Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

by
Cohen, as the president and chairman of companies that sold insurance to those in the entertainment industry, was obliged to submit regular financial statements to insurance regulators. Beginning in 2008, Cohen engaged in a scheme to defraud policyholders and the public. Cohen created fraudulent financial documents and sent fraudulent representations to auditing firms and others, securing favorable opinions on the financial standing of his companies, which received more than $100,000,000 in premiums. Prosecutors secured a 31-count indictment, alleging that Cohen’s arrest upended his intentions to harm public officials. Cohen had purchased a long-range tactical rifle, plus ammunition and a night vision device and had researched homemade bombs, purchased ammonium nitrate and made recordings about plans to attack public officials. As his scheme unraveled, Cohen threatened witnesses. Cohen, who represented himself during most proceedings, eventually pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, making false statements to insurance regulators, and obstruction of justice. Cohen was sentenced to 444 months in prison. The Fourth Circuit upheld Cohen’s appeal waiver and dismissed certain claims. The court rejected, on the merits, claims that the district court erred in failing to conduct a Farmer hearing on his asset seizure allegations and that Cohen’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel was contravened by the magistrate’s denial of his request to revoke his pro se status and have a lawyer appointed for his final sentencing hearing. View "United States v. Cohen" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of bank fraud conspiracy and two counts of aggravated identity theft. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of bank fraud conspiracy; the district court did not err in failing to conduct an in camera review to determine whether material required disclosure under the Jencks Act, 18 U.S.C. 3500(b), or pursuant to Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); the district court did not err by declining to provide defendant's requested jury instruction on accomplice testimony, and by providing the jury with a written copy of the jury instruction on aiding and abetting liability; the district court did not erroneously apply a two-level sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice, a ten-level sentencing enhancement based on the amount of loss, a two-level sentencing enhancement based on use of sophisticated means, a three-level sentencing enhancement based on his role in the offense as a manager or supervisor; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by requiring part of defendant's sentences to run consecutively. View "United States v. Savage" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendants' conviction of health care fraud and conspiracy to engage in health care fraud. Assuming that the district court did err in failing to consider materiality expressly when assessing guilt, the court held that such error was harmless because the record conclusively established that insurers would not have paid for the second, more sophisticated tests had they known those tests were not medically necessary and no rational fact finder could conclude otherwise. Furthermore, Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, — U.S. —, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016), did not compel a different conclusion. The court rejected defendants' remaining arguments, concluding that each lacked merit. View "United States v. Palin" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's restitution calculation, determination of loss for purposes of sentencing, and denial of defendant's motion for recusal. In this case, defendant was convicted of orchestrating a scheme to defraud mortgage companies. The court held that the evidence supported the district court's restitution calculation; the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining the loss amount where it used the correct loss figure in sentencing defendant under the advisory Guidelines; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in its determination not to recuse where the district court's ownership of stock in some of the victim lenders did not require recusal. View "United States v. Stone" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for three counts stemming from a mortgage fraud conspiracy occurring between 2005 and 2007. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's three motions for a new trial; the court rejected defendant's challenges to the district court's denial of his motion to compel the government to produce approximately 99 short sale files discovered during a separate and unrelated grand jury investigation; the district court acted within its considerable discretion by admitting testimony from a government's expert witness on mortgage banking practices; there was sufficient evidence to support a finding of materiality where any reasonable juror could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt, based on the evidence in the record, that false representations made in the documents connected to the real estate transactions at issue would have been of critical importance to the lenders; the district court did not commit reversible error in its application of an enhancement for a loss amount of $7.1 million; and the district court did not err in applying a three-level enhancement for a manager's or supervisor's role, a two-level sophisticated-means enhancement, and a two level enhancement for abuse of a position of trust. View "United States v. Wolf" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit held that there was insufficient evidence to support defendant's convictions for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) conspiracy and government program theft. The court vacated these convictions and remanded for resentencing. However, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of honest services fraud, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to federal agencies. Finally, the court rejected defendant's claim that the district court constructively amended the original indictment because the district court did not broaden the bases for defendant's conviction. Therefore, the court affirmed in all other respects. View "United States v. Pinson" on Justia Law