Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Money-laundering convictions reversed for insufficient evidence; other claims rejected

U.S. v. Christy, 17-3122 (Feb. 15, 2019) (D. Kan.): Ms. Christy was charged with one count of bank embezzlement, six counts of making false bank entries, six counts of failing to report taxable income, and 10 counts of money laundering. A jury convicted Ms. Christy on all charges except four money-laundering counts.

On appeal Ms. Christy argued that (1) cumulative prosecutorial misconduct violated her due process rights, (2) the evidence was insufficient for her money-laundering convictions, and (3) the jury instructions improperly omitted a materiality element for the false-bank-entry charges. The Tenth Circuit (1) found that Ms. Christy had not shown the prosecutor’s comments influenced the verdict, (2) reversed Ms. Christy’s money-laundering convictions because of insufficient evidence of intent; and (3) affirmed Ms. Christy’s false-bank-entry convictions because, even assuming materiality is an implied element of 18 U.S.C. § 1005, its omission from the jury instruction was harmless error. Remanded with instructions to vacate the money-laundering convictions and resentence Ms. Christy.