Archive | statutory construction

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Second Circuit Limits Scope of Conspiracy Liability Under the FCPA

Today the Second Circuit issued an opinion holding that a non-U.S. citizen, employed by a foreign company, could not be prosecuted for conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). See United States v. Hoskins, No. 16-1010 (2d Cir. 2018) (Katzmann, Pooler, Lynch). The opinion is a statutory interpretation tour de force. Of course, the case does not necessarily present a factual scenario that attorneys will often encounter while representing indigent defendants. However, Judge Pooler’s analysis and methodology provide an excellent template for for those arguing for limitations on the scope of conspiracy liability in other contexts. The opinion is available here.

The defendant in Hoskins does not fall within any of the categories of persons who are subject to prosecution under the FCPA. This fact did not, in itself, render him immune from prosecution for conspiracy to violate the statute. As a general principle, “[a]  person …

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Categories: conspiracy, FCPA, statutory construction, statutory interpretation

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Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Second Circuit Narrowly Construes Appellate Waiver and Holds That Embezzlement Is Not a Continuing Offense

In a short and interesting opinion, available here, the Second Circuit held today that (1) a defendant did not waive her right to appeal a restitution order on the ground that it covered conduct outside the statute of limitations period, and (2) that violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641 (embezzlement of government property) are not continuing offenses, rendering the defendant liable for funds embezzled outside the limitations period. See United States v. Green, No. 16-3044 (2d Cir. 2018) (Cabranes, Carney, Goldberg (Ct. Intl. Trade )) (appeal from W.D.N.Y.). The second of these holdings, concerning the scope of  § 641, creates a circuit split.

The defendant in Green was charged under § 641 for drawing money out of a joint bank account between 2009 and 2011 in amounts similar to those of VA payments to her deceased mother that went into the account. She pled guilty, and …

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Categories: appeal waiver, forfeiture, property, statute of limitations, statutory construction, statutory interpretation

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Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Supreme Court Narrowly Construes IRS Obstruction Provision

This week the Supreme Court held that, to establish a violation of the IRS’s obstruction provision, 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a), the government must prove that the defendant was aware of a pending, “targeted governmental tax-related proceedings, such as a particular investigation or audit.” Sentencing Resource Counsel Sissy Phleger has the details:

In Marinello v. United States, the Supreme Court narrowly construed the obstruction provision in the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a), known as the Omnibus Clause. That provision criminalizes “corruptly or by force or threats of force . . . obstruct[ing] or imped[ing], or endeavor[ing] to obstruct or impede, the due administration of [the Internal Revenue Code].” Justice Breyer wrote the opinion, joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch. Thomas dissented, joined by Alito.

Relying on prior precedents interpreting other obstruction provisions, the Court narrowly construed the provision to require: first, that there be “a …

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Categories: statutory construction, statutory interpretation, tax evasion

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Friday, October 14th, 2016

Second Circuit rejects Sixth Circuit’s Interpretation of 26 U.S. C. § 7212(a)’s “Omnibus Clause”

The Second Circuit decided the case of United States v. Marinello (Docket No. 15-2224) on Friday. You can see the 44-page decision here.  The case involved small businessman, Carlo Marinello, who did not keep corporate records or file personal or corporate income tax returns for nearly two decades. Marinello was convicted by a jury in 2014 in the Western District of New York on nine counts of tax-related offenses. In his appeal, he raised three grounds. I’ll review two of them here.  First, he challenged his conviction under the “omnibus clause” of 18 U.S.C. § 7212(a), which imposes criminal liability on one who “in any other way corruptly . . . obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to obstruct or impede, the due administration of this title.” In making his argument, Marinello relied on the Sixth Circuit case, United States v. Kassouf, 144 F.3d 952 (6th Cir. 1998), which …

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Categories: knowledge, overbreadth, statutory construction, statutory interpretation, tax evasion

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Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – June 29, 2016

Today there is a short opinion discussing the meaning of “aggravated felony” in the context of a removal proceeding. And there is a summary order in a criminal case.

In Weiland v. Lynch, No. 14-3631-ag (Circuit Judges:  Parker, Lohier, and Carney), the Circuit rejects the petitioner’s argument, in his fight against removal to Germany, that his conviction for possession of child pornography under the New York Penal Law (§263.11) did not qualify as an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). His argument was that the New York offense was not an offense “described in” the analogous federal crime because the New York offense lacks an interstate commerce element that is present in the analogous federal child pornography statute. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43) (defining aggravated felony as an offense “described in” certain federal laws).  The Circuit relied on this years’ Supreme Court decision in Torres v.

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Categories: aggravated felony, statutory construction

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Friday, June 17th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – June 17, 2016

One major decision out of the Second Circuit today, United States v. Rowland (Docket 15-985). It’s a good read for those interested in statutory construction and interpretation. A brief overview of the facts: The defendant, John Rowland was once governor of Connecticut. After being released from federal custody following a 2004 conviction for corruption and a kickback scandal, Rowland attempted to get back in the political game by offering his consulting services to Connecticut politicians running for federal office. When the politicians, wanting his advice, but not an association with him, raised their concerns about the optics, Rowland suggested that their respective companies and non-profits hire him as a consultant. As the government alleged, though, in reality he would offer advice to their campaigns.

One politician declined his offered, going so far as to rip up the proposed contract Rowland provided that would have him work for the politician’s non-profit. …

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Categories: fraud, statutory construction, statutory interpretation

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Saturday, September 8th, 2012

The Cartridge Family

United States v. Graham, No. 09-2819-cr (2d Cir. August 15, 2012) (Cabranes, Livingston, Carney, CJJ)

Title 18, U.S.C. § 844(h) makes it a separate offense to use “an explosive” to commit a federal felony. During an attempted extortion of one of his fellow-gang members – a dispute over some robbery proceeds – defendant Graham fired a cartridge from his 9-millimeter semi-automatic into the ground. A jury convicted defendant Graham under this section, amongst other offenses; his 50-year sentence included the ten-year mandatory consecutive sentence that the statute requires.

On appeal, however, the circuit agreed that the single cartridge in his semi-automatic handgun did not constitute an “explosive.” It reversed the conviction on the § 844(h) count and remanded the case for resentencing.

Superficially, it would seem like firing a bullet might well trigger the statute (bad pun, I know). Section 844(j) defines “explosive” for purposes of § 844(h) as, …

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Categories: explosives, firearms, statutory construction, Uncategorized

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Saturday, November 6th, 2010

It’s Not In The Timing

United States v. Davis, No. 09-3636-cr (2d Cir. November 5, 2010) (Newman, Raggi, CJJ, Rakoff, DJ)

Williams Davis was convicted, after a jury trial, of inter alia, producing child pornography, and was sentenced to 120 years’ imprisonment. This opinion address the novel issue of whether the defendant must know that the pornography will be transmitted in interstate commerce at the time he produced it.

This was an unusually ugly case. Davis, who had been convicted in 1991 of sexually assaulting his daughter and niece, and in 2007 of kidnapping and raping a twelve-year-old girl, also sexually abused his step-daughter in 2006, and apparently photographed some of the activity. When his wife found out about the abuse she evicted him from their apartment, but Davis left behind a safe. Eventually, the wife gave the safe to police officers, who opened it and found CD’s containing the child pornography.

Davis was convicted …

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Categories: child pornography, interstate commerce, statutory construction, Uncategorized

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