Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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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

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Defendant Bergman, a licensed physician's assistant employed by ATC, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud and conspiracy to make false statements relating to health care matters. Defendant Santaya, also employed by ATC, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program, and receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program. The court concluded that the district court did not err by letting the jury decide whether Bergman withdrew from the conspiracy and in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal; the evidence was sufficient to convict Santaya of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and his motion for judgment of acquittal was properly denied; it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court or the magistrate judge to deny Santaya's request to strike the entire panel; the court rejected Bergman's evidentiary claims; the court rejected Santaya's claims of prosecutorial misconduct; Bergman's sentence of 180 months in prison and Santaya's sentence of 150 months in prison were reasonable; and the court rejected defendants' remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Bergman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Mexican nationals, filed suit against defendants, international air transportation companies that transport passengers to and from the United States and Mexico, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-68, alleging that defendants defrauded them by collecting a Mexican tourism tax in which they were exempt. Mexico imposed a tax on certain travelers who arrive in Mexico on flights that originated outside of Mexico, but exempted Mexican nationals and children under the age of two. The district court dismissed the case with prejudice. The court concluded that, although defendants' conduct regarding the tax was very troubling, plaintiffs failed to allege the existence of an express agreement, let alone an "enterprise" under section 1962. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Almanza v. United Airlines" on Justia Law

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Defendant, an attorney, appealed his conviction and sentence after being convicted of mail, wire, and securities fraud. The convictions were based on evidence that he fabricated press releases and purchase orders to inflate the stock price of his client Signalife, a publicly-traded manufacturer of medical devices. The court rejected defendant's Brady v. Maryland claim, finding that defendant identified only one potential Brady document, which contained no information favorable to him and was accessible through reasonable diligence before trial. Furthermore, defendant failed to identify any suppressed material or any materially false testimony on which the government relied, purportedly in violation of Giglio v. United States. In regard to defendant's sentence, the court concluded that the district court erred in calculating an actual loss figure based on the losses of all investors under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. 3663A, and failed to determine whether intervening events caused the Signalife stock price to drop and, if so, whether these events were unforeseeable such that their effects should be subtracted from the actual loss figure. Accordingly, the court affirmed the conviction, vacated the sentence, and remanded with instructions. View "United States v. Stein" on Justia Law

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Defendant was found guilty of three counts of attempting to cause a financial institution to not file a required currency transaction report (a CTR), in violation of 31 U.S.C. 5324(a)(1). For the first time on appeal, defendant contends that the government and the district court constructively amended the indictment, allowing her to be tried and convicted of violating section 5324(a)(3), and not section 5324(a)(1). Defendant also argues for the first time that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her convictions. The court concluded that, although the instructions given by the district court were not perfect, they did not, under plain error analysis, amount to a constructive amendment of the indictment. The court also concluded, under a plain error analysis, that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Leon" on Justia Law

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After defendant pled guilty to embezzlement by a bank officer or employee, she challenged her sentence, arguing that it violated her constitutional rights and that it was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. The court concluded that the district judge abused his discretion by giving significant (indeed, dispositive) weight to defendant's inability to pay restitution. Because the district judge confirmed and reiterated his consideration of defendant's inability to pay restitution as a factor in his order on remand---coupled with his stated belief that defendant's arguments on appeal were “frivolous,” even after having the benefit of reviewing those arguments---it appears the district court may be unable to disregard its improper consideration of that factor or, at least, that it may appear so. Therefore, the court exercised its supervisory powers and remanded for resentencing before a different district judge. View "United States v. Plate" on Justia Law

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Defendants Farha, Behrens, Kale, and Clay appeal their convictions for charges related to Medicaid fraud on multiple grounds. Defendants were all high-level executives of WellCare or one of its Florida subsidiaries, Staywell and HealthEase. At trial, the government proved that together defendants participated in a fraudulent scheme to file false Medicaid expense reports that misrepresented and overstated the amounts Staywell and HealthEase spent on medical services for Medicaid patients, specifically outpatient behavioral health care services. The court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to convict Farha, Behrens, and Kale for health care fraud; there was sufficient evidence to convict Behrens for making false representations to AHCA; and there was sufficient evidence to convict Clay for making false statements to federal agents. The court rejected Farha, Behrens, and Kale's challenge to the jury instructions with regard to their fraud convictions. Finally, the court rejected defendants' claims of evidentiary error. Accordingly, the court affirmed the convictions. View "United States v. Clay" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the CFO of Inno Vida, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to engage in financial transactions with criminally derived property, three counts of wire fraud, one count of major fraud against the United States, and three counts of making false statements to a federal agency. The government presented evidence that defendant maintained two sets of financial statements and used one set to mislead investors and the United States. The company's controller testified that, when the two sets of statements were prepared, he believed only the other set complied with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the controller's testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 701 because the testimony was rationally based on his own personal experiences. The court also concluded that the government presented sufficient evidence to convict defendant of each charge. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Toll" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud after he and his associates conspired to defraud lending institutions out of more than $7 million by submitting fraudulent loan applications. At issue was whether the district court exceeded its authority under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b) and the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA) of 1996, 18 U.S.C. 3663A-3664, by eliminating, sua sponte, defendant’s obligation to jointly and severally pay more than $4 million in mandated restitution based upon his substantial assistance. The court held that the district court did not have the legal authority to eliminate defendant’s restitution obligation based on a Rule 35(b) motion. The court concluded that the MVRA makes restitution mandatory for certain crimes, like the fraud offense to which defendant pled guilty, “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law.” The court read this provision as a clear indication from Congress that the MVRA was intended to trump Rule 35. Because the district court was not free to reduce defendant's restitution as a reward for his substantial assistance, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to reinstate defendant's obligation to make restitution to the victims. View "United States v. Puentes" on Justia Law