![if gte IE 9]><![endif]><![if gte IE 9]><![endif]><![if gte IE 9]><![endif]>
Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
January 22, 2016, Argued; April 8, 2016, Decided
[*353] Hamilton, Circuit Judge. In the midst of the 2008-09 financial crisis, a Wisconsin bank called AnchorBank was struggling to stay above water. Under pressure to find cash to pay its own lenders, the bank's president told vice president David Weimert to try to sell the bank's share in a commercial real estate development in Texas. Weimert, who is the defendant and appellant in this criminal wire fraud case, successfully arranged a sale that exceeded the bank's target price by about one third. The deal also relieved the bank of a liability of twice the sale price.
Given the version of the facts we must accept for this appeal, however, Weimert saw an opportunity to insert himself into the deal personally. He persuaded two potential buyers [**2] that he would be a useful partner for them. Both buyers included in their offer letters a term having Weimert buy a minority interest in the property. The bank agreed. It also agreed to pay Weimert an unusual bonus to enable him to buy the minority interest. We must also assume that the successful buyer, at least, would have been willing to go forward without Weimert as a partner, and that Weimert deliberately misled his board and bank officials to believe that the successful buyer would not close the deal if he were not included as a minority partner. The government prosecuted Weimert for wire fraud on the theory that his actions added up to a scheme to obtain money or property by fraud, and the jury convicted [*354] him on five of six counts of wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1343.
We reverse and order judgment of acquittal. Federal wire fraud is an expansive tool, but as best we can tell, no previous case at the appellate level has treated as criminal a person's lack of candor about the negotiating positions of parties to a business deal. In commercial negotiations, it is not unusual for parties to conceal from others their true goals, values, priorities, or reserve prices in a proposed transaction. When [**3] we look closely at the evidence, the only ways in which Weimert misled anyone concerned such negotiating positions. He led the successful buyer to believe the seller wanted him to have a piece of the deal. He led the seller to believe the buyer insisted he have a piece of the deal. All the actual terms of the deal, however, were fully disclosed and subject to negotiation. There is no evidence that Weimert misled anyone about any material facts or about promises of future actions. While one can understand the bank's later decision to fire Weimert when the deception about negotiating positions came to light, his actions did not add up to federal wire fraud. Weimert is entitled to judgment of acquittal. We order his prompt release from federal prison, on the stated terms of supervised release in his sentence, pending issuance of our mandate.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
819 F.3d 351 *; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6461 **
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DAVID WEIMERT, Defendant-Appellant.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 3:14-cr-00022-jdp-1 — James D. Peterson, Judge.
United States v. Weimert, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101565 (W.D. Wis., Aug. 4, 2015)
negotiating, wire fraud, buyer, mail, deception, parties, fiduciary duty, positions, misrepresentations, terms, involvement, seller, percent, partner, investors, bid, scheme to defraud, letter of intent, promises, corporate officer, arms-length, convictions, fiduciary, misled, buy, misleading, deceiving, conflicting interest, potential buyer, kickback
Criminal Law & Procedure, Fraud, Wire Fraud, Elements, Defenses, Criminal Offenses, Wire Fraud, Fraud Against the Government, Mail Fraud, Business & Corporate Law, Duties & Liabilities, Causes of Action & Remedies, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Mail Fraud, Directors & Officers, Management Duties & Liabilities, Causes of Action, Fiduciary Duties, Legal Ethics, Professional Conduct, Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Actual Fraud, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Motions for Acquittal, Fiduciary Duties, Duty of Good Faith, Duty of Loyalty, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Rule of Lenity