Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions and sentence for crimes related to a multi-state tax fraud scheme using Indigent Inmate, a prisoner "charity" defendant founded and financed. The court held that the district court did not err when it admitted evidence seized from defendant's clothing as well as his post-arrest statements; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence of uncharged conduct and photographs of defendant and another individual with large sums of money; the district court did not violate defendant's right not to wear jail clothes; the district court did not err when it gave the jury a Pinkerton jury instruction; sufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions; and the district court did not err when it calculated defendant's sentencing guidelines range, nor did it impose a substantively unreasonable sentence. View "United States v. Shabazz" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's three convictions for wire fraud, but vacated his 36 month sentence. Applying the four factor test in Barker, the court held that defendant was not denied the right to a speedy trial. In this case, the district court did not err by concluding that the government made good-faith, diligent efforts to locate and arrest defendant. Furthermore, defendant failed to demonstrate actual prejudice. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to prove that he possessed culpable knowledge and intent necessary for his wire fraud convictions; the court rejected defendant's evidentiary challenges; but the district court's failure to address defendant personally about his right to allocution constituted plain error. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Cristiano Machado" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant Skillern and Nelson's convictions for mail fraud, wire fraud, and associated conspiracies. Defendants' convictions stemmed from their efforts to peddle non-existent gold to the public through their company, Own Gold LLC. In this case, Skillern alleged that the district court deprived him of his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel when, just before an overnight recess that occurred while Skillern was on the stand, the district court granted his lawyer's request to speak to him "about matters other than his testimony." The court held that the district court did not commit constitutional error in light of the court's en banc decision in Crutchfield v. Wainwright, 803 F.2d 1103 (11th Cir. 1986), because the record did not reflect that Skillern (or his lawyer) actually wanted or planned to discuss his testimony during the recess. The court rejected defendants' remaining contentions. View "United States v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant Presendieu's convictions, and vacated Defendant Jean's sentence in a case involving an illegal check-cashing scheme. The court held that Presendieu did not show that the district court plainly erred, either as a matter of constitutional due process or under Rule 11, in accepting defendant's guilty plea. The court held, however, that the district court clearly erred in holding Jean responsible for the approximately $84,000 of loss incurred as a result of a codefendant's independent check-cashing activity. The court also held that the district court did not err in applying to Jean's sentence a two-level sentence enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(11)(B)(i) and a two-level enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(10)(C) for the use of sophisticated means. Finally, the district court did not err by denying Jean's request for a minor role reduction under USSG 3B1.2(b). The court remanded for the district court to resentence Jean. View "United States v. Presendieu" on Justia Law

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Defendants Larry and Dixie Masino were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering. A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment that added predicate offenses to Count Two, operating an illegal gambling business. The Eleventh Circuit declined to exercise pendant jurisdiction over Larry's cross-appeal of a denial of a motion to dismiss the indictment; Count Two of the indictment was legally sufficient to state an offense; because a violation of the Florida bingo statute could satisfy the essential element about state law required to prove Count Two, the court need not address Florida gambling house statutes as a basis for upholding the indictment; and thus the indictment stated the essential element about state law because the bingo statute provides at least some violations that would make a gambling business illegal. Accordingly, the court dismissed the cross-appeal for lack of jurisdiction, reversed the order dismissing part of Count Two of the indictment, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Masino" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part defendant's 84-month sentence for identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The court held that the loss amount of $165,500 from 331 debit and credit cards ($500 times 331) was properly attributed to defendant; a social security number qualifies as an "access device" under the definition in 18 U.S.C. 1029(e)(1) and for purposes of the Special Rules in the Sentencing Guidelines; and there was no error in including the loss amount of $500 for each of the "numerous" social security numbers shown on defendant's computer. The court remanded to the district court to address, and make fact findings about, the loss amount. On remand, both sides may submit additional evidence as to what types of personal information were found in the apartment. The evidence supported the district court's finding that defendant did not meet her burden of proving her minor role and the district court did not err when it denied defendant the benefit of an acceptance of responsibility reduction. However, the court remanded for additional factfinding as to the criminal history category points. View "United States v. Wright" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed her restitution order after pleading guilty to conspiracy to accept gratuities with the intent to be influenced or rewarded in connection with a bank transaction. The district court ordered her to pay $251,860.31 to her former employer, Wells Fargo, pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A, finding that her conviction qualified as an "offense against property." The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that defendant facilitated bank transactions that proximately caused Wells Fargo's losses, and she intended to derive an unlawful benefit from the property that was the subject of these transactions. Therefore, the court concluded that defendant committed an "offense against property" as that phrase was understood in its ordinary and contemporary sense. View "United States v. Collins" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. 666 of embezzlement from an organization receiving federal funds. In this case, defendant, a professor in the College of Business, was embezzling from Florida State University (FSU). Defendant was also a director and officer of the Student Investment Fund (SIF), a non-profit corporation established by FSU for charitable and educational purposes, and had signatory authority over the SIF's bank account. On appeal, defendant argued, among other things, that any embezzlement was not from FSU and that the Government did not prove that the victimized organization under the statute was a recipient of federal benefits. The court concluded that its decision in United States v. McLean was dispositive. The court reasoned that the SIF received no federal funding, directly or indirectly. Therefore, there were no federal funds owned by, or under the care, custody, or control of the SIF. The court explained that defendant was a director and officer and thus an agent of the SIF, and his employment as a professor at FSU was irrelevant inasmuch as he did not embezzle any FSU funds. Therefore, because the Government failed to prove that the relevant local organization, the SIF, received any federal benefits, the court reversed the judgment and directed the district court to enter a judgment of acquittal. View "United States v. Doran" on Justia Law

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Defendant was found guilty of violating the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721(a), 2725(3), because she provided email addresses of residents in Mobile County from a License Commission database. Defendant, the former License Commissioner, provided the emails to a mayoral campaign. The court held that the term "personal information" in the Act, includes email addresses, and that the government presented sufficient evidence in this case for the jury to find that the License Commissioner was an "officer, employee, or contractor" of a "State department of motor vehicles." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Hastie" on Justia Law

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Defendants Kenneth and Kimberly Horner, owners and operators of Topcat Towing, were convicted of assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent corporate tax return and filing a false individual income tax return. The court rejected defendants' claim of prosecutorial misconduct and concluded that no Giglio violation occurred in this case; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendants' two requested jury instructions regarding good faith reliance and due diligence obligations of tax preparers; and the court rejected defendants' evidentiary challenges, concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendants' motion in limine to exclude evidence of structuring cash deposits and false tax returns. Accordingly, the court affirmed the convictions. View "United States v. Horner" on Justia Law