Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

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Defendant owned and operated a healthcare clinic. Along with another provider, Defendant engaged in a scheme to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health services that were not properly authorized, not medically necessary, and, in some cases, not provided. Insiders testified to Defendant's role in the conspiracy, indicating she knew the home healthcare agencies were paying marketers to recruit patients. Defendant also told an undercover FBI agent she could show him how to make money by recruiting patients. Defendant was convicted and sentenced to 300 months in federal prison.Defendant appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against her. However, the Fifth Circuit affirmed her conviction, finding that a rational jury could have concluded that Defendant knew about and willfully joined the conspiracy. Additionally, the court rejected Defendant's challenges to her sentence, finding that the district court did not commit a procedural error and that her sentence was not substantively unreasonable. View "USA v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Capital held tens of millions of dollars for a sole investor, with Stevanovich as its sole director. Capital invested in the multi-billion-dollar Petters Ponzi scheme, getting out before the scheme collapsed in 2008. Some investors lost everything[ Capital earned tens of millions. The Petters bankruptcy court entered a $578,366,822 default judgment against Capital in 2015, but it had dissolved. In 2018, the Trustee filed a post-judgment supplementary proceeding in the Northern District of Illinois against Stevanovich, an Illinois resident. Under Illinois law, a judgment creditor may recover assets from a third party if the judgment debtor has an Illinois state law claim of embezzlement against the third party. In his turnover motion, the Trustee argued that Stevanovich embezzled Capital’s funds to purchase high-end wine for his personal use and transferred the goods to Stevanovich’s personal wine cellar in Switzerland. The Trustee submitted ample evidence to support his claim for $1,948,670.79. The district court granted the turnover order without conducting an evidentiary hearing and found that Stevanovich embezzled the funds. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Stevanovich’s claims that the wine purchases were an investment strategy for Capital and that the five-year statute of limitations for embezzlement applied, accruing from the dates of the wine purchases. The court applied the seven-year statute of limitations for supplementary proceedings accruing from the date of the bankruptcy court judgment. Stevanovich failed to present any evidence creating an issue of fact that necessitated a hearing. View "Kelley v. Stevanovich" on Justia Law

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Four defendants, who have multiple ties to organized crime, were convicted for their roles in the unlawful takeover and looting of FirstPlus Financial, a publicly traded mortgage loan company. Their scheme began with the defendants’ and their co-conspirators’ extortion of FirstPlus’s board of directors and its chairman, using lies and threats to gain control of the company. Once they forced the old leadership out, the defendants drained the company of its value by causing it to enter into expensive consulting and legal-services agreements with themselves, causing it to acquire (at vastly inflated prices) shell companies they personally owned, and using bogus trusts to funnel FirstPlus’s assets into their own accounts. They ultimately bankrupted FirstPlus, leaving its shareholders with worthless stock.Each defendant was convicted of more than 20 counts of criminal behavior and given a substantial prison sentence. In a consolidated appeal, the Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the investigation, the charges and evidence against them, the pretrial process, the government’s compliance with its disclosure obligations, the trial, the forfeiture proceedings, and their sentences. The government conceded that the district court’s assessment of one defendant’s forfeiture obligations was improper under a Supreme Court decision handed down during the pendency of this appeal and remanded that assessment. View "United States v. Scarfo" on Justia Law

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Defendant Laura Shelly pled no contest to one count of embezzlement by an employee. Pursuant to the negotiated plea, the trial court imposed a five-year term of felony probation. The court also ordered defendant to pay $72,972.47 in restitution. Shelly argued on appeal the length of her probation had to be reduced in light of Assembly Bill No. 1950 (2019-2020 Reg. Sess.) which reduced the maximum length of felony probation to two or three years. She also argued the amount of restitution had to be reduced by $5,816.25. The Court of Appeal agreed, and the State conceded, that Assembly Bill 1950 applied retroactively and entitled defendant to have the length of her probation reduced. The question remaining was whether the State was then entitled to withdraw from the plea agreement. To this, the Court held it was not. The Court also reduced the restitution order by $1,000. View "California v. Shelly" on Justia Law

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Miller and Krasilnikova are married. Miller pled guilty to wire fraud. His sentence included an order to pay approximately $1.1 million in restitution. Days after Miller received his sentence, Krasilnikova agreed to sell their family home to a third party for $855,000. The United States then gave notice of a lien on the property, 18 U.S.C. 3613(c), asserting that Miller had a one-half interest in the proceeds and that his share should be used to pay restitution. Krasilnikova argued that she was the sole owner; the title to the property was only in Krasilnikova’s name.The Seventh Circuit upheld an order dividing the sale proceeds equally so that Miller’s share will be applied to the restitution order. The district court properly considered additional evidence. Under Illinois law, courts evaluating ownership can look past title and instead ask who actually exercised control over the property at issue. A series of property transfers and mortgages casts significant doubt on the legitimacy of Krasilnikova’s paper title. Ample evidence suggests that Miller and Krasilnikova manipulated property and financial records and even forged signatures to conceal the true ownership of the property. View "Krasilnikova v. United States" on Justia Law

