government authority.The court rejected defendant's contention that the government failed to prove venue was proper in the District of Minnesota where a reasonable jury could find that it was more likely than not that the emails at issue were sent from or received in Minnesota. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing defendant, and his sentence was not substantively unreasonable. The court also held that the $2.1 million personal money judgment forfeiture did not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against excessive fines. Finally, the court rejected defendant's arguments in two pro se appeals as without merit. View "United States v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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After defendant pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud, he claimed that the district court should have dismissed the indictment against him after alleged government misconduct came to light. Defendant was a college president involved in a bribery-and-kickback scheme with three main participants, including a state senator and a business consultant.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that defendant lacked standing to assert a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and he failed to show the constitutional violation that the senator allegedly suffered specifically affected his right to a fair trial. In this case, the senator's attorney had previously represented a law enforcement agent, who was present at an interview between the senator and government agents, in a divorce proceeding. The court also held that a co-defendant's decision to record numerous conversations was made on his own and there was no government action involved that violated defendant's constitutional rights. Finally, the court held that the agent's decision to erase his laptop's hard drive did not entitle defendant to dismissal. View "United States v. Paris" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to passing counterfeit securities. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in determining the intended-loss calculation and in determining the amount of restitution. In this case, trying to rent a jet without intending to pay for it satisfied the definition of an intended loss, and the district court reasonably estimated the victims' ultimate losses. View "United States v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Defendants Waits and Mills appealed their convictions and sentences for wire fraud related to their involvement with government feeding programs to children in low income areas. The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing defendants' proffered jury instructions; the district court did not err by admitting into evidence a recording of a conversation between Waits and a coconspirator; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Waits' motion for a new trial; and the district court did not err in calculating Waits' criminal history score and in sentencing him. However, the court vacated and remanded the forfeiture order against Waits, because the order was based on the incorrect statute. View "United States v. Waits" on Justia Law