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United States v. Turner

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

December 3, 2007, Argued; December 30, 2008, Decided

No. 07-1062

Opinion

 [*659]  SYKES, Circuit Judge. A jury convicted Cecil Turner of two counts of making false statements to the FBI and four counts of wire fraud for his part in a fraudulent scheme by which three janitors employed by the State of Illinois worked only a small fraction of their required 40 hours per week but falsified their attendance logs and collected their full salaries. On appeal, Turner contends that his statements to the FBI were not material because the FBI already knew about his involvement in the scheme and therefore could not have been misled by what he said. We disagree. A false statement need not actually influence the agents to whom it is made in order to satisfy the materiality requirement for this  [**2] offense; it need only have the possibility of influencing a reasonable agent under normal circumstances. Turner's statements to the FBI--denying that he provided supervisory cover for the janitors' fraudulent scheme--satisfied this standard.

Turner also maintains the evidence was insufficient to convict him of wire fraud. His argument is twofold: He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on the government's "honest services" fraud theory and the sufficiency of the use of the wires. As to the former, the case was charged and submitted to the jury as a traditional money or property fraud and as an honest services fraud. The evidence established that Turner aided and abetted a straightforward money or property fraud--Turner assisted the janitors' fraudulent scheme to collect thousands of dollars in wages for hours they did not work--so the verdict may be sustained regardless of any factual insufficiency on the alternative honest services fraud theory. As for the use of the wires, two of the janitors were paid through direct deposit; under the circumstances of this case, this use of the wires was sufficient to satisfy the wire-fraud statute. The janitors' receipt of falsely inflated  [**3] wages was the final step--indeed, it was the whole point--of the fraudulent scheme.

 [*660]  I. Background

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551 F.3d 657 *; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 26952 **

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CECIL TURNER, Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by, Rehearing, en banc, denied by United States v. Turner, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 24659 (7th Cir. Ill., Jan. 28, 2009)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Turner v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 2748, 174 L. Ed. 2d 249, 2009 U.S. LEXIS 4022 (U.S., 2009)

Post-conviction proceeding at, Claim dismissed by Turner v. United States, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48962 (C.D. Ill., May 17, 2010)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 06 CR 30012. Joe Billy McDade, Judge.

CORE TERMS

janitors', mail, honest, wire, fraudulent scheme, wire-fraud, private gain, wire fraud, crew, false statement, direct deposit, salaries, convict, checks, night, use of the mail, defraud, counts, fraudulently obtain, deprivation, argues, make a false statement, aiding and abetting, building manager, circumstances, conversations, fraudulent, fiduciary, cleaning, inflated

Criminal Law & Procedure, Fraud Against the Government, False Statements, Elements, General Overview, Standards of Review, Deferential Review, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Fraud, Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, Trials, Verdicts