Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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Defendants-Appellants Matthew and Brandi Channon s used fictitious names and addresses to open rewards accounts at OfficeMax, known as “MaxPerks” accounts. They used these accounts to fraudulently obtain more than $100,000 in OfficeMax products. The scheme came to light when Steven Gardner, an OfficeMax fraud investigator, noticed an unusually high number of online-adjustments across several different accounts. Gardner observed that most of the accounts were registered to one of three email addresses, differing only with interspersed periods between the characters of each address. OfficeMax recognized the variations as unique email addresses, but gmail did not. Defendants then used these fraudulent email addresses to claim purchases by other customers, thus generating rewards to which they were not entitled. They also used various accounts to sell more than 27,000 used ink cartridges, receiving $3 in rewards from OfficeMax for each after paying an average of $.32 per cartridge on eBay. In total, over the 21 months of their scheme, Defendants redeemed $105,191 in OfficeMax rewards. Defendants were ultimately were convicted by a jury of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to a scheme to defraud OfficeMax. They appealed, challenging the district court’s decision to: (1) admit exhibits derived from computer records and (2) enter a money judgment forfeiture. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the district court’s admission of the exhibits but remanded so the district court may conduct further proceedings on the money judgment of forfeiture. View "United States v. Channon (Matthew)" on Justia Law

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Defendants-Appellants Matthew and Brandi Channon s used fictitious names and addresses to open rewards accounts at OfficeMax, known as “MaxPerks” accounts. They used these accounts to fraudulently obtain more than $100,000 in OfficeMax products. The scheme came to light when Steven Gardner, an OfficeMax fraud investigator, noticed an unusually high number of online-adjustments across several different accounts. Gardner observed that most of the accounts were registered to one of three email addresses, differing only with interspersed periods between the characters of each address. OfficeMax recognized the variations as unique email addresses, but gmail did not. Defendants then used these fraudulent email addresses to claim purchases by other customers, thus generating rewards to which they were not entitled. They also used various accounts to sell more than 27,000 used ink cartridges, receiving $3 in rewards from OfficeMax for each after paying an average of $.32 per cartridge on eBay. In total, over the 21 months of their scheme, Defendants redeemed $105,191 in OfficeMax rewards. Defendants were ultimately were convicted by a jury of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to a scheme to defraud OfficeMax. They appealed, challenging the district court’s decision to: (1) admit exhibits derived from computer records and (2) enter a money judgment forfeiture. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the district court’s admission of the exhibits but remanded so the district court may conduct further proceedings on the money judgment of forfeiture. View "United States v. Channon (Matthew)" on Justia Law

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Defendant Kenneth Hardin was the senior manager of the Civil Rights Division for the Regional Transportation District in Colorado (RTD). Lucilious Ward was the owner–operator of a busing company that had been certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and Small Business Enterprise. Ward was also a manufacturing representative for a Chinese manufacturer of automobiles and rechargeable batteries. In 2008, Ward’s busing company contracted with RTD as a service provider for a program that provided local bus transportation in Denver for people with disabilities. From that point on, Ward paid Defendant monthly bribes in exchange for his help. When the "Access-a-Ride" contract expired in 2014 and Ward received his final check, Defendant called Ward to request an additional, final payment of $1,100. Unbeknownst to Defendant, Ward had pled guilty to tax evasion. Hoping to receive a reduced sentence in his tax case, Ward relayed Defendant’s request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which began using him as a confidential informant to investigate Defendant for bribery. Defendant was indicted on four counts relating to committing bribery involving a program that receives federal funds. The four counts correlated to four meetings he had with Ward about RTD’s request for proposal for a shuttle-bus contract. Count 1 charged Defendant with accepting a bribe of $1,100; he was acquitted on this count. However, the jury found Defendant guilty as to Counts 2–4, which were based on Ward’s bribes relating to the proposed shuttle-bus contract. After return of the guilty verdicts, Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that, because of his acquittal on Count 1, the government had not shown that the bribes he solicited met the $5,000 threshold set by statute. The district court denied Defendant’s motion, holding that the jury could reasonably have concluded that the bribes were intended to influence the selection of bids for the shuttle-bus contract and that the value of this contract exceeded $5,000. Defendant timely appealed. View "United States v. Hardin" on Justia Law