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Goulding, an accountant and lawyer, has a history of mail fraud and tax fraud. Goulding formed 15 funds that hired Nutmeg’s advisory services, which he managed. The funds invested in illiquid securities, many of which were close to insolvent. Gould wrote all of the disclosure documents, which overvalued the funds. Goulding made baseless statements about increases in value. Goulding did not use outside advisors and engaged in commingling, holding some securities in his own name.The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goulding under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. 80b, with running Nutmeg through a pattern of fraud, including touting his supposed financial expertise while failing to disclose his crimes, in addition to violating the Act’s technical rules. The district court issued an injunction removing Goulding from the business and appointing a receiver. A magistrate judge enjoined Goulding from violating the securities laws, required him to disgorge $642,422 (plus interest), and imposed a $642,422 civil penalty. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the finding of liability and the financial awards. The extent of Goulding’s wrongdoing makes it hard to determine his net unjustified withdrawals; as the wrongdoer, he bears the consequence of uncertainty. The restitution reflects a conservative estimate of Goulding’s ill-got gains. Nor did the judge err by declining to trace funds from their source to Goulding’s pocket. View "Securities and Exchange Commission v. Goulding" on Justia Law

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Weller was convicted of insider trading, Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b). Fleming, a vice president of Life Time Fitness, had learned that his company was likely to be acquired by a private equity firm at an above-market price. Fleming told a friend, Beshey, who told Clark and Kourtis (who knew that the information had been misappropriated), who told others, including Weller. Most of them profited by trading on the information and showed their appreciation by “kickbacks.”Weller unsuccessfully argued that he did not know that Fleming violated a duty to his employer by passing the information to Beshey and that the government did not prove a financial benefit to Fleming. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his convictions. Although Weller did not interact with all of the others, he did conspire with at least Kourtis to misuse material non-public information for their own benefit. The court upheld Weller’s 366-day below-Guidelines sentence, noting that Weller profited more than the others. View "United States v. Weller" on Justia Law

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Inman was part of the majority of the Michigan House of Representatives who, along with a majority of the Senate, voted to repeal the prevailing-wage law. Inman was charged with soliciting bribes for his prevailing-wage vote: attempted extortion under color of official right, 18 U.S.C. 1951; soliciting a bribe, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(B); and making a false statement to the FBI, 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2) (Count III). A jury acquitted Inman on Count III but hung on Counts I and II. The district court dismissed those counts, concluding that the acquittal precluded a retrial on the other counts.The Sixth Circuit reversed. The acquittal on the false-statement charge did not decide any fact that necessarily precludes a verdict against Inman on the extortion and bribery-solicitation charges, so issue preclusion does not apply. To show the underlying corrupt agreement, the prosecution did not need to produce evidence that Inman lied to the FBI. It needed to produce evidence that Inman extorted or attempted to solicit an agreement where Inman would vote on the prevailing-wage law in exchange for payment. At retrial, a jury must decide whether Inman actually extorted or attempted to solicit such an agreement—a question not answered by the acquittal on Count III. View "United States v. Larry Inman" on Justia Law

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Deutsche Bank employed Chanu and Vorley as precious metals traders. They received training that “market manipulation” was prohibited. The two engaged in “spoofing,” placing orders for precious metals futures contracts on one side of the market that, at the time the orders were placed, they intended to cancel prior to execution. At times they placed opposite orders. The government alleged that they placed such orders with the intent “to create and communicate false and misleading information regarding supply or demand in order to deceive other traders” and entice them to react to the false and misleading increase in supply or demand. After the court rejected Speedy Trial Act motions, the two were acquitted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. 18 U.S.C. 1343. Vorley was convicted of three counts of wire fraud; Chanu was found guilty of seven counts of wire fraud.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Manual spoofing violated the wire fraud statute; the defendants’ s actions amounted to a scheme to defraud by means of false representations or omissions and the implied misrepresentations were material. The court upheld the denial of the defendants’ request to modify jury instructions explaining the term “scheme to defraud” and to issue a good‐faith instruction. The court found no legal error in the district court's ends‐of‐justice rationale for excluding time in considering Speedy Trial issues. View "United States v. Chanu" on Justia Law

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VanDemark owns the Used Car Supermarket, which sells cars from two lots in Amelia, Ohio. In 2013-2014, VanDemark funneled away his customers’ down payments and left them off his tax returns. He used this stashed-away cash to finance the mortgage on his mansion.The Sixth Circuit affirmed VanDemark’s convictions for helping prepare false tax returns, 26 U.S.C. 7206(2), structuring payments, 31 U.S.C. 5324(a)(3), and making false statements to federal agents, 18 U.S.C. 1001. The down payments were taxable upon receipt, not, as VanDemark argued, when customers purchased the cars after leasing them. With respect to his missing 2013 personal return, the court stated that a defendant is guilty even if he helps prepare, without presenting, the fraudulent return. View "United States v. VanDemark" on Justia Law