Thursday, December 26th, 2013

District Court Did Not Commit Plain Error By Excluding Evidence of Lenders’ Negligence

United States v. Isola, No. 12-3484-cr (2d Cir. Dec. 23, 2013) (Pooler, Parker, and Chin) (summary order), available here

Convicted of wire fraud, the defendant claimed that the district court committed by plain error by not allowing him to present evidence concerning the negligence of the financial institutions he defrauded. He argued that the evidence was relevant to the materiality element of wire fraud. The Circuit disagreed, holding that “evidence of a particular lender’s unreasonableness is irrelevant to the materiality of Isola’s false statements because materiality is an objective question.”
The Circuit also rejected the defendant’s arguments that his 37-month prison sentence was procedurally and substantively unreasonable. First, the Court disagreed with the defendant’s claim that the sentencing court  improperly conflated the standard for a below-Guideline “variance” with the stricter standard for a downward “departure.” Second, the Court held that the sentence — the bottom of the Guidelines range — was not excessive.    
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