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United States v. Copeland

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

June 18, 1998, Decided

No. 96-8404.

Opinion

 [*1439]  BLACK, Circuit Judge:

Appellants Virgil M. Copeland and John J. Winders appeal their convictions for accepting and making illegal kickbacks and bribes and for filing false tax returns. We vacate their convictions for bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 666 and § 2, but affirm their convictions on all other counts.

I. BACKGROUND

From the early 1980s until 1992, Appellant Virgil M. Copeland served as a manager in the Facilities Operations Division of the Marietta, Georgia, plant of Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company (Lockheed). Copeland's responsibilities at Lockheed included finding off-site space for Lockheed to lease, arranging for the relocation of transferred Lockheed executives, and choosing contractors to perform building, maintenance, and repair projects.

 [*1440]  Appellant John J. Winders was a licensed real estate appraiser and broker who assisted Lockheed in acquiring real estate and off-site lease premises. Winders and Copeland have been [**2]  friends for over 20 years, and between 1991 and 1994, Winders earned approximately $ 100,000 in commissions from Lockheed-related business that Copeland referred to him.

Appellants' convictions stem from their involvement in a series of transactions in which Copeland improperly referred work to Winders and agreed on behalf of Lockheed to pay abnormally high commissions to Winders. In return, Winders paid Copeland approximately $ 15,000. In addition to his dealings with Winders, Copeland accepted payments from Robert Sherwood, a self-employed contractor to whom Copeland awarded several Lockheed construction projects, and William Mann, the owner of several contracting and construction companies that performed work for Lockheed.

Following a jury trial, Copeland was convicted of five counts of accepting kickbacks, in violation of 41 U.S.C. §§ 52-54 (Counts IV-V, VII-IX), five counts of bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666 and § 2 (Counts X-XI, XIII-XV), and three counts of filing false tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1) (Counts XVII, XXI-XXII). Winders was convicted under the same statutory provisions of three counts of providing kickbacks (Counts VII-IX), three [**3]  counts of bribery (Counts XIII-XV), and one count of filing a false tax return (Count XVI).

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143 F.3d 1439 *; 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 12988 **; 11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1486

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Virgil M. COPELAND, John J. Winders, Defendants-Appellants.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Rehearing En Banc Denied September 10, 1998, Reported at: 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 29650.

Prior History: Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. (No. 1:93-CR-164-1). Owen Forrester, Judge.

Disposition: AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

federal assistance, counts, federal program, convictions, transactions, bribery, benefits, receives

Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Guaranty Contracts, Criminal Law & Procedure, Bribery, Public Officials, Elements, Crimes Against Persons, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Theft & Related Offenses, Embezzlement, Public Contracts Law, Voiding Contracts, Bribes, Gratuities & Kickbacks, Contracts Law, Affirmative Defenses, Coercion & Duress