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United States v. Fernandez

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

June 26, 2013, Decided

Nos. 12-1289, 12-1290

Opinion

 [*6]  LIPEZ, Circuit Judge. This case presents multiple issues of substantial importance, including a question of first impression in this circuit on the interpretation of the federal program bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 666. Defendants are a Puerto Rico legislator and a Commonwealth businessman who were charged, inter alia, with unlawfully exchanging a trip to Las Vegas to attend a prize fight for favorable  [**2] action on legislation. A jury returned guilty verdicts against both men, Juan Bravo Fernandez ("Bravo") and Hector Martínez Maldonado ("Martínez"), and they now challenge their convictions on numerous grounds. Foremost is their contention that the jury was allowed to convict on a gratuity theory which is beyond the scope of § 666.

Unlike most circuits to have addressed this issue, we conclude that § 666 does not criminalize gratuities. Because the district court's instructions permitted the jury to find guilt on the § 666 counts based on a gratuity theory, Defendants' convictions on that count must be vacated. In addition, we conclude that the Double Jeopardy Clause, though for reasons that differ for each Defendant, entitles both men to acquittal on their respective conspiracy charges.

A. Factual Background

We briefly summarize the relevant facts, reserving for our analysis a more detailed discussion of the facts relevant to each issue presented on appeal. We view the facts in the light most favorable to the jury's verdicts. See United States v. Ciresi, 697 F.3d 19, 23 (1st Cir. 2012).

From January 2005 until early 2011, Martínez served in the Senate of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.1  [**3] When Martínez became a senator he was assigned to the Public Safety Committee, where he served as chairman. Bravo was the president of Ranger American, a private firm that provides security services, including armored car transportation and security guard staffing.

In early 2005, Bravo advocated for the passage of legislation related to the security industry in Puerto Rico. One of these bills, Senate Project 410, addressed issues pertaining to security at shopping malls, while the other, Senate Project 471, involved licensing requirements for armored car companies. The government produced testimony at trial that the passage of these bills would have provided substantial financial benefits to Ranger American. As chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Martínez was in a position to exercise a  [**4] measure of control over the introduction and progression of the bills through the Committee and the Senate.

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722 F.3d 1 *; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13228 **

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. JUAN BRAVO FERNANDEZ; HECTOR MARTÍNEZ MALDONADO, Defendants, Appellants.

Subsequent History: As Amended June 29, 2013.

Motion denied by, On remand at United States v. Bravo-Fernandez, 988 F. Supp. 2d 191, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180805 (D.P.R., Dec. 23, 2013)

Decision reached on appeal by, Judgment entered by United States v. Bravo-Fernndez, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1566 (1st Cir. P.R., Jan. 17, 2019)

Prior History:  [**1] APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Francisco A. Besosa, U.S. District Judge.

United States v. Bravo-Fernandez, 828 F. Supp. 2d 441, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142929 (D.P.R., Dec. 12, 2011)

CORE TERMS

bribery, Travel, gratuities, bribe, reward, conspiracy, convicted, thing of value, series of transactions, official act, conspired, federal funds, corruptly, public official, prohibits, entity, trip, instructions, federal program, violating, offering, legal impossibility, conspiracy conviction, district court, take place, quotation, jeopardy, repealed, funds, marks

Criminal Law & Procedure, Abuse of Public Office, Illegal Gratuities, General Overview, Evidence, Judicial Notice, Adjudicative Facts, Verifiable Facts, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Conclusions of Law, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Business & Corporate Law, Agency Relationships, Agents Distinguished, Elements, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Employees & Officials, Legislatures, Legislation, Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation, Congressional Duties & Powers, Necessary & Proper Clause, Spending & Taxation, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Abuse of Discretion, Appeals, Reversible Error, Jury Instructions, Harmless & Invited Error, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Specific Intent, Penalties, Interpretation, Rule of Lenity, Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy, Criminal Offenses, Reviewability, Preservation for Review, Constitutional Issues, Burdens of Proof, Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Trials, Jury Instructions, Objections, Defenses, Statute of Limitations, Preliminary Proceedings, Pretrial Motions & Procedures, Dismissal, Motions to Dismiss, Racketeering, Travel Act, Impossibility, Double Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy Protection, Acquittals, Commencement of Criminal Proceedings, Collateral Estoppel, Tests for Double Jeopardy Protection, Attachment Jeopardy, Convictions, Motions for Acquittal