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A defendant who challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction must demonstrate that, based on the evidence viewed in a light most favorable to the government, no rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Five defendants were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and mail fraud, based on fraudulent representations made in obtaining a minority enterprise contract with the United States Postal Service. Defendants were found to have established corporations with a minority person listed as a figurehead president. On appeal, the defendants challenged the sufficiency of evidence supporting the verdicts in the case. Moreover, the defendants contended that the court’s calculation of the pecuniary loss suffered by the Postal Service was erroneous. The defendants further alleged that the court’s decision ordering them to pay restitution was an abuse of discretion, and that the court abused its discretion in determining for sentencing purposes, the roles played by each defendant.
The Court rejected defendants' arguments, and affirmed the district court's convictions and sentences. The Court found sufficient evidence to convict defendants. Testimony from minority persons who were hired by defendants to act as presidents of their "minority businesses" showed that the presidencies were never intended to be anything but decorative and that both companies were, in reality, nonminority businesses designed to take advantage of the premium prices which the government was willing to pay to promote minority entrepreneurship. The Court also rejected defendants' challenges to their sentences and held that, because the government did not get the contracted-for consideration of performance by a minority operation, using the difference between a true minority bid and defendants' bid was a permissible measure of damages.