Law School Case Brief
United States v. Rigas - 605 F.3d 194 (3d Cir. 2010)
The specific elements of conspiracy to violate federal law are: (1) an agreement to commit an offense proscribed by federal law; (2) the defendants intentionally joining in the agreement; (3) one of the conspirators committing an overt act; and (4) an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Defendants John and Timothy Rigas’ prior convictions under 18 U.S.C.S. § 371 were based on conspiracy to use a corporation's funds for personal purposes to commit securities fraud, but the instant indictment under § 371, alleged a conspiracy to use corporate funds for personal purposes to evade income taxes. The government contended that double jeopardy was not implicated because the prior offense of conspiracy to defraud the public was distinct and separate from the indicted offense of conspiracy to defraud the government. Defendants appealed the order of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which denied defendants' motion to dismiss the indictment.
Did the district court err in not dismissing the indictment?
The appellate court held that Defendants had made a nonfrivolous showing of double jeopardy, which required the government to show that the conspiracy alleged in the instant indictment was separate from the conspiracy for which the defendants were convicted. Although § 371 could be violated by conspiring to commit an offense against the government of which Defendants were convicted, or by conspiring to defraud the government as alleged in the instant indictment, the statute nonetheless created a single offense of conspiracy. Further, it appeared that only a single conspiracy was involved since both indictments involved the same transactions, the same time and place, the same core participants, and a common goal. The order denying the defendants' motion to dismiss the indictment was vacated, and the case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the conspiracy charged in the instant indictment was part of the conspiratorial agreement of which the defendants were convicted.
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