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United States v. Hsia

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

March 15, 1999, Argued ; May 18, 1999, Decided

No. 98-3114, Consolidated with No. 98-3125


 [*520]  WILLIAMS, Circuit Judge: A six-count indictment charged Maria Hsia with various offenses deriving from a scheme to solicit illegal political contributions and disguise them as lawful ones. Hsia filed numerous motions to dismiss. The district court denied the motions as to Count One--conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission [**2]  ("FEC") and the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS")--but dismissed Counts Two through Six--causing false statements to be made to FEC. 24 F. Supp. 2d 33, 38-47, 52-63 (D.D.C. 1998); 24 F. Supp. 2d 63, 64-65 (D.D.C. 1998). The United States appeals this dismissal; we reverse. Hsia crossappeals the refusal to dismiss Count One; we dismiss the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

* * *

The International Buddhist Progress Society ("IBPS"), one of Hsia's alleged co-conspirators and operator of the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California, is a tax-exempt religious organization incorporated in California. ] The Federal Election Campaign Act ("FECA") forbids such a corporation from making contributions in federal election campaigns, 2 U.S.C. § 441b(a); the tax code bars participation in political campaigns whether they are federal or not, 26 U.S.C. § 501(b)(3).

Hsia herself is an immigration consultant in the Los Angeles area. The indictment  [*521]  alleges a series of actions taken by her and her co-conspirators to funnel money from IBPS through straw contributors into various campaigns. Hsia would either find and solicit individuals to serve as nominal contributors, see [**3]  Indictment PP 32, 35, 38, 40(hh), 40(ii), or ask IBPS to do so, see id. PP 17, 19, 23, 26, 28, 33, 35, 40(h), 40(k), 40(n), 40(q), 40(t), 40(z), 40(cc), 40(gg). (She sometimes employed herself as such a contributor. See id. PP 15, 30, 38, 40(jj).) When IBPS complied with such a request--often employing people associated with the Temple as nominal contributors, see id. P 13(b)--Hsia sometimes forwarded the checks to the campaign. See id. PP 23, 33, 38, 40(kk). All nominal contributors, whether solicited by Hsia or by IBPS, were reimbursed in full by IBPS from its corporate funds. See id. PP 17, 19, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 39, 40(g), 40(i), 40(l), 40(o), 40(r), 40(u), 40(x), 40(aa), 40(dd), 40(ll). The individuals thus simply served as conduits for IBPS's money.

Hsia also allegedly used conduits to funnel money from two of her immigration clients--Hsieh San Yeh and Zhe Xu 1 --to the Clinton/Gore '96 Primary Committee, Inc. ("Clinton/Gore '96"). In these instances she instructed others to solicit the straw donors but conveyed the checks to the committee herself. See Indictment PP 47-49; Bill of Particulars at 14-16.

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176 F.3d 517 *; 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 9325 **; 336 U.S. App. D.C. 91


Subsequent History:  [**1]  Certiorari Denied January 24, 2000, Reported at: 2000 U.S. LEXIS 837.

Prior History: Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 98cr00057-01).

Disposition: Reversed the district court's dismissal of Counts Two through Six, dismiss Hsia's cross-appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


indictment, contributions, conduits, district court, appeals, appellate jurisdiction, willfully, solicit, false statement, cross-appeal, pendent, interlocutory appeal, contributors, nominal, Counts, cases, pendent jurisdiction, criminal case, best efforts, mens rea, campaigns, grounds, checks, dictum

Governments, Federal Government, Elections, Tax Law, Federal Taxpayer Groups, Exempt Organizations, Charitable, Religious & Scientific Organizations, Business & Corporate Law, Nonprofit Corporations & Organizations, General Overview, Conditions & Restrictions, Criminal Law & Procedure, Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Willfulness, Fraud Against the Government, False Claims, False Statements, Fraud, Elements, Criminal Offenses, Specific Intent, Claims By & Against, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Political Speech, Legislation, Expiration, Repeal & Suspension, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Collateral Order Doctrine