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United States v. Whitfield

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

December 11, 2009, Filed

No. 07-60748


 [*335]  GARWOOD, Circuit Judge:

Defendants-appellants, attorney Paul Minor and former Mississippi state judges John Whitfield and Walter ("Wes") Teel, were charged with participating in two separate bribery schemes in which Minor arranged, guaranteed, and eventually paid off loans for Whitfield and Teel, allegedly in order to corruptly influence the outcome of cases Minor filed in their courts. A jury found all three appellants guilty of conspiracy in violation  [**2] of 18 U.S.C. § 371; mail, wire, and honest services fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, 1346,  [*336]  and 2; and federal program bribery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 666. Additionally, Minor was convicted of racketeering in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1962. Appellants appeal their convictions and sentences on numerous grounds. For the following reasons, we VACATE all the convictions related to federal program bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 666, including the conviction of Minor and Teel for conspiracy to violate section 666. We AFFIRM all other convictions, and we REMAND for resentencing as to all appellants in accordance with this opinion.


This case concerns two separate bribery schemes, at the center of which lay Paul Minor, formerly a successful trial attorney in Mississippi. Minor had a professional, if not personal, relationship with appellants John Whitfield and Wes Teel prior to the events giving rise to this prosecution. Acting as guarantor, Minor arranged for Peoples Bank in Biloxi, Mississippi to loan Whitfield and Teel substantial amounts of money, purportedly in connection with each of their campaigns for state  [**3] judicial office. Although the structure of the loan transactions was similar, neither Whitfield nor Teel had any knowledge of Minor's dealings with the other. As the two bribery schemes were thus distinct, we relate the facts surrounding each separately.

I. Whitfield Scheme

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590 F.3d 325 *; 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 27003 **

UNITED STATES of AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee v. JOHN H. WHITFIELD; PAUL S. MINOR; WALTER W. TEEL, Defendants-Appellants

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Whitfield v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 136, 178 L. Ed. 2d 83, 2010 U.S. LEXIS 6417 (U.S., 2010)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Teel v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 134, 178 L. Ed. 2d 81, 2010 U.S. LEXIS 6353 (U.S., 2010)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Minor v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 124, 178 L. Ed. 2d 33, 2010 U.S. LEXIS 6208 (U.S., 2010)

Related proceeding at United States Fid. & Guar. Co. v. Peoples Bank, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45844 (S.D. Miss., Apr. 2, 2012)

Appeal after remand at, Decision reached on appeal by United States v. Teel, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 17477 (5th Cir. Miss., Aug. 14, 2012)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

United States v. Minor, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101928 (S.D. Miss., Dec. 21, 2007)


district court, bribery, sentencing, Marks, indictment, counts, loans, honest, official act, federal program, bribes, conspiracy, Offshore, campaign, quid pro quo, mail, funds, convictions, gratuity, cross-examination, continuance, admitting, federal funds, courts, fine, speedy trial, jury charge, contributions, proceedings, excluding

Criminal Law & Procedure, Bribery, Public Officials, Elements, Governments, Courts, General Overview, Standards of Review, Plain Error, Trials, Motions for Acquittal, De Novo Review, Appeals, Procedural Matters, Briefs, Reviewability, Waiver, Triggers of Waivers, Definition of Plain Error, Exceptions & Validity of Waivers, Jury Instructions, Abuse of Discretion, Fraud, Fraud Against the Government, Extortion, Hobbs Act, Mail Fraud, Civil Procedure, Service of Process, Methods of Service, Mail, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Subpoenas, Harmless & Invited Error, Joinder & Severance, Defective Joinder & Severance, Misjoinder, Accusatory Instruments, Joinder of Defendants, Racketeering, Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act, Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy, Severance of Codefendants, Limiting Instructions, Speedy Trial, Speedy Trial, Statutory Right, Excludable Time Periods, Preliminary Proceedings, Statutory Right, Pretrial Motions & Procedures, Continuances, Reversible Error, Dismissal, Grounds for Dismissal, Defective Instrument, Procedure, Procedures, Return of Indictments, Misconduct, Juries & Jurors, Disqualification & Removal of Jurors, Abuse of Discretion, Challenges for Cause, Determinations, Appellate Review, Standards of Review, Bias & Impartiality, Judicial Discretion, Evidence, Definition of Harmless & Invited Error, Evidence, Relevance, Relevant Evidence, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Confrontation, Examination of Witnesses, Cross-Examination, Witnesses, Impeachment, Clearly Erroneous Review, Discovery & Inspection, Discovery by Defendant, Types of Evidence, Documentary Evidence, Summaries, Clear Error Review, De Novo Review, Conclusions of Law, Sentencing, Sentencing Guidelines, Right to Jury Trial, Imposition of Sentence, Findings, Burdens of Proof, Preponderance of Evidence, Statutory Maximums, Penalties, Adjustments & Enhancements, Fines, Acceptance of Responsibility, Deferential Review, Commencement of Criminal Proceedings, Double Jeopardy, Appeals, Collateral Estoppel, Double Jeopardy Protection, Acquittals