Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions of three counts of securities fraud for insider trading, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims. Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) the district court did not err in admitting into evidence a redacted recording and transcript of Defendant's Securities and Exchange Commission deposition; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in placing limits on Defendant's ability to cross-examine a witness; (3) Defendant waived his challenge to the district court's decision prohibiting Defendant from entering into evidence a certain email exchange; and (4) any prejudice resulting from the admission of the testimony of Defendant's ex-wife did not affect the outcome of the trial. View "United States v. Altvater" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendants of mail fraud and violations of section one of the Sherman Act, holding that Defendants were not entitled to reversal of their convictions or a reduction in the restitution amounts Defendant were ordered to pay. Defendants were school bus operators who contracted with the Caguas, Puerto Rico municipal school system. In 2013, Defendants banded together with four other school bus operators in a bid-rigging and market-allocation conspiracy, thereby protecting themselves from the price-reducing effects of fair competition. After they were convicted they appealed, claiming, among other things, an absence of intestate nexus and insufficiency of the evidence. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the bid rigging in this case was well within the reach of the Sherman Act; (2) there was no variance from or constructive amendment to the indictment; (3) the district court acted within its discretion in excluding evidence at trial about whether Defendants' conduct really cost Caguas money; (4) the district court did not err in setting the restitution amounts; and (5) Defendants were not entitled to relief on their remaining allegations of error. View "United States v. Vega-Martinez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions for insider-trading securities fraud and related conspiracy offenses, holding that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the convictions and that the district court did not err in instructing the jury or in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. Defendant was convicted of eleven counts of inside-trading securities fraud and related conspiracy offenses. The First Circuit affirmed the convictions, holding (1) the jury's verdicts rested on sufficient evidence showing that Defendant owed a corporate inside a duty of trust and confidence, and the evidence similarly sufficed to prove Defendant's willful breach of his duty to the corporate insider; (2) the district court's decisions to give or refuse to give certain jury instructions were without error; and (3) the district court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "United States v. Kanodia" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss the indictment against them for failing to satisfy the "obtaining of property" element of Hobbs Act extortion, holding that the "obtaining of property" element was satisfied in this case. Defendants were two officials of the City of Boston, Massachusetts, who allegedly threatened to withhold permits from a production company that need the permits to hold a music festival unless the company agreed to hire works from a specific union to work at the event. Defendants were indicted for Hobbs act extortion and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that the evidence was insufficient to show, as it interpreted "obtaining of property" in the Hobbs Act extortion provision to require, that Defendants received a personal benefit from the transfer of wages and benefits to the union workers that Defendants allegedly directed the production company to make. The First Circuit vacated the order of dismissal, holding that the "obtaining of property" element may be satisfied by evidence showing that Defendants induced the victim's consent to transfer property to third parties that Defendants identified, even where Defendants did not incur any personal benefit from the transfer. View "United States v. Brissette" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence for wire fraud and theft in connection with health care, holding that Defendant’s upwardly variant sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Defendant pled guilty to one count of theft in connection with health care and one count of wire fraud. The district court imposed an upwardly variant sentence of sixty months’ imprisonment on each count of conviction, to run concurrently and to be followed by three years of supervised release. The court also ordered Defendant to forfeit $394,300 and to pay $590,296 in restitution to the victim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant’s sentence was neither procedurally unreasonable nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Gierbolini-Rivera" on Justia Law

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The district court’s decision to grant the jury’s oral request, made during deliberations, for a dictionary was improper, but under the circumstances of this case, the judge did not abuse his discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for a new trial. Appellant was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and substantive mail fraud, based upon his certification of false injury claims submitted to the American Family Life Insurance Company. On appeal, Appellant argued that the judge erred in denying his motion for a new trial where the jury was exposed to material not properly offered during trial. The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court, holding (1) the judge’s decision to grant the jury’s request, over Defendant’s objection and with no discussion on the record, to use the dictionary was error; but (2) the trial judge took thorough, effective action to investigate the impact of the error and properly concluded that Appellant suffered no prejudice. View "United States v. Pagan-Romero" on Justia Law

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On the facts of the case, the constitutional speedy trial clock began to run from the date of the original indictment rather than from the date of an additional charge first brought in a superseding indictment. A federal grand jury indicted Defendant on twelve counts of wire fraud. Approximately six years later, the government filed a superseding indictment containing the same twelve wire-fraud counts as the original indictment and adding a new count for bank fraud. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss the original indictment and the added bank-fraud count on Sixth Amendment speedy trial grounds. The government appealed, arguing that, with respect to the bank-fraud charge, the district court should have measured the period of delay from the filing of the superseding indictment, not from the filing of the initial indictment. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the bringing of an additional charge does not reset the Sixth Amendment speedy trial clock to the date of the superseding indictment where the additional charge and the charge for which the defendant was previously accused are based on the same act or transaction, or common scheme or plan, and where the government could have, with diligence, brought the additional charge at the time of the prior accusation. View "United States v. Handa" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants’ convictions for wire fraud, embezzlement of public money, and conspiracy, holding that there was no merit in any of Defendants’ claims of error. Defendants, members of the United States Army National Guard in Puerto Rico, were convicted for carrying out a fraudulent scheme to obtain recruitment bonuses. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendants’ pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment as untimely; (2) the court’s rulings as to military dress in the courtroom were not an abuse of discretion; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (4) Defendants’ evidentiary challenges failed; and (5) one of the Defendant’s challenge to his sentence was unavailing. View "United States v. Melendez-Gonzalez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for tax evasion, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, and health-care fraud, holding that Defendant was fairly tried and lawfully convicted. The Court held (1) the district court did not err in admitting other-acts evidence regarding Defendant’s sexual abuse of his daughter; (2) any error in the other evidentiary rulings disputed by Defendant on appeal were harmless; (3) the district court did not err in refusing to sever the tax evasion counts; (4) Defendant’s challenges to the district court’s jury instructions on the drug-distribution counts were unavailing; and (5) the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction on the drug-distribution counts. View "United States v. Sabean" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for tax evasion, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, and health-care fraud, holding that Defendant was fairly tried and lawfully convicted. The Court held (1) the district court did not err in admitting other-acts evidence regarding Defendant’s sexual abuse of his daughter; (2) any error in the other evidentiary rulings disputed by Defendant on appeal were harmless; (3) the district court did not err in refusing to sever the tax evasion counts; (4) Defendant’s challenges to the district court’s jury instructions on the drug-distribution counts were unavailing; and (5) the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction on the drug-distribution counts. View "United States v. Sabean" on Justia Law