Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

Hobbs Act Conviction Based on Extortion of Intangible Property Rights Unaffected by Scheidler v. NOW, 537 U.S. 393 (2003)

United States v. Peter Gotti et al., Docket Nos. 04-2746-cr (L) (2d Cir. July 12, 2006) (Katzmann, Feinberg, Lynch (D.J.)): In this 94-page opinion affirming the convictions of numerous members of the Gambino crime family, the Circuit principally holds that the Supreme Court’s decision in Scheidler v. National Org. for Women, Inc., 537 U.S. 393 (2003), “leav[es] intact this Circuit’s precedent that intangible property rights can qualify as extortable property under the Hobbs Act” and “simply clarif[ies] that before liability can attach [under the extortion prong of the Hobbs Act], the defendant must truly have obtained (or, in the case of attempted extortion, sought to obtain) the property right in question.” Op. 45; see also id. 3 (“[F]ar from holding that a Hobbs Act extortion could not be premised on the extortion of property rights,” Scheidler “simply clarified that for Hobbs Act liability to attach, there must be a showing that the defendant did not merely seek to deprive the victim of the property right in question, but also sought to obtain that right for himself.”). The opinion further clarifies that under Scheidler, the “key inquiry” for determining whether Hobbs Act “extortion” has occurred (defined inter alia as “the obtaining of property from another” with his/her consent and induced by force or violence or threats) is “whether the defendant is (1) alleged to have carried out (or, in the case of attempted extortion, attempted to carry out) the deprivation of a property right from another, with (2) the intent to exercise, sell, transfer, or take some other analogous action with respect to that right.” Op. 47-48.

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