Law School Case Brief
United States v. Prince - 214 F.3d 740 (6th Cir. 2000)
To obtain reversal of a conviction because of a variance between the indictment and the evidence produced at trial, a defendant must satisfy a two-prong test: (1) the variance must be demonstrated, and (2) the variance must affect some substantial right of the defendant. A substantial right is affected only when the defendant establishes prejudice in his ability to defend himself or to the overall fairness of the trial.
Beginning on or around January 2, 1991, Defendant White devised and engaged in a scheme to "defraud and obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises." Defendant White represented to certain individuals that he was "bonded with" the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and that this enabled him to buy assets involved in bankruptcies which he could then sell for a sizeable profit. Defendants Prince and White solicited individuals to invest in their alleged plan to purchase and then sell these assets. Investors contributed money for purchasing property and for covering alleged costs associated with purchasing property involved in bankruptcies. Subsequently, Defendants were indicted on 85 counts of money laundering, wire fraud, and aiding and abetting the commission thereof in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. §§ 2, 1343, and 1956(a)(1). They were convicted of 84 counts and sentenced. On appeal, defendants asserted that there was insufficient evidence to support their convictions.
Was there sufficient evidence to support defendants’ convictions?
The Court affirmed the defendants’ convictions holding that the evidence established that defendants had sufficient control over the funds to have them classified as proceeds, and at the time the victims wired the money, the funds constituted proceeds of wire fraud. The evidence demonstrated defendants devised, participated in, and were in constructive control of the elaborate scheme to defraud. Defendants failed to establish that a substantial right was violated and therefore the variance between the indictment and the jury instructions, along with the evidence at trial, was not a constructive amendment. The jury instructions were not confusing, misleading, or prejudicial as a whole. The denial of a continuance was not so arbitrary as to violate due process. The trial judge did not err in refusing to depart downward from sentencing guideline, or in applying the money laundering guidelines, or in adopting calculations of loss.
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