Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of claimants' motion to release property under civil forfeiture law. The property at issue stemmed from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids that were a controlled substance or controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption. Determining that the court had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that, assuming arguendo, Supplemental Rule G(2)(f) applied in reviewing pretrial property restraints outside the motion-to-dismiss context, the district court used the right standard. In this case, the district asked whether the government's complaint "demonstrated with sufficient particularity for the current stage of the proceedings that defendants intentionally commingled tainted funds with untainted funds for the purpose of facilitating the alleged money laundering.” The court held that the facts here were sufficient to support this standard. The court also held that probable cause for forfeiture existed based on the charge for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. View "United States v. $472,871.95 in Funds Seized" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Defendant owned and operated a company that originated loans insured by the FHA. The court held that signing the loan application in the Eastern District established venue there. The court also held that there was no constructive amendment or variance because there was no difference between the jury concluding that the supporting documents were false and it deciding that the application contained those same falsehoods; the evidence supported the verdict where it did not matter that the loan application did not expressly affirm the veracity of the supporting documents; and the government's closing argument was not improper where the prosecution did not err in telling the jury that it had to "decide the truth," which after all was what the "verdict" means. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's order dismissing an indictment with prejudice. The indictment charged defendant, the owner and operator of an adoption agency, for fraud. The court held that there was no Brady violation where the evidence clearly was not suppressed; discovery violations did not warrant imposed sanctions where the district court failed to impose the least sever sanction and the government's violations of the discovery deadlines did not warrant dismissing the indictment with prejudice; and defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice sufficient to support the district court's severe sanction and thus the district court abused its discretion when it dismissed defendant's indictment with prejudice. The court remanded for reassignment of the case to a different district judge. View "United States v. Swenson" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions and sentences for charges related to his efforts in convincing about a hundred people to lend his companies millions of dollars. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to support the mail and wire fraud counts; there was sufficient evidence to support defendant's conviction for giving false testimony during a bankruptcy court proceeding; the district court's decision denying defendant's motion to suppress some prior statements under the Fifth Amendment was unreviewable because defendant neither testified nor proffered what he would have said; challenges to the admission of several summary charts denied; challenges to jury instructions as infirm were rejected; and there was no procedural error in defendant's sentence. View "United States v. Spalding" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for aiding and abetting aggravated theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive two-year prison term. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant because the jury could reasonably infer that when defendant accessed his bank accounts online, the online descriptions of the deposits were the same as reflected on the paper bank statements admitted at trial. Furthermore, the jury could have reasonably inferred that prior to the filing of the April 2013 tax returns, defendant knew or was deliberately ignorant regarding the fact that the bank drops were IRS tax refunds. Therefore, defendant's argument that he did not have the necessary intent under Rosemond v. United States, was thus unavailing. View "United States v. Carbins, Jr." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for five counts relating to a scheme under which he certified individuals for home health care in exchange for $400 a month. The court held that there was no Ex Post Facto violation where defendant's conduct was illegal regardless of whether he was required to have a face-to-face meeting prior to certification; the district court did not reversibly err in permitting testimony from the government's expert; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of each count; and the jury instructions provided by the district court fairly and adequately covered the issues presented by the case. View "United States v. Dailey" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendants Atul and Jiten "Jay" Nandas' convictions for various charges stemming from a conspiracy to fraudulently procure H-1B visas. The court held that the district court did not err by admitting into evidence a letter that Jay wrote, because the letter did not directly allude to Atul; even if it was error to admit the letter, such error was harmless; there was no plain error in the wire fraud charges; the district court did not plainly err by not giving the jury a unanimity instruction; even granting arguendo that it was error to admit evidence of additional visa petitions and medical insurance, such error did not affect defendants' substantial rights; there was no error in applying a two point sentencing enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(10)(B) and (C) for committing a substantial portion of the alleged scheme from outside the United States and for committing an offense involving sophisticated means of concealment; any possible error in the loss calculation was harmless; and defendants' claim that the district court did not consider sentencing disparity bordered on the frivolous. View "United States v. Nanda" on Justia Law

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Defendant, operator of a tax preparation business, was convicted of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the administration of the tax code and of three counts of filing fraudulent tax returns. The Fifth Circuit upheld the convictions and amount of the restitution award, but modified the judgment so the restitution obligation was limited to the supervised release term that was the only period during which restitution can be imposed for a tax offense. View "United States v. Westbrooks" on Justia Law

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Defendant, owner of a wholesale salon equipment business, appealed his 36 month sentence after pleading guilty to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false and fraudulent tax return. The court held that the district court did not clearly err when it determined, based on the circumstantial evidence, that it was more likely than not that defendant participated in his customers' structuring activities. Therefore, the court concluded that defendant's sentence was not procedurally unreasonable. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the upward variance to defendant's sentence where the district court explained that it was imposing the above-Guidelines sentence based on a variety of factors, including, inter alia, the magnitude of defendant's dishonesty and unwillingness to abide by society's rules, the aggravated nature of the criminal conduct, and defendant's exceptional business success had a significant foundation in his unlawful activity. Accordingly, the court affirmed the sentence. View "United States v. Nguyen" on Justia Law

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Six defendants appealed their convictions for Medicare fraud, as well as paying and receiving kickbacks for referrals. Defendants' scheme involved fraudulently billing Medicare for services provided at a community mental health center. The court concluded that the district court did not err in declining to suppress the evidence seized pursuant to the warrant; the indictment does not present any reversible error; the court rejected claims of evidentiary errors; the court rejected claims of error regarding the jury instructions; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and substantive health care fraud, as well as the kickback counts; there was no Eighth Amendment problem with the forfeiture order; and the court agreed with the government that the district court erred by deciding to offset defendants' restitution obligations with any amount collected pursuant to the forfeiture order. Accordingly, the court modified the restitution and forfeiture orders to eliminate the offset. The court affirmed the judgment in all other respects. View "United States v. Sanjar" on Justia Law