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In affirming the district court's judgment of conviction, the court principally considered whether the district court erred in giving a "willful blindness" instruction. Affirming, the court concluded that a willful blindness instruction that applied to a defendant's knowledge of the law in a criminal tax case would not run afoul of Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192 (U.S. 1991). Though the question whether an accountants's lay opinion testimony was admissible under Fed. R. Evid. 701 was close, the court concluded that the error, if any, was harmless. In addition, the court rejected defendant's prosecutorial misconduct claim based on the Government's supposed failure to "correct" a witness's testimony that he could not recall statements he purportedly made to FBI agents (with Government counsel present) during investigatory interviews. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in either (1) admitting the expert testimony of an IRS agent in defendant's complicated tax fraud case, and (2) preventing defendant from affirmatively admitting certain categories of exhibits into evidence during defense counsel's cross-examination of Government witnesses.
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View free narrative insights on this site by Pepper Hamilton, LLP tax attorneys: Willful Blindness Instructions in Criminal Tax Cases: The Third Circuit's Stadtmauer Ruling
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