Sunday, June 12th, 2011

PC World

Here are two per curiams in white collar cases, decided on the same day.

First, in United States v. Lauerson, No. 09-0255-cr (2d Cir. June 7, 2011) (McLaughlin, Pooler, Sack, CJJ) (per curiam), the circuit agreed that the district court lacked the authority to waive the delinquency and default penalties arising from the defendant’s falling behind on his restitution payments. The relevant statute, 18 U.S.C. § 361, permits courts to, in some circumstances, modify or remit the restitution order itself, but does not permit waiver of those penalties.

And, in United States v. Wolfson, No. 10-2786-cr (2d Cir. June 7, 2011) (Kearse, Pooler, Lynch, CJJ), the court found no error in the jury instructions at a“pump and dump” securities fraud trial. The scheme operated by having corrupt stock brokers selling overvalued stocks, for which they were rewarded with “exorbitant” commissions that they either failed to disclose at all or lied about. Wolfson argued that the brokers had no duty to disclose their commission, and thus that it was error for the district court to give a fiduciary duty instruction. But the circuit noted that, while there is no “general” fiduciary duty inherent in the ordinary broker/customer relationship, there is a “relationship of trust and confidence.” A properly instructed jury “may find that stock brokers have a duty to disclose material commissions to their customers, and can convict brokers who breach that duty.”

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