Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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Defendant pleaded guilty to making false statements to government authorities, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2). Plaintiff was told by her managers at Blackhawk to certify that Blackhawk guards had received training that they had not in fact received, thereby enabling Blackhawk to charge more for each guard’s services. As part of her sentence, she was jointly and severally liable for $442,330 in restitution. But, the district court also expressed a clear intention that the actual restitution amount should be much smaller, perhaps as little as $0. A federal court had already entered judgment against Blackhawk for more than $1 million. And the district court said, in sentencing defendant, that she would not be on the hook at all if Blackhawk paid its fine. Even in the absence of such a payment, defendant would only have to pay “at a rate of not less than $50 each month.” In 2013, defendant found out that the Treasury Department had seized tax refunds due her and that it had acted under the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), 31 U.S.C. 3716, 3720A. Defendant then filed a Motion for Clarification or Modification of Supervised Release in the sentencing court, asking that the tax refunds be returned and future seizures stopped. At the first hearing, the district court vacated defendant’s sentence, stating that it had not anticipated or intended that she be subject to such a harsh sentence. At the second and third hearings, the district court entertained further arguments about the resentencing. At the fourth hearing, the district court reimposed its original sentence. The court held that the sentence manifested a clerical error which the district court should have corrected. The court also held that, in light of the necessary corrections in the sentence, the district court’s refusal to remedy the TOP collection was error. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to require the government to return defendant's tax refunds and to cease withholding payments. View "United States v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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Defendants Ransom and Talbott appealed their sentences after pleading guilty to fraud charges in connection with the operation of their property management company. The court need not decide whether Ransom's appeal waiver should stand since the court determined that, even if Ransom had not waived his right to appeal, his arguments made on appeal were meritless. The court concluded that defendants' sentences were both procedurally and substantively reasonable. The district court did not only all that it was required to do in entering the upwardly variant sentences, but more than enough. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Ransom, Jr." on Justia Law

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Defendants Olejiya and Akinadewo appealed their sentences after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud based on their participation in a scheme that involved opening fraudulent bank accounts. The court concluded that the district court properly applied an aggravated role enhancement of three levels for Olejiya and four for Akinadewo. The district court did not fail to make the factual findings necessary to support a 12 level increase for both based on the amount of intended loss in the conspiracy. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Olejiya" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed her conviction and sentence for offenses related to her fraudulent collection of millions of dollars from Medicaid for procedures that were never performed. The court rejected defendant's evidentiary challenges and concluded that the district court acted within its discretion in limiting the cross-examination of a Health and Human Services investigator; ruling that defendant could use the superbills at issue only as evidence of her state of mind if she first provided a foundation; refusing to declare a mistrial because of allegedly prejudicial comments made during trial; and by admitting testimony regarding the care of developmentally-disabled patients. The court concluded that defendant's sentence did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause; the district court did not err in applying an enhancement under U.S.S.G. 3B1.3 for those who abuse a position of trust; and defendant waived her argument regarding the forfeiture argument. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Wheeler" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former policy director of the House Transportation Committee, appealed his convictions on three counts relating to his receipt of illegal gratuities from Jack Abramoff's lobbying group. The court concluded that, because the indictment alleged that defendant accepted the World Series trip for or because of his official assistance in influencing the language of the federal highway bill, the charge on Count 2 contained the required element, and the district court correctly denied defendant's motion to dismiss. Further, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant on all counts. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Verrusio" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud. The conviction arose out of his work for former United States Representative Curt Weldon where defendant intentionally failed to disclose certain payments made to his wife. After the Supreme Court handed down Skilling v. United States, a decision that substantially limited the permissible reach of the honest-services fraud statute, defendant filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate and set aside his conviction and sentence. The court concluded that defendant was denied an opportunity to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence because he could not demonstrate that he was also innocent of a separate and uncharged offense that had a lower sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines. The court reversed the order denying defendant's motion to vacate his conviction because defendant was not required to make such a showing. View "United States v. Caso, Jr." on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and was sentenced to 8 years and 9 months of imprisonment, as well as ordered to pay restitution to his victims. Defendant appealed. The court held that defendant could challenge the application of the vulnerable victim enhancement but, under the due deference standard, the court upheld the enhancement where it was reasonable for the district court to conclude that the combination of the victims' characteristics made them particularly susceptible to defendant's fraud. The court remanded defendant's ineffective-assistance claim that his trial counsel made errors relating to the amount-of-loss calculation because it required further factual development. Finally, the court remanded to the district court to correct the specific amounts of restitution owed to each of defendant's victim so that the amounts added up to total $3,646,747.83. View "United States v. Fareri" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former national treasurer of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, pled guilty to a single count of bank fraud and received a sentence of the time he had already served on earlier convictions, plus five years of supervised release. Defendant had successfully appealed his convictions of multiple counts of bank fraud because the district court erred in admitting certain of his statements in evidence. On appeal, defendant contended that his term of supervised release should be calculated as having commenced when he was ordered released on his own recognizance pending his ultimately successful appeal. The court disagreed and concluded that defendant's term of supervised release did not commence until he was sentenced, on the charge to which he pled guilty, to time served plus five years of supervised release. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former CFO of the National City Christian Church, was convicted of offenses related to his role in swindling the church out of more than $850,000, much of it through arranging an increase in the church's line of credit at Adams National Bank. On appeal, defendant contended that the government was required to prove that he stole certain individuals' identity information and that these individuals suffered individual harm beyond that suffered by the church. The court rejected defendant's argument that 18 U.S.C. 1028A required evidence that defendant stole the identity information at issue. The court also held that defendant's argument, that section 1028A applied only where the individuals whose means of identification were unlawfully used have suffered individual harm, lacked merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to Student Aid Fraud, Bank Fraud, and Social Security Fraud. Defendant appealed from the district court's judgment on several grounds. The court held that the district court erred in describing the elements of Student Aid Fraud; however, the error did not affect defendant's substantial rights. The court found no merit in any of the remaining claims raised by defendant on appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Moore" on Justia Law