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McCormick v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

January 8, 1991, Argued ; May 23, 1991, Decided

No. 89-1918


 [*259]  [***317]  [**1809]    JUSTICE WHITE delivered the  [****6]  opinion of the Court.

 This case requires us to consider whether the Court of Appeals properly affirmed the conviction of petitioner, an elected public official, for extorting property under color of official right in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U. S. C. § 1951. We also must address the affirmance of petitioner's conviction for filing a false income tax return.

Petitioner Robert L. McCormick was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1984. He represented a district that had long suffered from a shortage of medical  [***318]  doctors. For several years, West Virginia had allowed foreign medical school graduates to practice under temporary permits while studying for the state licensing exams. Under this program, some doctors were allowed to practice under temporary permits for years even though they repeatedly failed the state exams. McCormick was a leading advocate and supporter of this program.

In the early 1980's, following a move in the House of Delegates to end the temporary permit program, several of the temporarily licensed doctors formed an organization to press their interests in Charleston. The organization hired a  [****7]  lobbyist, John Vandergrift, who in 1984 worked for legislation  [*260]  that  [**1810]  would extend the expiration date of the temporary permit program. McCormick sponsored the House version of the proposed legislation, and a bill was passed extending the program for another year. Shortly thereafter, Vandergrift and McCormick discussed the possibility of introducing legislation during the 1985 session that would grant the doctors a permanent medical license by virtue of their years of experience. McCormick agreed to sponsor such legislation.

During his 1984 reelection campaign, McCormick informed Vandergrift that his campaign was expensive, that he had paid considerable sums out of his own pocket, and that he had not heard anything from the foreign doctors. Tr. 167-168. Vandergrift told McCormick that he would contact the doctors and see what he could do. Id., at 168. Vandergrift contacted one of the foreign doctors and later received from the doctors $ 1,200 in cash. Vandergrift delivered an envelope containing nine $ 100 bills to McCormick. Later the same day, a second delivery of $ 2,000 in cash was made to McCormick. During the fall of 1984, McCormick received two more cash  [****8]  payments from the doctors. McCormick did not list any of these payments as campaign contributions, 1 nor did he report the money as income on his 1984 federal income tax return. And although the doctors' organization kept detailed books of its expenditures, the cash payments were not listed as campaign contributions. Rather, the entries for the payments were accompanied only by initials or other codes signifying that the money was for McCormick.

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500 U.S. 257 *; 111 S. Ct. 1807 **; 114 L. Ed. 2d 307 ***; 1991 U.S. LEXIS 2907 ****; 59 U.S.L.W. 4474; 91-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P50,254; 67 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 91-998; 91 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3742; 91 Daily Journal DAR 6034



Disposition: 896 F. 2d 61, reversed and remanded.


extortion, campaign, color, elected, bribery, quid, quo, solicitation, induced, candidate's, licensing, indictment, convinced, contingent, sentence

Governments, Local Governments, Elections, State & Territorial Governments, Criminal Law & Procedure, Extortion, Hobbs Act, General Overview, Juries & Jurors, Province of Court & Jury, Elements, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Crimes Against Persons, Bribery