Monday, June 25, 2007

Court Upholds Wire Fraud Convictions

US v. Allen: Allen and his codefendant Reinhardt were involved in a fraud scheme in which they would provide "loans" to businesses that were structured as lease agreements for equipment (computers, etc.) that was never actually delivered. They were each convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud.

Both defendants made several unsuccessful arguments on appeal challenging their convictions. First, they both argued that the evidence against them was insufficient to support their convictions, primarily because the scheme itself was masterminded by someone else (it's unclear whether he was charged). The court rejected that argument, holding that the evidence of Allen and Reinhardt's guilt was overwhelming. Second, they argued that the district court erred by omitting a paragraph of the jury instructions on intent when providing the written summary to the jury. The court rejected that argument as well, holding that the omitted language was repeatedly told to the jury during oral instructions. In addition, Allen argued that his trial should have been severed from Allen's due to the use at evidence of corporate documents produced under subpoena by Reinhardt (thus preventing cross examination) and due to Reinhardt's trial strategy. First, the court held that the documents at issue were not statements by Reinhardt, as the jury was never told who produced the documents. Second, the court held that the defense theories of the two defendants were the same, although Allen sought to prove the defense with positive evidence, while Reinhardt relied on the Government's failure of proof. Therefore, severance was not necessary. Finally, the court rejected an argument that the district court erred by requiring the defense to provide argument regarding potential cross examination of a witness to the court and, later, to the Government, noting that neither defendant alleged any prejudice from the decision.

Reinhardt also made several arguments that his sentence was improperly calculated and imposed, which were dismissed by the court in summary fashion.

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