Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for charges related to his operation of an illegal payday-loan scheme. The jury found that defendant violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and federal wire fraud and identity theft statutes from 2004 through 2014.As to the RICO counts, the court rejected defendant's contention that the district court erred as a matter of law by instructing the jury that, as to his business's loans to New York borrowers, New York usury laws governed the transaction rather than the laws of the jurisdictions specified in the loan agreements, which set no interest rate caps. Rather, the court ruled that New York law applies and that the district court was correct when it so instructed the jury. As to the TILA conviction, the court rejected defendant's contention that his loan agreements disclosed the "total of payments" borrowers would make, as TILA requires, and that the evidence was insufficient to show that these disclosures were inaccurate. The court held that the evidence supported the jury's guilty verdict under TILA. The court rejected defendant's remaining contentions, finding them unpersuasive. View "United States v. Moseley" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for a new trial under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33, following defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud. The court clarified that the preponderates heavily standard requires that the district court determine whether all the evidence at trial, taken as a whole, preponderated heavily against the verdict. It does not, however, permit the district court to elect its own theory of the case and view the evidence through that lens. The court held that the weight of the evidence at trial did not preponderate heavily against the jury's verdict, and thus the district court abused its discretion in vacating the judgment and granting a new trial. The court reinstated the conviction and remanded to the district court for sentencing. View "United States v. Archer" on Justia Law

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After the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme collapsed, Picard was appointed under the Securities Investor Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 78aaa (SIPA), as the liquidation trustee for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS). The Act established a priority system to make customers of failed brokerages whole before other general creditors. Where customer property is insufficient to satisfy customers' claims, the trustee may recover property transferred by the debtor that would have been customer property but for the transfer if and to the extent that the transfer is void or voidable under the Bankruptcy Code. 15 U.S.C. 78fff–2(c)(3). The provisions of the Bankruptcy Code apply only to the extent that they are consistent with SIPA.Picard attempted to recover transfers of money that the defendants had received from BLMIS in excess of their principal investments. The defendants are BLMIS customers who were unaware of the fraud but profited from it by receiving what they thought were legitimate profits; the funds were actually other customers' money. The Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Picard. The Bankruptcy Code affirmative defense that permits a transferee who takes an interest of the debtor in property "for value and in good faith" to retain the transfer to the extent of the value given does not apply in this SIPA liquidation. The transfers were not "for value" and recovery would not violate the two-year limitation. View "In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of two counts of insider trading in violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b–5. The court held that defendant had a duty to refrain from trading on nonpublic inside information and that the evidence was sufficient to convict him. In this case, defendant served as a principal investigator for a clinical trial of a cardiac drug developed by Regado Biosciences, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, that was designed to prevent blood clotting. After defendant learned that patients suffered adverse effects during the trial, he traded on that nonpublic inside information to avoid a loss and earn a profit in the shares of the company. The court concluded that, taken together, the evidence of defendant's deceptive activity was sufficient for the jury to find that he was a sophisticated investor that knew his actions were unlawful under the charge given by the district court. Finally, there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's evidentiary rulings. View "United States v. Kosinski" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant on remand of the Government's petition to enforce two Internal Revenue Service summonses, one sent to defendant in his personal capacity and one sent to him in his capacity as a trustee, based on the foregone conclusion and collective entity exceptions to the Fifth Amendment's self-incrimination clause. Defendant's appeal stemmed from the IRS's efforts to investigate his use of offshore bank accounts to improperly conceal federally taxable income.The court agreed with the district court that the Government has shown with reasonable particularity the documents' existence, defendant's control of the documents, and an independent means of authenticating the documents such that the foregone conclusion doctrine applies. The court also agreed with the district court that, as a matter of first impression in this Circuit, a traditional trust is a collective entity subject to the collective entity doctrine. View "United States v. Fridman" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated defendant's sentence and restitution imposed after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The court held that the district court erred at sentencing by applying the commercial bribery sentencing guideline based on an uncharged bribery scheme that the government dropped in exchange for defendant pleading guilty to the wire fraud. The court explained that vacatur is warranted because the court could not be confident, despite the district court's statement to the contrary, that it would have imposed the same sentence had it instead used the correct guideline. The court also held that the district court erred by ordering $19 million in restitution to be paid to the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association, an entity that was not a victim of the convicted conduct under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. The court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Huberfeld" on Justia Law

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The term "false or fictitious" as used in 18 U.S.C. 514 refers to both wholly contrived types of documents or instruments and fake versions of existing documents or instruments. The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction under section 514, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. In this case, defendant used fake government transportation requests and purchase orders to various companies while posing as a "Commissioner and Head of Delegation" of a nongovernmental organization he created. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed Defendants Napout and Marin's convictions for multiple counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Defendants were former officials of the global soccer organization Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).The court held that defendants' convictions rest upon permissible domestic applications of the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1343. Furthermore, the court cannot conclude in light of binding precedent that the district court committed plain error with respect to the issue of whether the honest services wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1346, is unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendants. The court also held that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to affirm the district court's judgment of conviction; and that the challenged evidentiary rulings of the district court were not error. Finally, the court held that defendants' remaining arguments are without merit. View "United States v. Napout" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals: 1) Whether a stock conversion option that permits a lender, in its sole discretion, to convert any outstanding balance to shares of stock at a fixed discount should be treated as interest for the purpose of determining whether the transaction violates N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, the criminal usury law. 2) If the interest charged on a loan is determined to be criminally usurious under N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, whether the contract is void ab initio pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law 5-511. View "Adar Bays, LLC v. GeneSYS ID, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions on fourteen counts including collection of unlawful usurious debt, and conspiracy to do so, wire fraud, and money laundering, arising out of defendants' operation of a payday lending business. The court held that, even assuming that the charge with respect to Counts 2-4 was erroneous, the error did not affect the verdict, and thus defendants have not satisfied the requirements of plain error; the jury necessarily found in rendering a guilty verdict on Count 1, for which an undisputedly correct willfulness instruction was given as to the conspiracy element, that defendants were aware of the unlawfulness of their making loans with interest rates that exceeded the limits permitted by the usury laws; and the evidence of defendants' willfulness was overwhelming.The court also held that defendants' other contentions are without merit. Finally, the court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant Tucker's application to stay the execution of the forfeiture order entered against him following his conviction. View "United States v. Tucker" on Justia Law