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United States v. Bruno

661 F.3d 733 (2d Cir. 2011)

tl;dr: In order to find a single conspiracy sufficient to prosecute defendants together, it is not necessary that each co-conspirator have had contact with all others.

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The legal case involves Joseph L. Bruno, a former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, who was convicted of honest services mail fraud for not disclosing conflicts of interest arising from receiving payments from individuals seeking to do business with the State. However, the Supreme Court decided Skilling v. United States, which held that the honest services statute only criminalizes fraudulent schemes effectuated through bribes or kickbacks and does not criminalize failures to disclose conflicts of interest. The government admits that convictions on Counts Four and Eight must be vacated. The appeal focuses on whether Bruno can be retried under the Skilling standard on those counts and Count Three. The court holds that Skilling requires vacating the convictions on Counts Four and Eight, but double jeopardy does not bar retrial on those counts because the government adduced sufficient evidence under the Skilling standard. The government's evidence established that Bruno received payments intended to influence him in his official capacity as Senate Majority Leader to help a nanotechnology company obtain State funding. Bruno received payments from Abbruzzese and Barr's companies for consulting services, and his consulting company, CBC, received payments from two companies owned by Abbruzzese and Barr. The government argued that payments made to Bruno's consulting company were not for actual consulting services, but to hide payments for expediting the approval of a grant. Bruno recommended Barr's appointment to the NYRA Board of Trustees shortly after receiving his first consulting payments from C & TA and CTA.

Bruno's conviction for honest services fraud on Counts Four and Eight must be vacated due to incorrect charge, but the government plans to seek a superseding indictment. The court finds that there is enough evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that there was a quid pro quo under Count Four. A retrial is not prohibited by the Double Jeopardy Clause. The conviction is overturned due to insufficiency of evidence on the counts of conviction, and a new trial is ordered.

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Facts & Holding

Facts:The government indicted and prosecuted a group of smugglers, middlemen,...

Holding:The court held that their joint prosecutions were proper because...

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United States v. Bruno

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