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Defendant Kathleen Stegman was convicted by a jury of two counts of evading her personal taxes for the tax years 2007 and 2008. Stegman was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 51 months, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. The district court also ordered Stegman to pay a $100,000 fine, plus restitution in the amount of $68,733. Stegman established several limited liability corporations pertaining to a “medical aesthetics” business she owned, using these corporations to effectively launder client payments. As part of this process, Stegman would use the corporations to purchase money orders, typically in denominations of $500 or less, that she in turn used to purchase items for personal use. In 2007, Stegman purchased 162 money orders totaling $77,181.92. In 2008, she purchased 252 money orders totaling $121,869.99. And in 2009, she purchased 157 money orders totaling $73,697.31. Notably, Stegman reported zero cash income on her federal income tax returns during each of these years. At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury convicted Stegman of evading her personal taxes for the tax years 2007 and 2008 (Counts 4 and 5), as well as evading corporate taxes for the tax years 2008 and 2009 (Counts 1 and 2). The jury acquitted Stegman of evading corporate taxes for the tax year 2010 (Count 3). The jury also acquitted Stegman and Smith of the conspiracy charge (Count 6). Stegman moved for judgment of acquittal or, in the alternative, a new trial. The district court granted the motion as to the two counts that related to the evasion of corporate taxes (Counts 1 and 2), but denied the remainder of the motion. In doing so, the district court chose to acquit Stegman of the corporate tax evasion counts not due to a lack of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this corporation evaded taxes,” but rather because “the indictment itself was flawed in attributing the loss as due and owing by Ms. Stegman, when actually it was due and owing by the corporation.” Stegman raised five issues on appeal, four of which pertain to her convictions and one of which pertained to her sentence. Although several of these issues require extensive discussion due to their fact-intensive nature, the Tenth Circuit concluded that all of these issues lacked merit. View "United States v. Stegman" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Matthew Williams of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He appealed, arguing the evidence against him was insufficient. Williams began a mortgage loan application at Pulaski Bank (the “bank”) using his father’s personal and financial information and his status as a Purple Heart veteran. After his father received the application packet in the mail, he called the bank to explain he had not applied for a loan. The bank referred the matter to law enforcement, but continued to work with Williams to process the loan and obtain additional documents to clarify the applicant’s identity. The bank sent Williams a notice of incompleteness because it lacked several required documents, signatures, and a photo identification. In response, Williams provided some of the required documents to the bank, including a fake earnings statement and a letter expressing his intent to proceed with the loan. The bank sent a final notice of incompleteness to Williams. Williams did not respond, and the bank closed his application file. Mr. Williams argues his misrepresentations on the incomplete application could not support a bank fraud conviction because they (1) were not material to the bank’s decision to issue him a loan; and (2) did not impose a risk of loss on the bank. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Matthew Williams of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He appealed, arguing the evidence against him was insufficient. Williams began a mortgage loan application at Pulaski Bank (the “bank”) using his father’s personal and financial information and his status as a Purple Heart veteran. After his father received the application packet in the mail, he called the bank to explain he had not applied for a loan. The bank referred the matter to law enforcement, but continued to work with Williams to process the loan and obtain additional documents to clarify the applicant’s identity. The bank sent Williams a notice of incompleteness because it lacked several required documents, signatures, and a photo identification. In response, Williams provided some of the required documents to the bank, including a fake earnings statement and a letter expressing his intent to proceed with the loan. The bank sent a final notice of incompleteness to Williams. Williams did not respond, and the bank closed his application file. Mr. Williams argues his misrepresentations on the incomplete application could not support a bank fraud conviction because they (1) were not material to the bank’s decision to issue him a loan; and (2) did not impose a risk of loss on the bank. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law