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

Articles Posted in White Collar Crime
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The DC Circuit affirmed Defendants Cooper and Bryant's appeal of their convictions and sentences for theft of public money and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The court held that the district court correctly concluded that Cooper's statements could be used at trial where the evidence showed that Cooper's statements were given freely and voluntarily; a special agent's testimony did not meaningfully prejudice the defense; the district court did not err by denying Cooper's motion for a mistrial during the government's rebuttal where the prosecutor did not misstate the evidence applicable to Cooper, and the occasional inadvertent references to "these defendants" when discussing acts not attributable to Cooper were quickly remedied; and the district court's calculation of the restitution amount was appropriate. View "United States v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and sentences for health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court rejected statutory and constitutional speedy trial claims. The court also held that the district court abused its discretion in denying severance; even assuming a Rule 16 violation, defendants failed to establish the requisite prejudice to their substantial rights for the court to conclude that the district court abused its discretion by not excluding Exhibit 439; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendants; and challenges to the unanimity and aiding-and-abetting instructions rejected on plain error review. The court also held that the district court properly concluded that the $80.6 million in payments from D.C. Medicaid to Global constituted loss under the Mandatory Victims Rights Act; the district court did not plainly violate the Excessive Fines Clause by ordering forfeitures without considering defendants' ability to pay them; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing four sentencing enhancements for committing crimes involving a loss of approximately $80 million, abusing positions of trust, playing a managerial role in the crimes, and violating an administrative order. View "United States v. Bikundi" on Justia Law

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Defendant and her son appealed from their convictions for conspiracy to commit tax fraud and related offenses. The DC Circuit held that the prosecutor's blatant misstatements of key evidence during closing arguments, in the absence of any steps to mitigate the resulting prejudice, required reversal of the son's convictions; because the evidence against the son was insufficient, he was not subject to retrial; defendant was not prejudice from the closing arguments; and defendant's evidentiary challenges were unpersuasive. The court affirmed defendant's convictions but remanded her case for resentencing and for reconsideration of her claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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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