Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for healthcare fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. The court held that sufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions, and that the indictment was plainly sufficient. The court rejected defendant's two evidentiary claims, holding that the district court did not err in permitting an FBI forensic accountant to testify as a lay witness or in allowing a government witness to testify as an expert. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motions for continuance; there was no cumulative error requiring reversal; and the district court did not clearly err in calculating the loss amount and thus the guidelines range. View "United States v. Chalker" on Justia Law

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Defendants Ruan and Couch, pain management physicians, appealed their convictions for charges related to their involvement in a health care fraud scheme. Defendants were convicted of conspiring to run a medical practice constituting a racketeering enterprise in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; conspiring to violate the Controlled Substances Act by dispensing Schedule II drugs, fentanyl, and Schedule III drugs outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose; conspiracies to commit health care fraud and mail or wire fraud; and conspiracies to receive kickbacks in relation to a Federal health care program. Ruan and Couch were individually convicted of multiple counts of substantive drug distribution in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and Ruan was convicted of a money laundering conspiracy and two counts of substantive money laundering. The court vacated defendants' convictions on Count 16 of the Superseding Indictment for conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback statute based on their operation of their medical clinic’s in-house workers' compensation dispensary. In this case, the evidence was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that an insurance provider paid for prescriptions with federal funds or that federal monies otherwise passed through the clinic's workers' compensation dispensary. The court remanded for resentencing and affirmed defendants' remaining convictions and sentences. View "United States v. Xiulu Ruan" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit access device fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Defendant's conviction stemmed from his involvement, with his brother, in fraudulently using identities to collect unemployment benefits and to intercept preloaded debit cards he and his brother had requested while posing as residents on his brother's mail delivery route. Defendant raised numerous claims of error on appeal. The court rejected defendant's challenges to the admissibility of the images derived from surveillance video taken by PNC Bank ATMs on three fronts; the district court did not abuse its discretion by improperly limiting defendant's ability to present a full and fair defense; there was no error in admitting the lay identification testimony; there was no error in admitting defendant's booking photograph; and there was no cumulative error. View "United States v. Clotaire" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of twenty counts of health care fraud. Defendant's convictions stemmed from his involvement in a fraud scheme conducted through his ophthalmology office that resulted in a loss of nearly $7 million. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not allowing defendant's expert to testify, under Daubert and Federal Rule of Evidence 702, about the use of subthreshold micropulse photostimulation as a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting rebuttal evidence showing that defendant billed Medicare for performing services on a patient's blind left eye. Even if the district court erred in partially limiting defendant's surrebuttal evidence, and that error violated the Sixth Amendment, the court held that it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, the court vacated defendant's sentence on each count and remanded the case for the limited purpose of letting the district court modify defendant's sentence structure to bring it in line with USSG 5G1.2(d). View "United States v. Ming Pon" on Justia Law

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After defendant, representing himself, pleaded guilty to one charge of bank fraud and one charge of money laundering, he appealed his convictions and the district court's orders directing him to reimburse the United States Treasury. The Eleventh Circuit held that defendant waived his right to counsel knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. The court rejected defendant's argument that 18 U.S.C. 3006A(f) did not authorize the district court to seize money from his jail account, holding that the district court followed the proper procedures under section 3006A before directing that defendant's money be paid from the court registry to the Treasury. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider defendant's argument that the district court could not use this money to reimburse the Treasury for his counsel's fees and expenses. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "United States v. Owen" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendants' sentence for defrauding hundreds of undocumented aliens into paying about $740,000 for falsified federal immigration forms. The court held that the district court committed no plain error in holding defendant jointly and severally liable for repaying the proceeds of their illegal conduct. In this case, defendants failed to establish that they did not mutually obtain, possess, and benefit from their criminal proceeds. The court also held that defendants' sentences were not procedurally unreasonable and that the Sentencing Guidelines direct that they be sentenced for fraud and deceit. The court wrote that United States v. Baldwin, 774 F.3d 711, 733 (11th Cir. 2014), was controlling here. In Baldwin, the court upheld the district court's application of USSG 2B1.1 on facts comparable to those in this case. View "United States v. Pazos Cingari" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated defendant's conviction for honest-services fraud through bribery for undertaking an "official act" in his capacity as a police officer. The court remanded for a new trial and held that it could not be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury convicted defendant of the offenses that Congress criminalized when it enacted the honest-services fraud and bribery statutes. In this case, the jury was not instructed with the crucial analogy limiting the definition of "question" or "matter" in this context as comparable in scope to a lawsuit, hearing, or administrative determination, and the government itself did not otherwise do so. The court also affirmed defendant's conviction of computer fraud. View "United States v. Van Buren" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's restitution order after she pleaded guilty to numerous criminal charges related to her involvement in a fraudulent tax credit scheme. The Eleventh Circuit set aside the restitution order and held that the refunds issued by the IRS due to the fraudulent tax credit scheme were all for the same exact amount — $1,000 — and the evidence the government submitted in support of its restitution request was admittedly and demonstrably inaccurate. In this case, where the appropriate restitution amount is definite and easy to calculate, the government cannot satisfy its burden of proof by relying on the oft-stated (but not always applicable) principle that restitution can be based on a reasonable estimate of loss. View "United States v. Sheffield" on Justia Law

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Defendants, Mr. Feldman and Mrs. Feldman, appealed their convictions stemming from their operation of a pain management clinic. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the convictions, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Mrs. Feldman's motion for severance; the district court did not plainly err by admitting the testimony of the government's witness; because Mrs. Feldman implicitly consented to the order declaring a mistrial, she was not entitled to relief on her double jeopardy claim; and the court rejected Mrs. Feldman's remaining claims of prosecutorial misconduct and claims of error regarding the jury instructions. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support each of defendant's conspiracy convictions, and convictions based on dispensation of controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose that resulted in death (Counts 2 through 4). However, the court reversed the district court's application of 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(C)'s 20-year mandatory minimum sentence on Counts 2–4 and remanded the case for the district court to resentence Dr. Feldman to a term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years as to each of these counts. View "United States v. Feldman" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint in a civil forfeiture action involving criminal proceeds from the faja retail business. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed the government to dismiss its complaint without prejudice, because claimants have not established that they suffered clear legal prejudice by the government's voluntary dismissal. The court also held that claimants were not entitled to attorney's fees under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, because they did not substantially prevail in the action. View "United States v. Kurvas Secret By W" on Justia Law