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    • Brief

    United States v. Joseph L. Bruno

    Joseph Bruno was convicted of two counts of mail and wire fraud in December 2009 and filed an appeal with the Second Circuit in January 2010. He was sentenced in May 2010 and was released on bail until the U.S. Supreme Court released its honest services fraud decisions. On July 2, 2010, Bruno submitted a letter to District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe articulating arguments to remain on bail pending release. Within this letter are substantive arguments concerning the status of his honest services fraud conviction in light of Skilling.


    Argument: On appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals the government has conceded that the court's jury instructions at trial were not proper under Skilling and that reversal is appropriate as a result of that instructional error. The government argued that a remand without prejudice to retry defendant Bruno is appropriate. The defense, however, argued that the government was barred from pursuing any additional charges under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution and dismissal with prejudice was thus the proper remedy. The court overturned Bruno's conviction, but called for a new trial in November 2011. The court said that the government had presented evidence from which a new jury could potentially conclude that Bruno committed the crime of depriving people of "honest services." Prosecutors refiled two charges on retrial. Bruno was acquitted in May 2014. In December 2014 the Attorney General signed off on the reimbursement of Bruno's legal fees. 

    • Brief

    United States v. James Botti

    James Botti was indicted with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bribery, and mail fraud under 18 USC §§ 1341 and 1346. The jury convicted Botti of mail fraud but hung on the conspiracy and bribery counts. Botti was scheduled to be sentenced for the mail fraud conviction on September 17, 2010. In light of the Skilling decision, District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. ordered both sides to submit briefs and provide additional argument on Botti’s post trial motions.


    Argument: On September 8, 2010, Judge Haight denied both Botti’s Motion for Judgment of Acquital and Motion for a New Trial. On September 17, 2010, Judge Haight sentenced Botti to six years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Botti was ordered to report to prison on November 29, 2011.

    Botti appealed both the denial of the Motion for Acquittal and the Motion for a New Trial. On March 28, 2013, the Second Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court.  The Court held that plain error review applied to claim that instruction on honest services mail fraud allowed jury to find defendant guilty without finding a bribery or kickback scheme. The district court’s instruction was plain error, but didn’t affect defendant’s substantial rights or the fairness of the judicial proceedings. While the jury instruction was error, the case was not reversed because bribery was the only theory of honest services mail fraud presented to the jury.

    In August 2014, Botti was transferred from a minimum security prison in West Virginia to a residential reentry center. Botti will be released in February 2015 and will then be on probation for three years.